Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > "This Is The Point On Which The Whole Matter Hinges": Locating Black Voices In Civil War Prisons
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The story of military prisons during the Civil War is both tragic and incomplete. While a number of historians have done significant work in analyzing and revising the narratives surrounding military prisons and POWs, in depth examinations conducted from the “bottom up” have only just begun to appear in Civil War prison historiography. As a result, black POWs are largely deemphasized as participants in the conflict, consigned to a passive role as catalysts for political sparring between Union and Confederate officials. However, black POWs were active participants in resisting capture and enslavement, and vocalized their treatment in various mediums, particularly through pension file affidavits. Placing these sources in conversation with white POW narratives and various officials’ discussions of prisoner policy, it is clear that prisons played a far more significant role in the conflict than is currently acknowledged, and black POWs’ experiences were tragically emblematic of the Confederacy’s consistent use of racial violence and subjugation to maintain its existence as a white supremacist power.