Monday, May 6, 2019

Two Thousand Prisoners Captured

In looking for the evidence of the large numbers of prisoners taken during the Petersburg Campaign and what effect it had, I imagined it would be largely practical. It stands to reason that with great losses in manpower, it limited the belligerents' ability to wage war, particularly offensive operations. More sources may indeed bear that out. However, I also suspected that both sides drew inspiration from taking in large numbers of the enemy.

The above brief article seems to bear out the positive intangible effect that taking large numbers of Union prisoners had on Confederate morale and resolve. This article, published in the August 20, 1864 issue of the Richmond Daily Dispatch came during the middle of the Battle of Globe Tavern or Weldon Railroad (Aug. 18-21).

Capturing 2000 prisoners from Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren's V Corps prompted the author to speculate that losing such quantities would damage Gen. Grant's reputation and thus increase interest in the Democratic Party leading up to their nominating convention in Chicago. Following a slippery slope line of thinking, the author believed that rising Democratic support, based on a peace platform, would "hasten the close of the war," and bring Confederate independence.

The author seemingly ignored the progress that the Army of the Potomac had made toward capturing Petersburg by that point, and that Gen. Sherman was virtually knocking on Atlanta's door. Perhaps brushing aside such obvious facts only shows the powerful effect gobbling up large numbers of Union prisoners had on maintaining Confederate hopes for ultimate success. 

1 comment:

  1. Yes, it was wishful thinking on the part of the author. They were still hoping for a repeat of 1862.