Civil War Prison

Prisons were a horrible and terrifying place to be during the civil war. Conditions were extremely inhumane and suffrage was the norm. Although prison was an unpleasant place to be on both sides, the south had a reputation for having the worst prisons know to man at the time. The south was home to some as the largest and most historic prison camps in the war, such as Andersonville. Some southern civil war prisons had inmate death rates of 60% (Weber, Civil War Concentration Camps). The differences in conditions of civil war prisons can be explained in the quick manner which prisons came about.

After the breakdown of the prisoner exchange program, there was a tremendous amount of pressure to build prisons equipped to hold all the POW’s that were coming in from the battlefield on both sides. The union had enough resources and manpower to build enough adequate prisons that were ran and controlled by experienced Union military generals. Northern prisons were run with a system of structure and organization.

The deteriorating economic conditions in the south left few resources to control the prison system for the confederate. Most southern prisons came up as the result of accidents and were poorly constructed outside with close inhumane conditions that breed disease and infections. As the south was merely trying to stave off total elimination from the advancing union army, their prison system and treatment of union POW’s was a minor concern.