Michael B. Chesson
Perhaps historians have largely failed to investigate military prisons and prisoners because these subjects have always been the most controversial aspect of the Civil War. Traditionally scholars have focused on battles and leaders, parties and political figures, although some have dealt with the common soldier, the home front, diplomacy, and the economic impact of the war. More recently, a handful of new social historians have taken a belated interest in the war, but their studies deal almost exclusively with the roles of women and African Americans. Prisoners of war continue to be neglected by military historians (having been removed from the battlefield) and by social historians (as being too closely related to military history), just as they were neglected, and sometimes seemingly forgotten, by their respective governments and captors.
As for most other Civil War topics, the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion continue to be the indispensable collection of published primary sources. The first eight volumes of the second series ( 1894-1899) contain 8,750 pages, excluding indexes, arranged chronologically. This material, the first of three major categories of writing on the subject, consists primarily of the correspondence between prison administrators and their military and civilian superiors. The first volume covers surrenders in Texas and Missouri, Union and Confederate "repression" in Maryland and East Tennessee, respectively, and the military treatment of captured and fugitive slaves. Volume 2 deals with suspected and disloyal persons, North and South, most of whom were civilians