Why were military prisons during the Civil War not constructed very well?

1 Answer
Mar 9, 2017

Parole was the normal way of dealing with prisoners during the early part of the Civil War. When Black soldiers started to be taken prisoners normal negotiations broke down.


The Parole system was that a prisoner was sent back to his home if he agreed he would not fight again until he was exchanged for a soldier from the other side.

Certainly there were abuses and some fought anyway but generally the system worked.

There were ongoing meetings between the two sides to exchange prisoners. They could not agree when there started to be Black prisoners and the exchanges stopped.

The prisoners were no longer being being paroled after being captured. The prisoner numbers began to build up rapidly and there was no place to put them. Tents were used when building space and materials ran out, then prisoners slept on the open ground in all weathers. Blankets and clothing were in short supply. Both North and South had difficulties with prison food and accommodations.

The Confederates could barely feed their own soldiers, the prisoners received much less. There were incidents of guard brutality and stealing of food and supplies meant for prisoners.

Andersonville prison in the South was particularly appalling. Many prisoners died.