Crossing the Deadlines: Civil War Prisons Reconsidered

Crossing the Deadlines: Civil War Prisons Reconsidered


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The “deadlines” were boundaries prisoners had to stay within or risk being shot. Just as a prisoner would take the daring challenge in “crossing the deadline” to attempt escape, Crossing the Deadlines crosses those boundaries of old scholarship by taking on bold initiatives with new methodologies, filling a void in the current scholarship of Civil War prison historiography, which usually does not go beyond discussing policy, prison history and environmental and social themes. Due to its eclectic mix of contributors—from academic and public historians to anthropologists currently excavating at specific stockade sites—the collection appeals to a variety of scholarly and popular audiences. Readers will discover how the Civil War incarceration narrative has advanced to include environmental, cultural, social, religious, retaliatory, racial, archaeological, and memory approaches.

As the historiography of Civil War captivity continues to evolve, readers of Crossing the Deadlines will discover elaboration on themes that emerged in William Hesseltine’s classic collection, Civil War Prisons, as well as inter- connections with more recent interdisciplinary scholar- ship. Rather than being dominated by policy analysis, this collection examines the latest trends, methodologies, and multidisciplinary approaches in Civil War carceral studies. Unlike its predecessor, which took a micro approach on individual prisons and personal accounts, Crossing the Deadlines is a compilation of important themes that are interwoven on broader scale by investigating many prisons North and South.

Although race played a major role in the war, its study has not been widely integrated into the prison narrative; a portion of this collection is dedicated to the role of African Americans as both prisoners and guards and to the slave culture and perceptions of race that perpetuated in prisons. Trends in environmental, societal, and cultural implications related to prisons are investigated as well as the latest finds at prison excavation sites, including the challenges and triumphs in awakening Civil War prisons’ memory at historical sites.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781606353417
Publisher: Kent State University Press
Publication date: 11/13/2018
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Michael P. Gray is professor of history at East Stroudsburg University. His The Business of Captivity: Elmira and Its Civil War Prison (Kent State University Press, 2001) was a finalist for the Seaborg Award, and a chapter of that work, published in Civil War History, earned honorable mention for the Eastern National Award. He serves as series editor of Voices of the Civil War with the University of Tennessee Press.

Table of Contents

Foreword John T. Hubbell ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction: Filtering the Currents of Civil War Incarceration: A Fresh Flow in Scholarship Michael P. Gray xvii

Part I New Encounters: Sensing Nature, Society, and Culture in and out of Prison

1 Nature and Prisons: Toward an Environmental History of Captivity Evan A. Kutzler 3

2 Civil War Captives and a Captivated Home Front: The Rise of Prisons as Dark Tourist Destinations Michael P. Gray 23

3 Catholics in Captivity: Priests, Prisoners, and the Living Faith in Civil War Military Prisons Angela M. Zombek 49

Part II Revelations in Retaliation, Race, and the Repressed

4 "The Sternest Feature of War": Prisoners of War and the Practice of Retaliation Lorien Foote 81

5 Loathsome Diseases and Principles: Conceptualizing Race and Slavery in Civil War Prisons Christopher Barr 101

6 "De Bottom Rails on Top Now": Black Union Guards and Confederate Prisoners of War Kelly D. Mezurek 125

Part III Unearthing Material Culture, Resurrections, and Reconciliations

7 Johnson's Island Prison Uncovered: An Archaeological Exploration of a Northern Civil War Prison David R. Bush 157

8 Lost and Found on the Southern Side: The Resurrection of Camp Lawton John K. Derden 181

9 Civil War Prisons, Memory, and the Problem of Reconciliation Benjamin G. Cloyd 205

Contributors 221

Index 225

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