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Confederate Prisoners, Chattanooga, Tenn. 1864


2.5D rendering of a photo of Confederate prisoners. Amazing the amount of detail that 'pops' out to the picture by using this technique. As this photograph was taken, some of the Confederate prisoners were standing at the railroad depot awaiting transportation to the prisons in the North. There such bodies were usually guarded by partially disable soldiers organized as the Veteran Reserve Corps. They had more to eat than the Norther prisoner in the South, yet often less than the among to which they were entitled by the army regulations. In the South, during the last years of the war, prisoners almost starved, while their guard dared little better. With all the resources of the North, Confederate prisoners often wen hungry, because of the difficulty of organizing such a tremendous task and finding suitable officers to take charge.”

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Only Known Photograph Of A Mounted Alabama Confederate

At the beginning of hostilities, Alabama state troops seized forts at the entrance to Mobile Bay and the Union arsenal at Mount Vernon.  There was no fighting in the state early in the war, but in 1862 invading Federal forces held sizable areas. To resist the invasion, almost every white Alabamian old enough to carry a gun enlisted in the Confederate forces.  Some 2,500 white men and 10,000 blacks had already enlisted in the Union army. 

There are no statistics on Alabama’s contributions to the Confederate army, but estimates vary between 75,000 and 125,000 fighting men from a population of just above 500,000 whites.  Estimates of losses range from 25,000 to 70,000. The state furnished the Confederacy with 60-65 regiments of infantry, 12-15 regiments of cavalry, and over 20 batteries of artillery.

(Source: Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War) 

Photo: In case: May 11th 1861″ and “To David / Adams / Montevallo, Ala.”Ambrotype is 3.25 x 4.75 inches File name: Q778; Q779; Q780 -

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Confederate prisoners at Belle Plain Landing, Va.

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Confederate prisoners at Belle Plain Landing, Va., captured with Johnson’s Division, May 12, 1864

Series probably taken by an unknown photographer of Matthew Brady’s firm on May 16th or 17th, 1864. The "Punch Bowl" was the informal name for a series of ravines at Belle Plain, Virginia, that became a temporary holding area for Confederate’s captured during the Overland Campaign. 

Arguing against their identity as Johnson’s Division is the fact that one of the other shots taken on this visit to the Punch Bowl shows a group of prisoners around a dugout. Historian William Frassanito was able to enlarge the image to show a hat insignia reading “AL 4”, presumably the 4th Alabama of Field’s Division, Longstreet’s Corps.  About 7500 prisoners from both the Wilderness and Spotsylvania were moved through this holding area between May 13th to 18th. Only about 3000 of those were from Johnson’s Division.

From The Civil War Parlor on Tumblr

When Union Troops Saluted Confederates

On the occasion of Union General Joshua Chamberlain’s birthday, it seems fitting to honor him not just for his admirable courage and leadership throughout the Late War, most notably in his defense against incredible Southern opposition at Gettysburg, but for the way he perceived and treated his adversaries.

Of course today, many Americans would like to pretend that a war over slavery, beloved by Southerners and despised by Northerners yielded two armies that loathed each other, but as surely as the War was more complex than that, so too were the competing militaries’ relations. This was well exemplified by an account, written by General Chamberlain, of the surrender at Appomattox.

As Confederate General John Brown Gordon approached Chamberlain and his men on horseback, leading his troops, his head bowed, his appearance downcast, Chamberlain recounts:

The momentous meaning of this occasion impressed me deeply. I resolved to mark it by some token of recognition, which could be no other than a salute of arms…

In a description of his Confederate adversaries, the words of Chamberlain, who had lived through a brutal war and had as much right as any to hate the Confederates, would be deemed treasonous by many today.

Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect.

Undoubtedly, General Chamberlain would be as outraged by today’s denigration of Confederates as Lee would be.

 Originally published:

New York, N.Y.

Morgan's raiders

Voices From The Civil War- First Hand Account Of Morgan’s Raiders-  They were gentlemanly and represented the best manhood of Kentucky and their native states. 

Mr. Johnson, interviewed near his home in Indiana during the 1930s, was a young man during the Civil War. Even so, his memories concerning John Morgan’s cavalry raid through his neighborhood were still fresh in his mind. 

“… The gray figures of Morgan’s men appeared out of the distance. They showed the strain of a hurried and harassed march; both men and beast were weary. Four of the men stopped before me perched on the fence and said, ‘Son take these canteen and fill them with water’. I didn’t refuse but hurried across the road to Mr. Alexander’s Robinson’s well where two or three other boys were drawing water for the Raider’s men with a windlass. The well was wide and only about nine feet deep. As soon as I filled my canteens I passed them among the men and kept returning for more water until the well was dry. After this short period of service we were mustered out; and Morgan, the raider, with his men went their way with their jangling and clanking of arms to disappear in the horizon toward old Paris.”

There were some three thousand soldiers in the Confederate cavalry. They were gentlemanly and represented the best manhood of Kentucky and their native states. Of course in war and in that large a crowd there would be some unpleasant things, but on the whole the men were polite. Whenever they saw a horse they wanted they exchanged their worn out horse for it usually with the suggestion of “Let’s Swap, I think you can plow all right with this horse”. Many of the horses left were really better than the ones taken but were worn out and many had sore backs.

From The CivilWarParlor on Tumblr

Confederate prisoners - Fairfax 1863

Confederate prisoners held at Fairfax in June 1863. Photograph by Timothy H. O'Sullivan

These soldiers were probably taken prisoner during the battle at nearby Chantilly Plantation on 1 September 1862. In the early part of the war, both sides had a system of exchanging prisoners of equal rank, release of captives on parole conditional on an oath not to take up arms again. By 1863 the system had broken down and prisoners were kept in camps. Conditions were often appalling, due in part to the sheer numbers, 400,000 in all on both sides. From the album assembled by John Downes Rochfort who visited all the major American Civil War sites in 1867.

National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

The Rebel soldier - what did he look like?


Countless eyewitness descriptions allow us to evoke the popular image of the ragged Rebel

  • Uniforms were in shreds and tatters, described more appropriately as “multiforms”; faces were unshaven, unkempt hair stuck through slouch hats of all shapes and sizes, and the dusty roads only served to cake the soldiers in further filth 
  • Uniforms were ill-fitting; sleeves were too short, trouser legs too long, only adding to their multifarious appearance. 
  • Lee’s men were particularly deficient in shoes, underwear and blankets, and “Their coats were made out of almost anything you could imagine, butternut color predominating.”Their lack of shoes led to scores of footsore soldiers, and in many regiments the barefooted seemed to outnumber those with footwear.  
  • The weight of soldiers had also debilitated; a supposed diet containing large amounts of green corn and apples for subsistence ensured the Rebels became hollow-eyed and sullen-faced. 
  • James Steptoe Johnston, Jr. of the 11th Mississippi wrote that “it had become quite natural for us to starve.” 
  • One unnamed citizen in Frederick, Maryland wrote that “the filth that pervades them is most remarkable… They have no uniforms, but are well armed and equipped.” 
  • One witness said she felt “humiliated at the thought that this horde of ragamuffins could set our grand army of the Union at defiance”, but professed a certain sympathy “for the poor, misguided wretches, for some were limping along so painfully, trying to keep with their comrades.” 
  • Mrs. I.E. Doane was 81 years old when interviewed by workers of the WPA Federal Writer’s Project –These, ragged and half-starved, passed in hordes, raiding their provisions, killing their chickens, hogs and cattle. Although this was hard, Mrs. Cummings did not begrudge food to these soldiers. Mrs. Doane says she well remembers her mother and “Mudder” baking hoecakes in the kitchen for these hungry soldiers, who were so ravenous that they could not wait for the bread to be browned on both sides, but would snatch it from their hands and eat it half-cooked. She recalls seeing her mother dish up sauer-kraut for the soldiers until they had eaten her entire winter’s supply - two barrels.

From wildbillburroughs on Tumblr

Disrespect Of The Remains Of Confederate Dead At Arlington

A Sign Commanding Silence And Respect At Arlington National Cemetery Virginia

Disrespect Of The Remains Of Confederate Dead At Arlington -  The federal government did not permit the decoration of Confederate graves at the cemetery- Miegs refused to give families of Confederates buried there permission to lay flowers on their loved ones’ graves, families barred from the cemetery.

Confederate military personnel were among those initially buried at Arlington. Some were prisoners of war who died while in custody or who were executed as spies by the Union, but some were battlefield dead. For example, in 1865, General Meigs decided to build monument to the Civil War dead in a grove of trees near the flower garden south of the Robert E. Lee mansion at Arlington.

The bodies of 2,111 Union and Confederate dead within a 35-mile (56 km) radius of the city of Washington, D.C., were collected. Some of the dead had been interred on the battlefield, but most were full or partial remains discovered unburied where they died in combat. None were identifiable. Although Meigs had not intended to collect the remains of Confederate war dead, the inability to identify remains meant that both Union and Confederate dead were interred below the cenotaph he built. The vault was sealed in September 1866. Other Confederate battlefield dead were also buried at Arlington, and by the end of the war in April 1865 several hundred of the more than 16,000 graves at Arlington contained Confederate dead.

The federal government did not permit the decoration of Confederate graves at the cemetery, however. As Quartermaster General, Meigs had charge of the Arlington cemetery (he did not retire until February 6, 1882),  and he refused to give families of Confederates buried there permission to lay flowers on their loved ones’ graves. In 1868, when families asked to lay flowers on Confederate graves on Decoration Day (now known as Memorial Day), Meigs ordered that the families be barred from the cemetery. Union veterans’ organizations such as the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR; whose membership was open only to Union soldiers) also felt that rebel graves should not be decorated. In 1869, GAR members stood watch over Confederate graves at Arlington National Cemetery to ensure they were not visibly honored on Decoration Day.  Cemetery officials also refused to allow the erection of any monument to Confederate dead and declined to permit new Confederate burials (either by reburial or through the death of veterans).

The federal government’s policy toward Confederate graves at Arlington National Cemetery changed radically at the end of the 19th century.


There is no country

Wise (top row, second from right) with Robert E. Lee and Confederate officers, 1869.

April 7, 1865, Confederate General Henry Wise met up with Robert E. Lee. 

Wise, who helmed a division in Lee’s army, implored his commander: “my poor brave men are lying on yonder hill more dead than alive. For more than a week they have been fighting day and night, without food, and, by God sir, they shall not move another step until somebody gives them something to eat.”

To this, Lee assured him that they would soon have something to eat. When Wise was more or less pacified, Lee asked him for his thoughts on their situation. 

“Situation?” spat Wise, “There is no situation. Nothing remains, General Lee, but to put your poor men on your poor mules and send them home in time for the spring ploughing. This army is hopelessly whipped, and is fast becoming demoralized. These men have already endured more than I believed flesh and blood could stand, and I say to you, sir, emphatically, that to prolong the struggle is murder, and the blood of ‘every man who is killed from this time forth is on your head, General Lee.”

“Oh, General,” Lee replied with anger, “do not talk so wildly! My burdens are heavy enough! What would the country think of me, if I did what you suggest?”

“Country be damned,” snapped Wise. “There is no country. There has been no country, General, for a year or more. You are the country to these men. They have fought for you. They have shivered through a long winter for you. Without pay or clothes or care of any sort, their devotion to you and faith in you have been the only things that have held this army together. If you demand the sacrifice, there are still left thousands of us who will die for you. You know the game is desperate beyond redemption, and that, if you so announce, no man, or government, or people, will gainsay your decision. That is why I repeat that the blood of any man killed hereafter is on your head.”


Lee, by the word of Wise’s son, made no reply.

From Civil War Daily Gazette

Handmade Confederate Playing Cards

Handmade Confederate Playing Cards,  The Perkins Gallery, Duke University

During the fair-weather campaign season, soldiers could expect to be engaged in battle one day out of 30. Their remaining days were filled with almost interminable drilling, punctuated with spells of entertainment in the form of music, cards and other forms of gambling. -The Civil War Trust Life of the Civil War Soldier in Camp

Cards from the St. Clair Dearing Papers