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Camp Morton

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  • jimchristianhall
    Hi folks, I just wanted to drop in this little message about my book, Den of Misery: Indiana s Civil War Prison (Pelican Publishing, Gretna, Louisiana). The
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 7, 2007
      Hi folks,

      I just wanted to drop in this little message about my book, "Den of Misery: Indiana's Civil
      War Prison" (Pelican Publishing, Gretna, Louisiana). The following is a segment of a review
      by Virginian Rick Williams that recently appeared on the Civil War pages of The Washington
      Times.

      I hope you find it interesting and I hope you will consider getting my book. It is on
      Amazon.com as well as the Sons of Confederate Veterans internet bookstore. It can be
      ordered at your local bookstore.
      Happy Easter, Jim Hall

      Ever since the "late unpleasantness" came to a conclusion, Southerners have endured
      two never-ending accusations that, despite their inaccuracy, have made those from the
      region feel inferior because of their moral implications.
      However, with the recent release of two books, the truth finally is available to all who
      are willing to examine the facts objectively. What makes these two books so compelling is
      that they were written by Northerners. (Full disclosure: I am a native Southerner and have a
      personal connection to the subject of one of the books.)
      The charge addressed in the first book is that only Southerners mistreated their
      prisoners of war -- most notably at Andersonville.
      James R. Hall's "Den of Misery: Indiana's Civil War Prison" is about the infamous Union
      POW camp known as Camp Morton, located in what today is Indianapolis. My own great-
      great grandfather, John Meredith Crutchfield, spent about eight months there after being
      wounded at the Battle of Piedmont in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley on June 5, 1864. He
      was part of a prisoner exchange on Feb. 2, 1865, and then entered Chimborazo Hospital
      in Richmond on March 10, 1865. He died shortly thereafter, evidently from the
      mistreatment he had received at Camp Morton.
      When the word "mistreatment" is mentioned in reference to Civil War prisons,
      Andersonville usually comes to mind.
      However, the treatment at Camp Morton was no better. As one Confederate prisoner
      there stated:
      "I have seen the prisoners struggling with each other to devour the dirty matter thrown
      out of the hospital's kitchen. Rats were eaten, and I have seen dog-meat peddled out by
      prisoners. The murdering of prisoners, clubbing, tying them up by the thumbs was known
      to all there. I could put the entire piece of meat given me for a day's allowance in my
      mouth at one time."
      Mr. Hall sheds additional light on the two prisons, North and South, and which was
      guilty of the greater sin:
      "To the contemporary student of the American Civil War, it seems obvious that one
      consideration could have moderated public feelings of retribution against Southern
      prisoners," Mr. Hall says. "While the Southern states were struggling to provide their
      fighting troops in the field with even the barest of necessities, the North had relatively
      ample resources of money and food."
      Mr. Hall's book is based largely on the account of Dr. John A. Wyeth, who was a prisoner
      at Camp Morton and a prominent New York physician and medical researcher after the
      war. He served as president of the American Medical Association.
      In April 1891, Century Monthly magazine published a lengthy article by Wyeth titled
      "Cold Cheer at Camp Morton." It was the literary equivalent of tossing a grenade into a
      crowded room. Wyeth's account of "starvation, exposure to extreme cold and heat,
      beatings by prison guards, and even coldhearted murder of innocent prisoners" shocked
      the collective conscience of Americans in both the South and North.
      His charges were met with strenuous denials and rebuttals, but too many witnesses had
      survived who could corroborate Wyeth's accusations.
      Mr. Hall's book is the first detailed history of Camp Morton and includes photographs
      and many firsthand accounts of prisoners as well as a list of the names of some of the
      Confederate prisoners who died and are buried near Camp Morton's original location. The
      book is well-written and researched and a necessary read for students of the Civil War who
      want a fuller understanding of the conditions in Union POW camps.
    • Carl Williams
      While the Southern states were struggling to provide their fighting troops in the field with even the barest of necessities, the North had relatively ample
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 8, 2007
        "While the Southern states were struggling to provide their
        fighting troops in the field with even the barest of necessities, the
        North had relatively ample resources of money and food."

        I think this should never be forgotten when comparing conditions in
        POW camps on both sides. IMO there was no excuse for such horrible
        conditions in Northern camps, whereas in Southern camps, conditions
        were bound to be pretty bad. I'd say they should never have been as
        bad as they were, though, no matter what, and I don't totally excuse
        them.

        Personally, I think the most humane thing to do would have been to
        maintain the exchange programs.

        There was a point in time when it did seem that only Andersonville got
        any attention, but it does seem to me that's changed. So I don't agree
        that there is denial amongst Northerners now, at least not with Civil
        War buffs.
      • Harry Smeltzer
        I m pretty sure there was plenty of food in Georgia. I mean, Sherman managed to feed his army off the land while marching through it, didn t he? Harry ...
        Message 3 of 3 , Apr 8, 2007

          I’m pretty sure there was plenty of food in Georgia.  I mean, Sherman managed to feed his army off the land while marching through it, didn’t he?

          Harry

           

          -----Original Message-----
          From: civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com [mailto:civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Carl Williams
          Sent: Sunday, April 08, 2007 7:24 AM
          To: civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [civilwarwest] Re: Camp Morton

           

          "While the Southern states were struggling to provide their
          fighting troops in the field with even the barest of necessities, the
          North had relatively ample resources of money and food."

          I think this should never be forgotten when comparing conditions in
          POW camps on both sides. IMO there was no excuse for such horrible
          conditions in Northern camps, whereas in Southern camps, conditions
          were bound to be pretty bad. I'd say they should never have been as
          bad as they were, though, no matter what, and I don't totally excuse
          them.

          Personally, I think the most humane thing to do would have been to
          maintain the exchange programs.

          There was a point in time when it did seem that only Andersonville got
          any attention, but it does seem to me that's changed. So I don't agree
          that there is denial amongst Northerners now, at least not with Civil
          War buffs.

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