The Business of Captivity: Elmira and Its Civil War Prison

Synopsis

"One of the many controversial issues to emerge from the Civil War was the treatment of prisoners of war. At two stockades, the Confederate prison at Andersonville, Georgia, and the Union prison at Elmira, New York, suffering was acute and mortality was high. In the early stages of the Civil War, Elmira was designated as a rendezvous for training Union soldiers. The local economy boomed from supplying troops. Then, in 1864, Union leaders decided that Elmira would be converted into a prison, During its single year of existence, more money was expended on the Elmira prison than on any of the other Union stockades. Even with this record spending, a more ignominious figure was attached to Elmira: of the more than 12,000 Confederates imprisoned there, nearly 3,000 died while in captivity - the highest rate of any Northern prison. The author's conclusions are based on new, little-known, or never-used archival materials. The economic and social impact of the 'prison' on the host community offers new insights into the social history of the war. In a similar vein, the author's description of the prison culture is especially illuminating." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved