Southern Historical Society Papers/Volume 01/March/Confederate Laws

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Southern Historical Society Papers, March 1876

Having produced the testimony of reliable witnesses who were in position to know the truth in reference to this whole question, we proceed to give a somewhat more detailed statement of the facts in reference to it.


We have before us the "Statutes at large" of the Confederate Congress, the general orders which eminated from the War Department, and the orders of the Confederate Surgeon-General in reference to the management of hospitals. We have carefully examined these volumes and papers, and are unable to discover a syllable looking to or in the least degree countenancing the maltreatment of prisoners of war.

As early as the 21st of May, 1861, the Confederate Congress passed a law which provided that "all prisoners of war taken, whether on land or sea, during the pending hostilities with the United States, shall be transferred by the captors from time to time, and as often as convenient, to the Department of War; and it shall be the duty of the Secretary of War, with the approval of the President, to issue such instructions to the Quartermaster-General and his subordinates as shall provide for the safe custody and sustenance of prisoners of war; and the rations furnished prisoners of war shall be the same in quantity and quality as those furnished to enlisted men in the army of the Confederacy."

This law of the Confederate Congress was embodied in the orders issued from the War Department, and from the headquarters in the field, and we defy the production of a single order from any Confederate Department which militates against this humane provision.