I Fear I Shall Never Leave This Island: Life in a Civil War Prison

Overview

“Among Civil War military prisons, Johnson’s Island was unique in many ways. Geographically, it was the farthest north of any Union prison. . . . It was constructed at the outset of the war and, from May 1862 on, its prisoner population was composed almost entirely of Confederate officers, as many as 2,500 at a time. . . . Bush tells the Johnson’s Island story using letters exchanged between a prisoner and his wife, annotated with archaeological data and photographs of artifacts. The device is surprisingly effective and yields a unique insight

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I Fear I Shall Never Leave This Island: Life in a Civil War Prison

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Overview

“Among Civil War military prisons, Johnson’s Island was unique in many ways. Geographically, it was the farthest north of any Union prison. . . . It was constructed at the outset of the war and, from May 1862 on, its prisoner population was composed almost entirely of Confederate officers, as many as 2,500 at a time. . . . Bush tells the Johnson’s Island story using letters exchanged between a prisoner and his wife, annotated with archaeological data and photographs of artifacts. The device is surprisingly effective and yields a unique insight into ‘Life in a Civil War Prison.’”—Civil War News

“Rather than merely annotating these moving letters, Bush puts them in context with a myriad of physical remains unearthed from the 14-acre site over the years. . . . Manages to bring both Captain Makely and Johnson’s Island into clear, albeit stark, relief.”—Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia

 

“What makes this collection so special is that in most cases we are privy to the entire conversation. . . . [Bush] provides detailed images of the gutta-percha artifacts as well as other artifacts recovered from the archaeological investigation of Johnson’s Island. These images give the reader a much better idea of and appreciation for just how detailed these items were and the skill of the prisoner-artisans who made them. . . . A fascinating work.”—H-Net Reviews

No other collection of Civil War letters offers such a rich context; no other archaeological investigation of Civil War prisons provides such a human story.

David R. Bush is professor of anthropology at Heidelberg University in Ohio and chairman of the Friends and Descendants of Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison. He has spent more than two decades leading archaeological investigations at the site, and has uncovered a wealth of material culture that demonstrates the magnitude of POW craft jewelry manufacture, especially rings created by officer-prisoners for loved ones back home.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813044088
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida
  • Publication date: 9/30/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 673,030
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

David R. Bush is professor of anthropology at Heidelberg University in Ohio and chairman of the Friends and Descendants of Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Preface xi

1 Introduction 1

2 Johnson's Island Prison 7

3 Where Is Your Letter? (August 16-December 13, 1863) 17

4 Thoughts of Exchange (December 24, 1863-May 8, 1864) 31

5 Sending Images (May 11-September 15, 1864) 70

6 Hard Rubber and Hard Times (September 19, 1864-March 12, 1865) 124

7 Going Home (March 21-April 29, 1865) 207

8 The Prisoner-of-War Experience 225

Acknowledgments 239

Notes 241

Bibliography 249

Index 253

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