1 TRANSCENDING STEREOTYPES: A STUDY OF CIVIL WAR MILITARY PRISONS IN THE CONTEXT OF NINETEENTH CENTURY PENITENTIARIES AND PENAL DEVELOPMENT AT THE OHIO, VIRGINIA, AND D.C. PENITENTIARIES AND AT CAMP CHASE, CASTLE THUNDER AND OLD CAPITOL MILITARY PRISONS By ANGELA M. ZOMBEK A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2012
2 2012 Angela M. Zombek
3 To : Mom and Dad
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS My high school teachers at St. Joseph Academy in Cleveland, Ohio, taught me that anything was possible, and I believed them. Because of this, t here are many people whom I wish to thank, personally and professionally, for helping to make my childh ood goal of earning a doctorate in history a reality. But the first debt of gratitude goes to God, who blessed me with the talent, ability, support, and means through which I was able to achieve this goal. It is an amazing experience to have a long held dream become a reality, but even when I questioned the wisdom of pursuing this degree, my faith enabled me to realize that it was a blessing to have to figure out how to deal with the chal lenges and opportunities t hat graduate school presented. Sursum Corda. There is no way that I could have completed graduate school without the unfailing support of family and friends. My parents, Frank and Nancy Zombek, have given me constant encouragement love, and guidance as I worked my way through the history do ctoral program. Despite the physical distance between Florida and Cleveland, they were always close by and ready to help in any way that they could, including reading countless revisions of my d issertation. My brother Joe and sister in law Lindsay also offered help, encouragement, and humor along the way, and I am grateful for their presence in my life. While living in Gainesville, I encountered numerous people whose friendship helped me endure the trials and successes of graduate school. Id like to thank the loyal members of my Monday and Thursday night 6 p.m. spin class at the Northwood YMCA (20082011), especially Rick Anderson (no glory to the timid), Bud Manning, Karlton Poole, Kevin and Nancy Walsh, Anne and Scott Landes, and Tiffany Sammel for their friendship and laughs. I always looked forward to my class and the mental break it provided me. Thanks to my fellow Eucharistic Ministers at Holy Faith Catholic Church (6 p.m. Sunday Mass), especially Joe and Philomena Pisani and Greg and Perky Smith, who always looked forward t o hearing about how graduate
5 school was progressing and told me stories of how they made it through. I appreciate their constant prayers. To my juniors and seniors that I taught at St. Francis Catholic High School during the 20102011 academic year thank y ou for teaching me not to take myself too seriously and for the constant reminder of what a humbling experience it is to be an educator and be in the position to positively impact so many lives. Finally, to Susan Wright and Sr. Julie Reineke, whose courage and faith will always inspire me. Rest in peace, Sr. Julie. When I accepted a full time teaching position at St. Petersburg College (Clearwater campus), I encountered even more individuals who helped see me through the final year of graduate school. I wo ul d like to thank my Dean, Dr. Joseph Smiley, for his constant encouragement and support of my finishing my doctorate and for being an exemplary mentor. I also owe a debt to my colleagues in the department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, especially Anja Waters Norman, Kim Molinaro, Barbara Styers, Dr. Suzanne Preston, Dr. Michael Culligan, George Grenlee, and Roy Slater, not only for being intellectual soundingboards, but also for offering encouragement and advice throughout the revision process. I als o have many friends who m I would like to thank for their support. My boyfriend, Mike Tool, has played an enormous role in helping me keep my sanity and positive outlook over the past year as I finished revisions. His humor makes every day even better. Kevi n Morrow has provided me with invaluable help and insight on research, and Gerry Wolfson Grande has been an immensely helpful editor and sounding board. Throughout the course of graduate school, I ha ve received intellectual support from Dr. Peter Carmichae l and Dr. Lesley Gordonboth have had a significant impact on my intellectual outlook and have provided me with advice on how to proceed through graduate school. I would also like to thank Dr. William Blair for his encouragement.
6 There are many people at t he University of Florida whom I wish to thank. First, I thank my advisers, Dr. William Link and Dr. Matthew Gallman, for the time and energy that they devoted to me throughout the history do ctoral program. Thanks also go to my committee members, Dr. Louise Newman, Dr. Jeff Adler, and Dr. Sevan Terzian, for offering valuable feedback as I refined my argument. I would also like to thank Dr. Steve Noll and Dr. David Tegeder for providing me with advice on my project and on the dissertation process in general. I have received outside financial assistance that helped me bring this project to completion. I would like to thank the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida for awarding me with a dissertation research grant in 2010, the Virginia Historical Society for awarding me with a Mellon Research grant in 2009, the Milbauer Grant In Aid Program, and the History Graduate Society for providing me with invaluable funds to complete research. I would also like to thank St. Petersburg College for providing me with financial assistance for the final semester of graduate school. My love o f history was solidified in the eighth grade when Mr. Don McKinley visited St. Richard School and shared President McKinleys experiences as a Civil War soldier. From that point on, I knew that I wanted to earn a doctorate in history and be a teacher and a n historian. When all of this is said and done, I will be the first person in my family to earn a doctorate in history, but the most important point about this is that I did not earn it alone. I can only hope that in my lifetime, I can be as inspiring to o thers as my family, friends, and God were to me throughout the long years of graduate school. For that I am truly thankful. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.
7 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ........................................................................................................... 4 LIST OF TABLES ...................................................................................................................... 8 ABSTRACT ............................................................................................................................... 9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................. 11 2 COMMONALITIES AMONG FEDERAL, STATE; CIVIL AND MILITARY PUNISHMENTS ................................................................................................................ 37 3 PENITENTIARIES AND MILITARY PRISONS: BUILT ON COMMON GROUND ...... 53 4 THE PURPOSE AND ROLE OF PENITENTIARIES AND MILITARY PRISONS .......... 78 5 ADMINISTRATION, REGULATIONS, INFRACTIONS, AND PUNISHMENTS ......... 106 6 INMATES IDENTITY AND DISOBEDIENCE ............................................................. 139 7 PLEAS, PARDONS, AND COMUNICTIONS: INMATES INTERACTIONS INSIDE THE WALLS AND WITH THE OUTSIDE WORLD ........................................ 172 8 CONCLUSION ................................................................................................................ 207 APPENDIX ............................................................................................................................ 223 REFERENCE LIST ................................................................................................................ 230 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................................................................................... 246
8 LIST OF TABLES Table page 31 Virginia Penitentiary Population (Crime), 1860 ............................................................. 72 32 Virginia Penitentiary Population (Race and Gender), 1860 ............................................ 73 33 Virginia Penitentiary Population (Age of Males), 1860 .................................................. 73 34 Virginia Penitentiary Population (Age of Females), 1860 .............................................. 73 35 D.C. Penitentiary Population (Crime), 1860 ................................................................... 74 36 D.C. Penitentiary Population (Race and Gender), 1860 .................................................. 74 37 D.C. Penitentiary Population (Age of Males), 1860 ....................................................... 74 38 D.C. Penitentiary Population (Age of Females), 1860 .................................................... 75 39 Ohio Penitentiary Population (Race and Gender), 1860 ................................................. 75 310 Ohio Penitentiary Population (Race and Gender), 1860 ................................................. 76 311 Ohio Penitentiary Population (Age of Males), 1860 ....................................................... 77 312 Ohio Penitentiary Population (Age of Males), 1860 ....................................................... 77 A 1 Virginia Penitentiary Population (Crimes), 1870 .......................................................... 225 A 2 Virginia Penitentiary Population (Race and Gender), 1870 .......................................... 225 A 3 Ohio Penitentiary Population (Sentencing Courts), 1870 .............................................. 226 A 4 Virginia Penitentiary Antebellum Population ............................................................... 226 A 5 Ohio Penitentiary Antebellum Population .................................................................... 227 A 6 Washington, D.C. Penitentiary Antebellum Population ................................................ 228 A 8 Ohio Penitentiary Civil War Population ....................................................................... 228 A 9 Virginia Penitentiary Civil War Population .................................................................. 228 A 7 Washington, D.C. Penitentiary Civil War Population ................................................... 229 A 10 Camp Chase Civil War Population ............................................................................... 229 A 11 Old Capitol Prison Civil War Population ..................................................................... 229 A 12 Castle Thunder Prison Civil War Population ................................................................ 229
9 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy TRANSCENDING STEREOTYPES: A STUDY OF CIVIL WAR MILITARY PRISONS IN THE CONTEXT OF NINETEENTH CENTURY PENITENTIARIES AND PENAL DEVELOPMENT AT THE OHIO, VIRGINIA, AND D.C. PENITENTIARIES AND AT CAMP CHASE, CASTLE THUNDER AND OLD CAPITOL MILITARY PRISONS B y Angela Zombek December 2012 Chair: Name J. Matthew Gallman Cochair: William A. Link Major: History Scholarship on Civil War military prisons has focused on the immense suffering endured by the inmates, especially at infamous prisons such as Andersonville and Elmira With the failed prisoner exchange creating a huge problem of overcrowding, existing scholarship has most frequently viewed the maltreatment of prisoners by the North and the South as intentional This vision has been myopic sinc e there has been no extensive research into or examination of how Civil War military prisons, their operation, and inmates experiences fit within the broader context of nineteenth century imprisonment. Placing Civil War military prisons in the broader nar rative of nineteenth century prison development reveals that conditions in typical military prisons, which scholars assume to have been horrendous, were, in fact, similar to conditions that existed in penitentiaries before and during the Civil War to wit, overcrowding, supply shortages, physical punishment, and inmates psychological and physical distress. The initial design of the disciplinary and administrative practices of military prisons reflected established administrative and punitive trends that we re conceived in penitentiaries in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries The experiences of military prison inmates also
10 resonated with those of penitentiary inmates. To make this case, this study focuses on three penitentiaries and three mili tary prisons located in three cities that provide an example of federal power, northern dynamics, and both southern state and Confederate power T his study analyzes the Ohio Penitentiary and Camp Chase Prison in Columbus, Ohio ; it focuses on the Virginia P enitentiary and Castle Thunder Prison in Richmond, Virginia ; and in Washington, D.C., it considers the D.C. Penitentiary and Old Capitol Prison. In addition to filling a gap in Civil War prison historiography, t his study also reveals two broader points about nineteenth century institutional development and about the involvement of the national government s (both Union and Confederate) in imprisonment First, the establishment and operation of military prisons fit the pattern of institutional development in the United States that began in the antebellum period with the construction of penitentiaries Second, as both the Union and Confederate governments suspended habeas corpus, incarcerated individuals suspected of treason, and held enemy captives, Northerner s and Southerners witnessed their respective government s consolidating power over imprisonment to a degree that was previously unheard of in the antebellum period. Yet even as the Union and Confederate governments took responsibility for incarcerating tho usands of civilians and prisoners of war, they relied on antebellum practices to manage prisoners that they sent to penitentiaries and to direct the operation of the newlyestablished military prisons.
11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Nineteenth century American prisons were drafty overcrowded facilities in which inmates withstood meager diet, poor sanitation, loss of control over time, and the prospect of physical punishment Reflecting on these circumstances in 1864, Ohio inmate John King weighed the option of escape. King knew that failed attempts drew painful punishments: being suspended by the thumbs to the point of insanity, undertaking hard labor with a ball and chain attached to the feet or legs, or being bucked and gagged for hours alone on a cold cell floor.1 At first glance, it may seem that King was an inmate at the Ohio Penitentiary since it was common knowledge that penitentiary discipline included hard labor and physical punishments In reality, King was an inmate during the Civil War at Camp Chase, a Union military prison. His reminiscences suggest that penitentiaries and military prisons shared more in common than one might expect in the areas of administration and inmates experiences When one thinks of Civil War prisons, images of emaciated men in tattered blue or gray uniforms suffering at the hands of their venge ful captors almost immediately come to mind As historian James Gillespie has noted, 23,436 of the 220,000 Confederates died in Northern prisons a 12 percent mortality rate Meanwhile, 22,576 of the 270,000 Union prisoners died in Southern pens, a mortalit y rate of 8.3 percent .2 The death rate of Civil War prisoners is alarming and no one can dispute the general accuracy of images of gaunt inmates at Andersonville and Elmira, but one must also realize that these do not represent complete pictures of Civil War prisons After the war, as historian Benjamin Cloyd recently noted, No rthern and Southern 1 John Henry King, Three Hundred Days in a Yankee Prison: Reminiscences of War Life, Captivity, Imprisonment at Camp Chase, Ohio (Atlanta: Jas. P. Daves, 1904), 8384. 2 James M. Gillispie, Andersonvilles of the North: The Myths and Realities of Northern Treatment of Civil War Confederate Prisoners (Denton, Texas: University of N orth Texas Press, 2008), 33.
12 sympathizers popularized such images, accusing the enemy of atrocities while emphasizing their own benevolence towards prisoners Northerners argued that Union victory and treatment of prisoners of war pointed to their moral superiority while Southerners attempted to vindicate their causeand their reputation by emphasizing their humane treatment of Union inmates.3 Each side used horrific tales of prison camps to further their respective messages and blame the opposi tion for unnecessar y, and intentional, suffering and death. These messages resonated with later historians like William Hesseltine, William Marvel, and Charles Sanders, among others, who focused on the question of w hether or not the Union and Confederacy intentionally maltre ated enemy inmates and the deg ree to which prisoners suffered.4 Thus far, however, there has been no extensive research into or examination of how Civil War military prisons, their operation, and their inmates experiences fit within the broader general co ntext of nineteenth century imprisonment When one undertakes such research, as this dissertation does, one discovers the complex nature of Civil War military prisons The initial intentions for the disciplinary and administrative practices of military pri sons reflected established administrative and punitive trends in penitentiaries that were conceived in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries The experiences of military prison inmates also resonated with those of penitentiary inmates. This st udy argues that military prisons and penitentiaries functioned in much the same manner as the centralized national governments both North and South 3 For an excellent study of Northern and Southern manipulation of the historical memory of Civil War Prisons, see Benjamin G. Cloyd, Haunted by Atrocity: Civil War Prisons in American Memory (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univer sity Press, 2010). 4 William Hesseltine, Civil War Prisons: A Study in War Psychology (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 1930). Reprint with a foreword by William Blair (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 1998); William Marvel, Andersonvil le: The Last Depot (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1994); Charles W. Sanders, Jr., While in the Hands of the Enemy: Military Prisons of the Civil War (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2005).
13 became significantly involved in incarceration, a task that had been primarily left to the states in the antebellum period Placing Civil War military prisons in the broader narrative of nineteenth century prison development reveals that conditions in these prisons, which scholars assume to be horrendous, were, in fact, similar to those that existed in penite ntiaries before and during the Civil War to wit, overcrowding, supply shortages, physical punishment, and inmates psychological and physical distress It is not my intention in this study to compare the magnitude of inmates suffering in each type of inst itution ; Civil War scholars have already told the story of physical suffering Rather, my primary contribution is to shift the focus from the sufferings that military prison inmates withstood as a result of deliberate Union and Confederate policy decisions such as failed exchange negotiations and to engage in critical analysis of how military prison officials administ rative practices not only affected inmates experiences but also how they compared to penitentiary administration T his study also reveal s two broader points about nineteenthcentury institutional development and about the involvement of the national government s (both Union and Confederate) in imprisonment First, the establishment and operation of military prisons fit the trend of institut ional development in the United States that began in the antebellum period. Second, as both the Union and Confederate governments suspended habeas corpus, incarcerated individuals suspected of treason, and held enemy captives, Northerners and Southerners w itnessed centralized power over imprisonment that was previously unheard of in the antebellum period.5 Yet even as the Union and Confederate governments took responsibility for 5 Mark E. Neely, Jr., Souther n Rights: Political Prisoners and the Myth of Confederate Constitutionalism (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999), 910 and 37 Neely notes that the Confederate Congress authorized suspension of the writ of habeas corpus for about one thir d of the wars duration, while President Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ in some places within two weeks of Fort Sumters
14 incarcerating thousands of civilians and prisoners of war they relied on antebellum p ractices to manage prisoners whom they sent to penitentiaries and to oversee the operation of newly established military prisons. Three significant bodies of scholarship have influenced the conception of this study: f irst, scholarship covering the establishment of peni tentiaries in the United States ; s econd, scholarship on state formation and the legal system in nineteenth century America ; and f inally, scholarship on Civil War military prisons. T his study seeks specifically to fill a need for s erious scholarly analysis of Civil War milit ary prisons. Indeed, James McPherson has noted the need for a modern reexamination of the military prison experience that affected over 400,000 individuals.6 But it is nonetheless important to also give a gener al overview of the works from the first two categories that most heavily impacted my thinking beginning with the establishment of American penitentiaries B eginning immediately after the Revolutionary War, Americans demonstrated a desire for a well order ed society and soon established penitentiaries to help accomplish this goal In the United States, the establishment of penitentiaries and other institutions of confinement began in earnest in the 1820s During the early nineteenth century, the rise of the market economy and the process of state formation created anxiety for governing elites about how to control a potentially unruly civilian popul ation In numerous works, historian David Rothman notes the irony that penitentiaries developed as the central element of the United States criminal justice system in the fall in April 1861, and that the suspension lasted for about twice as long in the Union as it did in the Confederacy Confederate President Jefferson Davis declared martial law in Richmond on March 1, 1862, also suspending civil jurisdiction and habeas corpus. For broader discussions of wartime Richmond and the imposition of martial law, see Arch Frederic Blakey, General John H. Winder, C.S.A. (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1990) and Frances H. Casstevens, George W. Alexander and Castle Thunder: A Confederate Prison and Its Commandant (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2004), 3240. 6 James M. McPherson and William J. Cooper, Jr., Writing the Civil War: The Quest to Understand (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998), 4.
15 Jacksonian period (18201850), an era that prided itself on openness In order to justify confinement, nineteenth century politicians stressed that crime was a part of huma n nature and that penitentiaries ensured the safety of the republic because of their ability to transform deviants into law abiding citizens According to Rothman, penitentiaries became dominant in Jacksonian America because of citizens insecurity about s ocial order and the fate of the new republic, which the advent of industry and class distinctions exacerbated The penitentiary a quasi military institution that arguably resembled the factory, instilled a sense of stability since, by instilling order in its inmates, it helped preserve discipline.7 The penitentiarys program of solitary confinement and forced labor eased social and political elites fears of disorder and lent the impression that inmates could be reformed Despite good intentions, reform failed because Jacksonian era penitentiaries became overcrowded and disorderly These factors negated guards ability to isolate inmates and encouraged the use of physical punishment Ultimately, l engthy sentences and overcrowding made rehabilitation les s relevant to penitentiary administration. 8 Furthermore, t he demographics of inmates, who were primarily lower class, foreign born individuals, undermined the interest of the white middle class in exacting reform. 9 Rothmans analysis signals that many ant ebellum problems, namely the desire to enact social control, the breakdown of prison discipline, and overcrowding continued during the Civil War in both penitentiaries and military prisons Nonetheless, s cholars who study penitentiaries tend to skip over the war years A good example of this is Blake McKelveys 1977 book, American Prisons: A History of Good 7 David. J. Rothman, Perfecting the Prison: The United States, 1789 1865, in The Oxford History of the Prison: The Practice of Punishment in Western Society ed. Norval Morris and David J. Rothman (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 111. 8 Rothman, Perfecting the Prison, 113. 9 Rothman, The Discovery of the Asylum: Social Order and Disorder in the New Republic (Boston: Little Brown, 1971) 89, 238.
16 Intentions McKelveys overview of the establishment of American prisons spans the late 1700s through the 1970s. McKelvey contends at the books beginn ing that the penitentiary played an important role in the creation of an ordered society His work also helps to frame my study of penitentiaries and Civil War military prisons as he signals, albeit without interrogation, the importance of the Civil War to the advent and evolution of nineteenth century punishment and imprisonment, an avenue of inquiry that my study addresses. The author states that the Civil War helped to coordinate in time and character the scattered strands of normal penological development, and indicates that the war somehow centralized efforts to administer penitentiaries inspiring a wide scale reform movement in the post war years McKelvey does n ot however, discuss penitentiary operation during the war or consider the involvement of the Union and Confederate governments in military prison operation, which marked the first largescale involvement of the central government in the United States in i mprisonment McKelvey also comments on the reduction in the number of incarcerated criminals during the war He writes, whether the army had absorbed the potential criminals, afforded a refuge for fugitives, or supplied a convenient commutation of senten ce, the result was the same a decided reduction of male commitments in all the states of the North.10 This dissertation questions McKelveys assertion by demonstrating how the wartime operation of both penitentiaries and military prisons resulted in an inc rease of male and female commitments in both the North and the South. This increase caused state and federal officials to battl e for control over inmates in penitentiaries and to use disciplinary practices common in penitentiaries to operate military priso ns Because of this, inmates in both institutions faced similar 10 Quotations can be found in Blake McKelvey, American Prisons: A History of Good Intentions ( Montclair NJ: Patterson Smith, 1977) 64, 66.
17 circumstances regardless of the type of crime committed whether it be fighting for an enemy army or committing treason, theft, or murder While Rothman and McKelvey concentrate on the development of penitentiaries as a n attempt to preserve social order, Pieter Spierenburg posits that state formation and centralization, particularly the monopolization of violence, contributed to the rise of penitentiaries as regions s ettled by whites experienced the development from stateless society to pacified rural area. This transition caused authorities in the Northeastern United States to look for a spatial solution to the problems of marginality as the region became settled and penitentiaries replaced vigilance committees as mechanisms for keeping order According to Spierenburg, this process failed in many areas of the South particularly South Carolina, as plantation aristocrats disdained laws, dueled to settle differences, and encouraged extralegal means of resolving differences.11 Spierenburgs work influenced my decision to include Washington, D.C.; Columbus, Ohio; and Richmond, Virginia as case studies Washington serves as an obvious example of the power of the national government, Columbus reveals how the decision to establish penitentiaries in the northeast spread to the western territories, and Richmond serves as an example of penitentiary establishment crossing the Mason Dixon line.12 Richmond was not the only Souther n city to house a penitentiary H istorian Edward Ayers notes that Southerners joined their northern counterparts in establishing penitentiaries He 11 Pieter Spierenburg, From Amsterdam to Auburn: An Explanation for the Rise of the Prison in Seventeenth Century Holland and NineteenthCentury America, Journal of Social History 20.3 (Spring, 1987): 453454. Spierenburgs analysis of South Carolina derives from and is in accordance with the following work: Michael Stephen Hindus, Prison and Plantation: Crime, Justice, and Authority in Massachusetts and South Carolina (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1908), xxvi. 12 States that established penitentiaries in the antebellum period included Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Maine, and Rhode Island. For a complete survey, see McKelvey, American Prisons
18 contends that Southerners expressed concern about imprisonment in general and about social control and state power in particular but many states nonetheless built penitentiaries Ayerss work debunks the notion that penitentiaries were unnecessary in the South due to the institution of slavery He reveals that American penitentiaries appeared in two waves (1790 and 1820) and, more significantly, that Southern states, like their Northern counterparts, participated in both.13 Once penitentiaries were established, however, Ayers notes that Southerners debated their existence more fiercely than Northerners and Europeans due to Southern concerns with states rights and centralized government From the 1790s to the 1850s, Ayers argues that there were individuals who argued that the penitentiary was essential to enlightened government while other s believed that the penitentiary was a threat to American freedom and to the ideals of the American Revolution.14 Ultimately, these concerns, in Ayerss estimation, added up to concerns with both the role of the state in a republi c and the place of the South in the civilized world. Accordingly, Southerners continually debated whether the penitentiarys ability to sequester prisoners and make them conform to a universal ideal constituted a threat to freedom. 15 Ayers concludes that Southern society differed from the North and from Europe in a way that ultimately rendered penitentiaries an anomaly and discouraged their existence. The North and Europe, according to Ayers, were surrounded by other reforming institut ions, by early manufacturing, and by a relatively strong state government Because of these factors, the Northern and European penitentiaries did not stand out as starkly or call as much attention to the centralized power behind them as did the penitentiar ies of the South. Ayers notes that the South was American enough to build penitentiaries, but Southern enough to remain skeptical of its own 13 Edward L. Ayers. Vengeance and Justice: Crime and Punishment in the Nineteenth Century American South. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984), 34. 14 Ayers, Vengeance and Justice 35. 15 Ayers, Vengeance and Justice 42, 4546.
19 handiwork.16 Ayerss work was critical to my decision to study Richmond, Virginia, a Southern city that supported a penitentiary very early in the nineteenth century The Confederate government during the Civil W ar became a powerful a symbol of centralized power that ceased questioning the use of imprisonment Both before and during the Civil War, individuals who faced incarceration questioned not just imprisonment itself, but the role of the state governments, and the Union and Confederate governments in implementing penal institutions My study builds on hist orian Rebecca McLennans work which details the many problems that individuals found with imprisonment McLennans 2008 book, The Crisis of Imprisonment: Protest, Politics, and the Making of the American Penal State, 17761941 notes that the penitentiary from its inception, symbolized many things to Americans: state coercion, justice, security, and the state's presumed right over life S he notes the irony of the penitentiarys existence as an unfree institution in a putatively free society.17 My focus in this study emphasizes these themes, but departs from McLennans main focus, which is on the reinvention of legal punishment as a form of involuntary servitude in the nineteenth century Instead, my examination of penitentiaries and military prisons during the Civil War introduces the role of the central government both federal and Confederate in bearing responsibility for imprisonment and administering punishment in both types of institutions based on accepted antebellum practices In this way, my stu dy fits with the narrative of nineteenth century state formation as illustrated by scholars such as Morton Keller, Lawrence Friedman and William Novak 16 For Ayerss views on the prison in the North, South, and Europe, see Ayers, Vengeance and Justice 7172. 17 Rebecca M. McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment: Protest, Politics, and the Making of the American Penal State, 17761941 (New York: Cambridge University Press 2008) 3.
20 Morton Kellers 1977 book, Affairs of State: Public Life in Late Nineteenth Century America critically examines the expansion of national power in the late nineteenth century Furthermore, his characterization of the Civil War as a critical event that enabled the federal government to assume a more active role in public life speaks to my analysis of the federal and Confederate governments involvement in imprisonment Keller notes that the 1880s and 1890s were a time that witnessed conflict between old values and the pressures of massive change. I n my view, however, this is true of the war as its circumsta nces propelled the national governments both federal and Confederateto assume greater responsibility for imprisonment ushering in massive change since this was a role typically under the authority of state governments or local citizens.18 My study confirm s Kellers assertion that the war created new possibilities for civil and military authority by analyzing how state, federal, and Confederate officials used penitentiaries and military prisons to punish a wide range of offenders from criminals (both civilians and soldiers), to prisoners of war, to treason suspects.19 For the state governments, like those in Ohio and Virginia, this practice was old hat, but as Lawrence Friedman suggests, this role of the national governments greatly expanded during wartime. Two works by Lawrence Friedman molded my thinking about the relationship between the national government and the states in terms of punishment and imprisonment My contention that the federal and Confederate government s operation of military prisons para lleled those of penitentiaries is supported by Friedmans work, which demonstrates the disorganized nature of the criminal justice system in the early ninetee nth century I n his 1993 book Crime and Punishment in American History Friedman notes that in the early nineteenth century there was 18 Morton Keller, Affairs of State: Public Lif e in Late Nineteenth Century America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1977) vii viii. 19 Keller, Affairs of State 17.
21 no concrete definition of the criminal justice system and that the police and the penitentiary were new social inventions that arose out of a painful awareness that the pathologies of a mobile society demanded new te chniques of control.20 T here were few federal crimes in the antebellum period ; some were ordinary crimes in a federal setting (e.g. murder on the high seas), while others included forgery, perjury in a federal court, immigration offenses, customs violatio ns, and smuggling. It is in punishing these federal crimes that the lines between the state and federal governments became blurred As Friedman notes, before the twentieth century, criminal justice was overwhelmingly the business of the states, not the fe deral government.21 This being the case, there was only one federal penitentiary which was in the District of Columbia, and the federal government paid state penitentiaries to hold federal offenders not sentenced to the federal pen i tentiary State authori ties were then permitted to use these federal inmates in their prison labor system.22 E ven before the war, then, federal and state inmates were mixed and both were subject to the same treatment regardless of the sentencing authority and the nature of their crime s In addition to the federal and state governments overlapping in their use of state penitentiaries Friedman s 2005 study A History of American Law points out that no part of the criminal justice system was particularly organized, pr ofessi onalized, or bureaucratic. For example, public defenders and district attorneys worked only part time, and no one could even be sure that policies of criminal justice, however well formulated, would actually be carried out.23 20 Lawrence M. Friedman, Crime and Punishment in American History (New York: Basic Books, 1993), 1213. 21 Ibid., 261262. 22 Linda Dailey Paulson, Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, in David Levinson, ed., Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment, Vol. 3 (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 2002), 1008. 23 Lawrence Friedman, A History of American Law 3d ed. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005), 212 and 214.
22 These findings have important implications for my study First, my findings reveal that penitentiary and military officials were, like other officials in the criminal justice system, without experience and professional training. Second, since the system was not bureaucratic and federa l authorities had a long standing practice of turning to states to discipline offenders, it is logical that the federal and Confederate governments would borrow penitentiary practices to operate military prisons when the national government s (North and South) for the first time during the Civil War bore great responsibility f or the punishment of inmates M any Americans felt that, as Friedman notes, it was important to restrain the national government in criminal matters.24 However, the federal and Confederate government s establishment and operation of military prisons reveals that they assumed an active role in punishment through incarceration, a phenomenon that as my research will demonstrate many Americans even those held as prisoners of war as sociated with criminality Furthermore, the federal and Confederate governments involvement with imprisonment, both in penit entiaries and military prisons, fits into the trend towards increasing government power that William Novak argues existed t hroughout the antebellum period In his 1996 study The Peoples Welfare: Law and Regulation in NineteenthCentury America William Novak demonstrate s how, throughout the 1800s civil liberties and private interests had to be consistent with the regulation of the p ublic interest.25 Throughout the century, state governments played an increasing role in policing public spaces and enforcing public morality for the sake of social order and people demonstrated a willingness to employ the 24 Ibid., 217. 25 William J. Novak, The Peoples Welfare: Law and Regulation in NineteenthCentury America (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1996), 11, 17, 235.
23 full, coercive, and regulatory powers of law and government 26 The establishment of penitentiaries reinforced this notion. In my view, the Union and Confederate governments involvement in incarceration and their establishment of military prisons furthered this trend since the governme nts constructed military prisons to keep order a nd ensure loyalty Ultimately, Novak assert s, and my analysis of penitentiaries and military prisons confirms, the idea that the Civil War inspired new definitions and uses of centralized power .27 Civil War scholars, however, have passed up the opportunity to analyze how the Union and Confederate governments involvement in imprisonment through military prisons and penitentiaries increased during wartime and instead have focused on inmates sufferin g and failed exchange policies. William Hesseltine, William Marvel, Reid Mitchell, and Charles W. Sanders, Jr. best represent this line of argument Hesseltines 1930 publication, Civil War Prisons: A Study in War Psychology remains the standard work in the field despite its age. Hesseltine posits that war psychosis resulted in mutual delusions that shaped both Northern and Southern prison policies and conditions As reports of the horrendous conditions that Northerners faced in Southern prisons reached t he Northern readers through newspapers, they believed that Southern commandants and guards deliberately mistreated Union prisoners Because of this, Union officials retaliated against Southern prisoners.28 Hesseltine notes that war psychosis affected both the Union and the Confederacy He traces its development from the first prisoners and the establishment of the prison and parole systems to the Dix Hill exchange cartel of 1862 and its collapse in 1863, which necessitated the creation of notorious prisons, such as Andersonville to deal with rising prison populations 26 Ibid., 17. 27 Ibid., 241. 28 Hesseltine, Civil War Prisons xxiv.
24 Hesseltine posits that the war instilled enmity in Northern minds and that this hatred exacerbated Union proponents outrage at Northern prisoners treatment at places like Andersonville, caus ing Union officials to enact a policy of retaliation against Confederate prisoners. Keeping in line with the theme of prisoners suffering, William Marvel examines the horrendous conditions that existed at Andersonville in his 1994 book, Andersonville: The Last Depot Marvel focuses on the extent to which inmates suffered at Andersonville, but also notes that some Northern prisoners accounts were likely exaggerated He posits a brief argument that Andersonville itself operated as a city that consisted of roads, a marketplace with various commercial establishments, neighborhoods, ethnic ghettos, crime, and religious revivals The main emphasis however, is on various problems at the prison, such as inadequate suppl ies disease, death, escape attempts, overcr owding, and prison logistics that plagued the camp. Despite all of the problems that Andersonvilles inmates withstood, Marvel remains sympathetic to Commandant Henry Wirz and concludes that Wirz became a martyr for Southern prison atrocities, or, as Reid Mitchell would likely suggest, Wirz suffered the consequences of the prison systems overall failure. Reid Mitchells 1997 article, Our Prison System, Supposing We Had Any : The Confederate and Union Prison Systems, examines the formation of Northern an d Southern prison systems as a step towards the U.S. Armys preparation for modern or total war and notes the creation of the prison system, its failure, and the consequent atrocious conditions in military prisons Mitchell focuses on familiar themes withi n Civil War military prison historiography such as the exchange cartels effect on the formation and cohesiveness of the prison systems, the role of black prisoners of war in exchange negotiations, and physical conditions in the military prison s that caused disease, suffering, and death Additionally, Mitchell addresses the fact that
25 scholarship on prisons is lacking due to post war finger pointing, bad memories, and Northern and Southern allegations of barbarity Mitchell acknowledges Hesseltine s thesis, but argues that Union and Confederate administrative incompetence and neglect were as responsible, if not more so than a Union retaliatory policy for Confederate inmates death s .29 Charles W. Sanders, Jr. pushes the notion of Northern and Southern prisoners suffering in his provocative revisionist account of Andersonville, Cahaba, Florence, and Danville prisons in the South, and Camp Douglas, Elmira, Camp Chase, and Rock Island prisons in the North Sanders 2005 book, While in the Hands of the Enemy: Military Prisons of the Civil War vehemently rejects the idea that Northern and Southern authorities could not control prison conditions and that no systematic maltreatment of inmates occurred.30 Sanders examines the Union and Confederacys unprepa redness for dealing with the prisoner of war crisis, and the political motivations for, establishment of, and operation of the Northern and Southern prison systems and the aforementioned camps Sanders acknowledges the exchange breakdowns role in creating negative prison conditions and recognizes the fact that both the North and the South suffered from supply shortages However, he reveals, through Union and Confederate prison officials own words, that prisoners of war suffered intentional maltreatment be cause of the fact that administrative figures viewed them as pawns in a political game. 29 Reid Mitchell, Our Prison System Supposing We Had Any: The Confederate and Union Prison Systems, in On the Road to Total War: The American Civil War and the German Wars of Unification, 1861187, ed. Stig Forster and Jorg Nagler (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 581 582. In a recent book, Roger Pickenpaugh also demonstrates that Hesseltines thesis is still relevant through his conclusion that Union officials were respon sible for the suffering of Southern inmates since they abided by a policy of retaliation. Pickenpaughs study focuses on many Northern camps such as northern camps such as Johnsons Island, Camp Chase, Camp Douglas, Elmira, Fort Delaware, and Point Lookout among many others. Roger C. Pickenpaugh, Captives in Gray: The Civil War Prisons of the Union (Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 2009). 30 Sanders, While in the Hands of the Enemy 2.
26 Given this review, it is evident that existing s cholarship on Civil War prisons provides an extensive overview of how the prison systems inadequacies decisions made b y officials, and the failed exchange system contributed to prisoners suffering and caused them to endured abhorrent conditions This dissertation, however, shifts the focus by analyzing how officials operated penitentiaries and military prisons during war time It reveals that military prison officials made the same types of decisions about prison administration and punishment as did penitentiary officials and contends that military prisons and penitentiaries operated in much the same way despite their diff erent physical structure s and the type of inmates imprisoned I intentionally shied away from examining notorious Union and Confederate prisons like Elmira, Camp Douglas, Andersonville, Libby Prison, and Belle Isle since they represent the most famous cases of military prisons and have received attention by the scholars previously discussed Rather, my goal was to focus on prisons that have received little attention in order to add to the scholarship on military pri sons by directly compar ing the operation of penitentiaries and military prisons within three cities the federal capital, the Confederate capital, and a state capital This focus allows me to link my analysis of military prisons to broader trends of nineteenthcentury imprisonment and government centralization. The three military prisons that I selected Old Capitol Prison, Castle Thunder, and Camp Chase in fact paint a more accurate portrait of what common military prisons looked like according to population According to Lonnie Speer, the maximum capacity for these three prisons were as follows: Old Capitol Prison, 2,673; Castle Thunder, 3,000; and Camp Chase, 9,423. In his study, Portals to Hell: Military Prisons of the Civil War Speer records 117 total Co nfederate and 106 Union military prisons Of the known population totals, Speer lists one Confederate and eight Union camps holding under 100 inmates; twenty two Confederate and twenty five Union camps holding from 100 to 999
27 inmates; six Confederate and f ive Union camps holding 1,0001,999 inmates; one Confederate and three Union camps holding from 2,0002,999 inmates; three Confederate and three Union camps holding from 3,0003,999 prisoners; and three Confederate and one Union camp(s) holding from 4,0004,999 inmates. The number of prison camps holding over 5,000 camps is nominal, and extreme ly large camps that held over 10 ,000 are few and far between They include Camp Douglas (Chicago) at 12,082, Fort Delaware (Delaware) at 12,600, Point Lookout (Maryla nd) at 22,000, Belle Isle (Richmond) at 10,000, Salisbury (North Carolina) at 10,321 and Andersonville (Georgia) at 32,899.31 Not only do Camp Chase, Old Capitol Prison, and Castle Thunder make good case studies as far as military prisons are concerned, the ir home cities also fill a gap in scholarly analysis on penitentiaries. M y reaso ns for selecting Columbus, Ohio, Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia for study are many The first is to answer historian Michael Hindus s call for comparative studies o f Northern and Southern imprisonment .32 My analysis touches the three major regions of the United States that were evident in the nineteenth century Dario Melossi and Massimo Pavarini contend that the nineteenth century United States could be divided into three distinct parts: the industrialized North the agricultural West and the slave holding South.33 Washington, Columbus, and Richmond reflect these trends and provide the opportunity to examine the seat of federal power, state power in the burgeoning wes t, and both southern and Confederate power ultimately revealing that military prison and penitentiary operation was very similar in all areas through the Civil War 31 Lonnie R. Speer, Portals to Hell: Military Prisons of the Civil War (Mechanicsburg, PA.: Stackpole Books, 1997) 323340. 32 Hindus, Prison and Plantation, xxi. 33 Dario Melossi and Massimo Pavarini, The Prison and the Factory: Origins of the Penitentiary System trans. Glynis Cousin (Totowa, NJ: Barnes & Noble Books, 1981), 116.
28 These cities also break with the extant scholarly focus on imprisonment Historian Nicole Hahn Rafter has noted that, all too often, prison literature generalizes from the northeastern pattern.34 Many scholars writing about confinement in ninetee nthcentury America conform with this model, justifying their studies of penitentiaries in places like New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts with the fact that these states witnessed the birth of the Auburn and Pennsylvania systems, were the vanguard of reform, and were central to the experiment of liberal discipline.35 This dissertation breaks with that pattern by considering how imprisonment operated in other areas of the country and demonstrates similarities in penal administration despite regional differences There are many advantages to studying these three locations First, the selection of C olumbus, Richmond, and Washington presents an opportunity to examine regional dynamics : how northern, southern, and federal officials dispensed punishment and how citizens on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line made sense of carceral institutions Second, each of these cities contained a penitentiary and a military prison, facilitating direct comparison of the phenomenon of imprisonment and the experience of confinement across institutional boundaries, and demonstrating that the experience of imprisonment a nd confinement for administrators and inmates transcended institutional type and regional boundaries Third, as Rebecca McLennan notes, penitentiaries were typically located some distance from towns and cities, but this study 34 Nicole Hahn Rafter, Partial Justice : Women, Prisons, and Social Control, 2nd ed. (New Brusnwick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1990), 64. 35 W. David Lewis, From Newgate to Dannemora: The Rise of the Penitentiary in New York, 17961848 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1965) vii viii; McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment 12; Michael Meranze, Laboratories of Virtue : Punishment, Revolution, and Authority in Philadelphia (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1996) 4.
29 focuses on prisons that were located in metropolitan areas and under close watch by both state and national authorities .36 This study focuses on three penitentiaries and three military prisons In Columbus, this analysis focuses on the Ohio Penitentiary and Camp Chase Prison; in Richmond, the Virginia Penitentiary and Castle Thunder Prison; and, in Washington, the United States Penitentiary for the District of Columbia and Old Capitol Prison The penitentiaries detained common crimi nals, but they also held prisoners of war and as needed throughout the century soldiers guilty of crimes Similarly, t he three military prisons held prisoners of war, treason suspects, spies, and other enemies of the state in addition to criminals, signa ling immediate commonalities between the two institutional types Although it is important to note the types of inmates that penitentiaries and military prisons held, this study will not focus on questions revolving around the causes of crime and its chang ing patterns over time I remain primarily interested in administrative practice and inmates experiences ; there is no evidence that the crime that inmates committed had any impact on their treatment or their experiences behind bars In my research, I also found scant evidence that race played a factor, especially since the majority of inmates incarcerated before and during the Civil War were white. Gender, then, is the only significant variable that my evidence allows me to address in regards to administrative decisions and inmates experiences. A s Lawrence Friedman has noted the penitentiary system treated all prisoners alike.37 T his study examines the common experience of confinement, which includes how prison 36 McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment 17. 37 Analysis of penitentiary prison statistics in the next chapter will clearly demonstrate that whites outnumbered blacks in penitentiaries during the Civil War. Military prison of ficials, however, did not keep records in the same way that penitentiary officials did, so I do not know the exact ratio of white and black inmates in military prisons and military prison officials seldom discuss black inmates. Friedman, History of America n Law 454.
30 officials and inmates handled issues like p unishment, experienced life behind bars, interacted with the outside world, and reacted to each other in prison amid shifting power dynamics as inmates resisted guards efforts at control.38 It follows Larry Goldsmiths call to view the prison from the ins ide out, seeking to understand what went on behind bars from the perspective of both prison officials and, perhaps more significantly, the inmates themselves, who left few records.39 Both penitentiaries and military prisons fit Erving Goffmans definition of total institutions : they were designed to protect the community from intentional dangers, be they criminals, enemy prisoners, or treason suspects.40 Both institutions also, as David Garland has noted, demonstrate that punishment is historically determined ; punishment in penitentiaries resulted from the turn of the century notion that the state should be responsible for criminal offenders and punishment in military prisons emerged to ensure loyalty during war.41 As time progressed, both penitentiar ies and military prisons became central to United States society as they kept criminals off of the street, prisoners of war from bolstering enemy forces, and treasonous individuals from causing problems .42 P enitentiary administration was structured along m ilitary hierarchical lines I nmates, the public, and guards themselves believed in the humane treatment of inmates and that guards 38 Larry Goldsmith, History from the Inside Out: Prison Life in NineteenthCentury Massachusetts, Journal of Social History 31, no. 1 (Autumn 1997): 111. Goldsmith notes that the prisons balance of power was uneven since guards had the upper hand, but contends that inmates were nonetheless influential. 39 Ibid., 110. 40 Erving Goffman, Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1961), 45. 41 David Garland, Punishment and Modern Society: A Study in Social Theory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 21. 42 James B. Jacobs, Stateville: The Penitentiary in Mass Society (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1977), 6.
31 should conduct themselves in a gentlemanly manner.43 Despite these intentions, administrators at both institutions faced chall enges throughout the century especially during wartime, in maintaining humane standards The populations of both institutions increased during the war, but even as military prison officials accommodate d rising numbers of inmates as the Civil War dragged o n, they continued to make the same types of administrative decisions and to use the same type of punishments common in penitentiaries Both military prisons and penitentiaries served the same function in nineteenth century American society: punitive Al though penitentiaries were intended to reform inmates, many scholars, such as Michael Ignatieff, Erving Goffman, Mary Gibson, David Garland, and L. Mara Dodge assert that penitentiaries failed at reform and contend, as Dodge states, that the purpose of i mprisonment is punishment.44 Similarly, the pioneers of prison development envisioned self sustaining, if not profitable, institutions based on prison labor programs Although penitentiaries employed the factory system of labor, the institutions were hardl y a focus of economic activity.45 Nonetheless, since penitentiaries were established with the intention of becoming self sufficient, officials at both penitentiaries and military prisons desired that their institutions place a minima l financial burden on the state while ensuring that society remained free of the nuisance that their charges posed Given these factors, the appropriateness of examining Civil War military prisons in light of the development of nineteenth century penitentiaries is apparent More importantly, this 43 Melossi and Pavarini, The Prison and the Factory 158 159. 44 L. Mara Dodge, Whore s and Thieves of the Worse Kind : A Study of Women, Crime, and Prisons, 18352000 (Dekalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2002), 266; Michael Ignatieff, A Just Measure of Pain: The Penitentiary in the Industrial Revolution 1750 1850 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978); Garland, Punishment and Modern Society ; Goffman, Asylums ; Mary Gibson, Global Perspectives on the Birth of the Prison, The American Historical Review 116, no. 4 (October 2011): 10401063. 45 Melossi and Pava rini, The Prison and the Factory, 143.
32 concentration fills an analytic gap in t he historiography of Civil War p risons by shifting the focus away from suffering inmat es and malicious administrators Instead, it examines how the institutions fit within the general context of the nineteenth century and compares the broader purpose s functions and day to day experiences of guards and inmates at both penitentiaries and military prisons In order to lay the foundation for this study, I have delved heavily into the following rese arch with the goal of gaining the perspective of both penitentiary and military prison officials and penitentiary and military prison inmates. I wanted the types of sources that I consulted for both institutions to be parallel to provide the best possible comparison of the institutions Therefore, for both penitentiaries and military prisons, I primarily consulted reports drafted by penitentiary and military prison officials, letters and diaries of inmates, and petitions for pardon written by inmates or the ir loved ones The annual reports of the Virginia, Ohio, and D.C. Penitentiaries proved invaluable in gaining direct insight from penitentiary wardens, chaplains, matrons, and physicians These reports also revealed much about the rules and regulations gov erning the penitentiaries, the types of jobs that inmates performed in prison, the infractions of which inmates were guilty, and the punishments meted out in response While these reports undoubtedly are biased to depict the best portrait of the penitentia ry possible, they also reveal the institutions financial struggles, problems in maintaining order, and conditions that detracted from penitentiary life such as overcrowding, poor sanitation, and inadequate supply. In addition to reading annual reports, I also read a range of petitions from those asking for appointment to a position as a penitentiary official to those of inmates and their family members seeking release, or at least permission to visit or otherwise contact loved ones These
33 petitions reveal ed the qualities necessary to assume charge over a penitentiary and give insight into the contact that inmates had with the outside world Documents written directly by penitentiary inmates are much more difficult to come by than those authored by officia ls Nonetheless, I was able to get a sense of inmates experiences in penitentiaries through some personal letters and through their own petitions for pardon, written either to the warden or to the state governor In order to gain insight into the operati on and inmates experiences in Civil War military prisons, I relied heavily on the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion on petitions for release from inmates and their family members, and on the letters and diaries of inmates themselves The Offic ial Records contains a great deal of correspondence between military prison superintendents and federal officials and also contains various orders from the Union and Confederate governments regarding the purpose of military prisons and guidelines for their operation Inmates and their family members frequently wrote to Union and Confederate officials specifically, to military prison superintendents, state governors, or even the presidents themselves to plead cases for release. These petitions, like those o f penitentiary inmates, provide excellent insight into the conditions in prison, inmates behavior, and reasons why pardons were sought I tried to limit use of inmates letters, diaries, and other personal accounts of incarceration to the war years since, as previously mentioned Ben jamin Cloyds work demonstrates that post war accounts were heavily biased as northerners and southerners tried to use the prison issue to prove their sides moral superiority. My analysis is not completely free of post war accounts, however.
34 In presenting my findings, I have structured the chapters as follows Chapter 2, Commonalities among Federal, State, Civil, and Military Punishment, is rooted in the context of ev olving institutions in America and highlights the intertwined path of antebellum penitentiaries and military prisons Setting the stage by reviewing the beginnings of penitentiaries, their practices, and administration, Chapter 2 reveals how administrative practices common in antebellum penitentiaries transitioned into military prisons In addition, Chapter 2 lays out the basic issues and problems facing both penitentiaries and Civil War military prisons while introducing the key developments that impacted military prisons Among these were the Auburn System, the Lieber Code, the presence of female inmates, the failed prisoner exchange cartel, and the increasing control over penitentiaries and military prisons exerted by the centralized national governments in the North and South. Underlying all of these issues, Ch apter 2 underscores the change in the basic tenet of early nineteenth century incarceration the move from reform to detention. Ultimately, Chapter 2 demonstrates that the state governments bore primary responsibility for incarceration during the antebellum period, but during the Civil War the federal government increased its involvement in imprisonment through its creation of military prisons and use of state penitentiaries to punish military offenders Regardless, the federal government relied heavily on c ivil practices in its operation of military prisons and administration of punishment Chapter 3 Penitentiaries and Military Prisons: Built on Common Groun d, lays out the common foundation of both penitentiaries and military prisons It looks at the shared threads of physical locations of the institutions, social issues, economic trends, and population growth Chapter 3 also describes the physical layouts of penitentiaries and military prisons and provides a basic analysis of the detainees demographi cs in both types of institutions Finally, Chapter 3
35 examines the geographic reach of the penitentiaries and military prisons as they detained prisoners and helped maintain the new wartime political and social order. Chapter 4 The Purpose and Role of Penitentiaries and Military Prisons, details the purpose and role of penitentiaries a nd military prisons, concentrating on the common, if not identical, characteristics of both types of institutions It traces the antebellum foundations of penitentiaries an d follows their application to military prisons This includes the mixing of civilian and military prisoners, the goal of having self sufficient institutions, and the role of prison labor as an economic, punitive, and/or reformatory factor Gender roles in work for female inmates are also discussed Chapter 4 emphasizes the assertion of the control that national governments, both North and South, assumed over military prisons and exercised in penitentiaries but not at the total expense of state government interference. Chapter 5 Administration, Regulations, Infractions, and Punishment, looks at the very visible aspects of commonality and continuity between penitentiaries and military prisons By focusing on administration, regulations, infractions, and p unishments, Chapter 5 clearly shows the link between the two types of institutions In addition, Chapter 5 focuses on some of the most controversial forms of corporal punishment whippings and lethal force Finally, Chapter 5 continues the common thread of penitentiaries and military prisons holding both civil and military prisoners as well as prisoners of war, including the famous John Hunt Morgan. Chapter 6 Inmates Identity and Disobedience, continues analysis of the administration, regulations, infractions, and punishments in penitentiaries and military prisons However, the focus of Chapter 6 is on the words and actions of the inmates themselves going from the abstract administration policies to the personal words and actions of officials and inmates It also looks at the punishments meted out by officials and endured by inmates,
36 including lethal force In all these cases, the similarities between penitentiaries and military prisons continue to be seen while the notion of the soldier/criminal controve rsy and the treatment of female prisoners are addressed Chapter 7 Pleas, Pardon, and Communication : Inmates Interactions Inside the Walls and with the Outside World, looks at a basic human need through the accounts of administrators, inmates, and fam ily members communication and interaction Faced with imprisonment and isolation, inmates at both penitentiaries and military prisons turned to established avenues such as social standing and political connections to gain pardons They also invoked traditi onal values such as good character, family need, and male duty in support of their pleas Overriding all, however, was the need for communication and human interaction Chapter 7 reveals both positive and negative communications as inmates became confrontational with guards and officials or settled into more docile forms of interaction such as letters and longed for visitors. Chapter 8 summarizes the main premise of this dissertation and recounts the evidence in its support It also presents further supporting evidence by looking at the operation of penitentiaries and military prisons after the Civil War The two types of institutions continued to operate in strikingly similar ways and remained interconnected Finally, by extension, Chapter 8 comments on the role of prisons in the modern day United States and the continued overlap of the civilian and military sectors in incarceration and punishment. To begin, then, we turn our attention to the many ways in which the federal government relied on the sta tes to help punish criminals and how the civil and military punishment s overlapped in the antebellum period.
37 CHAPTER 2 COMMONALITIES AMONG FEDERAL, STATE; CIVIL AND MILITARY PUNISHMENTS The study of evolving and developing institutions is exciting and revealing particularly when researching the first half of the nineteenth century From 1800 to 1860, Americans engaged in a wide array of institution building, partially in response to the new challenges that emerged from population growth and economi c development, and partially as an outgrowth of international conversations about man's fundamental nature and society's capacity to shape human behavior. Americans experimented with schools, orphanages, hospitals, workhouses and insane asylums. Some were run by private organizations, but, increasingly, local and state governments took a hand in designing and building all manner of public institutions. These developments paralleled huge changes in how Americans punished convicted criminals. Here again, ext ernal demands and evolving theories intertwined, as states and localities turned more and more to incarceration as a means of first, reforming, and, later, simply isolating the criminals. By the second quarter of the century, several states, particularly i n the North, had begun constructing larger penitentiaries to house a variety of convicted criminals as a state wide complement to the existing network of local jails.1 These penitentiaries became the focus of intense scrutiny and debate as reformers experi mented with various systems while penitentiary officials faced challenges posed by insufficient budgets and general overcrowding. Meanwhile, the young federal government developed its own institutions and practices, working out of the same intellectual fra mework and often becoming highly integrated with the state systems. In Washington, D.C., the U. S Penitentiary served the needs of the federal district, 1 In the colonial period, local jails held prisoners waiting for trial, debtors, and individuals ordered to make any kind of restitution and failed to do so. In the nineteenth century, local and county jails continued to hold these types of offenders, but also served as places of punishment that were filthy, degraded, degrading, poorly run, and cruel. Friedman, Crime and Punishment 49, 82.
38 much as the state penitentiaries responded to statewide demands. Outside of Washington, there were no f ederal penal institutions, so federal courts routinely sentenced offenders to state penitentiaries and, as noted in Chapter 1 the federal government paid state penitentiaries for this practice. The U.S. military had its own judicial apparatus, but by mid century the military justice system, which originated from the 1775 Articles of War, was subject to civilian control through Congress and the Executive Branch.2 Throughout the nineteenth century, military authorities used penitentiaries to hold prisoners o f war and soldiers in violation of military or civil law During the Civil War, soldiers found guilty of violating military and civil law were held in one of a handful of military prisons. Military prisons, however, were temporary as the Union and Confeder ate governments created them on an as needed basis. In many fundamental ways, penitentiaries and military prisons operated from a shared set of assumptions and procedures. But even before the outbreak of the Civil War, this evolving system of penal instit utions faced strains, both structural and philosophical. Once the Civil War came, the challenges would multiply enormously. Suddenly, new categories of political prisoners, many criminally convicted soldiers, and tens of thousands of prisoners of war would place unheard of demands on the nascent Union penal structure while becoming a massive challenge for the infant Confederacy.3 In 1942, historian William E.S. Flory wrote that the disposition of prisoners of war cannot be considered apart from the social, economic, and military situation that existed when 2 The military justice system included courts martial, laws of military discipline, and sentencing. Jonathan Lurie, Arming Military Justice, Vol. 1: The Origins of the United States Court of Military Appeals, 17751950 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), 58, 11, 21, and 29. 3 A political prisoner was an individual detained for suspected treason, which was defined by the Constitution as levying war against the United States, or adhering to their Enemies, giving them aid and comfort. Friedman, Crime and Punishment 66.
39 they were captured.4 Perhaps Florys assertion has been forgotten as the years passed. Civil War historians have limited their inquiry into the treatment of prisoners of war, the war inspired problems of supply, and the cessation of prisoner exchanges, rather than analyzing how the years leading up to the conflict, the disorganized nature of the criminal justice system, and the operation of penitentiaries informed the operation of military prisons. If the war years are placed in the broader context of the nineteenth century, it becomes evident that military punishments, in addition to the guiding principles for the treatment of prisoners of war, reflected the same principles and practices that guided penit entiaries. It is not surprising that the military employed similar punishments in both military prisons and in wartime penitentiaries since military discipline was subject to civilian oversight, since the federal government turned to state penitentiaries to punish its offenders, and since guidelines, like the Lieber Code of 1863, emphasized the same antebellum values, such as humanity, honor, and justice, that also guided the treatment of penitentiary inmates.5 Before delving into the specifics of penitent iary and military prison operation, it is first necessary to understand the overall prisoner of war crisis, the development of military laws governing the treatment of military prisoners, the evolution of the prisons under study, and the three cities in wh ich they were located. Washington, D.C., Columbus, Ohio, and Richmond, Virginia, all with their penitentiaries and military prisons provide clear examples of how such institutions were intertwined if not, in fact, interdependent. A patriotic fervor swept the divided nation when the Civil War broke out in April 1861. Northerners and Southerners hastily prepared for a war that they believed would surely end 4 William E.S. Flory, Prisoners of War: A Study in the Development of International Law (Washington, DC: American Council on Public Affairs, 1942), 10. 5 General Orders No. 100: The Lieber Code (April 24, 1863), Art. 4, The Avalon Project accessed June 21, 2012, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/lieber.asp
40 within a few months. Union and Confederate politicians failed to foresee four years of bloody conflict Despite this assumption of a brief conflict, however, U.S. Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs stated that the North expected to take care of large numbers of prisoners of war. On July 12, 1861, Meigs suggested to Secretary of War Simon Cameron t hat prisoners should be temporarily housed in the common jail of Washington. He also urged the secretary to appoint an accomplished gentleman as commissary general of prisoners to avoid great embarrassment when inmates begin to come in.6 There was no way Meigs could have known the staggering number of prisoners the war would bring. During the years 18611865, Union and Confederate officials held a combined 409,608 Americans as prisoners of war.7 The U.S. and Confederate governments quickly made prepar ations for the captives, first by relying on existing civilian institutions and then by attempting to centralize authority over military prisons. At the beginning of the war, both the Confederacy and the Union lacked an organized system for dealing with pr isoners of war. The Union and Confederate governments initially addressed the crisis by establishing a parole system through which officials released enemy captives within a period of days, pending the prisoners pledge not to take up arms against them.8 A s the number of Confederate prisoners grew, Union military officials took further steps to organize the prison system. In October 1861, Quartermaster General Meigs appointed Lieutenant Colonel William Hoffman of the Eighth U.S. Infantry as Commissary Gener al of Prisoners. Hoffmans duties included keeping an account of prisoners, managing exchanges whenever they were in effect, and providing for the wellbeing of Southern prisoners in Northern camps.9 6 M.C. Meigs to Simon Cameron, July 12, 1861, O.R. Series II, Vol. 3, 8. 7 Margret E. Wagner, Gary W. Gallagher, and Paul Finkelman, eds., The Library of Congress Civil War Desk R eference (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002), 583. 8 Hesseltine, Civil War Prisons 34. 9 Ibid., 35.
41 Early in his tenure, Hoffman struggled to assert his auth ority Secretary of War Simon Cameron failed to notify military departmental commanders of Hoffmans position Therefore, commanders managed the prisoner crisis on their own until the early months of 1862 when field officers recognized Hoffmans authority .10 Meanwhile, the federal government established stockades or commandeered various buildings to detain prisoners of war, a practice that continued as needed until the wars end. This practice resulted in the establishment of infamous camps such as Elmira (Ne w York), Point Lookout (Maryland), Camp Douglas (Chicago), Johnsons Island (Ohio), Camp Chase (Ohio), and Old Capitol Prison (Washington, D.C.). Each of these prisons would be filled beyond maximum capacity during the war. The total numbers speak to the m agnitude of the prisoner crisis: Elmiras maximum of 5,000 was almost doubled; Point Lookout could contain 10,000 captives, but actually held 22,000; Camp Douglas doubled its maximum capacity of 6,000; Johnsons Island, designed for 1,000, held over 3,000; Camp Chases room for 4,000 was stretched to over 9,400; and the Old Capitols capacity of 500 extended to over 2,700.11 The Confederacy faced similar problems in det aining prisoners of war, but took longer to centralize its oversight The first Union pri soners of war arrived in Richmond at the end of July 1861, following the first Battle of Manassas. Southern civilians celebrated the unfortunate Union men as proof that the Confederacy could defend itself as a nation.12 But as the war progressed, Richmonds citizens developed an antagonistic attitude toward the captives that centered on fear, suspicion, and competition for the overcrowded citys limited resources Richmonds residents, whether approvingly or not, relied on John H. Winder to keep order 10 Robert Earnest Miller, War Within Walls: Camp Chase and the Search for Administrative Reform, Ohio History 96 (1987): 36. 11 Speer, Portals to Hell, 324, 326, 327, 329. 12 Sandra V. Parker, Richmonds Civil War Prisons (Lynchburg, VA: H.E. Howard, 1990), 2.
42 Confe derate President Jefferson Davis appointed John H. Winder as Provost Marshal of Richmond following Winders resignation from the United States Army.13 Winder promptly imposed martial law and, consequently, earned citizens disapproval. Citizens believed that Winders treatment of them was strict, harsh, and highhanded, yet he was lenient towards Union prisoners of war. The captives received liberal paroles that allowed them to roam freely around Richmond during the early years of the war.14 Winders lax disci pline speaks to the Confederacys initial lack of centralized control over the prisoner of war crisis, but the Confederate government later addressed these issues. The Confederacy lacked a centralized prison system for much of the war and Richmonds functi on in handling the prisoner of war crisis changed throughout the conflict due to overcrowding and the breakdown of the exchange system. Despite the disorder that paroled Union prisoners created in Richmond, Confederate authorities initially believed that t he city was a desirable receiving point for federal captives. Richmonds five railroads facilitated the transfer of inmates to other locations in the South, a good thing since Winder decided in the fall of 1861 that the increasing number of Union captives posed a threat to the Confederate government and civilians. The railroads also allowed for the easy transportation of Union prisoners under the exchange system. Ultimately, Confederate authorities lacked a solution to the mounting threat that Federal priso ners posed because no centralized prison system existed.15 Confederate bureaucracy, war conditions, and the absence of an adequate alternative holding site caused 13 Speer, Portals to Hell, 13. 14 Speer, Portals to Hell, 13; Parker, Richmonds Civil War Prisons 2. 15 The Confederacy appointed a Commissary General o f Prisoners for the wars last two years; however, this appointment came too late to remedy prison problems and the mutual suffering of guards and captives. For further information on Richmond authorities handling of Union prisoners, see Parker, Richmond s Civil War Prisons 2 7.
43 Union soldiers to crowd Richmond throughout the war, compromising the health of fellow inmates guards, and Richmonds own residents.16 The fact that no centralized military prisons system existed does not negate the Confederate governments increased role in overseeing imprisonment Confederate authorities operated three main military prisons in R ichmond Belle Isle, Castle Thunder, and Libby Prison. Like the Union prisons, the demands on these prisons soon exceeded their intended capacity. Belle Isle was equipped to hold 3,000 inmates but reached a population of 10,000; Castle Thunders maximum cap acity of 1,400 was stretched to over 3,000; and although Libby Prison had room for 1,000, it eventually held over 4,200.17 As the war progressed, the population of Northern and Southern camps fluctuated, depending on the operation of exchange negotiations. By the end of 1861, the Union held approximately 3,000 prisoners compared to the Confederacys 6,000.18 Both sides controlled overcrowding by paroling prisoners as quickly as possible, but the continued influx led Northern and Southern officials to the barg aining table in 1862 to negotiate a general exchange agreement. The two sides agreed to a general exchange cartel in July 1862 that reduced the prisoner population until the cartels collapse in 1863. Under the terms of the cartel, prisoners of war were ex changed man for man and rank for rank. There was a scale of equivalents if men of lower rank were exchanged for those of higher rank.19 The exchange system collapsed in May 1863 when the Confederacy refused to exchange black prisoners and because Union General Ulysses 16 Marie Tyler McGraw, At the Falls: Richmond, Virginia, and Its People (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1994),140 141. 17 Speer, Portals to Hell, 332, 334, 336. 18 Speer, Portals to Hell, 52. 19 Speer, Portals to Hell, 102103 ; Gillispie Andersonvilles of the North 3637 84.
44 S. Grant wanted to deprive the South of manpower.20 By the end of that year, Union prisons held almost 41,000 Southern prisoners, primarily at Camp Chase, Old Capitol Prison, Point Lookout, Camp Douglas, and Johnsons Island among others. Southe rn prisons held 21,000, mainly in the Richmond prisons, and in Charleston, Columbia, and Macon in addition to other locations.21 Prison populations remained high throughout the remainder of the war and the death rate climbed as poor sanitation, inadequate supply, and disease plagued the camps. Another factor that contributed to the high incarceration rate was Lincolns issuing of General Orders No. 100, also known as the Lieber Code, on April 24, 1863. This dictate, according to Scott Nelson and Carol Sher iff, effectively turned the last two years of fighting into a war of captivity as the federal government detained individuals who took up arms against the government and who spoke against it The Confederacy engaged in this same practice, even though it did not formally acknowledge the Lieber Codes validity.22 The United States military laws, including the 1863 Lieber Code, have rece ived modest attention in regard to the impact that they had on the wartime prison crisis The Lieber Codes author was Germa n American political science professor and scholar of nineteenth century warfare, Francis Lieber The code served two main functions: it criminalized Confederate raids on Union supply lines while legalizing Union raids on Southern civilians, and it asserte d a uniform statement that the Unions goal regarding prisoners of war was humane treatment.23 20 Speer, Portals to Hell, 114. 21 For population totals and concentrations see Speer, Portals to Hell 159. 22 Scott Reynolds Nelson and Carol Sheriff, A People at War: Civilians and Soldie rs in Americas Civil War, 18541877 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 155156. 23 Nelson and Sheriff, A People at War 153 154; Flory Prisoners of War 57; Gillispie, Andersonvilles of the North, 85.
45 Brief examination of both the ideological and practical basis of penitentiaries and the U.S. military laws reveals not only where the ideological goal of humane t reatment of inmates originated, but also points to the commonalities between the civil and military spheres regarding the proper treatment and punishment of prisoners. Judging from these close connections, it is easy to understand how antebellum penal practices that originated in penitentiaries informed military prison administration and shaped the experiences of inmates in both the North and the South. As historian James Gillespie has noted, there was no governing body of law, like the Geneva Conventions, that dictated proper treatment of prisoners of war.24 Union and Confederate contemporaries instead relied on precedents from previous conflicts, like the American Revolution and the War of 1812, and on humanitarian ideals dating back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These same ideals influenced the creation and operation of penitentiaries.25 Since the development of the penitentiary system in the United States, particularly that of the Auburn system in the early nineteenth century, military and ci vil penal justice have influenced and paralleled each other. As noted in the introduction, t he establishment of penitentiaries resulted from the Enlightenment, when reformers emphasized the ability of institutions to change individuals The operation of penitentiaries was consequently predicated on the humane treatment of inmates.26 The end of the American Revolution caused United States citizens to enter the discussion, already apparent in Europe, about how best to discipline criminals and bring the Unite d States to 24 Gillispie, Andersonvilles of the North 72. 25 Flory, Prisoners of War, 159160. 26 Meranze, Laboratories of Virtue 4, 14.
46 accept the notion that the state should intervene to reform individuals.27 Penitentiary proponents touted penitentiaries as reflections of democratic values and the public craved knowledge of their inner operations While penitentiaries became h ighly visible, they were not the only type of carceral institution to gain public attention in the nineteenth century Penitentiaries were initially thought capable of reforming the minds and souls of criminals through education, labor, and religious inst ruction. This theory captured the attention of citizens and ignited national debate over the treatment of inmates throughout the first half of the century Americans philosophies about crime changed as the Revolutionary period faded and the Early National period began While colonials dealt with social issues such as deviance, illiteracy, poverty, and insanity on an individual level, Jacksonians believed that institutions such as penitentiaries, asylums, orphanages, and schools, which reflected democratic values and promoted social stability, should solve social problems to ensure community cohesion.28 Reformers and penitentiary officials heralded instances of reform in the early nineteenth century, but by 1860 this optimism faded and penitentiaries no longe r served a reformatory function as a result of dwindling state funds, corruption, lack of trained prison personnel, and overcrowding. Moreover, during t he late 1830s and early 1840s, a growing percentage of immigran t inmates crowded the state penitentiarie s and led white middleclass citizens to lose interest in reform.29 Put simply, it was much cheaper to let penitentiaries get noisy and crowded than it was to ensure that every individual had a solitary cell By mid century, then, the silent system was gone regimentation was far from absolute, and the penitentiary system was seen as a failure.30 27 McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment 19, 23; Meranze, Laboratories of Virtue 4. 28 Rothman, The Discovery of the Asylum xiii, xviiixix. 29 William Francis Kuntz, Criminal Sentencing in Three NineteenthCentury Cities: A Social History of Punishment in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, 18301880 (New York: Garland, 1988), 142. 30 Friedman, Crime and Punishment 82, 155156, and 159.
47 During the Civil War, military prison officials, like their penitentiary counterparts, managed noisy, crowded, and disorganized institutions. I t is reasonable to assume that military prison officials emulated many aspects of penitentiary discipline since, as previously stated, the federal government commonly turned to the state penitentiaries to discipline offenders and since military discipline impacted the formation of the Auburn system of penitentiary discipline. Under this system, designed by former military man Elam Lynds, inmates lived in solitary confinement at night and labored in congregate shops during the day making, among other things, various manufactured items, shoes, nails, clothing, and saddles. Inmates rose and slept by the bell and marched everywhere in lock step .31 Dario Melossi and Massimo Pavarini have noted that Auburn penitentiary discipline was structured along military hierarchical lines, and many wardens served in the army or navy. This experience was reflected in their administrative careers at penitentiaries. As in army life, prison officials wore uniforms, assembled at specific times, changed guard, were expected to behave in a gentlemanly manner, as if they were officers, and maintained a detached relationship similar to the one between officers and enlisted men.32 Although this type of regimentation eroded by mid century, the system of labor, program of punishment, and desire for order th at it inspired remained an elusive goal of penitentiary and military prison officials in the face of physical challenges. Military prisons and penitentiaries also faced the same practical and physical challenges. M any problems that plagued Civil War milita ry prisons, such as overcrowding, breakdown of discipline, poor supply, the administration of arbitrary punishment, and inexperienced guards 31 McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment 4 58 59. For information on Elam Lynds, see Mark Colvin, Penitentiaries, Reformatories, and Chain Gangs: Social Theory and the History of Punishment in Nineteenth Century America (New York: St. Martins Press, 1997) 90. 32 Melossi and Pavarini, The Prison and the Factory 158.
48 first hindered the operation of penitentiaries as it became impossible to compel all inmates to behave. Penitentia ry officials, due to population increase, could not mandate silence, force inmates to keep eyes downcast unless addressed by a prison official, provide constant supervision of inmates when they were out of their cells, ensure that all inmates march ed in lo ckstep, or compel all inmates to labor silently .33 Ultimately, guards used corporal punishm ents, instead of reformatory techniques, to ensure discipline. These problems which began in antebellum penitentiaries, reemerged during the Civil War in bot h penitentiaries and military p risons since as the war dragged on, overcrowding increased sanitary conditions deteriorated and food and clothing supplies dwindled. In addition, guards also used corporal punishment to compensate for their being outnumbered. Civil War contemporaries like their antebellum counterparts, were shock ed at the lackluster reputation of nineteenth century institutions of confinement. Even though state officials at penitentiaries and military officials at military prisons used phys ical punishment, state and federal officials demonstrated concern for designated groups of inmates throughout the century and these concerns persisted during wartime. Specifically, both state and federal authorities were sensitive to the mentally ill and t o females. In the first quarter of the nineteenth century, states supported the establishment of both penitentiaries and asylums in the United States. By the 1830s, as David Rothman has noted, Americans perceived insanity as a significant social problem. B y 1860, twenty eight of the thirty three states established asylums as responsibility for the insane shifted from the family to the state.34 The federal government demonstrated the same concern for insane members of the United States Army in the 1850s. Duri ng that decade, Congress approved acts authorizing the construction of a military 33 McKelvey, American Prisons 14 56. 34 Rothman, The Discovery of the Asylum 110 130.
49 asylum for the relief and support of invalid and disabled soldiers. It also established the Government Hospital for the Insane to provide humane care and enlightened curative treatment for members of the military.35 This provides yet another example of how the civil and military sectors shared common concerns regarding incarceration. The mentally ill were not the only group of inmates that gave penitentiary and military officials cause for concern. Military and civil authorities were also particularly concerned about female captives, since they posed unique challenges. Officials had a difficult time deciding how to treat a group of inmates whom many considered, as L. Mar a Dodge has noted, more hardened and depraved than their male counterparts and far beyond the hope of redemption.36 Female inmates in penitentiaries were a rarity before the Civil War and none of the nations first penitentiaries had separate facilitie s for female convicts, so they inhabited quarters near men.37 Since the number of female inmates was small in the antebellum period, officials did not see this as a significant issue. As historian Edward Ayers has noted, seldom could more than one or two wo men be found in a Southern penitentiary during the antebellum period.38 Generally speaking, as Nicole Hahn Rafter has revealed, the female prison population in the antebellum period rarely constituted more than 10 percent of the total prison population and was often much less.39 35 An Act to Found a Military Asylum for the Relief and Support of Invalid and Disabled Soldiers of the A rmy of the United States: Sec.3, 31st Cong. 2d s ess ., Ch. 25, 1851, Ch. 25 Appr oved, March 3, 1851, Vol. 9, 595, An Act to Organize for the Insane of the Army and Navy and of the District of Columbia, in the Said District, 33rd Cong. 2d s ess Ch. 199, 1855, in John F. Callan, The Military Laws of the United States, Relating to the Army, Volunteers, Militia, and to Bounty Lands and Pensions, from the Foundation of the Government to the Year 1863 (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1863), 415416, 437. 36 Dodge, Whores and Thieves 12. 37 Ibid., 13. 38 Ayers, Vengeance and Justice 62. 39 Rafter, Partial Justice ,10.
50 Circumstances changed during the Civil War years. According to Edith Abbott, wartime criminal statistics are hard to come by, but she concludes that, in general the number of female inmates in penitentiaries peaked in 1863 and 1864.40 Military prisons also filled with female captives as war broadened womens visibility in the public sphereas previously noted, wartime officials imprisoned approximately 100 women in Castle Thunder alone throughout its existence.41 Regardless of the total number of female inmates, both penitentiary and military officials separated inmates on the basis of gender, as best they could, within the same building. By mid century, many penitentiaries employed a matron to provide special care for women. Federal au thorities, however, preferred that male and female inmates should inhabit completely separate facilities and they established two female prisons, one in Louisville, Kentucky, and the other, the Chestnut Street Prison, in St. Louis, Missouri.42 The civil sec tor followed suit as autonomous womens prisons sprang up after the Civil War at the end of the nineteenth century.43 These decisions, in addition to the militarys use of many civil punishments, demonstrate how military and civil authorities used similar o perational practices. The military and civil sectors had much in common regarding the management of prisoners. Before looking specifically at penitentiary and military prison operation, it is 40 Edith Abbott, The Civil War and the Crime Wave of 1865 1870, Social Science Review 1, no. 2 (1927) : 215. 41 Estimate of the number of women confined in Castle Thunder in Parker, Ri chmonds Civil War Prisons 25. 42 Kristen L. Streater, She Rebels on the Supply Line: Gender Conventions in Civil War Kentucky, in Occupied Women: Gender, Military Occupation, and the American Civil War ed. LeeAnn Whites and Alecia P. Long (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009), 98 ; LeeAnn Whites, Corresponding with the Enemy : Mobilizing the Relational Field of Battle in St. Louis, in Occupied Women: Gender, Military Occupation, and the American Civil War ed. LeeAnn Whites and Alecia P. Long (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2009), 111. 43 Dodge, Whores and Thieves 12. For an excellent study of womens prisons in the post war West, see Anne M. Butler, Gendered Justice in the American West: Women Pri soners in Mens Penitentiaries (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997).
51 necessary to see how the military used penitentiary punishments Military law sanctioned many of the disciplinary practices used in penitentiaries throughout the nineteenth century, so it is not surprising that military officials used penitentiary practices to govern their prisons. In 1806, Congress determined that co urts martial could sentence soldiers to hard labor for up to one month. During the Civil War, U.S. Army regulations continued use of common penitentiary punishments for soldiers sentenced by courts martial, dictating that offenders could be punished with d eath, confinement on a bread and water diet, solitary confinement, hard labor, and ball and chain all punishments common in penitentiaries. The provision sanctioning the labor of confined soldiers extended to prisoners of war. Even though the United State s government determined in 1842 that prisoners of war were not considered criminal, the 1863 Lieber Code determined that these prisoners could be compelled to work for the benefit of the captors government. Congress reinforced this dictate in 1864, stat ing that prisoners of war may be employed on public works, as were penitentiary inmates.44 Overall, it is clear that there is an overriding similarity in the practices and procedures utilized in penitentiaries and military prisons They are closely intertwined and continued to be so as the war and the nineteenth century progressed That being said, however, local dynamics and regional influences impacted the operation and administration of both penitentiaries and military prisons Therefore, we now t urn our attention to the three focal cities of Richmond, Washington, and Columbus with the objective being to study and understand the actual impact and influences of the local dynamics on the Virginia, D.C., and Ohio penitentiaries as well as on Castle Th under, Old Capitol Prison, and Camp Chase Chapter 3 will provide background 44 For information contained in this and the preceding paragraph, see An Act for Establishing Rules & Articles for the Government of the Armies of the United States, Art. 67, 9th Cong., 1 st s ess ( 1806), in Callan, Military Laws of the United States 187; Revised Regulations for the Army of the United States, 1861 (Philadelphia: J.G.L. Brown, Printer, 1861), 126; Flory, Prisoners of War 1718 80 81.
52 information on the cities under study, highlight the establishment and purpose of the penitentiaries and military prisons under study, and ultimately provide a basis from which to compare the operation, administration, and inmates experiences in penitentiaries and military prisons In so doing, Chapter 3 will also reveal how the federal and Confederate governments played an increasing role in incarceration during the Civil War.
53 CHAPTER 3 PENITENTIARIES AND MILITARY PRISONS: BUILT ON COMMON GROUND As previously demonstrated, penitentiaries were established to maintain order in the new republic. They were erected at the discretion of state legislatures and staffed b y men who received appointments from the state legislatures In the federal case, the U.S. Congress authorized the construction of the D.C. Penitentiary and federally appointed officials were responsible for its administration The location of each peniten tiary in Columbus, Richmond, and D.C. was determined based on the fact that these cities represented respectively the stat e capitals of Ohio and Virginia and the capital of the United States Similarly, during the Civil War, state and federal officials f ound it both important and practical to situate military prisons at the centers of state and national power Hence, the military prisons under consideration Camp Chase, Castle Thunder, and Old Capitol Prison were established in the capital cities. Military prisons became a permanent part of wartime society as officials strove for order and attempted at first, to differentiate military prisons from penitentiaries according to the types of prisoners held in each. Northern and Southern officials detai ned enemy combatants and civilian offenders to prevent their aiding the enemy by taking up arms, disclosing privileged information, or perpetuating anti Union or anti Confederate sentiments As prison populations rose, this classification system broke down, just as it had done in the antebellum period, and penitentiaries and military prisons both held criminals, military prisoners, and prisoners of war. 1 In fact, the administration, punishment, and guards relationships with inmates were strikingly similar in both military prisons and penitentiaries 1 Frederick Howard Wines note d that with the classification of prisoners in prisons came also the classification of prisons. These classifications, however, were difficult to keep because of the rising number of inmates. Frederick Howard Wines, Punishment and Reformation: An H istorical Sketch of the Penitentiary System ( New York: Crowell, 1895; Memphis: General Books, 2010), 59. Citations refer to the General Books edition.
54 Before delving into the histories of the penitentiaries and military prisons themselves, it is first necessary to examine how these three cities evolved throughout the early nineteenth century Their establishm ent and increasing population provides witness to the process of nineteenth century state formation, as does the decision of governing officials to situate penitentiaries and military prisons in these areas In the late 1700s and early 1800s, Richmond, Was hington, and Columbus were all small and relatively unsettled communities. They became the capitals of Virginia, the United States, and Ohio, respectively, after political decisions caused the seats of government to relocate. Community establishment and each citys rise to regional prominence occurred slowly, but political leaders decisions to erect penitentiaries happened quickly. The need to maintain order increased as the population, economy, and political importance of Richmond, Washington, and Columbus expanded State and federal lawmakers in these cities strove to create a well regulated society through the exercise of police powers, control of streets and public places, and the establishment of penitentiaries to punish those who violated the s tate and federal legal codes.2 Immigrants and free blacks looking for jobs flooded into these areas, while the rise of the market economy heightened class divisions This caused middle and upper class whites to look suspiciously at immigrants, African Amer icans, and whites below their socio economic rank I ncarceration as punishment was new to early nineteenth century civilians, but many in Richmond, Washington, and Columbus viewed the penitentiary as a reflection of a well ordered society that offered offe nders the possibility of reform and promoted citizens faith in local government.3 Indeed, the Virginia, Ohio, and D.C. 2 Novak, The Peoples Welfare, 1, 9, 14, 148. 3 Anna Vemer Andrzejewski, Building Power: Architecture and Surveillance in Victorian America (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2008), 40.
55 Penitentiaries detained offenders not just from their home cities, but also from their entire home state and from the entire nation. Ric hmond, the oldest city under consideration, became the capital of Virginia in 1780, after the seat of government was transferred from Williamsburg The new capital slowly became an area of ethnic, racial, and socio economic diversity Many wealthy, promine nt citizens settled in the new capital as the tobacco industry created jobs, but the overall population increased gradually In 1786, Richmond had approximately 1,800 residents, half of whom were slaves By 1810, the white population numbered 9,785 and sla ves totaled 3,748. The tobacco industry steadily increased throughout the first half of the nineteenth century Industries such as ironworks, flour mill s and cotton mills provided significant employment drawing immigrants to Virginias capital, particula rly those from Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, and Holland, the most prominent of which were the Germans Germans accounted for 25 percent of the white population by the 1850s, when Richmonds total population reached 27,000.4 The development of industry and the rising, diverse population exacerbated social tensions, as white residents harbored suspicion towards European immigrants, free blacks, and slaves.5 4 Virginus Dabney, Richmond: The Story of a City rev. ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1990), 3132, 79, 61, 133. 5 Numerous scholars have noted the ambiguous relationship of Southern slaves with the law. William Link asserts that slaves were both property and capable of committing crimes against both property and people. Punishment was typically meted out by slaveholders, not the law. As Christopher Waldrep notes, slaves in many areas of the South, including Mississippi, were subject to community justice and mob rule, but ultimately noted that most state law kept crime involving slaves out of court. Slaves nonetheless resisted in ways, that Steven Ha hn argues, were political. These included rebellion or labor strikes, among other dayto day reaction. All of these acts made whites cognizant of maintaining control over the slave population. William A. Link, Roots of Secession: Slavery and Politics in Antebellum Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 44; Christopher Waldrep, Roots of Disorder: Race and Criminal Justice in the American South, 18171880 (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1998), 15, 21; Steven Hahn, A Nation U nder Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003), 3.
56 Social disorder became apparent in Richmond even before the citys population grew. Visit ors to the city in the late 1780s and early 1790s noted excessive gambling, tavern brawls, and street fighting, which included the gouging of eyes and biting of noses and ears.6 A grand jury in the 1790s wanted to contain the excessive number of vagrants, beggars, free blacks, and runaway slaves that habitually plundered residents and infested Richmonds streets.7 Virginias political leaders looked north, hoping to establish a penitentiary that would encourage reform and avoid corporal punishment.8 Althoug h governing officials and concerned citizens desired a penitentiary, fear that the penitentiarys existence would depreciate land values prevailed among the citizenry, who avoided settling in close proximity to it Residential development consequently stal led along the James River near the penitentiary Local residents nonetheless remained interested in what went on behind prison walls .9 Even though the state exercised a monopoly over penal administration, that power to create and administer penitentiari es would not have existed without the support of the wider population .10 Penitentiary construction commenced in 1796, and the prison opened in 1800, housing offenders from the entire state and ushering in a new era of criminal justice, curiosity, and conviction about the penitentiarys place in society and politics Similar urban dynamics shaped the early years of Washington, D.C When politicians relocated the federal capital from Philadelphia to the District of Columbia in 1800, the city was a backwater t own. Nineteenth ce ntury cities typically grew on commercial foundation s assuring 6 Dabney, Richmond, 34. 7 Ibid., 48. 8 Paul W. Keve, The History of Corrections in Virginia (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1986), 2, 23. Philadelphias Walnut Street Jail heavily influenced Virginians ideas regarding the erection and function of penitentiaries. 9 Dabney, Richmond, 48. 10 Ga rland, Punishment and Modern Society 32.
57 settlers of good prospects for trade and prosperity.11 Washington on the other hand, arose from a political compromise in July 1790, leaving commercial interests to develop later as settlers streamed in.12 In 1800, when Congress first met at the new capital, Washington was a small, isolated community with only 501 heads of household and a number of smaller landowners Land speculators and professionals brought the population to 14,093, which included 3,200 slaves Opportunities for employment were scarce. Government building projects and various other government jobs attracted laborers from surrounding areas, but there were few commercial and industrial projects in the citys early years.13 Washingtons population nonetheless grew rapidly, nearly tripling between 1800 and 1812 and increasing steadily thereafter By 1850, the city cl aimed nearly 52,000 residents, among them about 38,000 whites, including 6,000 immigrants; 10,000 free blacks ; and 4,000 slaves .14 As the population rose, so too did the occurrence of property crime and the disparity between social classes S anitary conditions declin ed due to overcrowding and citizens dumping garbage into the streets Tensions also increased between Irish immigrants and free blacks, who competed for common la borers jobs, and poverty often drove the unemployed to resort to crime.15 The city jail soon e xceeded capacity in the early 1820s, and the House of Representatives launched an investigation into how best to remedy poor prison conditions Congress authorized the construction of a federal penitentiary, which opened in 1831, easing 11 Constance McLaughlin Green, Washington Village and Capital, 18001878 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1962), vii. 12 In exchange for James Madisons pledge to garner enough southern votes to pass Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamiltons controversial Report on Public Credit, northern congressmen agreed to locate the new federal capital on land ceded by Virginia and Maryland. 13 Green, Washington, 19, 20, 21. 14 Ibid. 55, 21, 208. 15 Ibid. 211, 182
58 overcrowding in the city jail, incarcerating federal offenders from D.C. itself and from across the nation, and offering the prospect of reform to criminals.16 Like Washington, Columbus was created by political decree. The city of Chillicothe served as the first capital of O hio when the state entered the Union in 1803, but this location proved inadequate. In 1812, the General Assembly created the city of Columbus and the state legislature occupied its new quarters in central Ohio in 1816.17 Since Columbus was in the middle of westward expansion, its population increased dramatically despite the transient nature of many of its inhabitants When construction of the new state capital commenced in 1812, only a handful of settlers resided in Columbus By mid century, however, the ci ty boasted 17,872 residents, of which 7 percent were black, onethird were German, and 1,000 were Irish .18 Columbuss residents worked as mechanics, blacksmiths, carpenters, shoemakers, and unskilled laborers The white collar workforce grew steadily, addi ng merchants, clerks, grocers, physicians, and lawyers.19 As the citys economy expanded, class, ethnic, and racial tensions also increased By mid century, c lass divisions had become pronounced and merchants, lawyers, doctors, and large landowners controll ed most of the citys wealth and political influence Common laborers, both black and white, occupied the lowest rungs of the socio economic ladder compet ing fiercely for jobs.20 White residents of all classes harbored suspicion and resentment toward the citys sizable German and free black populations Whites pressured German immigrants to adopt American speech, laws, and customs German settlers on the other 16 Ibid., 9 1. 17 Charles C. Cole, Jr., A Fragile Capital: Identity and the Early Years of Columbus, Ohio (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2001), 1, 17. 18 Ibid., 8384, 214215. 19 Ibid., 215. 20 Ibid., 92.
59 hand, clung to their own culture, advocated the printing of local laws and official documents in German, and perpetuated their culture in Little Germany, an ethnic enclave on Columbuss south side.21 Tensions were, perhaps, even higher between Columbuss white residents and free blacks Abolitionists constituted a small minority in the city and ant i abolitionist sentiment inspired riots throughout the 1840s as a result of prejudice and racism that existed even among those who hated slavery Segregation became more prominent as time passed. Ohios Black Laws required free blacks and mulattos to carry proof of their freedom at all times and to register their children for a fee of twelve and a half cents per name. They also banned blacks from testifying in court against whites. These laws persisted throughout the first half of the nineteenth century de spite futile petitions for repeal in 1846.22 Crime in Columbus concerned political officials even before the legislature occupied the new capital in 1816 The Ohio State legislature sanctioned imprisonment for state offenses on January 27, 1815, and the cit ys first penitentiary opened that same year.23 As time progressed and ethnic, racial, and class tensions increased with the growth of Columbuss population, the penitentiary became overcrowded and its conditions deteriorated The Ohio General Assembly inv estigated the penitentiary, concluding that it failed to serve any valuable purpose and had become a serious evil that required immediate remedy.24 Consequently, the Assembly authorized the construction of a new penitentiary predicated on the Auburn s ystem Construction, 21 Ibid., 90, 148, 165. 22 Ibid., 190, 191, 196, 189, 200. 23 Harry G. Simpson, The Prisoners of the Ohio Penitentiary, 1883 Western Reserve Hist orical Society, Cleveland, Ohio, ( hereafter cited as WHRS ), 10 24 Ohio General Assembly, 18311832, Report of the Standing Committee on the Penitentiary, Mr. Kirtland from the Standing Committee on the Penitentiary Made the Following Report Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio (hereafter cited as OHS) 1
60 undertaken by prisoners, commenced in March of 1833, and prisoners from all over the state were transferred from the old prison in October of 1834.25 The three cities under consideration were similar in that political officials were con cerned about disorder that resulted from economic changes and population growth not just in their immediate localities, but in their states at large. Richmond and Washington both had free black and slave populations, while Columbus experienced racial tensi ons common during the antebellum period as a result of the a bolitionist movement They responded by creating penitentiaries to control criminals and the penitentiaries erected in Washington, Richmond, and Columbus housed both state and federal offenders. T hey also bore similarities in administration, operation, and purpose from their establishment. The Virginia, D.C., and Ohio penitentiaries occupied similar locations in their respective towns and had comparable physical layouts, both being modeled on the Auburn system Each penitentiary was located in a visually prominent space within its home city: the Virginia Penitentiary sat ominously on a hill on the bank of the James River, surrounded by two ravines; the D.C. Penitentiary occupied a point of land pro jecting into the Potomac River, south of the national capital; and the Ohio Penitentiary sat on the east bank of the Scioto River, three squares west of High Street, the main thoroughfare in Columbus.26 The isolation of the penitentiaries was practical from a disciplinary standpoint, but presumably was also daunting to local residents and potential criminals as they gazed upon the massive structures while going about their daily routine s. 25 Cole, A Fragile Capital 119, 120, 121. 26 William Crawford, Report on the Penitentiaries of the United States (1835; repr ., Montclair, NJ : Patterson Smith, 1969), 102, 106; Capt. Thomas H. Hines, Thrilling Narrative of the Escape of Gen. John H. Morgan from the Ohio Penitentiary (1887) WHRS 1 2.
61 Penitentiary architecture was designed to impress the beholder The Virginia Penitentiary was an elegant threestory, symmetrical horseshoe containing arched windows and ceilings The prison contained 168 sleeping cells, which was the intended maximum capacity E ach cell was twelve feet long, six and a half feet wide, and nine feet high, with arched ceilings There were fourteen cells in the basement for the solitary confinement of inmates Six cells on the first floor were reserved for female convicts Perimeter security was inadequate in the prisons early years, consisti ng of a mere wooden wall A brick wall was constructed in 1824 to increase security.27 The D.C. Penitentiary was equally imposing A wall twenty feet high, containing two guard towers surrounded the prison. The penitentiary had 160 cells in total making that number its intended maximum capacity. Cells were arranged back to back in continuous fashion in a structure four stories high Each cell measured seven feet, eleven inches long, three feet four inches wide, and seven feet, nine inches high. Large w ind ows on the prisons outer wall measured twelve feet three inches wide, a visible remind er that freedom was just out of reach.28 The Ohio Penitentiary was surrounded by a solid stone wall that measured thirty feet high and contained sentry turrets Prison a rchitects intended the Ohio Penitentiary to be massive; it stood five stories high and eventually contained 700 sleeping cells arranged in two wings, each containing 350 cells Cells measured seven feet long, three and a half feet wide, and seven feet high The womens wing of the prison consisted of a detached building in the prisons rear, two stories high, housing twenty four cells.29 27 Keve, History of Corrections in Virginia 24, 2 627; Crawford, Report on the Penitentiaries 106. 28 Mary C. Thornton, A Complete Guide to the History and Inmates of the U.S. Penitentiary District of Columbia, 18291862 (Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 2003) 15; Crawford, Report on the Penitentiaries 102; Dorothea L. Dix, Remarks on Prisons and Prison Discipline in the United States 2 d. ed. ( 1845: repr., Montclair, NJ : Patterson Smith, 1967), 4748. 29 Speer, Portals to Hell, 149; Crawford, Report on the Penitentiaries, 127; Hines, Thrilling Narrative of the Escape of Gen. John H. Morgan, 1 2; Dix, Remarks on Prisons 48.
62 Throughout the antebellum period, the Ohio and Virginia Penitentiaries held both federal and state offenders, while the D. C. Penitentiary held federal offenders from D.C. as well as other areas of the United States. In the antebellum period, the most common prisoners sentenced to the D.C. Penitentiary from areas outside of the federal capital were misbehaving members of the U .S. armed forces. For example, the U.S. Navy commonly sentenced personnel found guilty o f crimes ranging from desertion to theft to treason to periods of hard la bor in the D.C. Penitentiary since these were considered federal crimes This practice persisted into the Civil War and created a stir in Washington.30 Before delving into the war years, we need to get an idea of the types of crimes that penitentiaries punished in addition to the gender, race, and age of inmates Therefore, we will now exami ne the population statistics of each institution from the year 1860. In order to compile this data, I consulted the penitentiary prison registers from the 1860 annual reports of the Ohio, Virginia, and D.C. Penitentiaries and compared them to the 1860 U.S. Federal census data.31 Since this study is primarily interested in gaining the perspective of penitentiary administrators, I was more interested in the data reported by the wardens themselves, though both data sets are comparable. Overall, penitentiary adm inistrators carefully recorded inmates race, crimes, gender, and age. The data that I analyzed confirms the already accepted scholarly assertions that penitentiaries in the antebellum period housed a significant number of immigrants and few blacks.32 When looking at the registers of prisoners, it is interesting to note that officials were not 30 For information on the antebellum period and wartime Washington, see Letter from the Attorney General, Prisoners in the Penitentiary by Sentence of Courts Martial, H. Misc. Doc. No. 85, 37th Cong., 2nd sess. Fiche 31, Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA (hereafter cited as LVA). 31 See Tables 3 1 through 3 12 and Appendix. 32 Steven Mintz, Moralists & Modernizers: Americas Pre Civil War Reformers (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), 81; Rothman, The Discovery of the Asylum 240; Rafter, Partial Justice 131132.
63 interested in totaling how many inmates originally hailed from countries outside of the United States Rather, officials from the Ohio, Virginia, and D.C. Penitentiari es classified immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Greece, France, and England as white. Similarly, in the final count, all officials classified blacks and mulattos as black Ultimately, my research demonstrates no distinction in treatment of inmates accordin g to race or ethnicity Research, however, does reveal distinctions based on gender. The data collected from the 1860 inmate registers and census also confirms that there were few women in penitentiaries before the Civil War, as noted in Chapter 2 That ye ar, the Virginia Penitentiary had twelve women five white and seven black; the D. C. Penitentiary had 8 women one white and seven black; and the Ohio Penitentiary had fifteen womenthirteen white and two black These women, in all three areas, were young, mainly between the ages of fifteen and twenty five As later chapters will demonstrate, penitentiary officials paid little attention to the conditions in which women lived while incarcerated and, when the opportunity presented itself, compelled female inma tes to undertake domestic jobs that reinforced nineteenth century gender roles. When it comes to crime, the Ohio, Virginia, and D.C. Penitentiaries were mostly used to punish young men between the ages of twenty and thirty who committed property crimes T he most common crime in Virginia was grand larceny ; in D.C. it was larceny ; and in Ohio, it was burglary The second and third most common crimes varied in Ohio the second most common crime was larceny, and the third was a combination of the top two: burg lary and larceny In Washington, nothing came close to larceny In 1860 the D.C. Penitentiary held ninety two inmates for that crime, with the second most common offense being felony, with thirteen commitments Finally, in Virginia the second most prevale nt crime was homicide with second -
64 degree murder coming in third. Virginia held more violent offenders than the northern prisons, a phenomenon already recognized by scholars.33 While this is interesting to note, this study is not intended to provide inquiry into the reasons for crime, especially since the type of crime inmates committed had no bearing on how they were treated in penitentiaries, as noted in the Introduction Rather, this study is interested in examining how the Union and Confederate government s used penitentiaries to house military prisoners alongside criminals. During the Civil War, penitentiaries also held military offenders, such as those suspected of treason, and prisoners of war. The penitentiaries in each city shared the burden of housing additional inmates during wartime with military prisons Camp Chase, Old Capitol Prison, and Castle Thunder Union and Confederate officials intended military prisons to be temporary, remaining in existence only as long as the war continued Regardless, t hese military prisons, like penitentiaries, reflected the power of both the state and federal government s, as they helped Union and Confederate officials ensure the public interest and, during wartime, preserve the loyalty of citizens at the expense of ind ividual freedom .34 The establishment of military prisons not only continue d the trend towards centralization that occurred during the antebellum years It also fit with the very reason penitentiaries were created in the nineteenth century Lawrence Friedman note s that penitentiaries were new social inventions that arose out of the awareness 33 Leonard Beeghley has noted how violent crime was more common in the South. Beeghley notes that homicide rates were very high. For example, the homicide rate in South Carolina during the antebellum period was four times that in Massachusetts. Beeghley notes that slavery had a corrosive effect on human relationships throughout the South since it led whites to believe th at they were above the law and free to act out against not only slaves, but on other whites. Southerners commonly used violence to settle personal differences, which often resulted in death. Leonard Beeghley, Homicide: A Sociological Explanation (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), 52. 34 The creation of military prisons supports William Novaks assertion that the nineteenth century United States was a public society where the public interested was superior to private interest. See Novak, The Peoples Wel fare 9.
65 that a mobile society demanded new techniques of control.35 During wartime, both the Union and Confederate governments dealt with mobilizing armies, civilians trying t o escape armed conflict, and family members seeking to find loved ones beyond enemy lines Given this climate of change, the Union and Confederate governments used m ilitary prisons to remind civilians that changing political and social dynamics necessitate d changes in the reasons for punishment Since military prisons were controlled by the national governments in the North and the South, the new institutions generated conflicts regarding state and federal intervention in prison operation given that state governments were accustomed to running penitentiaries. During wartime, military prisons and penitentiaries punished the same types of prisoners and the federal and Confederate governments continued the antebellum practice of confining soldiers and prison ers of war in penitentiaries I n order to understand how imprisonment functioned during wartime it is necessary to examine why military prisons were established in Columbus, Washington, and Richmond, and how Northern and Southern authorities defined their purpose to provide a basis from which to compare them with penitentiaries When Union authorities established Camp Chase, they had no intention of using the site as a military prison, since they believed that the war would be short. The camp however, bec ame a fixture in Columbus throughout the war Following the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter in April 1861, both federal and state officials threw themselves into the urgent business of raising and training an army In the few weeks after President L incoln called for 75,000 volunteers on April 15, 1861, thousands of Ohio volunteers converged on Columbus The new recruits organized at Camp Jackson, four miles west of Columbus On June 20, 1861, Columbus 35 Friedman, Crime and Punishment 1213.
66 officials changed the posts name to Camp Chase i n honor of Salmon P. Chase, Lincolns Secretary of the Treasury and a former Ohio governor.36 Camp Chase served four functions throughout the war : a training camp for Union recruits, a detention site for paroled Union soldiers, a mustering out location for Northern troops, and a military prison which held political prisoners and prisoners of war.37 On July 5, 1861, a few weeks after the prisons establishment, Camp Chase received its first inmates from western Virginia.38 The prison held mainly political priso ners from western Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky from August 1861 through mid1863. At that point, Union officials for the sake of discipline transferred most political prisoners and Confederate officers to Johnsons Island Prison in Sandusky Bay, Ohio an d left only enlisted men at Camp Chase .39 As in the penitentiaries, military officials believed in constant surveillance and in severing inmates connection with the outside world Camp Chase was situated on 160 acres surrounded by a plank wall to inhibit outside observation The prisons interior was divided into sections by fencing, and the perimeter consisted of a double fence, a parapet on the external wall, and guardhouses at each corner, enabling guards to keep constant watch Inmates understood not to get too close to the outer wall, lest they jeopardize their lives Prisoners were not to cross the dead line, a small ditch eight feet from the outer wall that surrounded the barracks.40 Authorities organized Camp Chase into three separate prisons Prison No. 1 consisted of an acre 36 Osman Castle Hooper, History of the City of Columbus, Ohio: From the Founding of Franklinton in 1797, through the World War Period, to the Year 1920 (Columbus, OH: Memorial Publishing, 1920), 47. 37 Gilbert F. Dodds, Camp Chase: The Story of a Civil War Post (Columbus, OH: The Franklin County Historical Society, a Civil War Centennial Project n.d. ), 2 3. 38 Dodds, Camp Chase 2. 39 Speer, Portals to Hell, 137, 47. 40 R.M. Gray, Civil War Reminiscences 48, Civil War Collection, Reel 2, OHS; Speer, Portals to Hell 138.
67 and was designed to hold about two hundred prisoners Prison No. 2 and Prison No. 3 were larger, each encompassing approximately five acres Camp Chases total capacity was 3,500 to 4,000 prisoners, but the prison often held from 5,000 to 6,000.41 Civilians understood the crimes that could warrant penitentiary sentences but became only vaguely familiar with political crimes during war despite the federal governments publication of offens es. This vagueness undoubtedly frustrated American citizens since, from the days of the Revolution, Americans wanted to guard against abuse of criminal justice and against the use of the criminal process to crush political dissent Therefore, citizens beli eved that rules should be not only fair and balanced, but also open and easy to know.42 Many individuals were likely confused by the federal governments publication of offenses that would lead to detention at Camp Chase. On April 30, 1862, Major General Jo hn Frmont, commander of the Mountain Department in Wheeling, Virginia, issued a circular warning civilians that any person charged with disloyalty, accused of having served under the rebel Government whether in the military, judicial, executive, or legis lative departments, and persons taken with arms in their hands or having been engaged as guerillas at the time of their capture, would be held at Camp Chase to await orders from the War Department. 43 This circular established the military prison as a h olding facility for residents from Ohio, Virginia, and Kentucky who were suspected of treason It also signaled that federal authorities would detain numerous political prisoners on questionable evidence increasing the national governments involvement in incarceration 41 According to Lonnie Speer, Camp Chases all time high in population was 9,000 in January 1865. Speer, Portals to Hell 138. 42 Friedman, History of American Law 215. 43 Richmond D aily Dispatch May 14, 1862; Headquarters Mountain D epartment, Wheeling, VA April 30, 1862, accessed March 2, 2010, http://imls.richmond.edu:80/d/ddr/.
68 During the antebellum period, officials were convinced that penitentiaries helped to maintain social order With the outbreak of war, officials not only in Columbus, but also in Washington, D.C., and in Richmond, established military prison s in hopes of preserving order in the midst of the wars political and social upheaval Federal officials in Washington first held prisoners of war and criminals in existing prisons, but these soon exceeded capacity Union officials consequently transforme d the Old Capitol building, on the corner of First and A Streets, into a makeshift prison The building, erected in 1800 as a tavern and boarding house, was in a state of disrepair, with creaky stairs, decaying walls, and wooden slats covering windows, all of which later contributed to poor internal conditions, much like those in penitentiaries. 44 Old Capitol Prison held mostly political prisoners throughout the war It also confined Confederate prisoners of war, suspected Confederate spies, and Union desert ers. 45 The prison held many civilians who came from almost every state in the Union and from all walks of life, including highly educated men and merchants.46 The original building had a capacity of 500. In 1862, this increased to 1,500 when federal officials commandeered a row of houses near the Old Capitol, which became known as Carroll Prison, to accommodate population increases. 47 While state penitentiaries punished mostly civilians from all over the state, federal military prisons could punish individuals from beyond state or district lines, redefining citizens relationship with the federal government During the antebellum period, state penitentiaries punished most offenders I n war, however, the War Department directed federal authorities to 44 Lucille Griffith, ed., "Fredericksburg's Political Hostages: The Old Capitol Journal of George Henry Clay Rowe," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 72, no. 4 (1964): 398; Speer, Portals to Hell 41. 45 Speer, Portals to Hell, 82. 46 James J. Williamson, Prison Life in the Old Capitol and Reminiscences of the Civil War (West Orange, N.J., 1911), iii; John A. Marshall, American Bastille: A History of the Illegal Arrests and Imprisonment of American Citizens During the Late Civil War (Philadelphia: Thomas W. Hartley, 1869), 324. 47 Speer, Portals to Hell, 41.
69 detain individuals suspected of treason in military prisons and, sometimes, in penitentiaries establishing incarcerations purpose of ensur ing loyalty to the United States On August 14, 1862, Judge Advocate L.C. Turner notified Stephen D. Reed, U.S. Mars hal in Oswego, New York, that all persons arrested for disloyal practices against the United States should be sent to the Old Capitol Prison with charges and proofs against them to be tried before a military commission. 48 This notification reveals that federally run military prisons could have widespread jurisdiction since the Old Capitols reach extended to distant areas like New York Just as with Camp Chase, civilians from the immediate vicinity as well as those from far away areas feared the reach o f Old Capital Prison Richmonds Castle Thunder Prison also had a far reaching influence as Confederate officials recognized the function of military prisons in maintaining order ; Confederate authorities sent offenders to the Richmond military prison from all over the South. In 1862, Confederate authorities commandeered Gleanors Tobacco Factory, Whitlocks Warehouse, and Palmers Factory to create Castle Thunder Prison. Castle Thunder housed political prisoners, Union and Confederate deserters, and crimin als from all over the Confederacy, causing civilians and the press to view it with a critical eye. 49 After Confederate President Jefferson Davis declared martial law in Richmond on March 1, 1862, suspending civil jurisdiction and the writ of habeas corpus, the city overflowed with political prisoners. 50 Castle Thunder military prison became a 48 L.C. Turner, Judge Advocate, to Stephen D. R eed, August 14, 1862, in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies: Series II, Volume 4, 390 (hereafter cited as O.R.). 49 A General Military Depot, Richmond Daily Enquirer, 10 December 1862, in C ivil War Richmond, Mike Gorman, ed. accessed October 29, 2008, h ttp://www.mdgorman.com/Written_Accounts/Enquirer/1862/richmond_enquirer,_12_10_1862.htm. 50 For information regarding Daviss declaration of martial law and suspension of habeas corpus, see Neely, Southern Rights 37. For broader discussions of wartime Richmond and the imposition of martial law, see Blakey, General John H. Winder ; Casstevens, George W. Alexander 32 40.
70 melting pot of dissenters that housed male s female s black s and white s. Confederate deserters and political prisoners occupied the Gleanor building, which had an estim ated capacity of 650 Whitlocks Warehouse, with a capacity of 350, confined black and female prisoners Deserters and, later, federal prisoners of war were held in Palmer's Factory, with an estimated capacity of 400. Since Confederate officials detained a ny man or woman who potentially threatened the South, Castle Thunder quickly exceeded its intended capacity of 1,400. 51 The United States government had no federal prison system in the antebellum period, so Northern and Southern military officials did not know how to manage large numbers of captives a task to which individual states were accustomed This lack of experience led to confusion and caused military prison officials to rely on well entrenched penitentiary practices and to continue to rely heavily on state penitentiaries to help mete out punishment. Neither Union nor Confederate officials anticipated establishing lo ng term military prisons to detain prisoners of war or to hold political prisoners Just a s in the early nineteenth century, wartime government officials feared disorder amidst changing social, political, and economic circumstances and therefore establishe d military prisons as a quick fix. 52 Union and Confederate officials confiscated existing buildings or hastily constructed military prisons to punish men and women of all classes and races who were perceived as threat s to their respective causes. War extended the offenses for which the Union and Confederate governments incarcerated civilians, stressing the importance of loyalty and curtailing familiar civil liberties They also broadened the scope of those arrested, forcing military prison officials to guar d soldiers and civilians of all races, ethnicities, and genders and to hold an unprecedented number 51 See Speer, Portals to Hell 93, for all divisions of inmates and prison capacities. 52 Colvin, Penitentiaries, Reformatories, and Chain Gangs 119.
71 of offenders in military prisons and penitentiaries The range of crimes that led to wartime incarceration had no notable impact on the experiences of eith er prison officials or their captives Prison operation, administration, and the daily experiences of prison officials remained much the same from the antebellum period through the Civil War Officers demonstrated Christian values like piety, industriousne ss, and discipline; guards endured poor living and working conditions, and prison regulations mandated that officers keep their distance from inmates while they controlled prisoners time, actions, and correspondence. In sum, the transition from peace to war did not usher in a new set of p rison procedures and practices. N or did the offenses for which people were imprisoned impact the punishment that they received behind bars as this dissertation demonstrates beginning in Chapter 4 with an overview of the purposes of both penitentiaries and military prisons. Penitentiaries were initially reformatory in nature. However, they, like military prisons, became primarily punitive institutions that faced a changing society and rapidly deteriorating internal conditi ons such as overcrowding, disease, and disciplinary challenges These conditions added to the parallel nature of both types of institutions as both utilized similar practices and principles in a time marked by great political unrest and social change that was compounded by the upheavals of war.
72 Table 3 1. Virginia Penitentiary Population (Crime), 1860 1860 Crime Total 1st degree murder 1 2nd degree murder 75 Voluntary manslaughter 14 Homicide 90 Unlawful stabbing 7 Malicious wounding, with intent to kill 6 Malicious shooting 5 Malicious cutting & stabbing 12 Malicious wounding 1 Stabbing with intent to maim 1 Malicious beating a white man 1 Maiming 1 Unlawful wounding 2 Assault with intent to kill 4 Rape 7 Carnal knowledge of a female child 2 Attempt to rape white woman 3 Robbery 7 Poisoning stock 1 Arson 6 Arson & burglary 1 Mail robbery (U.S. Prisoners) 2 Entering custom house & larceny 1 Store breaking 1 House breaking 2 House breaking & larceny 15 Store breaking & larceny 4 Burglary 19 Burglary & Larceny 8 Entering house with intent to commit rape 1 Entering house with intent to steal 1 House burning 3 Accessory to arson 1 Burning a saw and grist mill 1 Horse stealing 18 Cow stealing 1 Mule stealing 1 Grand larceny 92 Receiving stolen goods 1 Slave stealing 3 Aiding slaves to escape 8
73 Table 3 1. Continued 1860 Crime Total Advising slaves to abscond 3 Carrying of slaves 4 Conspiring with slaves to rebel &c. 1 Attempt to pass forged check 1 Passing counterfeit bank notes 13 Passing counterfeit coin 2 Having counterfeit money in possession 2 Obtaining property by false pretense 1 Petit larceny 2 Bigamy 3 Obstructing a rail road 4 Burning stacks 2 Totals 389 Table 3 2. Virginia Penitentiary Population (Race and Gender), 1860 1860 Race/gender Number T otal White men 290 White women 5 295 Black men 87 Black women 7 94 Total population 389 Table 3 3. Virginia Penitentiary Population (Age of Males), 1860 1860 Age of males (in years) Total 15 to 20 47 20 to 25 94 25 30 84 30 35 52 35 40 31 40 45 40 50 60 21 60 80 8 Total 377 Table 3 4. Virginia Penitentiary Population (Age of Females), 1860 1860 Age of females (in years) Total 12 1 15 to 20 3 20 25 2 25 30 2 30 35 2 45 50 2 Total 12
74 Table 3 5. D.C. Penitentiary Population (Crime), 1860 Crimes 1860 Total Assault & larceny with intent to kill 3 Larceny 92 Burglary 1 Manslaughter 8 Rape 8 Robbing U.S. Mail 9 Manslaughter & larceny 2 Assault & battery with intent to kill 9 Passing counterfeit coin 3 Murder 2 Horse stealing 3 Burglary & arson 1 Arson 4 Mutiny 2 Felony 13 Perjury 2 False pretens e 3 Bigamy 1 Misdemeanor 1 Abetting a rape 1 Forgery 1 Total 169 Table 3 6. D.C. Penitentiary Population (Race and Gender), 1860 1860 Race/Gender Number Total White men 112 White women 1 113 Black men 49 Black women 7 56 Totals 169 Table 3 7. D.C. Penitentiary Population (Age of Males), 1860 1860 Age of males (in years) Total Under 15 4 15 to 20 31 20 to 25 43 25 30 35 30 35 26 35 40 5 40 45 5 50 60 8 60 80 4 Total 161
75 Table 3 8. D.C. Penitentiary Population (Age of Females), 1860 1860 Age of females (in years) Total 15 to 20 3 20 25 3 25 30 0 30 35 1 35 40 1 Total 8 Table 3 9. Ohio Penitentiary Population (Race and Gender), 1860 1860 Crime Total Arson 18 Attempt to commit arson 3 Attempt to commit arson & horse stealing 1 Assault with intent to kill 25 Assault with intent to rape 13 Assault with intent to rob 4 Assault with intent to wound 1 Attempting to pass counterfeit bank bills 16 Attempting to pass counterfeit coin 1 Burglary 164 Burglary & larceny 111 Burglary, larceny, & horse stealing 1 Burglary & attempt to commit rape 1 Bigamy 7 Carnal knowledge of insane woman 1 Counterfeiting coin 5 Counterfeiting & selling coin 3 Embezzlement 2 Entering dwelling & attempt to kill 1 Entering dwelling with intent to steal 1 Forgery 36 Horse stealing 101 Having counterfeit money with intent to sell 16 Harboring thieves 1 Having in possession implements for counterfeiting 3 Incest & rape on daughter 1 Incest with daughter 4 Illegal voting 1 Larceny 113 Larceny & horse stealing 7 1st degree murder 7 2nd degree murder 56
76 Table 3 9. Continued 1860 Crime Total Manslaughter 46 Malicious shooting 4 Malicious stabbing 3 Mail robbery 3 Making & passing counterfeit coin 9 Malicious destruction of property 1 Poisoning 2 Perjury 10 Passing counterfeit bank bills 1 Placing obstructions on railroad 2 Rape 13 Robbery 35 Robbery & burglary 2 Robbery & larceny 2 Robbery & malicious shooting 2 Receiving stolen goods 1 Stealing bank bills 2 Shooting with intent to kill 7 Stabbing with intent to kill 6 Shooting with intent to wound 4 Stabbing with intent to wound 9 Subornation of perjury 1 Selling counterfeit money 2 Uttering & publishing counterfeit money 13 Uttering forged note 1 Uttering forged assignment for bounty land 1 Total 932 Table 3 10. Ohio Penitentiary Population (Race and Gender), 1860 1860 Race/gender Number T otal White men 820 White women 13 833 Black men 97 Black women 2 99 Total population 932
77 Table 3 11. Ohio Penitentiary Population (Age of Males), 1860 1860 Age of males (in years) Total Under 15 11 15 to 20 123 20 to 25 180 25 30 204 30 35 144 35 40 102 40 45 69 45 50 40 50 60 28 60 80 16 Total 917 Table 3 12. Ohio Penitentiary Population (Age of Males), 1860 1860 Age of females (in years) Total 12 1 15 to 20 5 20 25 3 25 30 3 30 35 2 45 50 1 Total 15
78 CHAPTER 4 THE PURPOSE AND ROLE OF PENITENTIARIES AND MILITARY PRISONS Scholars have explained how the concept of penitentiaries developed i n the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as American reformers participated in a transatlantic debate about the way best to deal with criminals and prisoners in an urbanizing world. Most prominently, David Rothman argues that American elites established penitentiar ies because they believed that penitentiaries ensured the safety of the republic.1 Penitentiaries were intended to produce republican citizens and middle class reformers were initially confident in the ability of the inmates to become productive, discipli ned members of society But this optimism, and the penitentiarys reform atory objectives failed and penitentiaries essentially became holding pens for criminals .2 This failure leveled the differences between penitentiaries and military prisons which were established for the first time on a wide scale to maintain loyalty and social order during the Civil War. While definitions of crime evolved and prison populations fluctuated according to political, economic, and social circumstances, the role and the practical operation of both penitentiaries and military prisons followed along similar lines .3 As Chapter 2 demonstrated, military and civilian punishment overlapped throughout the antebellum period as penitentiaries operated along military hierarchical line s and officials in both sectors demonstrated similar concerns about the separation of inmates. This chapter further emphasizes these similarities, as they existed during the Civil War. It analyzes the role of the Ohio, D.C., and Virginia penitentiaries in punishing soldiers during the antebellum and Civil 1 Rothman, The Discovery of the Asylum 2 Thomas L. Dumm, Democracy and Punishment (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987), 126; Colvin, Penitentiaries, Reformatories, and Ch ain Gangs, 47; Nina Silber, Gender and the Sectional Conflict (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008), xv; Rothman, Perfecting the Prison, 111; Rothman, The Discovery of the Asylum xix, 240. 3 Colvin, Penitentiaries, Reformatories, and C hain Gangs 1 2.
79 War years as courts martial frequently issued penitentiary punishments to reprimand soldiers. During the Civil War, military prisons also held civilian offenders guilty of common crimes. The facts that pen itentiaries held soldiers both convicted criminals and prisoners of war and that military prisons held both military prisoners and civilian criminals caused a debate between state and federal officials over who had ultimate authority over these institution s, leaving the Union and Confederate governments an opportunity to become heavily involved in imprisonment. The completion of the Virginia, District of Columbia, and Ohio penitentiaries in the early nineteenth century resulted from rapid state formation an d governments monopolization of power, which encouraged use of the prisons as a spatial solution to remedy problems of public order.4 Throughout the nineteenth century, the Ohio, D.C., and Virginia penitentiaries held federal prisoners and jailed members of the United States Army and Navy in addition to prisoners of war. This fact supports the theory that military prison officials replicated administrative practices of penitentiaries in military prisons since they readily turned to penitentiaries to help m aintain order A prime example of the interaction between military and penitentiary authorities is the fact that, both before and during the Civil War, penitentiaries punished criminals, prisoners of war, and soldiers sentenced by courts martial. Examinati on of the Virginia, District of Columbia, and Ohio penitentiaries reveals how the federal government used not only its own penitentiary in the federal capital to keep order, but also turned to the states for help. Even though Virginia seceded from the Unio n, the Confederate government followed the antebellum precedent set by the federal government. Both state officials running penitentiaries and military prison officials appointed by the Union and Confederate governments shared the common expectation that t heir institutions 4 This was also noted in Chapter 1. Spierenburg, From Amsterdam to Auburn, 453454.
80 become self sufficient. This fact also reinforces the idea that military prisons had more in common with penitentiaries than previously thought and suggests that they should be examined in the overall context of imprisonment in nineteenthcentury America to understand fully their purpose and operation. The Civil War transformed the lives of thousands of Americans, but it did not fundamentally alter how Northern or Southern penitentiaries or military prisons operated .5 Nineteenth century c ivilians knew that penitentiaries punished both property crimes and crimes against the person, as the analysis of inmates in Chapter 3 demonstrates. Theft was the most frequent crime leading to incarceration P enitentiary incarceration was also commonly meted out to individuals convicted of horse stealing, manslaughter, larceny, counterfeiting, forgery, assault, fraud, receiving stolen goods, and rape.6 These crimes persisted in wartime and, in both the antebellum and war years in the South, were often accompanied by infractions such as aiding slaves to escape, abducting slaves, and conspiring with slaves to incite rebellion.7 Incarcerated civilians inhabited tight quarters in penitentiaries and often had to share them with military men found guilty of either the same offenses or violations of military law. Because no system for either prisoners of war or centralized penitentiary administration existed in the antebellum period military and other federal prisoners were sent to state penitentiaries which, as noted in the Introduction, received federal funds for this practice.8 5 In his analysis of wartime Philadelphia, Matthew Gallman contends that, Philadelphias wartime world evolved out of established peacetime practices. I am employing that same type of argument to understand the wartime operation of penitentiaries and military prisons. J. Matthew Gallman, Mastering Wartime: A Social History of Philadelphia During the Civil War (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 9. 6 This list of common crimes from the antebellum period and length of prison sentences was compiled by examining the Annual Reports of the D.C. Penitentiary from its establishment through 1854. These records are available on microfilm from the New York Publ ic Library (hereafter cited as NYPL). 7 Doc. No. 13, Annual Report of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, year ending September 30, 1861, 2023, Virginia House Documents LVA For a summary of prison population, see appendix. 8 Sanders, While in the Hands of the Enemy
81 Penitentiaries were not run according to any uniform system. The federal penitentiary system did not yet exist; the D.C. Penitentiary was the only fed eral penitentiary in the antebellum period and individual state governments ran penitentiaries according to either the Auburn or the Pennsylvania systems. None of these arrangements however, constitute d an overarching prison system; they were merely blue prints for prison operation The lines between civil and military prisoners blurred as penitentiary officials incarcerated members of the military alongside criminals The federal governments common practice of holding soldiers in penitentiaries, whether convicted as criminals or prisoners of war, often elicited outcries. Not everyone agreed with the wisdom of incarcerating military prisoners with criminals. Citizens first objections to this practice predated the formation of both the United States and pe nitentiaries. During the American Revolution, prisoners of war were often confined in civilian jails, which typically held civilians awaiting trial or defaulting on debts. This practice signaled an immediate blurring of lines between military and civil jus tice that would continue through the nineteenth century Citizens of Philadelphia, however, found this act so objectionable that their protests elicited George Washingtons attention The practice nonetheless continued since the Americans had no separate s ystem to handle prisoners of war and it set a precedent for federal officials to follow after the founding of the United States.9 After Americans achieved independence and established penitentiaries, they continued the practice of housing members of the m ilitary in civilian penitentiaries. The United States government, on the eve of the War of 1812, lacked any system for dealing with military prisoners either those convicted of crimes or prisoners of war. American politicians and military officials never t hought about this system, perhaps because of the Constitutions ban on 9 Flory, Prisoners of War, 55 56.
82 standing armies, the fact that civilians constituted the militia when needed, and the new countrys isolation from war torn Europe, which might have negated the necessity for a military force of any kind. When the United States went to war with the British for the second time in 1812, military officials turned to penitentiaries to solve the prisoner of war crisis. The Auburn system required convicts to perform labor all day, but state of ficials did not know what do to with the British prisoners, since they had no guiding principle to follow. They ultimately decided against compelling the prisoners of war to work, influencing later decisions during the Civil War to exempt some incarcerated soldiers from penitentiary labor. This decision caused disciplinary problems in penitentiaries both during the War of 1812 and the Civil War. T he Virginia Penitentiary demonstrated the problems that housing military prisoners and British prisoners of war posed to discipline, as it compounded overcrowding and created resentment among the inmates. In 1813, penitentiary officials complained about the additional burden presented by the prisoners of war, particularly because disease plagued the penitentiary V irginian James Greenhow summarized prison officials concerns by suggesting that British prisoners be removed. Greenhow noted that prisoners of war were held in August, the most sickly period of the year, and contended that the crowding that they caused would not only increase the number of diseases, but also their malignancy.10 Prisoners of war not only helped spread disease, they also posed disciplinary problems. C ivilian prisoners and prisoners of war were housed side by side for some time prior to t he Civil War and these inmates engaged in slightly different activities, a fact that created jealousies among inmates While civilian criminals labored during the day, prisoners of war sat idle, as hard labor was excluded from their punishment. Overworked criminals likely desired time to rest, 10 James Greenhow the Governor, August 31, 1831, Calendar of Virginia State Papers, 10:278, in Keve, The History of Corrections in Virginia 40.
83 while prisoners of war tired of inactivity and coveted any opportunity for physical activity, however repetitious.11 Both groups of inmates tired of the monotony of incarceration but the Board of Inspectors was concerned that the entire idleness of prisoners of war, when contrasted with the rigid discipline exercised over convicts, excite d dissatisfaction among the convicts. Board members not ed that it was impossible to keep them separate since convicts labored in the part of the prison where prisoners of war were kept, hinting at how overcrowding fostered the uselessness of classifications. The work regimen caused officials to neglect priso ners of war rendering it unsafe to keep them. Differential treatment warranted separation in the boards opinion, but the fact that in reality, prisoners of war were poorly supervised necessitated their removal from the penitentiary.12 This same problem manifested itself at the Ohio Penitentiary during the Civil War as federal authorities sentenced Confederate Cavalry General John Hunt Morgan and his men there as common horse thieves The Confederate cavalrymen were excluded from labor and were poorly supervised Consequently, they managed to escape, a feat that will be discussed in Chapters 5 and 6 Despite these problems, the practice of holding members of the military in penitentiaries was too entrenched to stop Throughout the century, prisoners of war inhabited penitentiaries during military crises, and courts martial frequently sentenced disobedient soldiers to penitentiaries throughout the nineteenth century. The Ohio and D.C. penitentiaries commonly held members of the U.S. Army and Navy in the ante bellum period and continued to do so during the Civil War. In 1840, the Moral Instructor 11 In his study of Elmira Prison, Michael Gray contends that inmates who engaged in prison labor led lives that seemed less harsh compared to those without work. I believe that this applies to military prisoners in penitentiaries, especially since prison o fficials often punished misbehaving inmates by putting them in solitary confinement. Michael Gray, The Business of Captivity: Elmira and its Civil War Prison (Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 2001), 86. 12 Proceedings of the Quarterly meeting of the Board of Visitors, September 7, 1813, Virginia Penitentiary, Penitentiary Papers, 17961865 Subseries C, LVA.
84 of the Ohio Penitentiary noted that seventy one of the institutions 488 convicts were in the army and that fifty two were former sailors.13 Similarly, w hen the Civil W ar began, many penitentiaries held soldiers convicted of crimes as well as prisoners of war, raising the question of whether soldiers could be classified as ordinary criminals S cholars have not considered how the penitentiary disciplined soldiers either b efore or during the Civil War and Civil War scholars have not examined what happened to soldiers convicted of crimes, or to prison ers of war in penitentiaries. Since p enitentiaries were custodial by mid century, it is not surprising that military courts an d government officials used them to punish prisoners of war: the goal of addressing military crimes was punishment, not reform.14 Even though the practice of sentencing military offenders to penitentiaries was established in the antebellum period, it elicited furor among civilians, government officials, and convicted soldiers as many felt that penitentiary sentences equated military offenders with criminals Regardless of individual beliefs on this matter, the militarys decision to incarcerate soldiers in penitentiaries received judicial backing in the antebellum period, demonstrating that the military and, by extension, the federal government, depended on penitentiaries for punishment. The D.C Penitentiary further illustrates how and why penitentiaries were used to punish members of the United States military. T he U.S. Supreme Courts 1857 ruling in Dynes vs. Hoover justified the pr actice of confining soldiers in penitentiaries in the antebellum period and paved the way for the confinement of soldiers during the Civil War Navy seaman Frank Dynes, found guilty by court martial of attempted desertion, was sentenced to six months hard labor in 13 Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1840 14, OHS. 14 Thornton, A Complete Guide 37 38.
85 the D.C Penitentiary Dynes contended that the military court had no jurisdiction to try and sentence him to such punishment The Supreme Court, however, upheld the court martials decision, approving federal officials use of the penitentiary to punish military offenders.15 In this instance, the federal government, through its operation of the D.C. Penitentiary, set the precedent that military officials could look to penitentiaries as punitive models. Similarly, federal officials commanding milita ry prisons during the Civil War mimicked penitentiary practices. The Dynes case paved the way for the federal government to use penitentiaries both in the federal district and in the states to punish soldiers in the years leading up to and during the Civil War. I n April of 1860, Private John Ryan, stationed at Fort Brown, Texas, was found guilty of violating the Ninth Article of War for firing a loaded rifle, with the intent to kill, at his companys corporal In December 1860, Navy seamen John Stevens, Edw ard Jones, and James Nicholson were convicted of revolt on the high seas off the Florida coast Courts martial sentenced each of the men to eighteen months hard labor in the D.C. P enitentiary, a common sentence for civilians convicted of equally significant crimes .16 During the Civil War, Union soldiers committed crimes that were both particular to military life and common in civilian life Like their civilian counterparts, they received penitentiary sentences. In 1861 and 1862, the D.C. Penitentiary held ninety six prisoners by sentence of courts martial a significant number, since the prisons total population in those years was approximately 300.17 Soldiers from all areas of the Union faced incarceration for various military and criminal infractions and, like antebellum convicts, served sentences ranging from 15 Dynes v. Hoover 61 U.S. 65, 15 L. Ed. 838 (1857). 16 Case of John Ryan, Circuit Court, District of Columbia for the County of Washington, May 10, 1861; Case of John Stevens, Edward Jones, and Tom Johnson, U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida, December 24, 1860, RG 48, Records of the Department o f the Interior, Entry 473, Box 4, National Archives and Records Administration II (hereafter referred to as NARA II). 17 See Appendix.
86 six months to ten years The Union Army was composed largely of civilian volunteers and the crimes for which courts martial ordered penitentiary sentences reveal that these men were required to abide by both civil and military law and that prisoners of war were always held responsible for any penal crimes they committed before capture.18 If soldiers were convicted, many courts martial required military discharge prior to the soldier entering prison This action was the result of the strongly held notion that the office of soldier, if you will, was not to be stained with all of the negative connotations that are associated with being a common criminal The office of soldier was viewed as being on a higher plane and too honorable and dignified to suffer such onerous negative connotations one could not be a soldier and a common, convicted criminal at the same time. Federal authorities use of the D.C. Penitentiary to punish soldiers tried by courts martial was not the only example of how the federal government used penitentiaries to maintain order. In June 1861, the Ohio General Assembly officially criminalized militant acts taken against both the state of Ohio and the United States government in order to help the federal government combat treason. State officials announced that any residents who shall levy war against this state, or the United States of America or knowingly adhere to the enemies of this state, or the United States, giving them aid o r comfort would be suspected of treason and upon c onviction, be imprisoned in the Ohio P enitentiary at hard labor for life .19 While treason in the antebellum period was one of the few capital crimes in existence people generally did not worry about being 18 Francis Lieber, The Status of Rebel Prisoners of War, in The Miscellaneous Writings of Francis Lieber (Philadelphia : L ippincott 1881), 297, Gale: The Making of Modern Law Legal Treatises, 18001926. 19 An Act to Punish Treason and Other Crimes, Crisis (Columbus), June 27, 1861.
87 suspected of treason at the state or federal level.20 The outbreak of war, however, heightened the suspicions of federal and state authorities, focusing their attention on individuals who did not support the government and/or the war effort. The Ohio Stat e Penitentiary played an increasing role in helping the federal government maintain loyalty and order during the war. In addition to the aforementioned 1861 statute, the Ohio General Assembly that same year ordered that any resident who turned over any mil itary post or stores to the enemy or harbored knowledge of treason against Ohio or the United States would, upon conviction, face a penitentiary sentence at hard labor for not less than ten nor more than twenty years. Finally, the new law stated that any one who prepared an unauthorized military expedition against the state or the people of the United States would be deemed guilty of misdemeanor and, upon conviction, face a prison sentence of not less than one and not more than ten years.21 All of the se dictates were necessary to the successful execution of the war and demonstrate d that the penitentiarys function of maintaining social order expanded during wartime, reaching beyond commonly identified criminal activity Civil War military prisons also helped the federal government and state governments maintain loyalty and order in the states in which they were located. Since military prisons did not exist in peacetime, penitentiary officials alone kept watch over military offenders. During the Civil Wa r, however, military prison officials bore most of this burden and, like their penitentiary counterparts, also detained civil criminals. Military prisons held prisoners of war and civilians suspected of disloyalty, but they were not commonly 20 In his analysis of the death penalty in America, Stuart Banner demonstrates that many North ern states restricted capital punishment to treason and murder, but notes that many Southern states retained capital punishment for a wider range of crimes. Stuart Banner, The Death Penalty: An American History (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), 143. 21 All information regarding the Ohio General Assembly from An Act to Punish Treason and Other Crimes.
88 associated wit h the punishment of crimes like murder, robbery, counterfeiting, drunkenness, horse stealing, rape, theft, shoot ing, highway robbery, and fraud all common among penitentiary inmates. Nonetheless, many soldiers and civilians found themselves confined in military prisons for these offenses. Examination of the Official Records extensive analysis of Ohio, Virginia, and Washington newspapers, and a cursory search of the Old Capitol Prisons inmate registers reveal s at least one hundred and fourteen soldiers and civilians confined for these crimes in Camp Chase, Old Capitol, and Castle Thunder prisons from 1861 to 1865 A comprehensive search of prison registers proved impossible, but the available data suggests that military prisons held a significant number of criminals from both military and civilian life in addition to prisoners of war, spies, deserters, and individuals suspected of treason. J udging from the se sources Castle Thunder held the most criminals The prisons commandant, George Alexander, lamented that he was responsible for their oversight, but he saw this as a necessary evil since the Castle was the only penitentiary the Confederacy ha[d].22 Through military prisons, the Confederate and Union governments became involved in ensuring that the public good prevailed over private interests, thereby exercising a responsibility that once fell chiefly to the states.23 The federal governments increas ed involvement in managing imprisonment created confusion over whether state or federal officials had ultimate authority over military prisons early in their existence. This was most evident at Camp Chase, where a contest for power ensued between Commissar y General William Hoffman and Ohio governor David Tod. The involvement of the governors of Virginia and Tennessee in this matter, as they attempted to 22 George Alexanders Defense, April 13, 1863, O.R. Series II, Vol. 5, 917. 23 William Novak notes how state governments took responsibility for pol icing public spaces like streets, rivers, and ports in addition to the public morality. Novak, The Peoples Welfare 148, 151.
89 ensure the well being of residents of their states held in Ohio, demonstrates that state officials consid ered themselves responsible for the oversight of prisoners from their home states. From July 1861 until February 1862, Camp Chase housed mostly political prisoners and Hoffman as noted in Chapter 2, struggle d during this period to assert his authority Th e Union confined Confederate sympathizers from Ohio, Kentucky, and western Virginia at Camp Chase following their arrests based on the 1861 dictates described earlier .24 The majority of these inmates, however, were from Ohio, so Ohios Governor David Tod be lieved that he should retain jurisdiction over Camp Chase. Following the influx of prisoners of war from the battle of Fort Donelson in April 1862, the lines between state and federal authority became blurred by the detention of Confederate prisoners of wa r, who were in fact, prisoners of the federal government Nonetheless, Governor Tod controlled the camp, appointed its commandant, and signed correspondence as Governor and Commander in Chief.25 Like Governor Tod, Tennessees military governor Andrew J ohnson wanted to intervene at Camp Chase in April 1862 after he learned that many of his fellow citizens of Tennessee were held there. Johnson immediately appointed a commissioner to interpose on behalf of those prisoners, ordering that the prisoners f riends entrust the commissioner with letters or money, or other articles of value or comfort, not inconsistent with their conditions as prisoners of war.26 Johnson was a federal official, but he demonstrated a belief characteristic of many state authoriti es in the nineteenth century: that they w ere, in some fashion, responsib l e for the prisoners from their state 24 Philip R. Shriver and Donald J. Breen, Ohios Military Prisons in the Civil War (Columbus: Ohio State University Press for the Ohio Historical Society, 1964), 8. 25 Speer, Portals to Hell, 7980. 26 An Assumption of Power, Richmond Daily Dispatch April 3, 1863, accessed March 11, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr.
90 Virginia state officials expressed a similar concern regarding prisoners from the Old Dominion held at Camp Chase Virginias politicians doubted the enemys ability to care for Southern prisoners In January 1862, a Virginia prisoners testimony about horrendous conditions prompted the Virginia House of Delegates to establish a joint committee to ascertain and report how the prisoners from this State, confined in the Federal prison at Camp Chase are treated and to discern the steps that state authorities should take to render them more comfortable. The d elegates announced that the Virginia Legislature was investigating the outrageous t reatment of prisoners at Camp Chase and declared t hat the state government could compel barbarous treatment to stop.27 This resolution shows that state officials felt obliged to investigate military prisons even those run by the enemysince they were accustomed to penitentiary oversight Camp Chase shows that the federal government ultimately gained final authority over Camp Chase, a significant example of its centralizing power .28 As the war progressed, both Union and Confederate officials became more comfortable with the difficult task of administering military prisons, while state officials learned to relinquish or at least share control. Despite the realignment of power, the clos e relationship between civil and military officials continued during wartime as military prisoners and penitentiaries continued to hold both criminals and military prisoners. Military and civil officials shared more than responsibility for 27 Treatment of Prisoners, Richmond Daily Dispatch January 13, 1862, accessed March 11, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr. 28 The Confederacy also had a Commissary General of Prisoners. General John H. Winder held the post from November 21, 1861, until early 1864. After Winder resigned, the Souths prison system deteriorated. On June 6, 1864, Lieutenant Colonel Archer Anderson, who served as Assistant Adjutant General for the post of Richmond, complained about the lack of organization in the Confederacys prison system. He noted that Winder, during his tenure as Commissary General, had a general supervision over all the military prisons of the country, a function not retained by Winders successor, Major Carrington. Anderson noted that nobody knows exactly how many prisoners of war we have in confinement in the different prisons and that no officer is charged with the management of the whole. Archer Anderson to Gener al Braxton Bragg, June 6, 1864, O.R. Series II, Vol. 7, 206.
91 the punishment o f inmates. They also shared the same beliefs about the operation of penitentiaries and military prisons. Among these was the belief that their institutions should be self sufficient, a desire that began with penitentiaries before the war and later influenced the operations of military prisons. Throughout the century, penitentiary officials expressed consternation when penitentiaries failed to support themselves since they objected to the idea that the public or the state should pay for inmates Military pri son officials demonstrated these same concerns during the Civil War. To understand why military prison officials expected military prisons to be self sufficient, it is necessary to understand how embedded this expectation of the function and characteristic s of the penitentiaries had become in the antebellum period. Penitentiary officials across the United States believed that criminals burdened society enough through their actions and contended that criminals should pay for themselves. In 1836, the director s of the Ohio Penitentiary eagerly anticipated the day when the virtuous portion of our community will cease to be taxed for the support and punishment of the criminal. Similarly, the committee appointed to inspect the Virginia Penitentiary in 1824 conte nded that society must be entitled to remuneration from convict labor, emphasizing that the penitentiary should be self sufficient.29 Subsequent inspection committees rejoiced when the penitentiary profited the state, but lamented the burden of the penitentiary when prison labor failed to yield profits I n the 1840s and 1850s Wardens John Dade and Thomas Fitnam and the inspectors of the D.C. Penitentiary complained about the prisons inability to support itself Oddly enough, they attributed the 29 Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiar y to the Governor of Ohio, 1836 2, OHS; Virginia Penitentiary, Penitentiary Papers 17961865 Subseries E; Box 4, Folder 11, House of Delegates Penitentiary Committee Report 1824, LVA; Virginia General Assembly, Joint Committee on the Penitentiary, Repor t of the Joint Committee on the Penitentiary, 1835 Virginia Historical Society (hereafter cited as VHS); Virginia General Assembly, Joint Committee on the Penitentiary, Report of the Joint Committee to Examine the Penitentiary, 18401841 VHS.
92 sh ortcomings to the small number of inmates and short prison terms The board of inspectors commented on the prisons deficit in 1841, when the prison held seventy nine inmates, contending that prison sentences were too short for inmates to learn a trade and profit the state.30 Warden Thomas Thornley echoed this sentiment the same year, complaining that since the convicts were composed of the most reckless in society and were unacquainted with the use of tools upon entering prison, officials had to spend a long time training inmates to be useful. Because inmates learned slowly and served brief sentences, Thornley argued that they were released precisely when their labor becomes valuable. New inmates, according to Thornley, did not help the penitentiarys bottom line since they were inexperienced workers whose presence lent itself to anything but the prosperity of the institution.31 Thornleys words reveal the strength of officials belief that p rofits were necessary for prison operation. This convictio n persisted throughout the century When the Civil W ar bega n, officials focus on profits heightened as wartime dictated that penitentiaries commit more fully to contract labor.32 War increased the importance of prison labor for local consumption and for t he benefit of the military. W artime penitentiary officials expected prisoners to work and generate profit s echoing the antebellum goal of self sufficiency But wars circumstances made this a difficult if not impossible, goal in the North and the South a nd prison labor often could not overcome wars economic strains.33 Faced with limited results, 30 See Appendix for population totals. 31 Thornton, A Complete Guide, 26; Message from the President of the United States transmitting the Annual Report of the Inspectors of the Penitentiary in the District of Columbia, H. Exec. Doc. No. 45, 33d Cong., 1st sess. (January 16, 1854), 3, NYPL. 32 McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment 83. 33 McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment 84.
93 prison officials often blamed short supplies or the laziness of inmates for the lack of profit arguments reminiscent of Thornleys antebellum complaints. War took a heavy toll on the South, as battlefield conflict devastated Southern towns and rampant inflation made it difficult for both civilians and institutions to purchase necessary provisions.34 Under these circumstances, p enitentiaries, like military prison s, experienced supply shortages for two reasons First, war demanded that states send most of their available supplies to the armies Second, penitentiaries profits decreased durin g war, making supply difficult. I n 1862, the Virginia Penitentiary s surgeo n lamented that the troubles of the times created a situation where inmates went hungry and sat idle in their cells. Inmates lacked food due to the exorbitant prices of meat, vegetables, medicines, soap, vinegar, and bedding, some of which inmates went completely without They also could not work due to inadequate supplies, a circumstance that exacerbated poor health.35 This idleness persisted throughout the war. I n 1863, Virginia Penitentiary Superintendent Colin Bass again reported that convicts sat id le for one third of their time since the fabulous prices of material left them without supplies Bass noted that as a result the penitentiary fell as a heavy burden upon the treasury, an unnerving fact since the Confederate war effort demanded extens ive monetary and material support.36 Penitentiary officials were not solely concerned with the fact that inmates were unable to work in the penitentiary They also worried since the wars circumstances discouraged the negotiations for hiring out convicts, a practice common in the antebellum period. When the war began, officials focus on profits, which had solidified in the antebellum period, heightened as 34 The relative purchasing power of Confederate notes in gold went from $1.05 on May 1, 1861 to $1,200 on May 1, 1865. Confederate In flation Chart, Civil War Richmond in Gorman, Civil War Richmond accessed July 27, 2011, http://www.mdgorman.com/Written_Accounts/confederate_inflation_chart.htm. 35 Doc. No. 6, Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, Year Ending September 30, 1862, 25, LVA. 36 Doc. No. 7, Report of the Superintendent of the Penitentiary, 1863 5, LVA.
94 wartime officials committed prisons more fully to contract labor.37 Like the Virginia Penitentiary, t he Ohio Penitentiary also experienced a decrease in productive labor, but this resulted from a decline in hiring out convicts In 1861, the warden observed that the unsettled state of the country made it impossible to induce manufacturers to take contract s for convict labor, leaving the prison short on profits.38 To make matters worse, a devastating fire prevented Ohio Penitentiary inmates from working in the penitentiary that same year. In 1861, the prison experienced four fires, which destroyed shops that produced items such as saddles, cavalry equipment, and bullets for the Union Army This not only hurt the penitentiarys bottom line but also caused disciplinary problems since it left idle nonproductive inmates in overcrowded cells According to one observer, penitentiary officials had difficulty monitoring the 965 convicts, many of whom were accustomed to daytime labor.39 The idle time that inmates spent together fostered communication between them a danger that worried guards since it could lead to rebellion. Even if penitentiary officials could get inmates to work however, they harbored reservations about inmates ability to be fully productive, an assumption that carried over from the antebellum period In the antebellum period, the middle class l ooked down upon criminals, comparing them unfavorably to law abiding citizens who devoted their lives to success in the market economy 37 McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment 83. 38 Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the G overnor of Ohio, 1861 8 9, OHS. Missing annual reports prevented me from knowing what happened after 1861. 39 Destructive Fire, Crisis (Columbus) October 24, 1861; Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Director and Wardens of the Ohio Penitentiary to t he Governor of Ohio, 1861 5, OHS.
95 and prided themselves on individual achievement, mobility, and the accumulation of wealth.40 Antebellum assumptions that c riminals were idle, lazy, and dissipated persisted into wartime and provided penitentiary officials with a scapegoat for the lack of self sufficiency. 41 Self sufficiency at the D.C. penitentiary was never achieved in the antebellum period nor was it realized during the war In the antebellum period, officials blamed the low prison population for the institutions failure to generate profit, but the penitentiary remained unprofitable in wartime despite the growing population Warden Hiram King blamed t his on the stupid and inept Negro convicts who had predetermination to do as little as possible.42 Virginia Penitentiary officials also blamed the prisons financial woes on the character of the convicts Superintendent Colin Bass noted that convict la bor was not profitable since convicts consist of worthless, diseased, depraved, and lazy characters, fished upfrom the worse form of society. Additionally, authorities noted that many male convicts entered prison old and decrepit or deranged, render ing work impossible Most female prisoners were also completely incapable of working since many were old and infirm and most lived in cramped apartments where they could not be worked to any profit.43 Officials at the Ohio, D.C., and Virginia Peniten tiaries shared concerns about female inmates ability to be profitable even as they limited the types of jobs that women could perform. Gendered expectations followed women into prison, but these expectations shifted slightly from the antebellum period to wartime Female criminals betrayed their social roles as 40 Michael Kimmel, Manhood in America: A Cultural History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 17. 41 Stephen Dalsheim, The United States Penitentiary for the District of Columbia, 18261862, Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, D.C., Vol. 53/56, The 42nd Separately Bound Book (1953/1956), 135. 42 Thornton, A Complete Guide 37 43 Doc. No. 9, Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, Year Ending September 30, 1863, 7, LVA.
96 defined by the cult of domesticity since they committed crimes, thereby becoming fallen women who could never reform .44 Nonethe less, the cult of domesticity shaped the lives of female inmates at the Ohio, D.C., and Virginia Penitentiaries, where they performed domestic duties such as sewing, making clothes, ironing, binding shoes, spinning, and washing items for male inmates.45 Essentially, the assignment of these duties reveals that female inmates were responsible for the upkeep of the penitentiary home. Womens crime s demonstrated their failure to conform to proper gender expectations The penitentiary work regime n reminded female inmates of gender appropriate duties even if only in captivity. Whi le penitentiary officials expected women to work, their work areas were not conducive to productivity. As scholars have noted, female inmates both white and black essentially remained an afterthought in male penitentiaries throughout the antebellum period since white criminals fell from grace and black women never fit notions of proper womanhood to begin with.46 Officials neglect of female inmates was apparent in both their living and working conditions. In 1811, monthly visitors William Price and George Wi lliamson noted that all workshops for the men were in good order, but lamented that the womens ward was in a very bad condition because of un cleanliness. The visitors attributed this shortcoming not to the women themselves, but to the prisons keeper since the women were not forced to pick up after themselves. Price and 44 Dodge, Whores and Thieves 15. 45 In her study of womens sphere in American society, Nancy Cott reveals that common female domestic duties included, sewing shirts and other articles of clothing, ironing, washing, and spinning. See Nancy Cott, The Bonds of Womanhood: Womans Sphere in New England, 17801835, 2d ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 41. 46 Dodge, Whores and Thieves 13, 14, 27; Kali Gross, Colored Amazons: Crime, Violence, and Black Women in the City of B rotherly Love, 18801910 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006), 35.
97 Williamson believed that the keeper neglected discipline and recommended that he take action to make the women more obedient in this regard .47 Female inmates remained a low priority dur ing the Civil War. Even though the percentage of female inmates in penitentiaries was low, the increase in the female prison population during the Civil War often proved more than officials could handle. This was especially the case in Virginia. During wartime, female inmates often sat idle since the penitentiarys general overcrowding and lack of supplies prohibited the employment of women In 1863, for example, Superintendent Bass complained that there were twenty five women in prison who could not b e worked to any profit for want of room because the women were huddled together in rooms so small that work cannot be done but by a very limited number.48 The Virginia Penitentiary held only twelve women that year a small segment of the 318 total inmates but wars circumstances necessitated that all inmates work to mitigate costs. At the Ohio Penitentiary, prison officials found ways to employ female inmates in domestic labor during wartime This employment demonstrates that assumptions about female beha vior carried over from civilian life into the prison during that period, but did not generate profit. When war broke out, numerous female aid societies sprang up in the North, mobilizing women to produce clothes for the Union Army Ohio Penitentiary inmate s aided many of these successful efforts, particularly those of the Soldiers Aid Society and the Sisters of Charity in Columbus.49 Penitentiary officials mandated that female inmates also perform patriotic work and 47 Proceedings of the Monthly Visitors Monday Morning, October 30, 1811, Virginia Penitentiary, Penitentiary Papers, 17961865, Subseries C, LVA. 48 Doc. No. 7, Report of the Superintendent of the Penitentiary, 1863 7, LVA. 49 Historian Melinda Lawson explains the origin of Soldiers Aid Societies as follows: American women, as early as the 1790s, had been forming charitable societies and auxiliaries to male societies as a means of comb ating the poverty and vice that they saw around them. With the firing on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, these womens organizations voluntarily reconfigured themselves as soldiers aid societies that
98 enlisted women to produce mens drawers, white shirts, and muslin for aid societies to donate to Union troops .50 Like the antebellum work regimen, womens wartime production for the Union Army forced domestic duties upon female inmates but had little impact beyond that. Regardless of the type of job, nineteenth century penitentiary inmates were supposed to work as part of their punishment. While it may have taken penitentiary administrators longer to apply this expectation to women, they eventually adopted it, since they knew that the penitentiary s factory model aided discipline and was supposed to promote self sufficiency. Penitentiaries, however, were never economically successful a trait that they shared with military prisons, despite military officials desires that military prisoners pay for themselves.51 Prison labor was also typical of military prisons, although this fact has received no more than passing attention in scholarship on Civil War prisons.52 Further inquiry reveals that military prison officers desired prison labor to help make mil itary prisons self sufficient. Many nineteenth century civilians saw no diffe rence between prisoners of war and criminals despite their formal distinction by the Lieber Code, and even prisoners of war admitted feeling like gathered material support for the Union troops. See Me linda Lawson, Patriot Fires: Forging a New American Nationalism in the Civil War North (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002), 22. The Sisters of Charity were a Catholic religious order that was founded in 1809 by Elizabeth Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland. During the 1840s, the order became affiliated with the French Daughters of Charity, headquartered in Greenburg, Pennsylvania. This order specialized in nursing, and its adherents both provided supplies for Union troops and nursed wounded soldiers in m any areas of the North and the South. For a history of the Sisters of Charity, see Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Our History, accessed June 9, 2010, http://srcharitycinti.org/about/history.htm For information on the Daughters of Charity, their exper tise in nursing, and their activity in the South, see Virginia Gould, Oh, I Pass Everywhere: Catholic Nuns in the Gulf South during the Civil War, in Battle Scars: Gender and Sexuality in the American Civil War ed. Catherine Clinton and Nina Silber (N ew York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 4160. 50 Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1861, 1862, and 1863, OHS. 51 Melossi and Pavarini, The Prison and the Factory 143. 52 In his s tudy of Elmira Prison, Michael Gray contends that inmates who engaged in prison labor led lives that seemed less harsh compared to those without work. Michael Gray, T he Business of Captivity 86.
99 criminals, as will be explored l ater .53 R eformer s like Frederick Wines likened prisoners of war to criminals, saying that war occurred in the courts and on the battlefield contending that the condition of a prisoner of war to that of a slave is but a step. He therefore concluded that c ompulsory labor was a natural sequel of the condition of servitude, whether military or penal.54 Military prison officials agreed with this assessment and wanted to use the captives to promote institutional self sufficiency Clearly, Americans were accust omed to inmates working in penitentiaries and they applied this expectation to military prisons. Even military law sanctioned putting prisoners of war put to work. Civil War contemporaries understood that the detaining state could compel prisoners of war t o labor as long as their work did not directly harm their state of origin.55 Since military prison officers faced increasing financial problems as the war lengthened, they like penitentiary officials, often used prison labor to complete improvements at pri sons quickly and efficiently. Penitentiary officials often used convict labor in the antebellum period to make internal improvements and save money. I n 1837, Ohio Penitentiary officials used convict labor to build a separate building for female prisoners, saving $78,428, or seven and one half cents a day per convict, as compared to the rates of outside contractors .56 This trend continued during the Civil War, as both the Ohio Penitentiary and Camp Chase used prison labor to make improvements. In 1864, the Ohio Penitentiary warden noted that the prison needed a separate 53 General Orders No. 100, April 24, 1863. 54 Wines, Punishment and Reformation 39. 55 Flory, Prisoners of War, 74. 56 Cole, A Fragile Capital 121. Similarly, at New Yorks Elmira Prison, officials employed convict carpenters for half the cost of outside contractors. Gray, The Business of Captivity, 5657.
100 building for insane convicts, a project that was eventually completed wholly by convict labor .57 Camp Chases officials also used inmate labor for improvements. I n July and December 1862, they order ed inmates to dig vaults, white wash buildings, drain standing water, and construct roads Inspector H.M. L azelles attitude towards this work was simi lar to that of penitentiary officials who believed that the prison labor program benefited inmates by teaching skills, increasing industriousness, and encouraging reform Lazelle stated that all labor at Camp Chase designed to benefit the prisoners, make them more comfortable, or improve their condition would be performed by prisoners so far as it is practical. Lazelles posture was consistent with the antebellum notion that all prisoners, regardless of their individual crime s could benefit from labor despite the officials general belief that inmates were lazy .58 Camp Chases officials maintained this attitude throughout the war, ordering prisoners to improve cooking ranges, mend shoes, construct new buildings, build parapets, and dig wells and sinks ta sks that benefited inmates and helped control prison costs an objective that few military prisons achieved despite officials attempts to compel inmates to work .59 Both prison officials and the press rejoiced when prison labor saved the Union and Confeder ate governments money. In 1862, for example, the Richmond Daily Dispatch celebrated the departure of 3,300 Yankee prisoners from Castle Thunder since the Confederate government 57 Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Director and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1864 (Columbus: Richard Nevins State Printer, 1865), 550. 58 H.M. Lazelle to William Hoffman, July 13, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol. 4, 201; H.M. Laz elle to William Hoffman, December 31, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol. 5, 132145. 59 F.S. Parker to W.P. Richardson, September 4, 1864, O.R. Series II, Vol. 7, 764765; W.P. Richardson to William Hoffman, June 20,1864, O.R. Series II, Vol. 7, 382.
101 would consequently save $4,000 per day, the average daily cost to feed the p risoners.60 Confederate officials believed that inmates should earn their bread until they were released to go at large and seek employment.61 Southern civilians echoed officials support of prison labor since military prison in mates strained scant reso urces. It was not uncommon for military prison officials to send prisoners of war to labor on the public works. In 1862, the Richmond Daily Dispatch reported that prison officials sent fifty men confined at Castle Thunder for light offenses under guard, to rebuild the bridge over the Rapidan River destroyed by the Yankees.62 The paper reflected the common belief among nineteenth century Americans that prisoners even military prisoners should support themselves Throughout 1863, after the failure of the exchange cartel, Confederate officials heavily emphasized the necessity of prison labor In July Major Isaac Carrington urged General Winder to put Castle Thunder inmates who were serving long sentences to work in order to materially lessen the expense of their keeping. Later in the year, Carrington urged Winder to employ federal deserters, most of whom were foreigners and common laborers. They worked on building fortifications and performing other manual lab or for the Confederate army to lessen the cost of clothing, food, and housing. Carringtons suggestion reveals that prison labor was important to the operation of military prisons, and officials employed it whenever possible. As the war dragged on, this p ractice undoubtedly relieved many in Richmond. I n February 1864, the Daily Dispatch praised the departure of forty three Yankees to work in the 60 Local Matte rs: Departure of Yankee Prisoners, Richmond Daily Dispatch September 15, 1862, accessed March 14, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr. 61 Isaac H. Carrington, Report of Com. July 31,1863; Com. Carrington to Capt. WS Winder, AAG, September 26, 1863; BR W Jr. to Ass. Sec., September 26,1863, Record Group 249, Entry 131, Box 1, NARA I. 62 Local Matters: Current Items, Richmond Daily Dispatch, September 8, 1862, accessed March 14, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr.
102 North Carolina coalmines, making them useful to the Confederacy.63 Those sentence s spar ed Confederate authoriti es much needed money as the long fought war bled the country of money and manpower The sentences also reflected the antebellum ideal that prisoners should pay for their keep while repay ing society for their transgressions Richmond was not the only city where the cost of prisoners aroused anxiety and elicited demand s that prisoners pay for themselves Authorities in Washington demonstrated similar concerns and used labor on the public works to relieve overcrowding at Old Capitol Prison In March 1863, at the same time that prison exchanges broke down, General in Chief Henry Halleck noted that 100 prisoners were sentenced to hard labor on t he public works and stated that the number is daily increasing. Halleck viewed this positively since, in his view, th e prison was already too much crowded and labor not only helped manage population, but also saved the government money.64 Prisoners at Camp Chase were also used to defray expenses both inside and outside of Ohio after exchanges ceased. In April 1863, Go vernor Francis H. Pierpont of the Restored Government of Virginia described how punishment remained consistent from the antebellum period to the Civil War and how military officials used the same punishments developed in penitentiaries .65 Pierpont wrote to Hoffman, requesting that he send sixteen Rebel officers who were prisoners of war at Camp Chase to Wheeling so that Pierpont could put them in a chain gang and make them repair the national road. He included a wicked devil named Keaton, also a prison er at Camp Chase, in his request since Keaton had shot a Union man in cold blood and 63 Off for the Coal Mines, Richmond Dai ly Dispatch February 23, 1864, accessed March 14, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr. 64 Montgomery Meigs to Henry Halleck, March 23, 1863, O.R. Series II, Vol. 5, 385. 65 The Restored Government of Virginia refers to modern day West Virginia. K.T. Barksd ale, Francis H. Pierpont (18141899), Encyclopedia Virginia, accessed August 2, 2011, http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Pierpont_Francis_H_18141899.
103 thrown his little child in the fire in Putnam County, Virginia.66 Pierponts singling out Keaton is further evidence of the nineteenth century belief in hard labor s punitive quality. Courts martial also sentenced soldiers guilty of military crimes to hard labor at military prisons. Castle Thunder provides a good example. Throughout the war, courts martial sentenced men to hard labor with ball and chain for periods ran ging from one month to three or six months, or to one year Crimes that warranted hard labor included engaging in conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline, desertion, being absent without leave, and attempting to go to the Yankees.67 As they sent offenders to military prisons, courts martial paralleled the sentences handed down in civilian court s and served in penitentiaries. While labor certainly served as punishment in both penitentiaries and military prisons, some inmates at both inst itutions probably preferred labor to sitting idle in overcrowded cells. Since military prisoners quarters were particularly cramped, it was important for those inmates to exercise, and consequently many of them wanted to perform labor M ilitary prison officials sometimes used labor as a reward for good behavior or bribed prisoners into pledging allegiance by offering them opportunities to work. Either way, inmates perhaps eagerly undertook labor and benefited from it physically. Camp Chase inmate William D uff recalled how many inmates, himself included, responded to the authorities orders to strengthen prison walls and dig drainage ditches Duff noted that the work earned the men full rations, but griped that prison officials demanded that inmates take the oath of allegiance to continue, a request that 66 This measure was proposed in retaliation for the South holding Virginia officers in the Virginia Pen itentiary. Hoffman later halted the action on April 7, 1863. F.H. Pierpont to William Hoffman, March 28, 1863, O.R. Series II, Vol. 5, 399. 67 Sentences by Court Martial, Richmond Daily Dispatch, December 5, 1862, Sentence by a Court Martial, Richmond D aily Dispatch December 31, 1864, Sentence Remitted, Richmond Daily Dispatch, January 16, 1865, Released from Confinement, Richmond Daily Dispatch, January 23, 1865, all accessed March 14, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr.
104 many refused.68 Nonetheless, the work helped inmates to break the mo notony of prison life and get much needed exercise, and it probably saved officials money just as it did in the antebellum period and at other military prisons.69 Military prisons and penitentiaries had much in common regarding the types of inmates that they held and the fact that both emphasized prison labor to maintain order and strive for self sufficiency. In both institutions, the pris on labor program fell short; inmates sat together idly in crowded spaces for the majority of their imprisonment, despite officials best attempts to keep them segregated and occupied. This chapter has demonstrated how the military established a trend in t he antebellum period of using penitentiaries to house soldiers convicted of crimes and prisoners of war It has also shown that military prisons detained more than prisoners of war and treason suspects. The similarities, however, do not end there. Penitent iary and military prison officials were required to be Christian gentlemen; they tried to segregate inmates according to gender; they tried to restrict the communication of inmates and govern them with similar rules; and they inflicted similar punishments on misbehaving inmates. The idea that prisons, as reformer Dorothea Dix stated in the antebellum period, should be established on just and Christian principles persisted into the Civil War.70 Inmates assumed that officers would behave like Christian gen tlemen and that inmates would receive good treatment. But just as both penitentiaries and military prisons failed at self sufficiency, they also fell short of these goals. 68 W.H. Duff, Six Months of Prison Life at Camp Chase, Ohio, 3d ed. (Clearwater, SC: Eastern Digital Resources, 2004), 31. 69 Georgia historian Benjamin Cloyd has noted that, even at the notorious Andersonville prison in Americus, black inmates were forced to labor on the prison grounds. Cloyd, Haunted by Atrocity 49. 70 Dix, Remarks on Prisons 68 69.
105 Chapter 5 will demonstrate how closely penitentiaries and military prisons mirrored each other in terms of the rules, regulations, inmate infractions, and punishments that were ingrained in their day to day operation and their overall administration We will look at the rules and regulations of penitentiaries and military prisons, encoun ter a wide spectrum of inmate infractions, and observe how officials mete d out punishments to preserve internal order and their authority.
106 CHAPTER 5 ADMINISTRATION, REGULATIONS, INFRACTIONS, AND PUNISHMENTS Both penitentiary and military prison officials, through the enforcement of prison rules, contributed to the expansion of the power of both the state and national governments.1 State officials, who ran penitentiaries, and Union and Confederate military officials, who oversaw military pr isons, operated their institutions on the same principles and practices Both entrusted the well being of inmates to men assumed to be upstanding gentlemen, compensated for inadequate guard strength, classified inmates according to gender, and debated the efficacy of corporal punishment. Examination of the rules governing punishments in penitentiaries and military prisons shows even more clearly that penitentiaries and military prisons operated on similar principles and practices. Keeping order in military prison s was of the utmost importance, both in peacetime and during wartime. Military p rison officials guarded more inmates during the Civil War but used the same rules as penitentiary officials to keep order and to punish inmates. Maintaining consistent o rder, however, was often difficult to achieve. Both penitentiary and military prison officials often struggled because of their inexperience in prison management, boredom with their jobs, and their constantly being outnumbered by inmates, an ever increasin g concern as both types of institutions become increasingly crowded. These factors sometimes led guards at both types of institutions to employ corporal, potentially fatal, punishments that penitentiary and military prison rules sanctioned throughout the c entury. The antebellum period set the standard by which military prison officials conducted themselves When the Civil War began Americans retained their expectations for guards to 1 Novak, The Peoples Welfare, 241.
107 adhere to Christian principles and inmates to receive humane treatment .2 B ut penitentiaries and military prisons alike were often void of humane administration S cholars have explored the suffering and maltreatment that occurred in Northern and Southern military prisons, noting how countless prisoners of war languished in the ha nds of their captors but they do not tell the whole story of wartime incarceration.3 Analyzing military imprisonment alongside penitentiaries reveals that military prison officials, like their civilian counterparts before and during the war, received appo intments based almost solely on personal character. They shared the same goals of humane treatment of inmates and benevolent administration, but they had little practical experience in prison operation, which contributed to the ever deteriorating condition s in many military prisons. P enitentiary guards had to demonstrate good character in their community through their participation in political and religious activities.4 Individuals seeking appointment to a position within the penitentiary warden, deputy warden, physician, clerk, or guardhad to possess qualities of respectable manhood and have political connections.5 Appointees at the Virginia, District of Columbia, and Ohio Penitentiaries commanded the respect of their peers, but had little if any, prison experience. Having inexperienced individuals run the criminal justice system was nothing new As Lawrence Friedman has noted, this dated back to the colonial 2 Michael Gray, in his study of Elmira Prison, notes that prison camp officers were considered ge ntlemen and behaved that way. Gray, The Business of Captivity 126. 3 Hesseltine, Civil War Prisons ; Marvel, Andersonville: The Last Depot ; Roger Pickenpaugh, Captives in Gray ; San ders, While in the Hands of the Enemy 4 Lewis, From Newgate to Dannemora, 119. 5 Kimmel, Manhood in America 14, 17. Sociologist Michael Kimmel notes that a man was independent, self controlled, responsible. During the market revolution, the self made man exhibited success in the market, individual achievement, mobility, wealth, but economic autonomy was accompanied by anxiety, restlessness, [and] loneliness.
108 period.6 This chapter demonstrates that it was a problem that continued through the antebel lum period and persisted after the creation of Civil War military prisons M en seeking positions as penitentiary guard s keeper s or warden s in the Virginia, D.C., and Ohio penitentiaries had to be honest, industrious, moral, and temperaterequirements th at were firmly established in the antebellum period and which substituted for practical experience .7 After assuming their posts, penitentiary officials were expected to maintain these qualities as examples for inmates. If penitentiary officials did not dem onstrate integrity, many feared that they would become tools of the convicts, conspiring with inmates to cause trouble.8 Others worried that the power that officials wielded over inmates could lead to abuse of authority. In 1852, William Roberts, Chapla in at the Ohio Penitentiary, exhorted prison officials to exercise just rule, to lead by example through kindness and firmness, and to avoid cultivating a sense of injustice in the minds of the inmates. Roberts emphasized the importance of guards develop ing an appropriate masculine identity A position as guard, according to Roberts, presented the opportunity for a man to cultivate either noble or tyrannical qualities.9 While some nineteenth century civilians celebrated force, aggression, and risk as mas culine and democratic 6 Friedman, Crime and Punishment 27. 7 Application of Richard Armstrong for position of Penitentiary keeper, 1816, Virginia Penitentiary, Penitentiary Papers, 17961865, Subseries C, LVA; Benj. L. Bohrer and Go. A. Bohrer to Inspectors Penitentiary D.C. Washington (on behalf of Mr. H.M. Smith), July 3, 1857, and J.W. Jones, W.H. Ward, R. Clark, J.S. Miller, and Saml Bymington to Col. John B. Dade, Warden of the Penitentiary, August 25, 1845, Record Group 48, R ecords of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, Records Relating to the U.S. Penitentiary for the District of Columbia, 1826 1865, Miscellaneous Records, 18291862, Entry 470, Box 2 and 1 (respectively), NARA II. 8 First Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the Prison Discipline Society June 2, 1826, 6 th ed. (Boston: Perkins and Marvin, 1830), 32. 9 William S. Roberts, A Discourse Before the Officers of the Ohio Penitentiary, On the First Sabbath in February, 1852, WHS
109 virtues, prison guards were required to control these instincts and exercise self discipline.10 Robertss discourse suggests that prison officials were expected to exercise characteristics of honorable manhood which included self rest raint, in order to encourage discipline.11 This was often a difficult task, since many assumed their posts without experience in the trying and unique environment of imprisonment. Both penitentiary and military prison officials lacked experience in managing inmates. The histories of the Virginia Penitentiary, Castle Thunder, and Camp Chase offer examples of men who received appointments as commandants based on personal qualities, not practical experience. Martin Mims, appointed the first keeper of the Virgin ia Penitentiary in 1801, was described as an honest man, but the only exposure he had had to prisons was his position as the states brick contractor during the penitentiarys construction .12 Similarly, in wartime Richmond, George W. Alexander, who became commandant of Castle Thunder, also had scant prison experience. Richmonds Provost Marshal, General John Winder, appointed George Alexander commandant of Castle Thunder on October 27, 1862 The only prison experience that Alexander had was not as an officer but as a prisoner of war.13 Soon after Alexander took charge of Castle 10 Nancy Isenberg, Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 105. 11 Kimmel, Manhood in America 14, 17. 12 Keve, History of Corrections in Virginia 27. 13 Prior to the Civil War, Alexander served in the U.S. Navy He resi gned when war broke out and joined the Confederate Navy In 1862, federal forces captured Alexander, indicted him for treason and piracy, and sentenced him to execution. Alexander awaited his fate as a prisoner at Fort McHenry, but outsmarted his captors, escaped, and fled to Richmond. There he became Assistant Provost Marshal and later commandant of Castle Thunder For information on Alexanders Naval service, capture, imprisonment, and escape, see Casstevens, George Alexander and Castle Thunder 757.
110 Thunder, the prison earned a reputation for brutality proving correct the antebellum notion that power over prisoners could sometimes lead to abuse of authority .14 Many of Camp Chases early commandants were inexperienced but did not resort to brutality. Rather, lax discipline was the result. Camp Chases first few commandants, Colonels Granville Moody and W.B. Allison, provide good examples. Ohio governor David Tod appointed Colonel Moody in March 1862. Moody had modest experience interacting with inmates. D uring the antebellum period, Moody, a Methodist minister, visited inmates at the Ohio Penitentiary.15 Governor Tod appointed Moody based on this experience, but Mo ody immediately drew criticism from federal inspectors and the public for lax discipline In late April 1862, many federal officials hoped that Moody would resign and join his regiment on the battlefront Although Tod retaine d Moody, praising his excellen t management skills, Moodys tenure lasted only until July 1862.16 Columbus citizens continually griped about Moody allowing Confederate inmates to keep their slaves in prison and granting liberal paroles to Southern officers during which they, complete wi th side arms, roamed the city streets.17 Compassion was a good trait if used to help penitentiary inmates find God, but not if it allowed enemies free reign. Moodys successor, Colonel W.B. Allison, also demonstrated that personal pedigree and political con nections could win a man an appointment as commandant without any guarantee of competence. Allison, a lawyer and the son in law of Ohios lieutenant governor, was another of 14 For information on Alexanders appointment, see Casstevens, George W. Alexander 44 For Castle Thunders brutal reputation, see Speer, Portals to Hell 94 15 James B. Finley, Memorials of Prison Life, (1853; repr ., New York: Arno Press, 1974), 21. 16 Co lonel Moody, Columbus C risis April 30, 1862. 17 Shriver and Breen, Ohios Military Prisons in the Civil War 1213.
111 Tods political appointees This appointment also reflected the Governors desire to control Camp Chase as Tod kept close tabs on Allison.18 Allisons ties to state government did not help him in military prison administration He was a thorn in the side of Colonel H.M. Lazelle, whom Hoffman appointed to inspect Camp Chase following rep eated charges of poor discipline. In his July 13, 1862, report to Hoffman, Lazelle complained that Allison w as not in any degree a soldier, and that he lacked experience and remained ignorant of his duties. Lazelle strove to convince Tod that Allison had no jurisdiction over the prison.19 In essence, Lazelle believed that Allison lacked the character and discipline required to operate a nineteenth century prison. Inexperienced commandants were not the only problems that hindered penitentiary and military prison operations Disinterested and disorganized guard s also posed challenges Good order was of the utmost importance to prison officials, but it required the guards, who were subject to distractions and desirous of social interaction, to be on heightene d alert for extended periods of time This was especially difficult at night, when darkness could mask inmates attempts at communication and guards thoughts drifted to sleep rather than duty. Nighttime posed disciplinary concerns for all guards in both penitentiaries and military prisons. The Virginia Penitentiary exemplifies problems that the night watch faced due to the lack of a permanent guard force. In the first forty five years of the prisons existence, the night watch changed posts frequently, ideally to encourage alertness but actually creating disorder From the institutions founding until 1846, a specially organized militia unit, the Public Guard, was on night patrol Soldiers rotated every two hours, creating opportunities for inmates misbe havior 18 H.M. Lazelle to William Hoffman July 13, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol. 4, 195208; Speer, Portals to Hell, 8081. 19 Ibid. 195208.
112 and escape attempts Officials eventually realized how ineffective this system was and suggested that an Interior Guard assume regular night duty.20 Preventing disorder ultimately depended on the guards ability to remain vigilant and keep inmates wi thin sight, a difficult task as prison population s rose crowding many inmates into small cells .21 Guarding military prisons, like penitentiaries, was monotonous Whether civilians or soldiers, guards worked long hours and were responsible for watching an immense number of captives Most military prison guards were comprised of military units, but they, like the public guard at the Virginia Penitentiary were also not permanent. In Camp Chases early months, guard duty fell to a number of three months men This short term of duty created administrative concerns prompt ing Governor Tod to urge Colonel Hoffman to raise a special corps for guard duty to remedy inconsistencies, just as Virginia officials had established a permanent guard in the antebellum pe riod.22 It took a few months, however, for military officials to establish a permanent guard at Camp Chase. In May 1862, a prison official noted that there was no guard except a few citizens to face a threatened insurrection of prisoners.23 Similar shor tages were evident in July 1862. Captain Lazelle reported that an in adequate number of guards left one side of the prison completely unguarded and provided no sentry except at night.24 Prison officials temporarily remedied the shortage in August 1862. Dur ing that month, the guard consisted of approximately 20 Keve, History of Corrections in Virginia, 3032; Discussion of creation of Interior Guard in Virginia General Assembly, Penitentiary Institution, 1846, VHS. 21 Prison populations rose as follows : Ohio Penitentiary: 1832215; 1842461; 1852503 Virginia Penitentiary: 1817 158; 1839 181; 1857313 D.C. Penitentiary: 183342; 184384; 1854 114. For a complete list of penitentiary populations, see Appendix. 22 David Tod to William Hoffman, July 10, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol. 4, 164. 23 Henry B. Carrington to Adjutant General Thomas May 28, 1862 O.R. Series II, Vol. 3, 605. 24 H.M. Lazelle to William Hoffman July 13, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol. 4, 199.
113 one regiment, which was charged with the oversight of 1,600 prisoners.25 Hoffmans comments a month later reveal t hat the guard was not permanent however. Hoffman lamented the frequent changes in the cam ps command argu ing that only the appointment of a permanent commander and guard could fix irregularities.26 Before this happened, officials stationed guards in multiple locations to c ompensate. In mid October 1862, one inspector noted that only 101 men we re available to guard anywhere from 723 to 1600 prisoners.27 Prison officials maximized guards effectiveness by using a combination of men stationed at parapets and on ground posts Assistant Commissary General of Prisoners H.W. Freedley noted that seventeen sentinels occupied parapets so that the whole camp might be overlooked. In addition, there were two sentinels stationed at each gate and thirteen other sentinels who form ed a complete chain around the camps exterior independent of those on the parapet above.28 This arrangement provided temporary relief, but inspectors pressed for a permanent guard, which they eventually received. The creation of the 88th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, also known as the First Battalion, Governors Guards finally remedi ed the problem of guard strength at Camp Chase This unit assumed control on October 27, 1862 and held the post for the majority of its service.29 The 88th Ohio generally had a positive effect on Camp Chases operation, as did the public guard in 25 Gustav C.E. Weber to W.A. Hammond August 14, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol. 4 389 I assume that the guard force was 1,100. The National Park Service lists the strength of one regiment as ten companies, or 1,100 officers and men See Gettysburg National Military Park: Army Organization During the Civil War accessed March 14, 2010, http://www.nps.gov/archive/ge tt/getttour/armorg.htm 26 W. Hoffman to L. Thomas September 10, 1862 O.R. Series II, Vol. 4, 504. 27 Population estimates are as follows: 1,600 inmates were listed on August 14, 1862, and 723 inmates were listed on October 27, 1862 See, respectively, Gustav C.E. Weber to W.A. Hammond August 14, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol. 4 389 ; H.W. Freedly to William Hoffman October 27, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol. 4, 659660; Guard estimate from William Hoffman to H.W. Freedly October 15, 1862 O.R. Series II, Vol. 4, 624625. 28 William Hoffman to H.W. Freedly October 15, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol. 4, 624625. 29 H.M. Lazelle to William Hoffman December 31, 1862 O.R. Series II, Vol. 5 133 For information on the 88th Ohio, see 88th Ohio Infantry compiled by Larr y Stevens accessed March 14, 2010, http://www.ohiocivilwar.com cw88.html
114 Virginia although it took some time to realize their impact. In September 1864, one prison inspector noted that the regiment had changed the camp from a detestable mud hole to a fine, healthy, and well organized pr ison,30 revealing the positive effects that a per manent guard force had on prison discipline, even though the number of guards was often limited. Even when a permanent guard force existed, p rison guards often had to maximize the capabilities of only a small number of guards Com manders improvised in va rious ways Guards rotated frequently at Old Capitol Prison to ensure vigilance. In February 1865, Old Capitol Prisons population totaled 296, but there were only nineteen guards available for duty.31 The guard consisted of three reliefs, each work ing two two hour shifts.32 Official correspondence contains no indication of what would have constituted adequate guard strength or to what extent fluctuations in the prison population increased anxiety about security The numbers of guards did not necessarily guar antee security, however Even when many guards were present physically, their minds wandered, causing them to compromise order G uards at Castle Thunder often neglected their dut ies or violated instructions In March 1863, guard Mike Jordan faced court ma rtial for conspiring with an inmate on an escape. The result of the trial is unknown, but the penalty for such an offense was very severe according to the Richmond press.33 Jordans offense occurred during a time when Castle Thunders guards demonstrated general apathy towards their duties On December 5, 1863, Lieutenant Colonel Elliott issued General Orders Number Three, which railed against guards poor behavior. 30 F.S. Parker to W.P. Richardson, September 4, 1864 O.R. Series II, Vol. 7, 764765. 31 Statement of Prisoners of War on hand at the Following Camp Prisons, et c., up to the lates t received dates O.R. Series II, Vol. 8 174 ; Guard Reports 1864 1865, Reports for February 3, 1865, April 10, 1865, and April 19, 1865 Record Group 393, Pt. 4 E 2136, Nos. 311 B 311/797 DW NARA I. 32 Guard Reports 18641865, Reports for February 3, 1865, April 10, 1865, and April 19, 1865 Record Group 393, Pt. 4 E 2136, Nos. 311 B 311/797 DW NARA I. 33 Court Martial Richmond Daily Dispatch March 11 1863, accessed March 14, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr.
115 Military prison guards, like their penitentiary counterparts, were considered gentlemen and expected to behave as such.34 But Elliot noted that the instances of laxity of discipline and insubordination among guards were frequent and caused apprehension. Elliots orders attempted to motivate the guards, exhorting them to demonstrate good charact er above reproach as both soldiers and men since all eyes were upon them. Elliot consequently noted that the command could only be vindicated if it could point triumphantly to the fact that no single member of it has been arraigned for delinquency. He emphasized how important it was for guards to maintain good behavior so that they consistently demonstrated the power of the Confeder ate government .35 Both the Union and the Confederacy attempted to preserve their powers by dictating rules for guards. T hese regulations paralleled those of penitentiaries. Regulations governing guards behavior required the m to sacrifice aspects of civilian life to which they were accustomed spatial freedom, control of time, and political engagement.36 Rules at both penit entiaries and military prisons restricted guards communication with inmates The Ohio Penitentiary and Camp Chase provide good examples. The Ohio Penitentiarys rules prohibited guards from gathering for any type of conversation Guards had to maintain a constant presence in the prison at all hours, prevent communication between convicts, and refrain from singing, whistling immoderate laughter, boisterous conversation, and 34 Gray, The Business of Captivity 133 126. 35 For all of Elliots orders, see Lt. Col. Elliott, General Orders No. 3 December 15, 1863, Henry Thweatt Owen Papers, 18251920, Section 4 VHS 36 Numerous scholars have noted mens increasing participation in political and civic affairs throughout the first half of the nineteenth century. Prison rules forbidding political discussions must have stifled the individuality of guards as civilians became increasingly attuned to politics. Glenn A. Altschuler and Stuart M. Blumin, Rude Republic: Americans and Their Politics in the Nineteenth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000); Mary Ryan, Civic Wars: Democracy and Public Life in the American City during the Nineteenth Century (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998).
116 exciting discussions upon politics, religion or other subjects to ensure har mony and good order.37 These regulations quashed not only the individuality of inmates, but also that of guards, who sacrificed their personalities for the sake of preserving order. Orders also f orbade guards from speaking with each other at military prison s. Camp Chases commandant William Richardson prohibited guards from talking with each other while on dut y, ordering them to be on constant alert. Rules also constricted guards communication with inmates In 1862 Governor Tod permitted individuals detaile d for duty in the prison to speak with inmates to facilitate their communication with others .38 But Federal officials constricted these orders later in the war On April 1, 1864, Commandant William Richardson notified guards that they were in no case permitted to speak to prisoners, except when the discharge of th eir duty compels them to do so.39 Similar dictates governed guards at Castle Thunder Its rul es forbade guards from conducting any communication with prisoners. The only time that the Castles guards could approach inmates was when an inmate desired to leave his quarters Prison orders stipulated that no prisoner was allowed to leave his apartment without proper guard. Although guards did not march military prison inmates in long lines of loc k step, they were responsible for ensuring that prisoners conducted themselves in an orderly fashion when they left their quarters.40 Guards 37 Ohio Penitentiary, Report of the Directors of the New Penitentiary, 1834, 10 11, WRHS; Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio 1855, 47, OHS. 38 David Tod, Special Orders No. 212, March 2, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol., 3, 344345. 39 For all of Richardsons directives, see R. Lamb, Instructions to Prison Guards by command of Colonel Richardson, A pril 1, 1864 O.R. Series II, Vol. 7, A01. 40 All of Castle Thunders rules from Rules and Regulations for the Government of Castle Thunder, 1863, Broadside, LVA Michael Gray notes that at Elmira, the procedures for serving meals resembled those in a f actory as officers took roll call, ward sergeants marched men to breakfast in two lines, and systematically filed into the dining area where they took assigned seats Officers at other prisons probably used similar strategies Gray, The Business of Captiv ity 32.
117 assumed responsibility for inmates from the moment they entered the prison. Prison rules necessitated uniformity of behavior not only for guards but, more importantly, for inmates. This process began immediately upon an inmates entry. The circumstances that inmates faced upon arrival were established in antebellum penitentiaries and persisted throughout the nineteenth century reemerging in military prisons Upon arrival, penitentiary officials subjected inmates to a process of calculated humiliation designed to strip them of pride and self respect, reducing many to tears.41 Officials screened inmates, introduced them to prison rules, confiscated personal belongings, and served them commitment papers detail ing the length s of their sentence s Guards then marched inmates to the penitentiary hospital for a general exam. Officials noted ab normal conditions that might have pos ed a potential threat to the new inmates lives or the lives of their peers. Penitentiary chaplains, or other officials, also questioned inmates about their civilian lives to determine each criminals religious outlook, drinking habits, education, and fami ly circumstances. All of these measures communicated to inmates that their lives were no longer their own. Penitentiary officials guards, wardens, and physicians all paid close attention to new inmates during inspection in order to familiarize themselves with a convicts personality and appearance to enable identif ication of potential or actual troublemakers in the event of either actual or suspected wrongdoing. But it is rather ironic that officials concerned themselves with inmate s physical appearances, since regulations required all inmates to have shaved heads and faces and to wear identical striped uniforms.42 Initial questioni ng was a contradictory process: 41 Lewis, From Newgate to Dannemora, 91 ; Cole, A Fragile Capital 122. 42 J.H. Matthews, Historical Reminiscences of the Ohio Penitentiary: From its Erection in 1835 to the Present Time, a Descriptive View of the Interior and its System of Government, Modes of Punishment, Brief Sketches of the Prisoner's Life, Escapes, Noted Criminals (Columbus OH: Chas. M. Cott, 1884), 1819, 22 ; Message from the President of the United States transmitting the Annual Report of the
118 officials sought to strip inmates of individual identity while getting to know them on an individual basis. The Ohio Penitentiary provides a good example of this process. There, the moral instructor recorded inmates circumstances with great detail. In 1840, the moral instructor, through conversations with inmates, chronicled their reading, writing, and educational skills, praising those who were habitual readers of the Bible and who regularly observed the Sabbath. The instructor condemned criminals association with lewd women and called attention to the dangers of intemp erance, noting disgustedly that many inmates were drunk for the first time when convicted of killing or of intent to kill.43 Penitentiary o fficials initial questioning of inmates was, ideally, the last prolonged verbal exchange that inmates would experien ce while incarcerated. R ules dictated silence, but inmates circumvented this rule, especially during periods of overcrowding and while at work as the whir of machines masked conversation.44 Nonetheless, inmates were ordered to suppress their individuality s ince they could not talk about ordinary topics or politics. Nor could they exchange looks, laugh, quarrel, dance, whistle, sing, run, or jump. Deference and respect governed all interactions, especially those with officers. If inmates wanted to complain to officials or the board of directors, they did so individually after asking t he wardens permission. Inmates depended on officials for the conduct of interpersonal relationships both in and outside of prison, a trend that was evident in both civilian penit entiaries and military prisons thro ughout the nineteenth century. Penitentiary and military prison o fficials prohibited inmates from Inspectors of the Penite ntiary in the District of Columbia H Exec Doc. No. 46 21st Cong., 1s t sess., Rules and Regulations ( February 1, 1830 ), NYPL. 43 Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1840, 14 OHS. 44 McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment 69.
119 receiving or writing letters to or from anyone outside the prison without officers inspection and unguarded inmates were not permitted to look at or speak with visitors.45 Penitentiary and military prison officials had to establish authority from the moment that inmates entered As in penitentiaries, inmates at Old Capitol Prison, Camp Chase, and Castle Thunder surrend ered all arms, personal items and valuables, such as watches and jewelry, to officials, who then marked and stored the inmates items until release. Guards also took inmates money and stored it in similar fashion unless it was a large amount; guards kept this money and could use it to support their army and the war effort. Officials then questioned inmates about their background s .46 When inmates arrived at military prisons, the prison clerk recorded their name s ages residence s rank s regiment s and comp an ies to help officers and guards identify prisoners the same procedure as in penitentiaries Once penitentiary and military prison officials registered inmates information, they tried their best to keep them separated, either through solitary confinement by gender, or by offense. 45 Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1855 5051 OHS; H Exec Doc. No. 46 21st Cong., 1st sess., Duties of Convicts ( February 1, 1830), NYPL; Virginia Penitentiary, Penitentiary Papers, 17961865 Subseries C, Box 3, LVA. The Virginia Penitentiary did not admit visitors since it interfered with discipline Letters could not pass more often than three months and only through the supe rintendent. The Virginia prison also had a classification system that ordered prisoners lives and afforded varying privileges The structure of the system resembled a grading scale used in schools It divided inmates sentences into thirds and encouraged prisoners to pass certain standards to advance to the next level and eventually obtain release This classification system encouraged and rewarded good behavior by promoting convicts to the next class prior to the expiration of a third of their term of imp risonment Officers could demote inmates a grade level for poor conduct Prison officials also punished inmates with periods of solitary confinement, terms in the dungeon, or whippings overseen by the superintendent and administered in private Prisoners i n the lower two classes, which respectively constituted the first and second thirds of the prison sentence, could not speak with the keeper without the approval of the assistant keeper, his immediate subordinate Prisoners of the highest class could contac t the keeper, thus theoretically readying themselves for re admittance to civilian life by having the privilege of communicating with superiors restored See Crawford, Report on the Penitentiaries, 108. 46 Flory, Prisoners of War, 97 98. There is no defini tion of what constitutes a large amount of money.
120 The antebellum period established the precedent that separating and classifying inmates facilitated order, but overcrowding ultimately made this impossible in both penitentiaries and military prisons While penitentiary inmates inhabited solitary cells, these were seldom an option in military prisons because the institutions were makeshift in nature and generally had no individual cells In any event, penitentiary inmates were seldom alone as penitentiary populations rose throug hout the century. Military prison inmates also shared quarters. At Camp Chase, officers divided inmates into conveniently sized messes and separated officers from the [enlisted] men as far as practicable, suggesting that even this classification scheme broke down47 Officials at Castle Thunder and Old Capitol Prison similarly tried to classify inmates Castle Thunder guards separated inmates as follows: Confederate deserters and political prisoners occupied the Gleanor's building; blacks and female prison ers were confined in Whitlock's Warehouse; and federal deserters and, later, federal prisoners of war were detained in Palmer's Factory.48 At the Old Capitol, one room on the main floor confined Virginia citizens who refused to pledge allegiance to the Unit ed States Another held federal officers, many of whom were unaware of their offenses or who were confined by order of the Provost Marshal The floor above contained five rooms that held inmates in solitary confinement, most commonly women, such as Confede rate spy Belle Boyd Federal officials confined prisoners of war in five Sibley tents in the prison yard.49 Officials classified inmates to both punish and control them, but this punishment was ultimately mild since it enabled inmates to bond. Bonding often led to 47 Information regarding rules and regulations from David Tod, Special Orders No. 212, ; William Hoffman Circular April 20, 1864 O.R. Series II, Vol. 7, 7275; Rules and Regulations for the Government of Castle Thunder, 186. 48 See Speer, Portals to Hell 93 for divisions of inmates at Castle Thunder. 49 D.A. Mahoney, The Prisoner of State (New York: Carleton, 1863), 152159.
121 disobedience, which officers at both penitentiaries and military prisons addressed with corporal or even lethal punishments. The development of penitentiaries concealed punishment from civilians since public punishments had a tendency to arouse sympathy for criminals even though they taught offenders valuable lessons in discipline .50 Public whippings, humiliation, or hangings moved behind penitentiary walls after their establishment and taught inmates that defying rules carried significant conseq uences Military prison officials utilized these same types of punishments, suggesting that, rather than restraining the violent power of authority, penitentiaries and military prisons channeled it in acceptable, but no less brutal, ways.51 Penitentiary and military p rison officials throughout the nineteenth century used solitary confinement, whipping, or the ball and chain to correct inmates behavior When these punishments are viewed in context, they demonstrate that military prison officials were not qui te as brutal as scholars have made them out to be since corporal and lethal punishment were condoned throughout the century. Corporal punishment did, however, continuously arouse debate during the antebellum and Civil War years. Perhaps the most controvers ial punishment evident in both penitentiaries and military prisons was whipping. A ntebellum penitentiary administrators understood that whipping kept the balance of power in their favor. But, throughout the century penitentiary and military officials 50 Banner, The Death Penalty 148149; Louis Masur, Rites of Execution: Capital Punishment and the Transformation of American Culture, 17761865 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989). 51 Colvin and Meranze have contended that penitentiaries were deemed crucial to democracy since they restrained state power. Colvin, Penitentiaries, Reformatories, and Chain Gangs 2425 ; Meranze, Laboratories of Virtue 14 15.
122 both found whipping controversial .52 Penitentiary and military officials sanctioning of whipping fluctuated throughout the antebellum period In 1806, the military laws of the United States carefully controlled the severity of whipping by dictating that courts martial could inflict no more than fifty lashes on any offender. This act was repealed in 1812, banning whipping entirely. In 1833, however, the repeal itself was repealed in cases of desertion again sanctioning whipping. When the Civil War began in 1861, military law abolished all forms of whipping and flogging, and this dictate applied to military prisons in the North.53 Interestingly, the use and outlawing of whipping in penitentiaries coincided with its use and abolishment in the army. In his report on penitentiaries published in 1835, reformer William Crawford noted that w hipping was common at the Virginia Penitentiary, characterizing it was the most usual course that officials used to ensure obedience .54 In the 1850s, the Ohio Penitentiarys rules an d regulations also condoned whipping in cases of a flagrant character or of a repetition of offenses to help officers ensure order and obedience. Regulations, however, necessitated that officials gain approval to whip from the board of directors and pr evented officials from issuing more than ten stripes at a time or for the same offense.55 As in military law, penitentiary officials permitted whipping from roughly the 1830s through the 1850s, setting maximum lash limits D.C. Penitentiary officials also engaged in debates over whipping at the same time that military law sanctioned it. Penitentiary regulations prevented its use without Congressional 52 McLennan contends that whipping tipped the balance of power in the guards favor while Goldsmith acknowl edges the uneven balance of power, but contends that inmates exercised influence. McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment 71 ; Goldsmith, History from the Inside Out, 111. 53 Callan, Military Laws of the United States 190191. 54 Crawford, Report on the Penitentiaries, 107. 55 Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Director s and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1855, 50, OHS.
123 authority revealing, just as in military law, the desire for oversight in this practice.56 But in 1833 the p enitentiarys warden, Isaac Clarke, argued for greater leeway to use the lash. Clarke denounced Congresss restraint on corporal punishment as too lax, maintaining that no prison system could be perfect without it. Clarke was so passionate about whipping t hat he contacted numerous other wardens who offered support for his position. Each person contacted emphasized the necessity of whipping in penitentiaries. Clarke begged the board of inspectors to petition Co ngress to employ whipping more frequently. In 18 36, as the controversy continued, the inspectors stood by the stance articulated in 1830, which maintained that mildness and certainty of punishment were more efficient than severity. The inspectors rebuffed Clarkes repeated requests to intensify whip ping, deeming further legislation unnecessary.57 This refusal caused Cl arke to lobby more adamantly that same year for permission to inflict corporal punishment and he used the issue of recidivism to make his case. Clarke contended that former inmates looke d for recommitment, since prison rules were mild and the fare too good. Clarke argued that more frequent use of the lash would prevent very often infractions of the rules, create a proper subordination to their officers and reduce the frequency of punishments Advocacy of corporal punishment, according to Clarke, did not label him a cruel man. Rather, he favored this measure because of the importance of his station.58 The inspectors again rebuffed Clarkes requests in 1839, saying that prison disc ipline must be rigid in the sense that the warden should have a place for every man in a cell, thereby downplaying 56 Message from the President of the United States, Transmitting the Fourth Annual Report of the Inspectors of the Penitentiary in the District of Columbia, H. Exec. Doc. No. 49, 22nd Cong., 2d sess. ( January 19, 1833), 2, NYPL. 57 H. Exec. Doc. No. 49, 22nd Cong., 2d sess. ( January 19, 1833 ) 6 7; H. Exec.Doc. No. 46, 21st Cong., 1st sess., Rules and Regulations (February 1, 1830) 3 ; Message of the President of the United States, Transmitting the Seventh Annual Report of the Inspectors of the Penitentiary, H. Exec. Doc. No. 81 24th Cong., 1st sess., Penitentia ry District of Columbia ( January 2 8, 1836) 2, NYPL. 58 Italics in the original text. H. Exec. Doc. No. 81 24th Cong., 1st sess. ( January 28, 1836) 5, NYPL.
124 corporal punishment Clarke finally, and somewhat suddenly recanted in 1841, and the wardens who succeeded Clarke at the D.C. Penitentiary generally favored mild punishment taking pride in the orderly state of the penitentiary. The argument about whipping at the D.C. Penitentiary is striking, since it reveals Congresss control of the practice both in the federal penitentiary and in the army, even permitting it as punishment for deserters. A s previously shown the practice persisted in other state penitentiaries throughout the 1830s and part of the 1840s at the very same time it was permitted in the army. During this time, penitentiary an d military officials shared reformer Dorothea Dixs conclusion about whipping. Dix stated that while she could never res train her instinctive horror and disgust of punishment by the lash, she was forced to concede that, it may be sometimes the only mode by which an insurrectionary spirit can be conquered.59 Penitentiary officials, however, began to change their minds about whipping towards midcentury, just before military laws outlawed the practice. Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, Ohio Penitentiary offic ers preferred surveillance to corporal punishment in order to distance the penitentiary from the whips degrading effects. In 1844, Warden John Patterson stated that the best way to enforce strict obedience was to use the lash as sparingly as possible. Patterson believed that inmates felt gratitude for good treatment and that this could encourage good conduct. When Patterson was warden, he utilized the shower bath, a stream of cold water running over the offenders head, instead of whipping. Although officers used alternate forms of corporal punishment to discourage inmates bad behavior, Patterson believed that vigilance was most effective in preventing infractions.60 59 Italics in the original text. Dix, Remarks on Prisons, 13. 60 Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1844 5 6, OHS.
125 I n the late 1840s and 1850s other officials at the Ohio Penitentiary also commen ted on wh ippings negative repercussions In 1 846, Chaplain James Finley, an anti slavery advocate, contended that the use of the lash has a deteriorating influence on all those who engage in it, prisoners and officials alike Finley likely objected to whipping since he opposed slavery and knew that in the South, whipping was the primary means of social control, commonly administered to slaves by masters and overseers. 61 Similarly, the board of directors in 1856 contended that corporal punishment jeopardized the character of both those who administered it and those who received it The directors praised the substitution of corporal punishment with solitary confinement, noting how isolation protects the convict from the outburs ts of brutal passion and ensured wholesome discipline in prison.62 Finally, in 1858, Warden L.G. Van Slyke touted the discipline of the Ohio Penitentiary as the pride of Ohio since corporal punishment had not been used in almost three years. Van Slyke preferred solitary confinement for the most refractory prisoners. Chaplain L. Warner seconded Van Slykes opinions about penitentiary punishment In 1858, Warner noted that although prison reform failed, its discipline was much improved since it emphas ized control by moral means. Warner contended that if officers used force, the inmate s animal nature and carnal passions will be developed he will be brutalized, but if humane punishment was used, the inmate s moral nature will be developed he will be humanized.63 Ohio Penitentiary officers 61 Finley, Memorials of Prison Life 106107. For Finleys antislavery opinions, see pages 4445. Friedman, Crime and Punishment 53. 62 Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1856 4, OHS. 63 Italics in original text. Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1856, 4, OHS; Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1858, 11 12, 37, OHS.
126 total discontinuance of whipping in the late 1850s foreshadowed its ban as an acceptable military punishment in 1861. Many military prisons officials, like Captain George Alexander, commandant of Castle Thunder, ec hoed the belief of the 1830s and 1840s that whipping was a necessary evil. His use of the lash, however, inspired the Confederate Congress to investigate prison conditions, demonstrating that Southern politicians shared the same interest as the federal gov ernment in monitoring whipping. In 1863, the Confederate Congresss investigation of Alexanders administration agreed that whipping was a necessary evil, just as the federal government and reformers did in the 1830s and 1840s This investigation revealed multiple instances where prison officials inflicted anywhere from twelve to fifty lashes on inmates for offenses such as fighting, stealing, and desertion, or because courts martial ordered such punishment It also revealed officials belief that whipping was a n effective disciplinary measure. Stephen Childrey, the prisons commissary, told the House committee that whipping had an excellent effect on inmates and contended that the practice should be permitted despite the fact that the Confederate Congres s abolished whipping in the army .64 But this approval was nuanced, and politicians were torn between whippings negative repercussions and its allegedly positive effect on discipline. Confederate politicians, like northern penitentiary officials, offered a general condemnation of whipping, and a majority of committee members concluded that it served a worthwhile purpose only when employed prudently.65 The first minority report on the management of Castle Thunder asserted that whipping was inhuman and incons istent with our system of government, but sanctioned it 64 House Investigation of the Conditions at Castle Thunder, Testimony of Stephen Childrey, O.R. Series II, Vol. 5, 886. 65 Parker, Richmonds Civil War Prisons 33.
127 since officers only used it on p ersons of abandoned character for offenses such as stealing, fighting, and abusing more helpless fellow prisoners. Moreover, the committee concluded that whipping served as a form of punishment common in military prisons and therefore should continue.66 Southern m ilitary prison officials, like antebellum penitentiary officials, condoned whipping since it taught a much needed lesson to aberrant inmates and those disposed to violence Prison officials condoned whipping, but they reserved such punishment only for male inmates. The Congressional investigation reveal s the Confederate governments interest in military prison operations as these prisons became more vis ible to the public. The federal, Confederate, and state governments scrutinized the operation of military prisons and penitentiaries, expanding a tradition of government involvement in prison affairs that was firmly established with antebellum penitentiari es. Despite the controversy surrounding whipping, penitentiary and military prison officials did resort to other violent means to restore order in special circumstances In particular, the use of force and deadly force was condoned Ohio Penitentiary offi cers commonl y opened fire on inmates for assault and rebellion The actions of penitentiary guards foreshadowed the guidelines for the punishment of military prisoners, in these instances, as stated in the 1863 Lieber Code. The code authorized anyone guard ing prisoners of war to shoot escapees in the act and to inflict capital punishment on any inmate plotting rebellion against his captors.67 Ohio Penitentiary officers actions foretold this law. In 1861 and 1862, one inmate was shot and killed in the act of 66 Majority Report of the Committee of Congress to Investigate the Management of Castle Thunder, submitted by W.R. Smith, O.R. Series II, Vol. 5, 919920. 67 General Orders No. 100 Art. 77, 1863.
128 attacking a foreman while another was shot in the act for murderous assault on an officer.68 It is likely that officers resorted to firepower since they could justify shooting by arguing that their lives were threatened and that guns ensured immediate s afety against inmates unaccustomed to obedience.69 Similar conditions existed in military prisons. If military prison guards wounded or killed prisoners for the sake of order, their commandants usually found them innocent and all owed them to retain their posts. For example, in 1862, one of Old Capitol Prisons guards, charged with shooting an escapee, was confined at Washingtons Central Guard house. A federal investigation of the incident, however, concluded that the guard had obeyed orders in the shooting and deserved praise not punishment for vigilance.70 Military p rison officials readily followed the Lieber Code, us ing force to quash threats. Officials at Camp Chase recommended arming the outnumbered guards to ensure discipline and discourage escape an d revolt. Camp Chases population was high in November and December 1863, totaling 2,145 on November 7 and 2,448 on December 7.71 Consequently, Colonel Hoffman recommended that guards in part be armed with revolvers Hoffman noted that a sentinel on post with his musket can only give one shot in case of an attack upon him, but the revolver gave him the strength of two or three men without such arms.72 In this case, bullets compensated for the lack of manpower and commandants stood by guards decisions t o fire 68 Simpson, The Prisoners of the Ohio Penitentiary, 3233; Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1861 8, OHS. 69 Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1861 3, OHS. 70 John P. Sherburne to Major Doster May 19, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol. 3, 554. 71 A.M. Clark to William Hoffman November 7, 1863, O.R. Series II, Vol. 6 479480; Wm. W. Orme to Edwin Stanton, December 7, 1863, O.R. Series II, Vol. 6, 661. 72 William Hoffman to Edwin Stanton, November 27, 1863, O.R. Series II, Vol. 6, 584585.
129 In late 1863, Camp Chases guards shot and killed five inmates amid st rumored escape attempts and fears that sympathizers of Peace Democrat Clement Vallandigham were plotting to release Ohios Confederate prisoners of war.73 Lieutenant Colonel A.H. Poten, the prisons assistant commandant at the time, concluded that the guards shooting of Confederate inmate Henry Hupman was justified Guards fired into Hupmans quarters since he was violating orders that prohibited light after hours. Poten believed that the shooting was a valuable lesson in discipline since escape rumors were rampant and the Lieber code authorized capital punishment when escape conspiracies were afoot. He admitted dismay over the wounding of a perhaps an innocent man, by a soldier who obeys his orders. But Poten contended that the incident was a good lesson in discipline since the rebel inmates frequently disobeyed guards Poten concluded that Confederate prisoners took the lesson to heart and have since changed their minds and ob ey.74 Commissary General Hoffman also supported guards actions, contending that the guards leeriness of a revolt justified more than usual severity in the immediate execution of orders when they witnessed inmates disobedience. The Commissary General concluded that three of the fatal cases had sufficient justification. He did, however, note that in two cases, where the sentinel fired into the barracks in consequence of a light in the stove, the circumstances failed to justify such harsh measures, though the sentinels seem only to have 73 Peace Democrats generally opposed the war and Lincolns suspension of habeas corpus Ohio authorities uncovered a plot afoot among Peace Democrats in Ohio to liberate and arm inmates at Camp Chase and Johnsons Island. For information on the Peace Democrats, see Klement, The Copperheads in the Middle West (Gloucester, MA: P. Smith, 1972) ; Jennifer L. Weber, Copperheads: The Rise and Fall of Lincolns Opponents in the N orth (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006) For information on the foiled Peace Democrat plot, see Angela M. Zombek, Camp Chase Prison: A Study of Power and Resistance on the Northern Home Front, 1863, Ohio History 118 (August 2011): 2448. 74 A.H. Po ten to W. Wallace, January 17, 1864, O.R. Series II, Vol. VI, 854.
130 obeyed their orders.75 Regardless, inmates learned that prison officials readily exercised permission to fire to discourage escape plots. Military prison o fficials dreaded the potential for mass conspiracies since inmates shared quarters and communicated freely Memories of rumored escape plots were fresh in Colonel Richardsons mind in April 1864, when he issued specific orders to Camp Chases guards regarding escapes. Richardson instructed guards to prevent person s from loitering around the outside of the prisons and cautioned them to prohibit anyone from approaching the prison except at the gates, especially at night. Orders dictated that any violent rush towards the prison fence would justify guards firing upon the prisoners making the attempt. Inmates always outnumbered guards, so officers instruc ted sentinels to work as a team, ensuring that nobody trespasses on the post of the sentinel next to him while his back is turned, and that nothing improper occur s along the line.76 Sentinels had full authorization to fire if needed. The use of guns was accepted in Ohio, both in the penitentiary and at Camp Chase, during the Civil War. The record at the Virginia Penitentiary regarding shooting and corporal punishme nt is less clear. Even though officials at the Virginia Penitentiary said little regarding the types of punishments administered during wartime, it is likely that they resorted to corporal punishment not only because of overcrowding, but also as a result o f their assessment of inmates character s. In 1863, Superintendent Colin Bass fearful of overcrowding penned a nervous annual report since convicts were of a class far worse than has ever been in any one prison on the American continent. Bass was vague about methods of punishment, perhaps trying to save face, saying that it was painful and embarrassing to administer inflexible yet humane 75 W. Hoffman to E.M. Stanton, March 17, 1864, O.R. Series II, Vol. VI, 868. 76 R. Lamb, Instructions to Prison Guards A01.
131 discipline .77 Basss vagueness leaves his definition of humane punishment open to question, but su ggests that he was trying to downplay the necessity of corporal or perhaps lethal punishment to restrain unruly inmates. Although it is not clear exactly how punishment played out at the Virginia Penitentiary punishments in the D.C. Penitentiary were well documented in 1861 and 1862 and resembled those used before the war including a return of the lash despite its abolishment. Inmates were commonly sentenced to confinement in the dungeon, put in chains for stretches as long as twelve days, whipped with th e cat o nine tails up to twenty five lashes, whipped with the lash from five to twelve times, and tied up by the thu mbs for a half hour or an hour.78 Suspension by the thumbs was also a punishment common in the military and used in military prisons like Ca mp Chase. Nineteenth century contemporaries viewed these punishments not as brutal, but as an effective means of ensuring obedience in penitentiaries and military prisons.79 Viewing penitentiaries alongside military prisons reveals that military prisons wer e not inordinately violent, but rather continued using accepted methods of punishment established before the war. Not only did punishment remain consistent from the antebellum period to wartime, o ffenses that warranted punishment also paralleled those of the antebellum period. The offenses varied from feigning illness, to attempting escape, to communicating with prisoners of the opposite sex, to accidentally cutting fellow inmates, disobeying orders, using profane language, singing, laughing, and neglectin g or damaging work.80 Some of these offenses were minor, but 77 Doc. No. 7, Report of the Superintendent of the Penitentiary, 1863 7. 78 Record Group 48 MLR A1 475, Register of Punishments, 18311862 NARA II. 79 Gillispie, Andersonvilles of the North 41 42. 80 Lincoln closed the D.C. Penitentiary in September 1862. Punishments and infractions at the D.C. Penitentiary are from Record Group 48, MLR A1 475, Register of Punishments 18311862 punishments dated from April 29, 1861 to July 6, 1862, NARA II.
132 punishment was swift and officers used familiar practices to control the rising prison populations, which introduced both criminals and prisoners of war into the penitentiary .81 Since such punishme nts were deemed both legitimate and effective in the nineteenth century, it becomes more difficult to condemn military prison officials for intentional cruelty, since officers were following accepted punitive patterns. Military prisons also reflected the expanded role of centralized government, both North and South, as they were used to ensure social order. Examination of the Official Records also reveals that military prison inmates committed the same of fenses as penitentiary inmates. Inmates at Camp Chas e, Castle Thunder, and Old Capitol Prisons insulted guards, devised escape plots, fought with or stole from each other, and demonstrated general disobedience. In return, officers put inmates on bread and water diets and forced them to wear irons or a ball and chain, kept them in close confinement, implemented bucking and gagging, confined inmates in the dungeon, shot escapees, and whipped inmates .82 Whipping, however, was not the only punishment that elicited debate during the Civil War. Many Civil War cont emporaries believed that whipping was inappropriate for soldiers who defended the Union or Confederate causes, likely because of its use to punish slaves.83 But many 81 The po pulation of the D.C. Penitentiary peaked at 330 in 1862. This was greater than any year in the antebellum period. See Appendix. 82 See for example, James Wadsworth to Superintendent of Old Capitol Prison, May 22, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol. III, 571; Robert H. Tyler to Col. Robert Ould, October 8, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol. III, 362; Treatment of Prisoners in Castle Thunder Evidence t aken before the Committee of the House of Representatives of the Confederate States to Investigate the Treatment of Prisoners at Castle Thunder, April 11, 1863, O.R. Series II, Vol. 5, 871915. Marshall, American Bastille 327; James Roberts Gilmore, Patri ot Boys and Prison Pictures (Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1886), 247. 83 Throughout the 1850s, Ohio Penitentiary officials wanted whipping abolished because of its association with slavery. For example, Warden Van Slyke preferred solitary confinement for the most refractory prisoners He aimed to maintain prison discipline by inspiring the convicts with the manly satisfaction of knowing that he has governed himself rather than acknowledging that he had slavishly submitted to be governed by others. Ohio Pe nitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1858 11 12, 37, OHS. The constant supervision and
133 also considered penitentiary sentences and their common punishments inappropriate for men w ho voluntarily defended the Constitution since penitentiaries were used to punish common criminals. Not only did penitentiary inmates find their lives governed by the performance of hard labor, they also potentially faced solitary confinement in a du ngeon on a bread and water diet and confinement in leg irons or to a ball and chain .84 These punishments did not fit the common image of the soldier, who had been viewed as the epitome of masculinity and honor since the American Revolution.85 Nonetheless, wartime penitentiary o fficials continued the antebellum trend of administering penitentiary punishments to incarcerated soldiers emphasizing those soldiers fall from grace.86 But many of the soldiers incarcerated during the Civil War were, in fact, civilians sinc e the volunteer army was based on conscription. Like penitentiary inmates throughout the century, many soldiers incarcerated in military prisons and penitentiaries were physical punishment that slaves endured, according to James Horton, reminded slaves of their inabili ty to control [his or her] life. James Oliver Horton, Freedoms Yoke: Gender and Conventions Among Antebellum Free Blacks, Feminist Studies 12.1 (Spring 1986): 53, in Jim Cullen, Is a Man Now: Gender and African American Men, in Divided Houses: Gen der and the Civil War ed. Catherine Clinton and Nina Silber (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 90. Distancing the prison program from slavery by banishing whipping emphasized that convicts, although detained, were still above slaves, although both groups remained outside the body politic Isenberg, Sex and Citizenship, 105. Isenberg contends that children, blacks, slaves, infidels, Indians, resident foreigners, lunatics, convicts, and paupers had no political value. 84 Record Group 48, MLR A1475, Register of Punishments, 18311862 NARA II. 85 In their assessment of masculinity in the American Revolution, Stephan Dudink and Karen Hagemann assert that American Revolutionaries fashioned themselves after the model of the virtuous citizensoldier who was willing to sacrifice all for his liberty and that of the republic. The republican masculinity of the militias centered around a masculinity of independence that connected the individual citizen to the collective activities of politics and war, uphol ding the virtue of soldiers. See Stephan Dudink and Karen Hagemann, Masculinity in Politics and War in the Age of Democratic Revolutions, 17501850, in Masculinities in Politics and War: Gendering Modern History ed. Stephan Dudink, Karen Hagemann, and John Tosh (New York: Manchester University Press, 2004), 78. James McPherson asserts that Civil War soldiers enlisted and continued fighting due partly to ideals of masculinity. McPherson contends that duty and honor were closely linked to concepts of masculinity in Victorian America and that war was a stern test of manhood as soldiers desired to prove their manliness and honor under fire and soldiers were supported by civilians at home for their sacrifice. See James M. McPherson, For Cause and Com rades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 25, 31. 86 Record Group 48, MLR A1475, Register of Punishments, 18311862 Box 1, Punishments 18311847, Orders 18511854, NARA II.
134 also lower class, since upper class Northerners and Southerners were able to avoid cons cription.87 These conscripts had a difficult time taking orders from superiors and were subjected to the penitentiarys program of calculated humiliation when imprisoned. Members of the volunteer army were unaccustomed to military life and to obeying orders from superiors The spirit of individualism and independence that characterized the mid nineteenth century often got soldiers into trouble and earned them terms in the D.C. Penitentiary where they received objectionable punishments .88 Such was the case wit h private William Fahey of the 25th New York Volunteers Fahey refused an order from his captain, a damn scoundrel, to get wood, since he enlisted for a soldier, not for a laborer. Like Fahey, some soldiers believed themselves to be above performing me nial duties The military court sentenced Fahey to forfeiture of pay, dishonorable discharge, and three years of imprisonment in the D.C. Penitentiary with a thirty two pound ball and chain, where he lived among lowly criminals.89 Federal o fficials sent o ffenders to the D.C. P enitentiary and where they experienced punishments that humiliated soldiers. Court s martial records reveal that Fahey was only one of many Union soldiers who could not take orders from superiors Other soldiers were found guilty of de sertion, insubordination, mutiny, absence without leave, conduct prejudicial to good order, conduct unbecoming of an officer and gentlem a n, drunkenness or sleeping on post, and using foul language towards or striking an officer Courts martial sometime s ensured that the stigma of imprisonment followed desert ers for the rest of their lives, branding them with the 87 Cloyd, Haunted by Atrocity 60. 88 Michae l Kimmel notes that the self made man was defined by success in the market, individual achievement, mobility, and wealth, characteristics that contrasted sharply with the armys strict scheduling and discipline. See, Kimmel, Manhood in America, 17. 89 Cas e No. 1073, William Fahey, February 17, 1862, Record Group 48, Entry 473, Box 4, NARA II.
135 letter D upon the expiration of their sentence. Deserters usually received this branding on their hip; so, even though the mark was invisible to many, the pain of their crime remained.90 Other times, courts martial ordered punishments that were very common in penitentiaries and these disgraced disobedient soldiers. Upon entering the D.C. Penitentiary, rules stipulated that the hair of convicts be cut close, as previously noted .91 Courts martial often ordered the heads of men convicted of mutiny or disobedience to be either fully or half shave n to equate them with convicts.92 All of these examples reveal that convicted soldiers were not immune from the penitentiarys disciplinary program, reinforcing the fact that all inmates in penitentiaries were afforded similar treatment and the idea that ant ebellum disciplinary practices carried over into wartime. Military offenders were not the only soldiers to be placed in penitentiaries ; both the Ohio and Virginia penitentiaries also held prisoners of war and subjected them to penitentiary punishments. Wh ile this occurrence happened throughout the war, it was especially true as prison populations increased following the cessation of prisoner exchanges and the Battle of Gettysburg.93 Evidence demonstrates that, in some instances, Northern and Southern offici als used penitentiary punishments for retaliatory purposes, a fact that lends credence to arguments advanced by Charles W. Sanders and William B. Hesseltine that retaliatory measures influenced the treatment of prisoner s of war. More importantly, however, this suggests that penitentiaries 90 For branding example, see Case 1043, Private Walter T. Bell of Co. A 1 st Battalion, 11 th Infantry, and Case 1042, James Rea, December 10, 1862. For a list of genera l punishments see Court Martial Records, RG 48, MLR A1 475, Register of Punishments, 18311862, NARA II. 91 H. Exec.Doc. No. 46, 21st Cong., 1st sess., Rules and Regulations (February 1, 1830), 10. 92 Specifically, see the cases of Charles F. Williams and Jo hn Thomas of Tafts 5th New York Battery, numbers 1155 and 1159 respectively, May 7, 1862. Also see Case 1057, John Harrington, February 17, 1862. The order to shave Harringtons head was later rescinded. Records RG 48, MLR A1475, Register of Punishments, 18311862 NARA II. 93 Speer, Portals to Hell, 148.
136 should be studied alongside military prisons For example, in February of 1863, the Richmond Daily Dispatch reported that over one dozen Yankee prisoners of war were sentenced to hard labor in the Virgi nia Penitentiary in return for Lincolns incarceration of two Confederate officers in the D.C. Penitentiary on a trumped charge of robbing the mails.94 This article reveals Southerners disapproval of their soldiers being confined in Northern penitentiaries, although they th ought favorably of their own governments use of prisons as punishment for enemies Northern civilians undoubtedly felt the same favorable feelings about such penitentiary sentences especially when it came to Confederate cavalry General John Hunt Morgans incarceration in the Ohio Penitentiary In July 1863, Morgan and his men raided Ohio, costing the state nearly one million dollars Union officials sentenced Morgan and his officers to the penitentiary as common horse thieves, not only as punishment for t heir Ohio raid, but also because there was no better facility in which to keep them. Ohio Governor David Tod ordered Morgan and thirty of his fellow officers to the penitentiary since it was a secure place where the federal government could supervise the inmates Upon entry, Morgan and his men were searched, stripped of valuables, separated from other convicts (but governed by the same rules), and placed under a military guard.95 Morgan and his men were not put to work in the penitentiary, since, as previo usly noted, wars circumstances significantly cut into the labor program. Nonetheless, the incarceration of the cavalrymen as common horse thieves equated them directly with criminals, a decision to which Southerners vehemently objected. 94 Local Ma tters: The State Line Prisoners, Richmond Daily Dispatch, February 7, 1863. 95 State of Ohio Executive Order, July 30, 1863, in The Order for Morgans Imprisonment Richmond Daily Dispatch A ugust 14, 1863, accessed March 14, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr/ ; Speer, Portals to Hell 140150.
137 While Southerners were unnerved by Morgans confinement, they were most disturbed by the fact that penitentiary officials shaved the soldiers heads since this was standard practice for convicts upon the entry into prison. The Richmond press learned of the head shaving and decried the indignity, arguing that the act violated the laws of war which, as previously noted, said that prisoners of war were not guilty of criminal intent against their enemy. Richmond residents were most offended that Morgan and his men were treated like convicts. Southerners believed such treatment unfit for soldiers, especially officers, and asserted that the shaving was a petty exhibition of malice on the part of Union officials.96 Southerners were so outraged that even Morgans admission in a public letter to his wife that he was kindly treated failed to quell their displeasure. Indignation over the treatment of Southern soldiers intensified upon the revelation in January 1864 that one of Morgans men, Colonel R.S. Cluke a distinguished officer, died in a dungeon in close confinement, a punishment commonly used to rectify convicts misbehavior.97 There is no indication of Clukes offense, but he most likely defied penitentiary rules or was perceived by officers to have done so. Outsiders believed that the treatment that soldiers received in penitentiaries was harsh, since it was the same treatment that was rendered to common criminals But the fact that military prisoners served penitentiary sentences both before and dur ing the Civil War reinforces the notion that the story of nineteenth century impris onment was one of continuity. 96Outrage on Confederate Officers Richmond Daily Dispatch, August 6, 1863, accessed March 14, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr/ ; Morgan in a Penitentiary Richmond Daily Dispatch August 7, 1863, accessed March 14, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr/ ; The Shaving of Heads, Richmond Daily Dispatch August 17, 1863, accessed March 14, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr/ 97 Morgan not Lee Treats, Richmond Daily Dispatch, August 18, 1863, accessed March 14, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr/ ; Death of Col. Cluke, Richmond Daily Dispatch, January 26, 1864, accessed March 14, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr/
138 Punishments were not the only things that penitentiaries and military prisons had in common in the nineteenth century. Penitentiary and military prison inmates also shared similar experiences. They faced poor physical conditions in prison, assumed a negative stigma upon entering prison, and tried to pass the time of imprisonment through religious activities, bonding with other inmates, and work. Chapter 6 will analyze evidence available in captives letters, memoirs, and other writings as well as the information available in official records and accounts We will see how conditions and disciplinary practices common in both types of institutions h ad varying degrees of impact on their respective captives and how these conditions and practices responded to and influenced inmate behavior.
139 CHAPTER 6 INMATES IDENTITY AND DISOBEDIENCE We know relatively little about what went on inside of penitenti aries and military prisons from the perspective of inmates. As far as penitentiaries are concerned, histories too often focus on the rhetoric of reformers, state officials or educated elites since their records are accessible.1 Inmates in both penitentiar ies and military prisons left records, but those of the former are more difficult to come by than the latter. The actual words of these inmates, moreover, are biased, since they had to tailor their commentary to conform to the requirements of officials who inspected every word written from prison. It is nonetheless possible to obtain a good idea of how inmates male and female lived their lives behind bars by reading their records and by reading between the lines of officials accounts. These reveal that mil itary prison inmates compared their experience to that of penitentiary inmates, that penitentiary and military prison inmates alike lived in crowded and unsanitary conditions, and that they both troubled officials with escape attempts and disobedience. Wh ile it is necessary to examine the internal conditions of penitentiaries and military prisons to understand inmates lives, it is more instructive to examine how inmates viewed themselves, how they resisted captors, and how they coped with their day to day existence. As Mary Gibson has noted, historians studying American penitentiaries have only recently attempted to focus on history from below and capture the interaction between prisoners and 1 Pieter Spierenburg, The Prison Experience: Disciplinary Institutions and Their Inmates in Early Modern Europe (London: Rutgers University Press, 1991), 4; Norman Bruce Johnston, Forms of Constraint: A History of Prison Architecture (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000) 2. This study is inspired by Pieter Spierenburgs work, which seeks to remedy the fact that little is known of what actually happened in the prisons in Europe. It seeks to remedy this problem in scholarship on American prisons. Norman Johnston calls for scholars to produce a realistic view of what went on in the prison by ceasing to mistake the rhetoric of state officials and educated elites of administrative practice and instead document actual prisons, their goals, their methods, and their successe s.
140 guards, which included collaboration as well as violent confli ct.2 This chapter reconstructs this relationship and examines both the resistance of inmates and the fears of guards. Such a focus contributes to the recent trend that Gibson identified regarding penitentiaries and also represents a marked departure from s cholarship on Civil War military prisons. As previously stated, Civil War era historians have focused heavily on the squalor and inhuman treatment of captives evident in military prisons, but have not engaged in analysis of prisoners identities or resista nce. Historians such as William Hesseltine, Charles Sanders, and Roger Pickenpaugh have described the horrendous conditions hunger, disease, and deprivation that prisoners of war in military prison s withstood daily.3 These conditions seem less surprising w hen the Civil Wars military prisons are analyzed alongside penitentiaries This chapter briefly compares the poor conditions in penitentiaries and military prisons, noting the nagging problems that overcrowding and disease posed. More significantly, howev er, it focuses on how military prisoners viewed themselves and how penitentiary and military prison inmates negotiated the terms of confinement. The findings expand upon Larry Goldsmiths contention that the balance of power between inmates and guards was always uneven, but penitentiary and military prison inmates, nonetheless, exercised a certain degree of influence over their circumstances of captivity.4 The experience of confinement was trying for all inmates, not just because of poor living conditions Incarceration robbed penitentiary and military prison inmates of their personal freedom, forced t hem to relinquish control over their time, and removed them from free society. Private William Duff, a Confederate prisoner of war at Camp Chase, saw paralle ls between inmates of penitentiaries and military prisons Let that prison life be what it is, Duff wrote, it 2 Gibson, Global Perspectives on the Birth of the Prison, 10581059. 3 Hesseltine, Civil War Prisons ; Sanders, While in the Hands of the Enemy ; Pickenpaugh, Captives in Gray 4 Goldsmith, History from the Inside Out, 110, 120121.
141 may be of war or criminal or by quarantine or detention in some way but being deprived of liberty and freedom is a terror and a horror to anyone. Duffs experience suggests that all prisoners, regardless of the type of prison they inhabited or the crime they may have committed, shared similar experiences. He concluded that imprisonment tortured the mind and body so that inmates were not t hemselves. 5 Duffs conclusion suggests that imprisonment changed all prisoners, instigating feelings of despondence, anger, and helplessness. Imprisonment was relatively new to Civil War contemporaries and its social function and operating standards were defined in the context of penitentiary development. Consequently both military prison officials and inmates judged military prisons by standards used to evaluate penitentiaries Just as reformers during the antebellum period demanded that criminals r eceive humane treatment in penitentiaries, military officials, such as Union Commissary General William Hoffman, believed that military prisoners should receive treatment equal to or better than penitentiary inmates. In 1863, Camp Chase inmate T.J. Churchi ll complained to Hoffman of poor prison conditions and demanded that Union officials provide inmates with kind a nd humane treatment. Hoffman voiced a comparable critique of conditions in Richmonds military prisons arguing that it was shocking to human ity to confine even the most abandoned criminals in them .6 Similarly, Confederate prisoner of war Joseph Barbiere, who spent time at both Johnsons Island and Camp Chase, noted with disgust that the mother of a prisoner of war who was on his deathbed was denied the opportunity see her son. This, noted Barbiere, was a privilege that even the vilest of criminals with pending trials or condemned to execution 5 Duff, Six Mont hs of Prison Life 5. 6 Gen. Churchill to Col. Hoffman, no date, and W. Hoffman to Gen. Churchill, via Col. R.C. Buchanan, Commanding Fort Delaware, April 17, 1863, From Gen. Churchill to Col. Hoffman, Richmond Daily Dispatch, May 7, 1863, accessed April 14, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr. Churchill was transferred from Camp Chase to Fort Delaware and voiced his complaints to Hoffman upon his transfer.
142 received.7 Civil War contemporaries, such as Churchill, Hoffman, and Barbiere, believed that milit ary prisons should be evaluated according to the standards upon which penitentiaries were assessed It is logical, therefore, to view military prison inmates experiences alongside those of penitentiary inmates Both penitentiaries and military prisons fa ced significant crowding throughout the nineteenth century. As noted in Chapter 3, b y 1860 overcrowding had pushed penitentiaries towards a disciplinary crisis and this problem persisted during wartime. Despite the fact that criminals could choose between army service or penitentiary sentences, penitentiaries and military prisons remained crowded .8 This was true in the Ohio, D.C., and Virginia penitentiaries as the Federal and Confederate governments tightened the rules on acceptable political activity and search ed for deviants.9 The Ohio Penitentiarys population climbed to 924 in 1862; the D.C. Penitentiarys population hit an all time high of 330 that same year, which was the penitentiarys final year of existence; and the Virginia Penitentiarys populat ion hovered close to 350 inmates from 18611863, rivaling its antebellum peak.10 Due to availability of data, only the wartime population of the Ohio Penitentiary can be fully assessed as the D.C. Penitentiary closed in September 1862 and the records for the Virginia Penitentiary for 1864 and 1865 do not exist The Ohio Penitentiarys population did decrease during the wars latter years: in 1863 the total number of inmates decreased to 740 due primarily to expiration of sentence. In 1864, the penitentiary s population went from 740 to 629, again primarily due to expiration of sentences 7 The inmate to which Barbiere was referring was incarcerated at Johns ons Island. Joseph Barbiere, Scraps from the Prison Table: At Camp Chase & Johnsons Island (Doylestown, PA: W.W.H. Davis, 1868), 83. 8 McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment 83. 9 While penitentiary populations rose in Columbus, Washington, and Richmond during the Civil War, as demonstrated in the appendix at the end of the dissertation, I am not sure about the total national incarceration rate. Colvin, Penitentiaries, Reformatories, and Chain Gangs 9 10. 10 See Appendix.
143 Finally, in 1865 the population totaled 655. These wartime totals, however, were higher than all but three years in the antebellum period, only 1858, 1859, and 1860 were hi gher.11 Crowding, among other things, was a significant concern for inmates upon arrival. Upon entering prison, all i nmates adjusted to small cells that were subject t o seasonal temperature changes, and they were vulnerable to diseases due to poor ventilat ion and cramped conditions The physical structure of penitentiaries and the restricted living space were the first things that all prisoners noticed upon entry. The cells of the Ohio, Virginia, and D.C. penitentiaries were restrictive. C ells in the Ohio P enitentiary measured seven feet long, three and a half feet wide, and seven feet high. Those in the D.C. Penitentiary measured seven feet, eleven inches long, three feet four inches wide, and seven feet eight and one half inches high. Virginia Penitentia ry inmates occupied slightly larger cells measuring twelve feet long, six and a half feet wide, and nine feet high.12 Windows were small and contributed to claustrophobia, especially when multiple inmates shared a single cell. Poor ventilation in the Ohio, Virginia, and D.C. penitentiaries heighten ed inmates misery since they had nowhere to go to escape the stagnant air. Antebellum penitentiary and Civil War military prison inmates lived in different physical structures, but their experiences of captivity were comparable. Military prison inmates inhabited crowded rooms and were subjected to solitary confinement as punishment. The dimensions of the rooms that military prisoners inhabited were too small to accommodate the growing number of inmates Military p rison inmates, like their penitentiary counterparts decried the 11 Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Repor t of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary 1862, 41; Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary 1863, Report of the Directors; Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary 1864, 548; Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary 1865 234. For population from 1858, 1859, and 1860 see Appendix. 12 Dix, Remarks on Prisons 48; Crawford, Report on the Penitentiaries, 102, 106.
144 overcrowding Anywhere from one to four inmates at the Virginia Penitentiary occupied the small cells. Castle Thunder also had tight quarters .13 In 1863, one Castle Thunder inmate, a Union vol unteer from North Carolina, reported that he and twenty seven fellow Union captives lived in a gloomy cell fifteen by twenty feet, illustrating that military prison inmates had insignificant personal space as did penitentiary inmates. The parallels betw een the circumstances facing military and penitentiary inmates were not lost on contemporaries. Im doomed a felons place to fill, wrote an Old Capitol Prison inmate on the wall lamenting the stigma of imprisonment.14 Similarly, u pon learning of the plight of his men in Castle Thunder Captain E. C. Sanders of the First North Carolina Union Volunteers complained that they were treated as felons of the deepest dye, not prisoners of war.15 Sanderss complaint confirms that prisoners of war endured circumstances of captivity similar to penitentiary inmates, even though some courts martial believed that soldiers should never bear the criminal stigma. The order in which courts martial dictated punishments clearly expressed the idea that soldier crimin als disgraced their office. The court martial that found Charles Sprague of the 6 th Wisconsin guilty of fraud chastised him, saying How much more the crime when committed by one in whom the duty of being a good soldier is added to that of the high obligat ion of being a good citizen. In another case, a court martial found Private John Nugent of the same regiment guilty of fraud and sentenced him to six months imprisonment in the D.C. Penitentiary and subsequent dishonorable discharge. The court later stip ulated that Nugents discharge precede his 13 Dix, Remarks on Prisons 48; Crawford, Report on the Penitentiaries 102, 106. 14 Mahoney, The Prisoner of State 281. 15 E.C. Sanders to Maj. Gen. J.G. Foster, April 24, 1863, O.R. Series II, Volume 5, 518519.
145 confinement in the D.C. Penitentiary, since no man who has the honorable position of a soldier should be at the same time a felon.16 Some soldiers like Sprague and Nugent were guilty of criminal acts, but those who were held without clear reason elicited significant ire. In 1862, eight of the ninety six service men imprisoned at the D.C. Penitentiary were held with no charges stated in the papers, which caused Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson to complain that these men were being degraded as felons since their punishment lacked justification.17 Regardless of the charges or status as a civilian or a soldier, all penitentiary and military prison inmates suffered from disease and poor living conditions because of prison construction and crowding All three penitentiaries were located on land unsuitable for domestic residences or businesses. The Ohio Penitentiary sat on the Scioto and Olentangy Rivers both home to malaria carrying mosquitoes that caused outbreak s of the disease in the prison. Air circulation was inadequate, as small windows allowed the air to stagnate in inmates cells.18 Ohios drastic changes in temperature in spring, summer, fall, and winter exacerbated inmates misery. The penitentiary retaine d heat in the summer, but was bitterly cold in the winters. In the summer of 1838, the board of directors described hot, dry weather that exacerbated disease and death. They noted that no one could ever expect hundreds of inmates crammed into small quarter s to enjoy 16 Case 1059, John Nugent, January 9, 1862, Record Group 48, Entry 473, Box 4, NARA II. 17 H. Exec. Doc. No. 127, 37th Cong., 2d sess., Prisoners in the Penitentiary of the District of Columbia by Sentence of Courts Martial: Letter fro m the Secretary of the I nterior ( June 12, 1862), NYPL; David K. Sullivan, Behind Prison Walls: The Operation of the District Penitentiary, 1831 1862 Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, D.C. Vol. 71/72, The 48th Separately Bound Book, (1971/1972) 265. 18 Ohi o Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohi o, 1855, 25 OHS.
146 the same health conditions as free citizens. This observation proved accurate, as epidemic s were particular to the prison while barely impacting civilians in the surrounding area.19 Winter time created problems for inmates in both types of instit utions. Although Virginia had mild winters compared to Ohio, Virginia inmates still complained to the surgeon about cold quarters.20 In 1835, they griped about cold, damp cells and one inmate reported frozen feet.21 Inmates complaints persisted throughout the century and surgeons were often sympathetic to them since prisoners health reflected on surgeons competence In 1856, inmates complained to surgeon W.A. Patterson that they suffer very much for the cold of wi nter and constantly called attention to want of fire. As a result, Patterson urged prison officials to heat inmates cells as they did prison workshops. Patterson wanted to ease convicts suffering, but he acknowledged that illness was part of their punishment since prisoners experienced it as the consequence of their crimes. He nonetheless concluded that officials needed to try to prevent maladies since health care was costly, but noted that this prevention should only occur if it is consistent with the proper punishment of crime.22 Pattersons words suggest that officials sometimes neglected disease since it contributed to punishment and may further suggest that t he precedent of intentional maltreatment of prisoners, raised by scholars of the Civil War was also evident in the antebellum period.23 Illness undoubtedly heightened inmates misery and it spread quickly in all prisons. 19 Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohi o, 1838, 5 OHS. 20 Dix, Remarks on Prisons, 48. 21 Crawford, Report on the Penitentiaries 106. 22 Doc. No. 13, Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, Year Ending September 30, 1856, 41 LVA. 23 Charles W. Sanders, Jr.s study provides the mo st detailed account of officials intentional maltreatment of prisoners of war during the Civil War Sanders, While In the Hands of the Enemy
147 The Virginia Penitentiary also occupied soggy land that caused illnesses. A contaminated pond and a diseaseridden marsh c reated problems for inmates and officials alike. In 1847, the prisons surgeon, J.N. Broocks, complained of miasma caused by vegetable matter decaying at the ponds bottom. He advocated draining the marsh, condemning it as a troublesome source of disease.24 Draining, however, did not come to fruition, leaving inmates to suffer and ultimately suggesting that the health of inmates was not a top priority Penitentiary i nmates suffered from dysentery, diarrhea, cholera, smallpox, and consumption in the antebellu m period and during the Civil War, and military prisoners contracted the same maladies .25 Similar illnesses plagued both the Ohio and District of Columbia penitentiaries during wartime often causing death.26 Penitentiary officials often overlooked internal conditions in both the antebellum and war years, as did military prison officials during the war. Following his escape from Camp Chase in 1861, political prisoner A.J. Morey recalled that men of every class and grade huddled in small shanties and were t reated as felons. Morey described how prison officials prohibited fires to warm the half naked and shivering prisoners; how shoddily constructed shanties leaked, soaking inmates and their belongings; and how the prisoners worried that they would perish from the effects of cold and damp. Morey concluded his tirade with an indictment of the prisons officers by questioning the character of the guards. This treatment of human beings by those calling themselves Christians, he wrote, 24 Doc. No. 8 Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution 1847 38 LVA. 25 Doc. No. 13, Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, Year Ending September 30, 1861, 35; Doc. No. 6, Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, Year Ending September 30, 1862, 6; Doc. No. 9, A nnual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, Year Ending September 30, 1863, 27; Doc. No 12, Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, Year Ending September 30, 1864, 23, LVA. 26 John B. Keasley, M.D ., to Board of Inspectors October 13, 1861, Record Group 48, Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, Records Relating to the U.S. Penitentiary for the District of Columbia, 18261865, Miscellaneous Records, 18291862, Entry 470, Box 3, NARA II; The Ohio Penitentiary, The Daily Cleveland Herald February 28, 1865, Col. C.
148 was unparalled.27 Mo rey was not alone. Many Civil War military prisoners had similar experiences in military prisons that were built on poor ground and were short on necessary supplies .28 Prisoners at both Camp Chase and Old Capitol Prison experienced poor conditions D.A. Mahoney, a political prisoner at Old Capitol, complained that he and four prisoners shared a room eight feet wide by fourteen feet long and that one of the prisoners lacked a bunk, forcing him to sleep on a dirty, straw filled bed tick.29 Later in his imprisonment, Mahoney griped that he was moved to a different room, which was designed for five men, but held six. While this seems like a minor complaint, Mahoneys next point raises an issue that was of major concern to both penitentiary and military priso n inmates. After a few days, Mahoney noted that the atmosphere became so foul that they had to open the rooms door and window to breathe pure air.30 Poor ventilation was a common problem in both mili tary prisons and penitentiaries especially since t he institutions were crowded In September 1862, Mahoney noted that the addition of several hundred Yankee deserters crowded the building almost to suffocation and made a breath of pure air an impossible luxury.31 Similar circumstances were common at Camp Chase. In July 1863, prison inspector Captain H.M. Lazelle, described buildings as 27 F ederal Treatment of Prisoners. Horrible Barbarities Statement of a Paroled Prisoner (From the Memphis Avalanche): Memphis, Tenn., December 11, 1861, Richmond Daily D ispatch December 19, 1861, accessed March 5, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr/ 28 Numerous scholars address these issues. They include Marvel, Andersonville ; Gray, The Business of Captivity 24; Cole, Fragile Capital 108; Hesseltine, Civil War Prison s ; Sanders, While in the Hands of the Enemy; Frank L. Byrne, Libby Prison: A Study in Emotions The Journal of Southern History 24 no. 4 (1958): 430444. 29 Mahoney, The Prisoner of State 149. 30 Ibid. 237. 31 Ibid. 425.
149 cramped report ing that the air in camp was polluted and the stenchhorrible.32 Such conditions often bred disease, compounding inmates misery. Officials neglect n ot only affected male inmates, but was perhaps more severe when it came to female inmates. Again, this trend began in antebellum penitentiaries and carried over into Civil War military prisons. As Nicole Hahn Rafter has noted, historians have commonly ign ored the presence of women in prisons and have overlooked the fact that prisons are gendered institutions that reflect assumptions about proper male and female behavior.33 As noted in the Introduction and in Chapter 2, females inmates, particularly white wo men, were uncommon in penitentiaries. Their small numbers, their incorrigibility, and their perceived low character led officials to neglect them.34 The female population at the Ohio Penitentiary in the antebellum period never exceeded 2 pe rcent of the total population and the number s of black and white women were about equal In Virginia, the female population never exceeded 6 percent and it was more common, though not necessarily typical, that black women outnumber ed white women. The racial dynamics in Was hington were similar to those of Virginia. The D.C. Penitentiarys female population hovered around 8 percent for most of the antebellum period, with the exception of 18 percent in 1850.35 Women were not considered citizens and were excluded from full equality, from voting, and from jur y service. Because of these exclusions, women were believed to need patriarchal 32 H.M. Lazelle to Col. W. Hoffman, July 13, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol. 4, 198. 33 Rafter, Partial Justice xii. 34 Dodge, Whores and Thieves 28. 35 Percentages derived from available statistics. In D.C., the black female population was eleven and the white one in 1850. T his was the largest difference between black and white female inmates. In Virginia, black women outnumbered white women by fourteen in 1855 and 1856. See Appendix. Kali Gross notes that the failure of Southern laws to distinguish punishment for black men a nd black women especially devalued black femininity and implied greater criminal culpability for both sexes, which was especially damaging to the reputation of black women. Gross, Colored Amazons 20.
150 control and were considered subjects of the state who could be punished .36 Women most commonly faced incarceratio n for larceny, poisoning, and arson and were subject to male supervision behind bars.37 Although female inmates participated in prison labor, most commonly spinning, weaving, sewing, or washing clothes for male inmates, officials never believed that the pen itentiary would change black or white women. Penitentiary officials neglected female inmates demonstrat ing greater leniency towards them since penitentiaries were primarily designed to hold large numbers of men.38 Penitentiary officials paid little attent ion to both womens living and working conditions. In 1811, the Virginia Penitentiarys monthly visitors William Price and George Williamson noted that all workshops for the men were in good order, but lamented that the womens ward was in a very bad co ndition owing to their neglect in not bei ng more cleanly. The visitors faulted not the women themselves, but the prisons keeper. Price and Williamson believed that the keeper neglected discipline and recommended that he make the women more obedient.39 Obe dience often proved an elusive goal, however, making neglect a logical solution. Penitentiary and military prison officials throughout the century seldom made provisions for female inmates. There was no matron to oversee the womens ward at the Ohio Penite ntiary until the 1850s and officials consequently noted that the ward was in a state of disorder. Before the appointment of a matron, officials commonly described womens poor behavior and evil nature. Upon her visit to the womens ward in 1844, Dorothea Dix noted that the women 36 Bynum contends that women, particularly poor white and free black women in the South, needed the state to exercise patriarchal control since they typically had no other form of male protection. Isenberg, Sex and Citizenship, xii, 28 29, 87; Victoria Bynum, Unruly Women: The Politics of Social and Sexual Co ntrol in the Old South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), 57. 37 Dodge, Whores and Thieves 25. 38 Rafter, Partial Justice xxx. 39 Proceedings of the Monthly Visitors Monday Morning, October 30, 1811, Virginia Penitentiary, Penitentiary Papers, 17961865, Subseries C, LVA.
151 frequently exercised their evil gifts on each other in the absence of a matron.40 As L. Mara Dodge notes, many female inmates knew that their presence was disruptive and deliberately exploited this by engaging in antagonistic exch anges with prison officials.41 Some did eventually change, however. This was evident at the Ohio, Virginia, and D.C. Penitentiaries. In April 1846, Chaplain James Finley more vehemently criticized womens behavior. Male chaplains seldom ministered to the wo mens department and Finley seemed annoyed that ministry in the womens ward detracted from time spent with male convicts. Finley was also frustrated that his work with the women yielded no results. After reading part of Matthews gospel to the women one S unday in April, Finley noted that they were as obdurate as rocks, since criminal women were not only the wickedest, but the most hard and unmanageable of beings.42 U nsuccessful for months Finley repeatedly complained that the women, who were predomina ntly white, were much worse, in every respect, than the men, reflecting the belief that criminal wome n were beyond redemption.43 During the summer, however, the warden took the women into the prison yard for recreation and Finley noted that their demeanor changed immediately From that moment, Finley noted they were subdued and softened and his work was much lighter, more profitable, and abundantly more acceptable. 44 Ultimately, however, penitentiary officials did not want to bother with female inmate s and were unprepared to handle them. The treatment of female inmates in the Virginia Penitentiarys early years suggests that officers negligence towards female inmates resulted from their being ill prepared to deal with 40 Dix, Remarks on Prisons, 48. 41 Dodge, Whores and Thieves 30. 42 Finley, Memorials of Prison Life, 6061. 43 Ibid. 99. 44 Ibid ., 136.
152 them Southerners were generall y more resistant than Northerners to the womens rights movement and to political, social, and economic expressions of female autonomy, so it makes sense that Southern penitentiaries were particularly ill equipped to deal with women and that officials were reluctant to address their needs .45 The reception of black inmates gave officials no reason to improve conditions.46 Womens living quarters were significantly restricted and they had little mobility since officers created their quarters as an afterthought and wanted to prevent communication between male and female convicts.47 Conditions for female inmates were also an afterthought in Washington. In 1854, Warden Thomas Thornley of the D.C. Penitentiary suggested that male officers were excused from duty in th e female department in order to serve in the male department Thornley noted that male guards seldom saw female convicts since more important duties demanded their attention. There was no matron overseeing the female ward at this time, yet women were gen erally well behaved due to volunteer overseers rather than by their own initiative Thornley credited the females good behavior to the ministry of the chaplain and to many visitors, of whom a lady of this city is pre eminent in her endeavors to instruct them in lessons of morality and scriptural truth.48 But good order in the female department quickly deteriorated and a matron was appointed on October 1, 1855 In her first report, Matron C.F. Marceron noted that the female department was in disorder, that inmates refused to work unless forced and that ill humor prevailed. But after encouraging industr iousness and a serious work ethic, Marceron found all female inmates 45 Silber, Gender and the Sectional Conflict 4041. 46 Kali Gross has noted that during the Jacksonian period, the belief in black womens immorality intensified and that slavery marred black female virtue. Gross, Colored Amazons 35. 47 Keve, History of Corrections in Virginia 26. 48 H. Exec. Doc. No. 45, 3 3d Cong., 1st sess. (January 16, 1854) 4.
153 respectful and obedient and noted no cause to recommend punishment.49 The appointment of a matron corrected the n eglect of the female department, but provisions for female inmates were lacking throughout the nineteenth century, both when the population of women in prison was low in the antebellum period and when it escalated during the Civil War.50 Women did indeed misbehave in a variety of ways during the Civil War. Northern and Southern authorities detained black and white women for common crimes and political offenses, thereby increasing the number of female inmates The Ci vil War disrupted social relations, leaving both Northern and Southern women alone on the home front as men went to war. While at home, women assumed many traditional masculine activities, including crime Examination of the Official Records reveals that authorities detained women at Camp Chase and Old Capitol Prisons for spying, secessionist sentiments, aiding the enemy, prostitution, treason, and crossing enemy lines without proper authorization.51 The Official Records and Richmonds newspapers also reveal that Southern women committed crime out of financial necessity or political conviction when they sold liquor to the enemy, spied or otherwise aided the Union, passed counterfeit money, engaged in prostitution, acted as a suspicious character or wanderer, and dressed in male clothing to enlist in the Confederate Army.52 In the South, womens commission 49 Matrons Report, Oct. 1, 1855 in Wardens Report, 1855, RG 48, Records of the Secretary of the Interior, Records Relating to the U.S. Penitentiary for the District of Columbia, 1826 1865, Miscellaneous Records, 18291862, Entry 470, Box 2, NARA II. 50 I n the antebellum period, there were never more than three white women at the Virginia Penitentiary, four white women at the D.C. Penitentiary, and three white women at the Ohio Penitentiary. Alexis de Tocqueville n oted that the U.S. had one white woman in confinement for every 100 prisoners while Europe had twenty in 100. Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville, On the Penitentiary System in the United States and its Application in France (Carbondale: Souther n Illinois University Press, 1964) 99. See Appendix. 51 To gain this information, I searched Series II of the Official Records for information on Camp Chase and Old Capitol Prison. 52 It is unclear from the evidence whether these women we re committing prostitution and other crimes with civilians or with soldiers. Examples of quoted cases can be found in the Going Away, Richmond
154 of fornicat ion, bastardy, and prostitution declined as property crimes such as larceny, forcible entry, and rioting increased from 1861to 1866.53 Women con victed of crime s were sentenced to male dominated penitentiaries and military prisons Regardless of womens offenses, their presence in military prisons challenged officials just as it did in the antebellum period. Northern and Southern authorities were as unprepared to deal with women as were their antebellum counterparts As the prisoner of war crisis escalated with the cessation of exchanges in 1863, Camp Chases authorities found themselves unable to properly care for female inmates. On April 23, 1863, the prisons commander noted that there were no suitable accommodations for the women. At the time, there were only five females held at Camp Chase, a number no greater than in penitentiaries before the war but this nonetheless perplexed officials. Ju st as penitentiary officials erected womens wards, federal authorities moved the women to a separate house near the quart ermaster. Here a loyal female oversaw the women, strictly guarded them and subject ed them to all prison regulations, a decision tha t parallels the appointment of matrons in penitentiaries.54 As in the antebellum period, wartime officials believed that female inmates needed special supervision because of the trouble that they could cause. Just as antebellum officials served as patriarch s in the lives of criminal women, Union and Confederate authorities also look ed after women in the absence of men.55 This was one purpose that Camp Chase served. For example, when t erritory in Western Virginia became contested in May and June 1863, Union Daily Dispatch December 12, 1862, accessed March 14, 2010, htt p://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr/ and Incident on the Cars, Richmond Daily Dispatch May 23, 1863, accessed March 14, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr/ I searched the entire newspaper from 1861 through 1865 to determine cause of arrest, and I searched Series II of the Official Records to obtain a summary of crimes. 53 Bynum, Unruly Women 112. 54 Jno. Mason to William Hoffman, April 23, 1863, O.R. Series II, Vol. 5, 511. 55 Bynum, Unruly Women 57.
155 Provost Marshal B.S. Roberts ordered women and children out of their homes The Richmond Daily Dispatch noted that federal authorities evicted sixty three women and ordered those who did not have natural protectors in the South to Camp Chase.56 Sa rcasm of the Southern journalists aside, this anecdote suggests that the federal government used prisons to watch women who lacked male oversight and who could be potentially troublesome Federal authorities at Old Capitol Prison were also especially concerned with womens behavior, as were officials at the Virginia and Ohio Penitentiaries. Federal authorities held notorious spies Rose ONeal Greenhow and Belle B oyd at the Old Capitol Prison. The Union officials placed Greenhow under a guard of six men wh o kept her in cl ose confinement and forbade her to com municate with anyone.57 Similarly, Assistant Secretary of War C.P. Wolcott ordered officials to keep Boyd in close custody, expressed consternation when officials violated this order, and demanded a thorough investigation of the failing .58 Boyd was one female inmate who, as previously noted, knew that her presence was disturbing, and her disobedience persisted during her imprisonment. Boyd confessed to knowing full well that prison rules interdicted a ll intercourse between the prisoners. Despite this, her first impulse was to commit a flagrant breach of orders and talk with her cousin, fellow inmate and member of Confederate cavalry General John Singleton Mosbys regiment A guard stopped Boyd in the act by aiming a bayonet in her direction, locked her alone in her room, and sent her cousin to solitary confinement in the guardroom In another instance, Boyd hung a likeness of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in her room, cheering him loudly af terwards. For this, federal 56 Women an d Children Sent from their Homes, Richmond Daily Dispatch June 1, 1863 accessed March 14, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr. 57 Wilson Barstow to Brig. Gen. Wadsworth, April 1, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol. 2, 577. 58 C.P. Wolcott to Brig. Gen. Wadsworth, August 7, 1861, O.R. Series II, Vol. 4, 310.
156 authorities locked Boyd in solitary confinement, where she quickly grew faint.59 Although female inmates disobedience attracted much attention, they were not alone in acting up. Male inmates in both penitentiaries and military p risons also posed significant challenges to authority. Prisoners in both penitentiaries and military prisons disobeyed rules in small ways or attempted escape out of sheer desperation. Michael Meranze has noted that escapes increased among penitentiary inm ates after 1815 E vidence from penitentiary records confirms this trend and reveals that most convicts acted alone, although some attempted to escape en masse.60 As scholars have noted, reformers and prison offic ials feared that the close quarters in the pe nitentiaries inspired escape plots and resistance.61 Escape attempts continued during wartime in both penitentiaries and military prisons. Since a greater number of men shared quarters in military prisons, they more easily devised mass escape plots instead of working individually Penitentiary and military prison records reveal not only how inmates engaged in small scale resistance, but also that they devised elaborate plans for escape and/or revolt since officials could not restrict inmates communication. Inmates who were not so bold as to attempt escape resisted on a smaller scale, often fac ing severe punishments that sometimes equaled those imposed for mass escape attempts. As in penitentiaries, military prison officials reacted harshly to both escape at tempts and minor resistance in order to compensate for surveillances shortcomings. Although prison officials at Camp Chase, Old Capitol, and Castle Thunder prisons erected sentry boxes, patrolled halls, and employed undercover detectives among prisoners t o convey the idea of constant supervision 59 Belle Boyd, Belle Boyd in Camp and in Prison, Vol. 1 (London: Saunders, Otley, 1865), 221 and 218219. 60 Meranze, Laboratories of Virtue 222. 61 Lewis, From Newgate to Dannemora; McLennan, The Crisis of Impr isonment ; Goldsmith, History from the Inside Out.
157 these measures did not always discourage resistance.62 Similarly, penitentiary guards surveillance and patrolling failed to stop all disobedience. Penitentiary and military p rison officials consequently relied on shooting, threatening, or isolating prisoners to maintain order.63 In the antebellum period, prison guards set the precedent that disobedient or dangerous inmates would receive stiff punishments. Both penitentiary and military prison inmates with special d uties required extra attention but guards often neglected them, creating ideal circumstances for escape. The case of D.C. Penitentiary convicts Attwell and Fugitt provide a good example Prison officials chose these men to empty straw into the prison yard Officer William Maxwell accompanied Attwell and Fugitt on this job, but wandered away as the inmates headed towards the prison wall. After a few moments, Maxwell realized that something was amiss and called to the convicts H e received no reply and hurri ed to where they should have been. At that moment, Maxwell knew that the convicts had escaped. He and a nearby soldier pursued the escapees, but their trek to the house of Fugitts brother (a likely conspirator in the escape plot) across a brick yard, over a hill, and under a riverbank was fruitless until the Deputy Warden arrived on horseback and detained the escapees .64 Military prison inmates, like penitentiary inmates, learned to use prison resources including both employees and privileges to devise in dividual escape plots. Camp Chase prisoner 62 Speer, Portals to Hell, 223. 63 In her study of architecture and surveillance, Anna Vemer Andrzejewski contends that, A detailed investigation of prison architecture also shows that surveillance in pris ons had limits in a practical sense. The disciplinary gazes enabled through prison buildings were not as comprehensive as Foucault suggested. Prison officials came to rely on other means of discipline to maintain order in the prison landscape. Andrzejewsk i, Building Power 10. 64 W. Maxwell to Mr. Sengstack, 11 March 1861, Record Group 48, Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, Records Relating to the U.S. Penitentiary for the District of Columbia, 1826 1865, Miscellaneous Records, 18291862, Entry 470, Box 3, NARA II.
158 of war William Bramlet took advantage of the day laborers that Union authorities admitted into camp to dig ditches. Knowing that prison authorities did not restrict conversations between inmates and laborers, Bram let conversed with the workers learned that they had Southern sympathies, and convinced them to lend him some of their clothing and tools. At the end of one workday, Bramlet walked out unnoticed with his new friends and reached the Confederacy. Similarly, Castle Thunder inmate Captain C.W. Savage attempted to exit the prison disguised as a washerwoman. His attempt, unlike Bramlets, was not successful.65 Privileges often promoted penitentiary and military prison inmates ability to escape. So, too, did pen itentiary officials negligence and overcrowding a fact that foreshadows the problems that military prison officials faced during the Civil War in imposing order over many inmates In October 1860, D.C. Penitentiary officials noted that it was filled to i ts utmost capacity at 169 inmates, as noted in Chapter 3. This emboldened four inmates to escape. The first fugitives, men by the names of Wilson and McDonald, took advantage of the carelessness of the deputy warden and the privileges afforded them. The deputy warden disregarded prison rules and permitted Wilson into the clothes room. Once inside, Wilson procured civilian clothes for himself and his co conspirator. The two convicts later returned, apparently unescorted, to the clothes room, where they use d a stowed ladder to ascend the prisons wall. Overcrowding inside of the prison caused an absence of guards in the prison yard for several hours and the convicts disappeared into the rising sun since all available men were patrolling the halls.66 65 It is unclear whether Savage was a member of the Union or Confederate Army. Interesting Narrative of an Escaped Prisoner Richmond Daily Dispatch, July 19, 1862, and Foiled in His Purpose, Richmond Daily Dispatch December 28, 1864, accessed April 24, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr. 66 Peter Force, R.R. Crawford, and George Parker to J. Thompson Secretary of the Interior October 26, 1860, Record Group 48 Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interio r, Entry 466, Miscellaneous Letters to the Board of Inspectors and Warden, Box 1 NARA II
159 Convicts Johnson and Small escaped from the D.C. Penitentiary that same month. Officials noted that the penitentiary was overpopulated Daily inspections of inmates cells detracted from overall surveillance, so the deputy warden neglected to conduct them. Because of this, the two cellmates successfully concealed a cache of hatchets, chisels, and knives. Escape was relatively simple as they dug out of their cells. All four of the se October escapees remained at large, creating concern for penitentiary officials and hope for inmates that escape could succeed These cases demonstrated to inmates that overcrowding facilitated escape and that prison officials, instead of being strict disciplinarians, were subject to human frailties Members of the Board of Inspectors denounced the escape s an d called, albeit in vain, for the fugitives speedy arrest. Arrest and punishment, according to the Board, would reinstate discipline and demonstrate the governments ability to maintain control over inmates. Ohio Penitentiary officia ls faced similar challenges during the Civil War. Officials at the Ohio Penitentiary were concerned with two types of prisoners common criminals and members of General John Hunt Morgans Confederate Cavalry since, as noted in Chapter 3, officials often did not require prisoners of war to work which left them idle time When Union cavalry captured Morgan and his men, federal officials wanted to confine them in a place where escape would be impossible, so they chose the Ohio Penitentiary.67 When Morgan and h is men entered the penitentiary officers treated them as common criminals and subjected them to the same process of calculated humiliation as convicts .68 Officers stripped the men of their possessions, shaved their heads, forbade communication with convict s and guards, and 67 Ohio General Assembly, 18641865, Report of the Committee on the Penitentiary OHS. 68 W. David Lewis notes that the procedures to which penitentiary officials sub ject incoming convicts amounted to a process of calculated humiliation that ultimately began the process of negating inmates individuality. Lewis, From Newgate to Dannemora, 91 92.
160 placed them each in a solitary cell .69 In addition, Morgan and his fellow officers followed a regular routine: guards marched them to meals at 7:30a.m. and at 3:00p.m At 4:45p.m. guards locked them in their cells, ordered silence, and ca lled for lights out at 8:00p.m.70 Such circumstances contrasted with life in the Confederate cavalry, where the men rode freely, earning a reputation as a dashing defend ers of the Southern cause. Imprisonment, conversely, stripped the men of their individuality and insulted their personal honor.71 Because of this, Morgan and his men desired escape to reclaim their honor. Morgans attempt illustrates the contradictions inherent in U.S. military law. In 1863, the U.S. Congress deemed escape a natural act and characterized it as the soldiers patriotic duty, but this only applied to the escape of Union soldiers from Southern prisons. The Lieber Code, on the other hand, dictated that if prisoners of war conspired to affect a general escape, they could be punished as an extreme measure with death.72 In the aftermath of Morgans escape, Southerners cheered Morgan as a patriot, while Northerners condemned him and called for punishment as outlined in the Lieber Code. Penitentiary rules governed Morgan and his men, but state penitentiary officials were responsible for them for only a limited time, demonstrating that a conflict persisted between state and federal officials over penitentiary inmates arrested by the Union Army. In November 1863, a federal mili tary guard was assigned to Morgan and his raiders. This assignment annoyed Warden Nathaniel Merion, who took pride in running the institution with an iron fist and feared that the military guard men largely unfamiliar with penitentiary discipline would cre ate confusion. 69 Captain Samuel Burks Taylor to Sister, October 17, 1863, Samuel Taylor Burks Letter, OHS. 70 Speer, Portals to Hell, 149. 71 Lewis, From Newgate to Dannemora, 122123. 72 United States War Department, General Order No. 207 (3 July 1863), in Flory, Prisoners of War 148. General Order 100, The Lieber Code, Art. 77.
161 Merion was also concerned about the number of Confederate prisoners that he received. Federal authorities originally indicated that th ey would send thirty cavalrymen but later increased the number to seventy. Merion worried that the inmates idleness would cause problems The Rebels were prohibited from performing labor, which removed them from the oversight of ward masters, and many became ill due to idleness and close confinement.73 Idleness also inspired the men to network and devise a mass ive escape plot a feat that they accomplished due to the guards negligence Federal troops who guarded Morgan and his men quickly lost interest in their post and the prisoners took advantage of the soldiers inattention. Merions concerns regarding the ability of federal troops to keep order proved we ll founded The military guard abandoned the guidelines that Merion required of penitentiary guards. For example, the federal forces stopped daily inspections of inmates quarters and allowed the inmates to sweep and clean their quarters without supervision While seemingly insignificant, this neglect allowed inmates to smuggle knives from the dining hall into their cells and, in early November, dig a tunnel. Morgan and many of his men inhabited a range of c ells on the prisons lower level and were aware that an air chamber below their quarters could facilitate an easy escape. After weeks of undetected digging, Morgan and six of his men fled on the 20th of November. Merion and the directors of the penitentiar y were outraged, contending that the men would not have gotten away if they had remained under civil authority.74 The incident is significant for two reasons: first, it reveals that inmates easily recogni zed the weaknesses of penitentiary discipline and second it demonstrates the inexperience of federal officials in enforcing penitentiary discipline State 73 Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1863 7, OHS. 74 Hines, Thrilling Narrative of the Escape of Gen. John H. Morgan; Ohio General Assembly 18641865, Report of the Committee on t he Penitentiary, 1864, OHS.
162 officials regarded themselves as superior in this area since they gained years of experience in penitentiary administration before the war when the federal government played a minimal role in incarceration. The significance of the event reached the South and, ironically, inspired not only the remainder of Morgans men to attempt escape from the Ohio Penitentiary, but also encouraged Union prisoners of war in Richmond to attempt a similar escape. Southern newspapers covered the incident closely, eagerly anticipating Morgans arrival in Richmond The press celebrated Morgans feat as twenty three days of unremitting labor that achieved the goal of free dom.75 Beyond this, Morgans escape proved, as Rebecca McLennan has argued, that escapes often had widespread effects and could inspire disobedience in other prisons.76 In February 1864 the remainder of Morgans men in the Ohio Penitentiary, who were held in solitary confinement for their collusion in the November escape, somehow arm ed themselves with knives and planned to overpower the guard while on their way to breakfast. Prison officials detected the plan, however, and marched the men to and from meals un der double guard.77 In this instance, penitentiary guards learned from experience and prevented another escape. In early 1864 Morgans example inspired a semisuccessful escape from Richmonds Libby Prison. Morgan visited Richmond in early January following his getaway from the Ohio Penitentiary. Morgan arrived in the city on January 9 and visited Libby Prison, since he knew many Union inmates who were from his native Kentucky. Morgan bragged about his tunnel escape and unknowingly inspired the freedom hungr y Union inmates to dig a tunnel. Although 75 Narrative of Gen Morgans Escape Daily Dispatch (Richmond), January 6, 1864, accessed March 14, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr/ 76 McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment 44. 77 The Louisville Journal Says of the Treatment of Morgans Men who are Still Confined in the Ohio Penitentiary, Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, North Carolina), January 11, 1864 ; Daring Rebel Plot Frustrated Milwaukee Daily Sentinel (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), February 26, 1864.
163 the Union prisoners of war achieved limited success with their plan, it nonetheless demonstrated the danger of publicizing a successful escape.78 Union authorities failed to recapture Morgan, and he remained free fr om punishment. Other penitentiary and military prison inmates who wanted to escape or merely taunt guards were not as lucky. Wartime penitentiary and military prison inmates like their antebellum counterparts, had to behave or face physical punishments P enitentiary inmates and officials devised common methods of resistance and punishment in antebellum penitentiaries, and military prison inmates and officials demonstrated similar patterns during wartime. Penitentiary and military prison inmates who could n ot orchestrate mass escape attempts tried to escape individually and these attempts made guards leery of any suspicious activity near windows or doors In 1831, D.C. Penitentiary inmate John Taylor scaled the prison walls, but guards swiftly recaptured him and locked him in the local jail in Frederick Town, Maryland where he died of cholera. The following year, inmate John Laurence escaped the same way, but officials quickly apprehended Laurence, and he finished his sentence in the Philadelphia Penitentiar y. In 1833, two white prisoners and one black prisoner fled the D.C. Penitentiary A ll three were recaptured, the former two sentenced to the Baltimore Penitentiary and the latter to the Philadelphia Penitentiary.79 It is unclear whether D.C. Penitentiary o fficials placed fugitives 78 For further information on Morgans visit to Libby Prison, see Frances H. Casstevens, Out of the Mouths of Hell: Civil War Prisons and Escapes (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005), 273. Colonel Thomas Rose of the 77th Pennsylvania Volunteers and Major Andrew Hamilton of the 126th Kentucky Cavalry secretly organized work parties to descend into the basement of Libby Prison and began to dig a tunnel behind stoves and fireplaces in the prisons kitchen. Federal soldiers dug their sixty foot route to freedom in forty seven days, primarily using knives, chisels, and spittoons. The ingenious inmates masked their work by spreading dirt from their digging over the cellar floor and covering it with straw. In the end 109 prisoners escaped, fifty nine reached Uni on lines, two drowned, and fortyeight were recaptured. For information on the tunnels excavation, see Speer, Portals to Hell, 231232; for information on escape and recapture, see Blakey, General John H. Winder 172173. 79 Thornton, Complete Guide 5657; H. Exec. Doc. 49, 22d Cong. 2d sess., Journal and Reception of Convicts ( January 19, 1833 )
164 in other penitentiaries by choice or by convenience. Perhaps they did not want successful escapees sharing ideas or perhaps it was too expensive to transport convicts back to Washington. Whatever the case, officials detained fugitives from the D.C. Penitentiary without inflicting physical harm This situation differed from those at the Ohio and Virginia Penitentiaries where guards fired on fugitives In August 1839, a n Ohio Penitentiary prisoner by the last name of Lake attempted to instigate an insurrection. Lake conspired with co workers in the pr ison shop to flee during work hours but, w hen the time came, Lake was the only prisoner to run. The officer in charge hailed Lake multiple times but it looked as if he was on a cl ear path to freedom. A guard then fired on Lake aiming low, intending to cripple rather than kill him. The fact that Lake was rapidly descending a hill resulted in alter ing his physical position and causing his death. Inmates were outraged, but penit entiary officials justified the killing, contending that the officers were strictly in the performance of their duties as prescribed by law.80 Ohio Penitentiary guards readily fired to stop escapees when the opportunity presented itself, but th os e occasio ns were rare. Another death from an escape attempt was not recorded until 1860, when the physician noted that one of the years three deaths was due to a gun shot wound received while attempting to escape.81 It seems that the consequence of being shot to death was often enough to prevent Ohio inmates from running. P risoner s at the Virginia Penitentiary were seldom deterred from attempting escape despite the potential consequences The punishment for such attempts was an extension of the prison sentence, a light punishment compared to death. Escape attempts plagued prison officials 80 Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Director s and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1839 5 6 OHS. 81 Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1860 OHS.
165 throughout the antebellum period possibly because t he prison lacked a perimeter wall in its early years T his fact encouraged inmate Jeremiah Whitson to flee on August 30, 1800, by removing the window grating from his cell and walking off. Prison officials subsequently constructed a wooden wall, and later a brick wall in 1824, to discourage escape.82 The walls presence, however, did not deter i nmates. In 1841, Superintendent Charles Morgan noted that the possibility of escape was remote owing to the wall, but complained that it did not prevent inmates many attempts to cut out of the cells. Inmates throughout the century understood that tunneling was a relatively inconspicuous escape method and Virginia Penitentiary inmates knew that it was next to impossible for guards to hear them if they dug during rainstorms. Morgan noted that, in 1840, three inmates attempted escape and one succeeded by digging out. He felt assured that such attempts would be continued by desperate fellows, whose skill gave them hope of success.83 Morgans assumption proved correct. In 1851, Morgan noted that two free blacks, Wingfield Butcher and Robert Evans, were under prosecution for breaking up their cells with intent to escape. Each man consequently received one years additional imprisonment. This punishment, however did not deter Butcher who cut through his cell door in another escape attempt. Evans and Butcher were not alone in their escape attempts that year Morgan also noted the effort of a white man, William Pogue, who broke out of his cell and tried cutting through the front wall of th e eastern wing to no avail.84 While inmates generally acted alone during the antebellum period, high prison populations encouraged coordinated escape plots during wartime. 82 Keve, History of Corrections in Virginia, 26. 83 George Morgan, Report of the Joint Committee to Examine the Penitentiary, 18401841 January 30, 1841, VHS. 84 For the number of black inmates at the Virginia Penitentiary, see Appendix Doc. No. 14 Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, 1851 18, LVA.
166 Throughout the war, the Virginia Penitentiarys population was consistently high, r anging anywhere from 318 to upwards of 360 convicts and inmates tried to take advantage of these numbers .85 This fact concerned officials since the prison was constructed for only 250 inmates and the excess population forced three or four convicts to shar e cells designed for single confinement. In December 1862, officials reported that inmates who obtained false keys tried to escape and attempted a mutiny of a very serious character. In the elaborate plan, inmates not only obtained keys, but also fille d guards pistols with beeswax, preventing guards from defending themselves. O fficers did not discover the plot until it was in action but they soon foiled it .86 In March 1864, inmates devised a similar murderous assault on one guard. However, another i nmate aware of the plot alerted officials, fearing the consequences of failing to report the conspiracy.87 While nothing came of the plot, it nonetheless demonstrates how the internal power dynamics of the prison could shift in favor of prisoners when the p opulation was high. Even in times of lockdown, penitentiary inmates proved that they could turn on their keepers, throwing penitentiary order into confusion.88 Since this was the case, high prison populations 85 For population totals throughout the war, see Doc. No. 6, Annual Repor t of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, Year ending September 30, 1862, 5; Doc. No. 66, Report of the Joint Committee on the Penitentiary, March 1862, 3; Doc. No. 9, Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, Year ending September 30, 1863, 18; Doc. No. 12, Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiar y Institution, Year ending September 30, 1864, LVA. 86 Doc. No. 1, Message of the Governor of Virginia and Accompanying Documents x, 19. 87 Doc. N o. 12, Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, Year ending Sept. 30, 1864, 6, LVA. 88 Rebecca McLennan makes this assertion regarding a prison break at New Yorks Sing Sing prison in 1913. Security was high at the prison dur ing that year, but prisoners nonetheless used their numbers to their advantage and effected escape. During the nineteenth century, particularly during wartime, military prison and penitentiary officials worried about the prospect of inmates revolt or esca pe. McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment 1.
167 concerned both penitentiary and military prison officials as guards had to watch for collusion amo ng inmates. During the Civil War, military prison guards dealt with prisoners of war and political prisoners who often colluded in acts of disobedience. Guards at Old Capitol, Camp Chase, and Castle Thund er Prisons shot inmates for offenses such as taunting guards approaching windows, and burning lights after dark. At the Old Capitol, guards ordered political prisoner George Henry Clay Rowe away from prison windows after he stuck his head out a distance t hat defied orders. In retaliation, Rowe mustered the support of one companion to curse the sentinels and guards threatened to fire. The guards response is understandable since prison rules dictated close confinement for inmates who looked out of the wind ows. Guards worried that the prisoners could have easily broken free or inflicted harm. Guards threatened use of firepower seems to have checked inmates behavior, judging from how Rowes roommates reacted every subsequent time he taunted guards. Rowe not ed that his friends were in terror of being shot when he mocked the sentinels and they begged him to stop.89 At Camp Chase, the actions of prisoners of war William Jones, Junius Cloyd, Joseph Rutter, and Malilon Hurst actually prompted guards to shoot. Again, inmates disobedience caused guards to fear for their safety or that an escape might occur. Guards shot and killed Jones for violating prison rules by burning lights after dark. The prisons commander, Peter Zinn, noted that guards had difficulty i n having [lights] put out in messes four and five, where Jones lodged. Guards were adamant that lights be extinguished at night to help prevent inmates communication The circumstances surrounding Joness death justified guards fears. Prisoners 89 Inmates understood that the punishment for approaching windows was close confinement. See Marshall, American Bastille 325326; Griffith, Fredericksburgs Political Hostages, 416417, 422.
168 disregar ded orders to extinguish lights and broke from their messes, substantiating guards fears that the prisoners were trying to break out. The guards consequently opened fire.90 Guards continually feared mass disobedience throughout the war but like penite ntiary officials, they were also constantly suspicious of the questionable behavior of even one or two inmates. In 1864 Camp Chases guards shot and wounded Junius Cloyd for suspected foul play as he repeatedly went to a forbidden side of the prison at rol l call. Guards shot and wounded Joseph Rutter and Malilon Hurst for throwing water into a forbidden side of the prison and using abusive language toward the sentinel when ordered to desist. Guards in these circumstances feared for their safety and dreaded escape attempts, as evidenced by Commandant William Richardsons assessment of the shooting. These events occurred not long after fears of the Copperhead conspiracy to liberate inmates, discussed in Chapter 5, had subsided. Due to these circumstances, Ri chardson noted that the guards actions were appropriate, since a very insubordinate spirit prevailed among prisoners for four or five weeks, manifesting itself in resistance to prison rules and possible escape.91 Guards were leery of inmates outright disobedience and cautious of minor misbehavior that could indicate larger problems. Confederate military prison officials faced similar challenges from individual inmates. Some prisoners at Castle Thunder attempted escape by jumping out of windows or by di gging. Desperation most often motivated these individuals, as many were condemned to die Inmate David Rogers, sentenced to be shot for desertion, successfully escaped by crawling out of his cell window and scaling down the side of the building. Inmate Wil liam Brander, sentenced to hang for murdering a Confederate soldier, also escaped. He crawled through a skylight, tied a long 90 Peter Zinn to Co l. William Hoffman, December 31, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol. 5, 132 145. 91 For the cases of Cloyd, Rutter and Hurst, see W. Richardson to Col. W. Hoffman, July 19, 1864, and W. Richardson to Col. W. Hoffman, July 19, 1864 (two separate letters), O.R. Series II, Vol. 7, 474475.
169 strip of blankets and clothing to a chimney, lowered himself to the ground, and ran to freedom. Captain A. Webster, condemned to t he gallows for violating parole, was not as lucky. Webster jumped from his thirdstory window, injuring himself and enabling guards to rec apture him. They later placed him under double guard.92 Military prison authorities had to be conscious of all levels of suspicious activity, but military prisoners sometimes made that an easy task as they plotted elaborate escapes. Military prisoners escape plots were at times more extreme than those of pen itentiary inmates. While penitentiary inmates often merely fled, some military prison inmates sought to overthrow the prison structure and harm its officials. Inmates who organized mass resistance received the same punishments administered in penitentiarie s. In December 1862, the Richmond Daily Dispatch reported a plot among inmates to assassinate the sentinels at Castle Thunder on Christmas night. Yankee David Weish, a murderer by profession, spearheaded the plot and consequently received stripes, was placed in irons, and was put on a bread and water diet. Similarly, the press noted a plot to blow up the prison in November 1862. The Daily Dispatch noted that inmates exploded several pounds of powde r, causing considerable alarm, shaking the build ing and breaking glass in the windows. Th e paper stated that one of the principal parties behind the plan was a Yankee to be tried for murder, and reported that prison authorities punished him with close confinement.93 Judging from these stories, milita ry prison guards sometimes had good reason for using firepower to maintain discipline: simple surveillance was 92 All stories found in the Richmond Daily Dispatch: Escape of a Condemned Man, October 21, 1862; Escape from Castle Thunder, February 17, 1865; Websters account found in Attempted Escapes, March 30, 1863, and Execution of Capt ain Webster, June 1, 1863, accessed April 24, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr 93 The Ringleader, Richmond Daily Dispatch December 29, 1862, and Attempt to Blow up a Building, Richmond Daily Dispatch, November 3, 1862, accessed April 24, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr.
170 insufficient to stop inmates from plotting destruction, but firepower did not seem to stop inmates schemes either Northern military prison offi cials also faced considerable resistance and the architects of such disobedience were sometimes said to be criminals. Political prisoner D. A. Mahoney, held at the Old Capitol, noted that Confeder ate prisoners of war and Federal deserters organized many pl ots to break prison. Mahoney described the schemers as criminals, noting that most of them were from Ireland and Germany and were swells, rowdies, or burglars before they joined the army, demonstrating the middle classs assumption that immigrants we re criminally inclined.94 Camp Chases inmates posed similar threats to guards. In May 1862, prison officials noted that prisoners attempted a revolt, causing such a commotion that three managed to escape. After the incident, officials made clear that any attempted mutiny would be fatal.95 Similarly, in November 1863, F ederal authorities, as noted in Chapter 5 stopped inmates from ru shing a guard upon their entry into the prison, a move intended to coincide with Peace Democrats plot to liberate prisoners.96 Finally, in July 1864, Commandant Richardson stated that the men in prison number three attempted mass escape by rushing through the gate at the time a cart was passing out and that twenty one inmates temporarily escaped but were almost immediately recaptured. In response to this escape, Commissary General Hoffman ordered Richardson to 94 Mahoney, The Prisoner of State 225226. Historian David Rothman contends that penitentiaries became custodial institutions by 1860 and that middle class Americans lost interest in the reform program since inmates were mos t commonly lower class, foreign born individuals. Rothman, The Discovery of the Asylum 240, 238. 95 Col. H.B. Carrington, Attempted Revolt of Confederate Prisoners of War at Camp Chase, Ohio, June 1, 1862, OHS. 96 Speer, Portals to Hell, 223.
171 arm guards with revolvers.97 Judging from the persistence of these military prison inmates escape attempts, it is not surprising that gu ards thought firepower necessary to maintain order. Both penitentiary and military prison inmates faced the prospect of death if their escape attempts went awry. The threat of death did not stop military prison inmates from plotting escapes Guards combat ed these threats throughout the entire war, a fact that speaks to the importance of preventing, or at least controlling, communication among prisoners However, preventing communication among inmates in both penitentiaries and military prisons ultimately f ailed. While disobedience and escapes concerned guards and represented inmates attempts to alter the power dynamics of penitentiaries and military prisons, such instances were relatively rare. Most of the time that penitentiary and military prison inmates spent behind bars was dull, and their communications with the outside world rested in the hands of officials. These will be the subjects of Chapter 7. 97 W. Richard son to Col. W. Hoffman, July 19, 1864, O.R. Series II, Vol. 7, 474475 ; W. Richardson to Col. W. Hoffman, August 12, 1864, O.R. Series II, Vol. 7, 584 585.
172 CHAPTER 7 P LEAS, PARDONS, AND COMUNICTIONS: INMATE S INTERACTI O NS INSIDE THE WALLS AND WI TH THE OUTSIDE WORLD Penitentiary and military prison inmates longed to rejoin the outside world and to maintain interpersonal connections once imprisoned. As Chapter 6 demonstrated, inmates could attempt escape, but that proved a risky endeavor Inmates w ho wanted to work within the system of confinement and win an acceptable form of release pleaded for pardon based on their social or political status, their demonstration of good behavior both before and during imprisonment, and their willingness to repent reform, and improve their moral character. If inmates could not secure release, they communicated with other inmates, visitors, or individuals passing by on the outside, often in violation of rules. Maintaining family relationships and contact with the o utside world was another major preoccupation of inmates, albeit heavily regulated and restricted by penitentiary and military prison officials. Each of these methods of communication had its roots in penitentiaries but continued and became more prevalent i n military prisons during the Civil War. Analyzing the records of inmates, their family members, and penitentiary and military prison officials offers valuable insights into how prisoners at both types of institutions interacted with those around them and with those in the outside world. As the nineteenth century progressed, penitentiary and military prisoners famil ies and friends asserted their right to communicate with prisoners and developed expectations that prison officials treat them and their loved ones with respect.1 Since security was a high priority, letter writing was a rare privilege in both penitentiaries and military prisons Penitentiary and military prison officials carefully monitored all letters that passed in and out of prison. As a resul t, inmates had little real 1 McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment 47.
173 knowledge of their families and friends and very few letters to and from inmates and their family members exist in archives. The available writings however, reveal that both penitentiary and military prison inmates sought the help of prominent relatives and acquaintances to secure pardons, that they were at the mercy of officials to maintain their outside personal relationships, and that family members encouraged inmates to withstand c onfinement as nobly as possible. Inmates l etters to and from home were undoubtedly biased, often portraying the experience of imprisonment positively in order to assuage lovedones fears and appease inspectors. Nonetheless, existing corres pondence including pardon petitions, clearly reveals the agony of separation, the anxiety of not knowing when release would come, the horrors of prison life, and how inmates redefined personal relationships with those outside. The primary objective of inmates was to obtain release. Many ventured to escape, as discussed in Chapter 6, but those who were not so daring pleaded with family members, political officials, or wardens for help in securing pardons. In the antebellum period, pleading to the state gove rnor for pardon was the only way to get out of penitentiary sentences due to the disorganized nature of the criminal justice system. But governors had no set criteria for granting release with nothing to formally guide decisions.2 Penitentiary inmates also made their cases known to wardens or other political officials and military prison inmates did the same, hoping to catch the eye of a sympathetic politician. To make their case, both male and female penitentiary and military prison inmates and their famil ies appealed to emotion, familial ties, or social and political connections. L. Mara Dodges study of female imprisonment notes that most women represented their prison experience as a trying ordeal that tore them away from their loved ones, 2 Friedman, History of American Law 212.
174 broke their h earts, and shattered their health. 3 This analysis of petitions, particularly those of military prisoners, reveals that male inmates made the same arguments. The general practice of appealing to emotion, however, started in the antebellum period and was u sed by both penitentiary and military prison inmates and their family members. Ohio Penitentiary Chaplain James Finley recounted letters reveal ing how desperate family members appealed to emotion and familial ties in pleas for release In July 1846, the mo ther of one inmate, William, informed her son that she was trying to secure his pardon. The woman hoped through Heaven and [his] friends that William, would soon be released to his disconsolate and brokenhearted mother. Williams mother urged him to l ead a new life and assured him of Jesuss saving power, perhaps hoping that Williams embrace of these things would hasten his release Williams mother was not alone in encouraging her son to behave. Another Ohio Penitentiary inmate, in a letter home, reflected on his decision to resort to crime, which he attributed to his sinning against God and his good parents. Unlike inmates who disobeyed prison rules, the author of this letter thanked God for his imprisonment, considering it mild compared with his deserts. Although grateful, this inmate said he was unhappy in prison despite good care and stated that the only thing that could lift his spirits was the presence for a mere hour of his tender hearted mother.4 The convict s mea culpa reveals how mal e inmates tried to tug the heartstrings of those who could influence their release. As with penitentiary inmates, military prisoners desperation was most evident in their pleas for family members, company commanders, or politicians to use social or polit ical influence to secure release. Unfortunately, the outcome of the majority of these mens petitions is 3 Dodge, Whores and Thieves 36. 4 Finley, Memorials of Prison Life, 9597.
175 unknown, but their words reveal their desperation for freedom, their outrage over incarceration, and the good social connections that many inmates had. Many inmates at Camp Chase wrote anxious pleas home, yearning for freedom In April 1862, prisoner of war D.R. Fletcher wrote to his mother that a frightful smallpox epidemic plagued the camp and urged her to get his father to do something to alleviate me from this prison, concluding that his father probably could help. Similarly, prisoner of war John J. Guthrie urged his mother to tell Pa to use all his influence to have me again returned to you.5 What Fletcher and Guthries parents could have don e is uncertain They resided hundreds of miles away, in Henryville, Alabama, and Memphis, Tennessee, respectively But the mens confidence that relatives could help suggests either that their fathers may have had political or military connections that cou ld help them gain freedom or that their desperation caused them to have false hope. Other military prison inmates pleaded for help due to ill health, age ( exceedingly young or old ) or unjust imprisonment All feared dying behind bars. In April 1862 Confederate prisoner of war Frank W. Keyes used his political connections and begged Honorable Judge Ortho Robards Singleton to do all that can be done to effect an exchange from Camp Chase at the earliest possible moment. Keyes justified his urgency by the fact that he was a young member of the army and a second lieutenant in a Mississippi regiment.6 Keyess petition suggests that he, as a lieutenant, felt that his rank rendered him above the trials of imprisonment 5 D.R. Fletcher to Mother, April 21, 1862, and John J. Guthrie to Mother, April 20, 1862, Camp Chase, Ohio Papers, 18621863, Folder 3 of 12, VHS. 6 Frank W. Keyes to Hon. O.R. Singleton, A pril 26, 1862, Camp Chase, Ohio Papers, 18621863, Folder 5 of 12, VHS.
176 and that he was afraid that he woul d perish by catching a disease from one of Camp Chases 1,400 prisoners .7 While Keyes did not directly invoke his social standing in his plea, many penitentiary and military prisoners used such connections, hoping to benefit from favoritism. Penitentiary and military prison inmates frequently sought pardon based on these grounds, since they knew the system suffered much abuse throughout the nineteenth century .8 In 1859, D.C. Penitentiary inmate George Hendricks wrote to his incarcerated brother, Pennel, to assure him that he would soon be pardoned. George contacted a prominent resident of their home town, who then contacted U.S. Senator David Reid and got a recommendation from a local judge, which was sufficient to procure a pardon for Pennel.9 H onorable members of society who petitioned on behalf of penitentiary and military prison inmates often emphasized the upstanding character of the inmates and their families. In 1859, O.L. Clarke, former clerk of courts in Marietta, Ohio, plea d ed for the release of D.C. Penitentiary inmate John Williard by blaming Williards crime of passing spurious coin on the bad company that he temporarily kept, which had caused him to be intoxicated. Clarke depicted this behavior as an aberration since Williard later became a deputy sheriff and a collector for two business firms a job in which Clarke found him reliable. On top of Williards good character, Clarke stressed the necessity of Williards presence at home since he had an aged 7 See Appendix for population total. 8 Beaumont and de Tocqueville, On the Penitentiary System 8889. 9 George Hendricks to Pennel Hendricks February 1859, Record Group 48, Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior Records Relating to the U.S. Penitentiary for the District of Columbia, 1826 1865, Miscellaneous Records, 18291862, Entry 470, Box 3, NARA II.
177 mother who lived alone .10 Clarkes political and social connections probably enhanced Williards prospects for release, since inmates benefitted from ties to influential citizens .11 Military prison inmates also commonly highlighted needy relatives and family reputation in petitions. Many in mates from Old Capitol, Castle Thunder, and Camp Chase, or friends acting on their behalf petitioned for release s so that the inmates could care for their families Inmates positive character traits, like church membership and service were emphasized a s were industriousne ss in civilian life and wealth. For example, R. Breckenridge, a citizen of Danville, Kentucky, pleaded on behalf of two political prisoners held at Camp Chase The men, Parker Todhunter and James Price, were friends of Breckenridge and purported to be upstanding community members Breckenridge described Todhunter as a Baptist who raised a very respectable family whose members intermarried with other respectable families. Similarly, Price was one o f our old Presbyterian families, and b oth were men of good repute who should not have been punished as criminals, even if the ir offenses were political.12 White inmates were not the only ones to have prominent political officials or men of social standing petition on their behalf Some of Castle Thunders African American inmates had these connections as well, and their petitioners also emphasized inmates honesty, good character, and religio sity. The cases of Amos Barney and William Brown serve as examples Confederate soldiers imprisoned Barney and Brown, along with six other free African Americans, in Castle Thunder Many reliable citizens from Richmond, including the Reverend Dr. T.V. Moore, petitioned on the captives behalf Moore certified that Barney was the 10 O .L. Clarke to Warden of the Penitentiary in Washingt on, D.C., October 1859, Record Group 48, Records of the Office o f the Secretary of the Interior, Records Relating to the U.S. Penitentiary for the District of Columbia, 18261865 Miscellaneous Records, 18291862, Entry 470, Box 2, NARA II. 11 Dodge, Whores and Thieves 57. 12 Ro. S. Breckenridge to Saml. Galloway Esq., January 10, 1862, Samuel Galloway Papers, 18401895, OHS.
178 husband of a member o f my church and stated that Barney and the other captives were free negroes and noncombatants. Moore and his constituents pleaded for their release since they were free colored Men and not Slaves and were men whose families needed them.13 Other inmates at Castle Thunder also sought the help of religious figures Jam es Quinn, a political prisoner captured while working on one of Virginias railroads, petitioned the Reverend Bishop McGill, a prominent member of the community in which Quinn was det ained Quinns petition reveals that he was an Irish immigrant new to the South. He told the Bishop that he had many religious connections in his homeland that proved his good character Quinn stated that there were no charges against him, adding that he had one brother who was a Chaplain to his grace Rt. Rvd. Doctor Dixon arch Bishop of Armagh and Princebel of Old Ireland, and another b rother Right Revd. Terrance Joseph Quinn who officiated under the Bishop of the Diocese of Brisbane Queensland Au stralia.14 Quinn hoped these familial ties to religious authority would inspire Bishop McGill to use his social influence to secure his release When inmates lacked religious ties, they appealed to familial obligations. For example, Old Capitol inmate Tho mas Jones, a political prisoner, noted that he had an affectionate wife at home and eight young children all dependent upon me for protection and support. Likewise, Kate Parr begged for her fathers release from the Old Capitol since he had a wife and yo ung children depending upon him for support and protection. Kate was most likely begging for the preservation of her own safety in addition to her fathers freedom since she noted that the women in her family have been left exposed to outrage and want with no one to care for 13 Emphasis in original. Revd. Dr. T.V. Moore to Revt & Dear Sir, November 10, 1863, and William D. McKinsly etc, at enclosure, Novembe r 5, 1863, Confederate States of America Army Department of Henrico Records (hereafter cited as CSA Henrico), Records, 18611864, Section 11, VHS. 14 James Quinn to His Grace Right Revt Bishop McGill, CSA Henrico, Records, 18611864, Section 11, VHS.
179 them.15 Confinement of Southern men often left Southern women at the mercy of Union soldiers, undercutting Southern manhood. This served as a strong remind er to inmates that Southern men could not protect their homes while incarcerated.16 Arguing for the necessity of release to care for family members became so common that even George Harbin a Catholic and a Democrat used the tactic to advance his case. I have several sisters depending on my labor for support, wrote Harbin from Old Capitol Prison hoping this would convince Secretary of State William Seward to grant him a longawaited trial.17 Similarly, the friends and relatives of many of Camp Chases inmates petitioned Seward for the release of their acquaintances, fearing that in mates families would languish in their absence. For example, Maysville, Kentucky resident W.H. Wadsworth wrote to the Secretary of State asking for the release of six of his constituents and townsmen on the grounds that their families were in great di stress. Wadsworth assured Stanton of the mens innocence, contending that they would not threaten the government since they were slight, unimportant people needed by their families.18 In a variation on the plea that inmates be released in order to care for their families, R.H. Hanson argued for his younger brother Isaacs discharge from Camp Chase on the grounds that Isaac was a wayward youth. In his petition to Samuel Galloway, judge advocate for Camp Chase, Hanson noted that Isaac, at the impressionable age of seventeen, was persuaded by the malign 15 Thom as A. Jones to Mr. J. Dent, November 18, 1861, O.R. Series II, Vol. 2, 869870; Kate Parr to Hon. William H. Seward, January 3, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol. 2, 12871289. 16 Historian Paul Anderson acknowledges that the war often required men to be away, and that the Union army could shame Southern manhood by overpowering women left behind. This act could, according to Anderson, render the same effect of undercutting Southern manhood, since it stood as a public reminder that the men could not protect their ho mes anyway. See Paul C. Anderson, Blood Image: Turner Ashby in the Civil War and the Southern Mind (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2002), 179 180. 17 Geg. F. Harbin to William H. Seward, December 6, 1861, O.R. Series II, Vol. 2, 870. 18 W.H. Wadsworth to William H. Seward, December 7, 1861, O.R. Series II, Vol. 2, 923.
180 influence and persuasions of older persons to join the Confederate Army and was later arrested Hanson argued for his brothers release so that Isaac may return to school as his education was sadly neglected, and he needed to begin school soon if he was to learn anything. The Hansons were obvio usly not of the criminal class, judging from the fact that R.H. attempted to appeal to Gallow ay by noting that he went to school several sessions at Oxford soon after the judge graduated.19 This information, and Hansons petition in general, reveals the importance of establishing personal or class connections with government officials in petitio ns a practice commonly employed by penitentiary inmates I n their petitions m any of Castle Thunders male inmates similarly appealed to manhood, honor, and their masculine duty as family providers. Prison was an emasculating experience, stripping men of their wives, children, property, and home.20 Numerous Castle Thunder inmates invoked male honor and domestic duty in appeals for release, arguing that they could best serve their cause at home. In October 1863, Confederate soldiers arrested John Raden and William Lintz in East Tennessee. The men claimed that they drew arms from the Federal government not to antagonize Confederate troops, but to stop horse stealing, a rampant practice in the region. Southern soldiers, however, suspected treason, detained the men, and sent them to Richmond as political prisoners In December, Sam Milligan, a neighbor of Raden and Lintz, wrote to Confederate Secretary of War James Seddon on behalf of the captives Milligan insisted that the offend ers were innocent, declaring th at his neighbors were worthy gentlemen of character and moral worth. Milligan closed by assuring Seddon that his neighbors practice of combating 19 R.H. Hanson to Hon. Samuel Galloway, June 25, 1862, Samuel Galloway Papers, 18401895, OHS. 20 Mark Kann, Punishment, Prisons, and Patriarchy: Liberty and Power in the Early American Republic (New York: New York University Press, 2005) 179.
181 horse stealing would be highly beneficial to their home, thereby leaving it to Seddon to judge the offen ders manhood.21 Petitions of this kind were common in the Confederacy, as inmates pleaded with officials to recognize their upstanding character Castle Thunder inmate John W. Rider presented his case to prison Commandant William Richardson on January 18, 1864. Confederate soldiers arrested Rider at his home in Virginia on charges of shirking military duty Riders captors promised him release after he revealed four discharges from physicians for physical inability to serve in the C.S. army. But his relea se never came, so Rider pleaded based on his masculine duty to defend his home and family I have a family of helpless little children at home who are motherless and can do the country far more good at home on my farm than anywhere else, Rider contended, stressing that his homestead needed an adult male presence to fend off potential Yankee invaders.22 Riders petition essentially made the case that the dictates of manhood required him to stay home rather than serve in uniform and that his family would sta rve without him. Supporting ones family was of paramount importance to Southern men. This obligation placed Levi Bennett in a precarious situation After being confined to Castle Thunder, Bennett petitioned General Winder for release, stating that he had applied for a position on a Confederate gunboat but had been rejected due to his being very deaf. Instead, left with no way to support 21 Sam Milligan to James A Seddon, December 6, 1863, CSA Henrico, Records, 18611864, Section 1, VHS. 22 John W. Rider to Captain William Richardson, January 18, 1864, CSA Henrico Records, 18611864, Section 1, VHS. Chandra Manning contends that Confederate patriotism contained an inherent tension between the needs and interests of the Confederacy, and the needs and interes ts of soldiers and their families. Manning posits that initially the tension remained latent, but as the needs of families increasingly conflicted with the demands of the Confederacy, strains became harder to ignore. Riders case provides a good example of this tension. See Chandra Manning, What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War (New York: Vintage, 2007), 217. Similarly, Paul Anderson contends that the home stood as a profound symbol of patriarchy and protection and that to cow a man at his front door was to degrade him and his family in the most public way imaginable. See Anderson, Blood Image 179180.
182 his dependents, Bennett became a Union Navy pilot in Virginia. Confederate soldiers imprisoned Bennett for disloyalty, but Bennett told Winder that, circumstances compelled [him] to accept the situation to support his wife and three small children. Bennett contended that, despite his Union service, he was a loyal Southerner and begged to be sent home to his suffering fa mily .23 The case of John Carper is similar While camped with the Confederate Army a short distance from his home, Private Carper left his post to nurse his wife, who was severely ill Carper intended to return to his post after tending to his wife, but Confederate soldiers arrested him on his way back to his regiment and locked him in Castle Thunder In his petition to General Winder, Carper stressed his duty to support his wife since there was no one then to officiate or help in his absence.24 Carpers wife obviously needed physical support since she was in ill health, a fact that likely haunted Carper as he endured confinement.25 Penitentiary and military prison inmates appealed to their social status, to their rights as citizens to have a trial or t o familial obligations in their arguments for freedom These petitions reveal how strongly inmates resented imprisonments curtailment of their freedom and demonstrate their d esire to reclaim their rights. When family pedigree failed, penitentiary military prison inmates noted the injustice of the legal system in their pleas for release, but this was a difficult argument for them to make. The cases of William Boyd and the son of Ann Bohlayer provide good examples. In May 1860, Boyd, in a letter to his wif e, alleged unjust imprisonment in the D.C. Penitentiary stating that he was held as a hostage prisoner of moral warfare. He nevertheless believed in the immutability of truth, contending that when the truth 23 Levi Bennett to Brig. Gen. J.H. Winder, January 11, 1864, CSA Henrico, Records, 18611864, Section 1, VHS. 24 Jno. A. Ca rper to Genl. Winder, June 18, 1863, CSA Henrico, Records, 18611864, Section 1, VHS. 25 Victoria Bynum contends that to be poor, female, and without the guardianship of a white male figure was to be without honor or worth in the antebellum South. It is my contention that this standard applied during wartime. See Bynum, Unruly Women, 78.
183 prevailed he would be freed and unlocke d. Boyds correspondence, however, does not reveal that a petition on his behalf was in the works and the outcome of his case is unknown. Similarly, Ann Bohlayers son was imprisoned in the D.C. Penitentiary for a crime of which he was allegedly not guilt y. Bohlayer wrote to Warden Sengstack, hoping that the so licitude of a mother would justify her correspondence. The distressed woman explained that her son was innocent of assault, since he acted in self defense when confronted by another Bohlayer assur ed Sengstack that her son reacted just as Sengstack would have if similarly confronted and contended that the jury was biased The only help that Bohlayer had with her petition however, was her trust in the divine and all giving Judge, leaving the case to Sengstacks discretion and Gods providence.26 The results remain unknown. Other penitentiary inmates who insisted that they were wrongly imprisoned had other forms of help in petitioning for release. In the early 1800s, one hundred and twenty three men signed a petition for the release of Virginia Penitent iary inmate William Nash. Nash was a sentinel at the local barracks who shot a man while on duty. The petitioners contended that Nash was absolutely without guilt or malice not ing that this shooting, for which Nash was found guilty of second degree murder, would be a source of sorrow to him during the remainder of his life. According to the plea, Nash was ready to reform, even though he had fired according to orders and would hav e been punished severely if he had not done so The petitioners noted that Nashs trial was unfair since the law forbade Nash from calling witnesses who would have 26 William Boyd to Wife March 28, 1860 and Mrs. Bohlayer to Mr. Sengstack, January 2, 1861, Record Group 48, Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior Rec ords Relating to the U.S. Penitentiary for the District of Columbia, 18261865, Miscellaneous Records, 18291862, Entry 470, Box 3 NARA II.
184 demo nstrated that at least one superior approved his actions.27 Because of this, Nash was at the mercy of Virginias governor for his pardon. Military prisoners petitions reveal that many inmates believed their imprisonments were unjust and suggest significant differences in how government officials and prisoners themselves interpreted the circumstances that led to confinement For example, Castle Thunder inmate Charles Dunham complained to Richmonds Provost Marshal John Winder that his papers revealed nothing to impeach [his] loyalty or good intentions towards your government. Dunhams pet ition, however, shows that he attempted to go beyond Confederate lines without a passport, an offense that logically aroused the suspicions of Southern authorities Nonetheless, Dunham repeatedly asserted that he carried no threatening information when he was arrested and swore that he was a friend of the [Confederate] government. As such, Dunham reserved the right to expect to be treated as a friend as opposed to a foe, or a criminal, suggesting his anger over being denied the right to trial.28 W hile w artime inmates like Dunham expressed such resentment, Castle Thunder political prisoner J.T. Kirby s petition to General Winder reveals his disgust with and lack of faith in the Confederate legal system and the suspension of habeas corpus The circumstan ces under which Kirby was confined are unclear but the captive adamantly and repeatedly solicited a fair and impartial trial that never came. Kirby ultimately wanted to vindicate his name from the criminal s tigma now resting upon it, but he failed sinc e authorities refused him a hearing Kirby contended that a trial would prove that Confederate authorities lacked evidence to convict him in 27 Nashs petition is undated. William Nash et. al. to his Excellency the Governor and Council of State, undated, Vi rginia Penitentiary, Penitentiary Papers, 17961865, Subseries D, LVA. 28 Chas. Dunham to John H. Winder, May 7, 1863, CSA Henrico, Records, 18611864, Section 3 A C, VHS.
185 civil or military court, and he demanded that he should be tried within reasonable time or discharged a request that he made to prison authorities over a year before writing to Winder. 29 Kirbys petition suggests two things about civilians opinions of the Southern legal system and of imprisonment. First, it calls to mind the fact that Southerners generally harbored a n overall suspicion of the centralized legal system and of imprisonment Such suspicions, as scholars Edward Ayers and Michael Hindus have demonstrated, became established in the antebellum period and slowed the development of penitentiaries in the South.30 Second, Kirbys words suggest that this lack of faith in the legal system ironically constituted the very reason why Confederate authorities arrested individuals on questionable evidence Southern officials needed to demonstrate the power of the Confederate government, especially during the war, and such arrests proved that power remained in the hands of political elites who supported the Confederacy During the war this power expanded as political and military officials punished members of all classes who were so much as suspec ted of any threats.31 Thus, centralized power strengthened on both sides of the MasonDixon line during the Civil War, continuing an antebellum trend. In both the antebellum and war years, state officials, in addition to Union and Confederate officials, demonstrated their power by us ing pardons for practical purposes either to relieve overcrowding or to r eplenish dwindling army ranks. In war, one of the best ways that 29 Emphasis in original. J.T. Kirby to J.H. Winder, May 1, 1863, CSA Henrico Records, 18611864, Section 3 A C, VHS. 30 From the 1790s to the 1850s, Ayers argues that there were Southerners who argued that the penitentiary constituted an essential part of any enlightened government [while] other Southerners warned that the penitentiary posed a real and direct threat to Am erican freedom and to the ideals of the American Revolution. Ayers, Vengeance and Justice 35. Hindus argues that the institution of slavery, as opposed to the penitentiary, maintained order in the South and contends that this system kept Southern patriar chs in power. Hindus, Prison and Plantation, 253. 31 For more general information on the Confederate governments centralized power and its detention of political prisoners, see Neely, Southern Rights
186 officials could help relieve the states financial and material woes was to pardon convicts during periods of overcrowding In 1863, Virginia Governor John Letcher, fearing increased commitments to the penitentiary, perhaps due to the failure of the exchange system, took proactive steps to reduce the number of inmates. The governor believed that his actions might remedy or at least mitigate the ev il of overcrowding. He contended that necessity drove him to pardon the most meritorious inmates to make way for newcomers as the population increased with no signs of ab atement.32 Letchers words suggest that, in wartime, as in the antebellum period, penitentiary and military prison officials released convicts judged capable of contr ibuting to society. This practice of pardoning individuals based on their ability to contri bute to the state remained during wartime and often culminated in army service. It is not surprising that many of the most meritorious inmates at the Virginia Penitentiary that received pardons were members of the Confederate Army eager to rejoin shrink ing Southern ranks Throughout the war, numerous soldiers sentenced for crimes ranging from larceny to murdering slaves, to manslaughter, to robbery were pardoned on account of their gallantry under fire, questionable circumstances surrounding their arrest their being intoxicated or influenced by bad company when they committed their crime s or the fact t hat the crimes were accidental reasons that echo those of antebellum petitioners. A ll pardoned soldiers vowed to rejoin their regiments, an action that be nefitted the Confederacy as it experienced a shortage of manpower due to casualties and the rising numbers of military prisoners .33 32 Doc. No. 16, Communication Relative to Pardons, Repri eves, etc., December 1863 4 5, LVA. 33 The assessment of soldiers crimes and pardons came from the reading of Doc. No. 40, Communication Relative to Reprieves, Pardons, etc., 1861; Doc. No. 6, Communication Relative to Reprieves, Pardons, etc., 1862 ; Doc. No. 7, Communication Relative to Reprieves, Pardons, etc., 1863; Doc. No. 16, Communication Relative to Reprieves, Pardons, etc., December 1863; Doc. No. 35, Governors Communication on the Subject of Pardons, Reprieves, etc., 1864, LVA Specific examples of pardoning soldiers based on good conduct, being under the influence of liquor at the time of crime, and the crime being accidental can be found throughout these records.
187 Not only were soldiers pardoned for their past and future service to the Confederate Army, numerous men and women were also pardoned because they had family members in the service a reward for serving the state. Charles Smith, sentenced to five years imprisonment in the Virginia Penitentiary for forgery was pardoned because he demonstrated good conduct behind bars and becaus e his father and brother cared for sick and wounded Confederate soldiers Similarly, inmate Frances Marion was pardoned not only because she had numerous dependent children, but also be cause her eldest son, not yet eighteen, had been in the army since the war began.34 As this discussion demonstrates, many reasons that earned penitentiary inmates pardon s in the antebellum period pe rsisted during the Civil War. Penitentiary and military prison i nmates continued to receive pardons if respectable citizens petitioned on their behalf, if they were exceedingly young or old, if they were in ill health, if they demonstrated good conduct prior to their commission of the crime, if they served a majority of their sentence thereby vindicating the law, if they were industrious and wellbehaved behind bars, if they could prove that they had dependents with no other source of protection or if they benefited the state .35 Such circumstances earned pardons for both men and women and demonstrated that crime, punishmen t, and the reasons for pardon remained constant in the transition from peace to war in both penitentiaries and military prisons 34 Case of Charles Smith, Doc. No. 7, Communication Relative to Reprieves, Pardons etc., 1863 7, and Case of Frances Marion, Doc. No. 16, Communication Relative to Pardons, Reprieves, etc., December 1863, 3 4, LVA. 35 The assessment of common reasons for pardon came from an examination of the following documents: Doc. No. 40, Communication Relative to Reprieves, Pardons, etc., 1861 ; Doc. No. 6, Communication Relative to Reprieves, Pardons, etc., 1862; Doc. No. 7, Communication Relative to Reprieves, Pardons, etc., 1863 ; Doc. No. 16, Communication Relative to Reprieves, Pardons, etc., De cember 1863; Doc. No. 35, Governors Communication on the Subject of Pardons, Reprieves, etc., 1864 LVA.
188 Most penitentiary and military prison inmates were unable to secure pardons, however, and those who remained incarcerated relis hed any opportunity to communicate with prison officers, fellow inmates, and visitors in order to relieve isolation Communication with guards and other inmates ranged from benign to confrontational was designed to capture guards attention, not to effect escape, and was common in both penitentiaries and military prisons. The Auburn system fostered unruliness so penitentiary inmates frequently broke the rule of silence as penitentiary officials considered all forms of communication breaches of discipline .36 Both penitentiary and military prison officials were concerned with controlling all forms of communication harmful or not among inmates, between inmates and prison guards, and between inmates and visitors, since they threatened internal order. Inmates br oke the rule of silence in many ways since their daily routines were monotonous. Some inmates communicated to cause trouble, others simply to engage in conversation and relieve isolation with human interaction. From confrontations with guards to brief inte ractions with visitors, inmates craved contact negative or positive carrying over a pattern from penitentiaries to military prisons. Penitentiary inmates rose early in the morning to the sound of a bell, labored in shops, and were confined in their cells i n the evening, with breaks only for meals and observance of the Sabbath, and with limited personal time in cells to read or rest before bed.37 Officials intended the repetitiveness to instill discipline, but it often bred boredom and the desire for negative attention Convicts subtly broke the rule of silence by cursing, whistling, singing, or laughing. They disrupted labor by quarreling with other s striking other convicts, stealing items from the shops, spoiling or refusing to do their work, threatening to fight other convicts or guards, and 36 McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment 45 ; Dix, Remarks on Prisons 81 83. 37 Crawford, Report on the Penitentiaries 102103.
189 being insolen t Instead of sitting quietly in chapel on Sundays inmates often laughed and talked, taking advantage of being in close proximity in the pews.38 These facts reveal the futility of controlling inmates commu nication in penitentiaries, a task that was also impossible in military prisons Penitentiary inmates either overtly or subtly communicated with those around them, often by deliberately angering guards. On August 2, 1860, a D.C. Penitentiary inmate b y the name of Frank loudly cursed the guards, behavior that earned him a one day solo stay, in double irons, in the dungeon. D.C., Ohi o, and Virginia Penitentiary inmates whose communication defied officers often found themselves in solitary confinement on a bread and water diet, so metimes without blanket or bed. Virginia officers often p ermitted inmates to keep a Bible and a slate in their possession since these items helped to promote reflection and repentance, but punishment did not render inmates silen t 39 Solitary confinement only temporarily negated inmates ability to be in touch with others There remained plenty of opportunities for penitentiary inmates to communicate, either subtly or overtly. Scholars have commented that penitentiary inmates dev ised communication techniques through tapping, winking, whistling, or whispering in crowded cells and while at work.40 The frequency with which inmates attempted communication and the creative means by which they did so reveals not only inmates desperation for human contact, whether positive or negative, but also the ways in which inmates violated prison rules to forge an identity. Inmates communicated 38 Box 1, Punishments 18311847, Orders 18511854, Record Group 48, MLR A1 475, Register of Punishments, 18311862 NARA II. 39 Crawford, Report on the Penitentiaries 102 109; Box 1, Punishments 18311847, Orders 18511854, Record Group 48 MLR A1 475, Regi ster of Punishments, 18311862 NARA II ; Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Director and Wardens of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1856, 15 OHS. 40 Norman Bruce Johnston, Forms of Constraint ; Goldsmith, History from the Inside Out
190 by assaulting officers, engaging each other, and vying for the attention of visitors The punishment regis ters of the D.C. Penitentiary reveal how officers attempted to control inmates communication The frequency with which penitentiary inmates confronted officers reveals their desperation However, judging from the fact that most offenders names appear on the punishment register only once, the punishment inflictedusually solitary confinement or whipping followed by solitary confinement often discouraged further disobedience. Numerous inmates communicated by threaten ing officers during the antebellum perio d. In March 1832, inmate Washington Barker twice threatened the life of the keeper and Barker consequently spent seven days in the dungeon. That May, inmate Ryan Barker once threatened to chastise the guard, an offense that earned him twelve days in solitary confinement. Ryan Barker apparently did not learn his lesson from solitary confinement ; in 1840, he spent a week in the dungeon for six times attempting to feed other prisoners in their cells Some threats were more severe. In December 1839, inmate Addi son Brown frequently assaulted an officer and consequently spent twenty days in solitary confinement.41 Similarly, in 1849, Warden Sengstack noted the case of an incorrigible black inmate who had to be severely punished almost every week. Sengstack plan ned to whip the man and place him in the dungeon on a low diet for attacking the officers who were ordered to bring him to trial for a misdemeanor. When Sengstack went to administer the sentence, the inmate demonstrated a conciliatory disposition, perhaps motivated by fear of physical injury and the prospect of solitary confinement Sengstack 41 Ibid
191 reproved him gently for his obstinacy and noted that the man subseque ntly was one of the most docile and respectful convicts in prison.42 While Sengstacks report may have been written to enhance his personal reputation, it seems that punishment did motivate some inmates to behave although it failed to completely control their attempts at communication Inmates Bill Woodward and John Barr threatened officers multiple times, but changed their ways following punishment. In December 1855, Woodward resisted an officer six times and was sentenced to four days in solitary confinement on bread and water. Barr, in June 1856, struck an officer three times with a hammer. For this offence, prison officials handcuffed Barr kept him standing for four hours, and then put him in a cell on bread and water for nine days. Both Woodward and Barr, according to officials, promised to do better after punishment.43 D.C. Penitentiary i nmates not only confronted officers, they also turned on each other. In May 1840, female inmate Lidia Green spent nine days in solitary confinement for scalding fellow inmate Mary Scott five times with hot water Green was no stranger to solitary confinement. That February she spent twelve days in the dungeon for bringing food to a woman in her cell three time s, though i t is unclear if officers punished Green for poisoning the food or merely for communicating with another inmate. In June 1860, a convict by the name of White took a small drink of water from his cup and threw the remainder on another convict. This offense seems minor, but officials sentenced White t o be whipped. The punishment never came to fruition however, as White acknowledged his transgression and made a solemn promise to 42 Message from the President of the United States transmitting the Annual Report of the Inspectors of the Penitentiary in the District of Col umbia, H Exec Doc. No. 29 30th Cong., 2d sess., Wardens Report (January 16, 1849), NYPL. 43 Box 1, Punishments 18311847, Record Group 48, MLR A1 475, Register of Punishments, 18311862, NARA II.
192 do better. In March 1861, a black inmate A. Price, was punished for occasionally cutting a fellow prisoner, being insole nt and threatening other inmates. Officials sentenced Price to fifteen lashes and solitary confinement for an unspecified period. Similarly, convict Binnin received fifteen lashes and spent four days in the dungeon in punishment for knocking down another inmate three times by punching him while they were walking in line.44 While some D.C. Penitentiary inmates communicated to cause trouble, m ost disobedient inmates simply wanted to engage in conversation M any, according to officials, did not learn from the ir punishment. Some, like a man named Drew, defied orders and talk ed to friends while at work. Officials repeatedly reproved Drew for running across the yard to speak to another convict. Warden Sengstack withheld further punishment, reasoning that Drew was a very ignorant man, not capable of discretion. Officials assessment of this and similar situations may have been truthful, but officials often dismissed inmates intelligence to justify punishment s or they even underreported punishments .45 Sengstack al so noted the case of a white boy who, nearly every day, left his seat at the shoe shop to socialize. Sengstack reprimanded the boy, but he repeated the crime multiple times in the next hour. As a result, officers tied the boy up for two hour periods or tie d him up and whipped him but p unishment failed to deter the young convict from attempting communication.46 D.C. Penitentiary i nmates also desired communication with members of the opposite sex demonstrating creativity in their attempts. In May 1832, convicts Jane Byers and Isaac Brogdan devised a system of communica tion and regular meeting times at the privy. Officials caught on to the scheme after the fourth time and sentenced Byers to five days in the dungeon, but did not 44 Ibid 45 Goldsmith, Hi story from the Inside Out, 120. Dodge, Whores and Thieves 31. 46 Box 1, Punishments 18311847, Record Group 48, MLR A1 475, Re gister of Punishments, 18311862, NARA II.
193 record Brogdans punishment. It is possible that he was not punished, since women were normally viewed as temptresses and responsible for the shortcomings of men logically necessitating Byerss punishment .47 Byers and Brogdan were not the only inmates who wanted interacti on with members of the opposite sex. Inmate Samuel Peoples twice tried to pick the lock to the womens ward and was sentenced to the dungeon for an unspecified period of time in May 1832. Inmate Jackson, a black man, talked with women through a window and was punished .48 Work often created ideal conditions for interaction among inmates encouraging disorder instead of ensuring discipline. D.C. Penitentiary inmates silently colluded while at work organiz ing mass resistance. In April 1856, forty inmates empl oyed in the shoe shop refused to work for want of meat. The conspirators gathered in the prison yard on the sixteenth of the month and officers eventually sentenced them to a bread and water diet for several days. The leader of the rebellion, a man by the name of Lucas, was said to posse s s shoe knives, as were a number of his followers. The board of inspectors reasoned that Lucass motivation for rebellion stemmed from the fact that he had been indulged in holding too free correspondence with his relative s and was furnished with books and other privileges.49 This case suggests that penitentiary officials failed to completely cut off inmates from the outside world, another trait that penitentiaries shared with military prisons. Such communication often go t both penitentiary and military prison inmates in trouble. 47 Regarding female criminals in the antebellum period, Nicole Hahn Rafter notes that because "true women were considered the guardians of morality, when a woman transgressed she seemed to threaten the very founda tions of society this early view of the female criminal as beyond redemption was related to the archetype of the Dark Lady, a woman of uncommon strength, seductive power, and evil inclination. Rafter, Partial Justice, 49. 48 Record Group 48 MLR A1 475, Register of Punishments, 18311862 NARA II. 49 Thomas Thornley to Board of Inspectors May 1, 1856, Record Group 48, Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, Entry 466, Misc. Letters to the Board of Inspectors and Warden, Box 1 NARA II.
194 I nmates at both penitentiary and military prisons desperately wanted to communicate with the outside world, whether to beg for help or to check on family members or friends. Sometimes this was as easy as talking with new inmates. Recent commitments to penitentiaries and military prisons brought news of current events and inmates sought them out for stories For example, Old Capitol Prison inmate John Marshal noted that when new prisoners arrived, m any inmates gather[ed] round the stranger to learn the news in what often was an animated scene, especially if the new arrival was a prisoner of war who updated inmates on the battlefront.50 Otherwise, inmates tried to contact visitors, especially if th ey were important or could help inmates secure release. For example, i n April 1834, inmate Dennis Larkin tried to make his dire situation known to a Congressman who was visiting the D.C. P enitentiary. Larkin left his seat at work four times to reach the Co ngressman. As a result, officials sentenced him to four days in the dungeon .51 T he sight of visitors always caught the attention of both penitentiary and military prison inmates, consequently heightening officials sensitivity to misbehavior Penitentiary i nmates were not to look at visitors, but many did so in a manner that officials deemed inappropriate. In January1855, D.C. Penitentiary officials sentenced John Holley to one day in solitary confinement on bread and water for twice gazing at visitors impudently. Officials somehow overlooked the more serious offense of inmate Joseph Cunningham until A.L. Stephens, an angry father of a female visitor, brought it to the wardens attention. Stephens complained that Cunningham had insulted his daughter and her friend during their visit to the penitentiary. Cunningham, according to Stephens, was guilty of staring at the women out of countenance, 50 Marshall, American Bastille 353. 51 Box 1, Punishments 18311847, Record Group 48, MLR A1 475, Register of Punishments, 18311862, NARA II.
195 winking, making other indecent signs to Ladies, and following them with his eyes up stairs and along the gallerie s looking at their feet and under their clothes as they walk along. Stephens fumed that Cunningham also listened to the womens conversation while idle at his job cleaning lamps in the prison shop. Stephens told the warden that Cunningham ought to be remo ved from his position, replaced by some decent person, and taught a trade so that he would be able to earn a living upon his release.52 The fate of this case is unknown, but clearly suggests the problems that could arise when young women visited the priso n since male inmates were unaccustomed to having them in their midst Military prisons, like penitentiaries, oft en allowed visitors, which led officials to comment on the effect that this had on discipline. Early in the war, military authorities prohibit ed all visitors to Camp Chase except for the Governor, Adjutant General, Quartermaster General, Surgeon General, the Governors private secretary, and persons authorized by the Governor.53 Nonetheless, Ohio Governor David Tod permitted curious citizens to t our the camp The practice irritated military inspector Captain H.M. Lazelle, who complained in a July 13, 1862, report to Commissary General William Hoffman Lazelle despised Tods practice of allowing for the benefit of all curious people a regular line of omnibuses running daily from the capital to the camp, past the chain of outer sentinels to the commanding officers quarters. Lazelle further lamen ted that anyone who paid twenty cents could visit the camp and go where they pleased 52 A.L. Stephens charges against Joe Cunningham July 12, 1859, Record Group 48, Records of the Office o f the Secretary of the Interior, Records Relating to the U.S. Penitentiary for the District of Columbia, 18261865, Miscellaneous Records, 1829 1862, Entry 470, Box 3 NARA II. 53 Herald (Cleveland Ohio ) March 4, 1864, Issue 52, Col. B.
196 except inside the barracks .54 Because of this, Lazelle undoubtedly felt that Camp Chase was more effective as a public spectacle than as a site of military authority. Lazelle clearly believed that the prison and civilians should be separated for the sake of discipline He noted that civilians presence interfered with officers sense of duty and encouraged arbitrary exhibitions of authority over inmates as a show.55 Despite Lazelles critique, Governor Tod and C ommandant Colonel C.W.B Allison opposed the idea of prohibiti ng visitors Lazelles dis ap proval of this decision increased and he complained that Tod and Allisons objective was only to make Camp Chase popular.56 Visitors access to prison was always a sensitive subject and both military prison and penitentiary of ficials monitored it closely. Officials at Castle Thunder permitted visitors only during certain hours, supervised the whereabouts of outsiders, and restricted visits to Wednesday s and Saturday s .57 Union officials also had restrictions Later in the war, Hoffman ordered that people could not visit federal military prisons without the Commissary Generals approval, but granted short visits to loyal relatives of prisoners who were seriously ill 58 Officers also strictly supervised visitors to Old Capitol Prison If a prisoners friend or relative was fortunate enough to gain an audience, they conducted the visit under strict guard. Union officials even required some visitors to take the oath of allegiance At the end of fifteen 54 Capt. H.M. Lazel le to Col. William Hoffman, July 13, 1863, O.R. Series II, Vol. IV, 197 Similarly, at Elmira, many prisoners were not thrilled with money being made at their expense by visitors paying entry fees and gawking at them Gray, The Business of Captivity 2425. 55 Capt. H.M. Lazelle to Col. William Hoffman, July 13, 1863, O.R. Series II, Vol. IV, 197. 56 Ibid. 197. 57 Rules and Regulations for the Government of Castle Thunder, 1863 Broadside, LVA.; Days of Visiting, Richmond Daily Dispatch April 30, 1863 accessed March 14, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr. 58 William Hoffman Circular April 20, 1864, O.R. Series II, Vol. 7, 7275.
197 minutes, the keeper, who su pervised the meeting, abruptly ended the conversation, finished or not, and sent the visitor away.59 Military prison officials also closely monitored written communication. Just as in penitentiaries, military prison officials wanted inmates to have little, if any, knowledge of outside events Offic ials at Camp Chase ordered that, all letters to and from prisoners be subject to examination.60 Furthermore, federal officials restricted the length and content of inmates correspondence. Inmates could write and receive letters not to exceed one page of common letter paper each and could only write on matter s strictly of a private nature. Nor could inmates say anything negative about the prison, a regulation that likely existed throughout the century eithe r formally or informally, as inmates knew that their letters were subject to officials gaze.61 Confinement forced both penitentiary and military prison inmates to redefine their personal relationships with those at home caus ing them to depend on prison o fficials to keep their outside connections alive This reliance on third parties for maint aining relationships made inmates feel helpless and affected inmates relatives. T hroughout the nineteenth century inmates family members asserted their rights to contact captives. As Rebecca McLennan demonstrate d, f amily members asserted a right of access to the prisoners, which directly countered the penitentiary's principle of segregating convicted offenders from the community.62 This trend remained during warti me in both military prisons and in penitentiaries as family members sought communication and sent items of comfort to inmates. L oved ones wanted direct 59 Williamson, Prison Life in the Old Capitol 74; Mahoney, The Prisoner of State 167169. 60 P.H. Watson to Joseph H. Geiger March 22, 1862, O.R. Series II, Vol. 3, 400. 61 William Hoffman Circular April 20, 1864 O.R. Series II, Vol. 7, 72 75; Gray, The B usiness of Captivity 109. 62 McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment 47.
198 communication with inmates through letters and contact ed prison officials regarding their family member s fate. Like their antebellum counterparts, however, wartime penitentiary and military prison inmates had little communication with outsiders, a fact that disgruntled both inmates and their loved ones Antebellum and wartime prisoners knew, but did not f ully appreciate, the fact that penitentiary and military prison warden s inspected written correspondence to and from prisoners .63 Many wartime penitentiary and military prison inmates and their family members agonized over the effects that restrictions had on their relationships. Samuel Burks Taylor and Thomas W. Bullitt, Confederate cavalrymen held at the Ohio Penitentiary provide good examples. Taylor repeatedly reminded his concerned sister that his communication was limited to immediate family members and that he could write only on e page and receive only two pages at a time Similarly, Bullitt told his sister that general corre spondence was restricted to two letters per week. The women obviously requested the men to write more and worried about their brothers, especially since Bullitt emphasized the fact that penitentiary walls afford very little of that spice of life: variety, and often reminisced about the affections of childhood, revealing his homesickness Taylors sister likewise felt helpless as her brother refused her offers to help him Taylor told his sister that there was nothing that she could do for him since he still enjoyed good health despite his confinement.64 It is evident from this correspondence, regardless of the fact that it is one sided as only the letters of Bull itt and Taylor exist, that the 63 Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Directors and Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 1862 49, OHS. 64 Samuel Burks Taylor to Sister, October 17, 1863, Samuel Burks Taylor Letter, October 17, 1863, OHS; Thomas W. Bullitt to Sister New Year 1864, and Thomas W. Bullitt to Sister, September 19, 1863, Helen Bullitt Papers, 18621864, OHS.
199 sisters claim ed the right to contact the men and d isregarded the rules governing correspondence, since they received repeated reminders regarding letter length Civilians not only believed that they had the right to correspond with inmates, they also believed they had the right to contact officials or to visit both penitentiaries and military prisons The case of Ann Bohlayer as discussed earlier in this chapter, demonstrates a mothers desire to ensure her sons good treatment behind bars and her belief th at she was entitled to contact D.C. P enitentiary officials to make such a request Although Federal officials had convicted Bohlayers son of assault s he claimed that he was not the assailant, but the assailed and that he had been unjustly convicted because of a partial jury Bohlayers plea that Sen gstack at least take particular care of her son and even work for his exoneration reveals that she, like individuals in the antebellum period, viewed penitentiary officials as paternalistic figures whose actions could improve the general well being of in mates.65 During the war as well as in the antebellum period, many women petitioned on behalf of their incarcerated loved ones, pleading for good treatment or release, and both inmates and their family members depended on prison officials to permit their out side relationships to continue, even if in a limited fashion Military prison officials also policed inmates contact with the outside world. As with penitentiary rules, military prison regulations permitted short letters to and from home and dictated acceptable topics. As they sent off their letters, inmates sometimes worried that their words would not reach home due to officials censorship or the inefficiency of the wartime mail At the Old Capitol Prison, however, inmates D.A. Mahoney and John Marshal expressed confidence that Superintendent Wood would invariably do his best to have prisoners letters 65 Ann Bohlayer to Mr. Sengstack, January 2, 1861, Record Group 48, Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior, Records Relating to the U .S. Penitentiary for the District of Columbia, 1826 1865, Miscellaneous Records, 18291862, Entry 470, Box 3, NARA II. Mark Kann notes that prison officials who were benevolent, upright, and gentlemanly were to guide inmates through rehabilitation. See K ann, Punishment, Prisons, and Patriarchy 161.
200 delivered to their final destination credit ing Wood for helping them pass through the hands of the Provost Marshal and the Judge Advoc ate, who inspected letters outside of the prison, .66 Mahoneys comment reveals that military prison inmates, like those in penitentiaries, needed officials approval to maintain relationships and that censorship necessitated only superficial correspondence. Letters often failed to reach home, however, and correspondence from home often did not reach prisoners These circumstances angered inmates as they yearned to hear about loved ones Old Capitol inmate Henry Clay Rowe wrote four times to his wife and hea rd nothing back He lamented that thoughts of her, and home, and children drive all idea of sleep away as long hours o f idleness magnified an obsession with home and family.67 Castle Thunder inmate John Johnson experienced similar frustration Johnson, a Norwegian, penned letters home in his native language but Richmonds Provost Marshal John Winder refused to send them, believing that they contained subversive information In July 1863, Johnson pleaded with Winder to send his letters, stating that he had no word from my family since December last and assuring Winder that the letters detailed only family matters.68 Undoubtedly, Johnson wanted to know that his loved ones were fine and wanted to assure them of his health. This same sentiment pervaded inmate s correspondence as they tried to reassure family members during their absence When military prison inmates wrote home, they often stated that they had plenty to eat and that their captors treated them kindly, statements likely influenced by the fact that prison or other government officials censored letters. Many men noted that they were in fine health and spirits and exhorted their loved ones to take courage in enduring separation One Camp Chase 66 Mahoney, The Prisoner of State 325326; Marshal, American Bastille 353354. 67 Griffith, Fredericksburgs Political Hostages, 407408. 68 John Johnson to Gen. John H. Winder, July 4, 1863, CSA Henrico, 186 11864, Folder 7 of 14, VHS.
201 inmate told his brother to rest easy as to our treatment since he had plenty to eat, plenty to wear and was treated very kindly by all.69 Similarly, Castle Thunder prisoner John Sullivan Healy assured his sister that he was well and had very good treatment. The only thing that would make him better, He aly wrote, was knowledge that his family was fine.70 Inmates understood that it was difficult for family members to withstand the wars trials and their absence and thus emphasized that the experience of prison could make them better men W. C. Carnier, an inmate at Camp Chase, urged his wife to bear all trials with patience, assur ing her that he would take care of himself so as to try to get home and take care of her in the future He even suggested that confinement would make him a better husband. Priso n created an all male world for inmates which, as Richard Stott has noted, could lead men to violence and rowdy behavior.71 Instead, imprisonment at Camp Chase encouraged self control and dictated that men assume traditional female roles to survive, roles that they could carry into domestic life upon release. Carnier informed his wife that he did a good deal of cooking and washing and various other things about house keeping, but noted that this was somewhat of a struggle since men are bad home keepers. Nonetheless, Carnier was sure that prison would reform him and he would become a good cook so that he might be of use to his wife upon his return.72 Carniers letter offer s a point of comparison between inmates experience at military prisons and in penit entiaries. Imprisonment at Camp Chase, perhaps ironically, feminized inmates, exposing them to womens work, while work at penitentiaries ideally cultivated 69 Unidentified to Brother, April 20, 1862, Camp Chase, Ohio Papers, 18621863, Folder 1 of 12, VHS. 70 John Sullivan Healy to Julia Wheeler Healy, January 6, 1865, John Healy Family Papers, WRHS. 71 Stott also notes that Civil Wa r soldiers were serene and conformed with the subdued manhood in which men, by mid century, found fulfillment in the home. Richard Stott, Jolly Fellows: Male Milieus in Nineteenth Century America (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), 1, 3, 56, 57, and 223. 72 W.C. Cariner to Hennie, April 20, 1862, Camp Chase, Ohio Papers, 18621863, Folder 1 of 12, VHS.
202 masculinity, creating more productive traditional male workers Military prison officials dictated that inmates cook and clean up after themselves ; in the absence of females, men undertook these tasks out of necessity. For example, James J. Williamson, an inmate at the Old Capitol Prison, noted that he and his roommates each night took turns in the ho usehold workcooking and cleaning up.73 Any re form occurred as a byproduct, but i n some ways, the military prison experience prepared men to help in the domestic sphere as opposed to the public world of work.74 If military prison inmates experienced reform during their incarceration, they were sure to share this fact with family members. Carnier was not the only inmate to express the idea that imprisonment could change men. Camp Chase inmate Carter Louthan also wrote to his sister that he had become quite sober sided since he entered prison, attributing this change to the principle that those are good who have no particular temptation to do otherwise which suggest s that prison offered few opportunities for misbehavior Although Louthan judged himself as growing accustomed to good behavior, he asked his sister to let him know if I am not a better boy upon his return to Virginia, leaving the final judgment of his reformation to his family. 75 While some military prison and penitentiary inmates reformed, i mprisonment drove others to madness and depression. Even though he reformed, Carter Louthan lamented to his sister that he experienced the most painful solitude because imprisonment cut him off from 73 Williamson, Prison Life in the Old Capitol 29. 74 The all male world of the prison is akin to the predominately male world of Southern m ines that historian Susan Lee Johnson describes. Johnson notes that skewed sex ratios in immigrant camps caused men to take on tasks that their womenfolk would have performed back home. For more information, see Chapter 2, Domestic Life in the Diggings, in Susan Lee Johnson, Roaring Camp: The Social World of the California Gold Rush (New York: W.W. Norton, 2000), 100. 75 Carter M. Louthan to Sister Ella, February 14, 1864, Louthan Family Papers, call MSS1 L9361A, unprocessed collection, VHS; Dix, Remarks on Prisons 66.
203 the pleasures of that sympathy which your friendship y ields.76 Louthan was not alone in captivity since h e shared a mess with many other men B ut his words suggest that solitary confinement itself was not necessary to make inmates feel isolated Such emotions were common for both penitentiary and military pr ison inmates In some cases, as Amy Murrell Taylor has noted, family members urged political conversion through the taking of a loyalty oath to earn release from prison and consequent isolation.77 In other instances, c oncerned family members did all that they could to encourage inmates to keep up their spirits Many family members urged them to turn to God and to maintain a positive outlook for the sake of good health Writing to her father in Camp Chase, one Kentucky woman acknowledged that war and impris onment constituted a time to try mens souls. She assured her father that his family fervently prayed for his release Trust in God, be faithful and true and He will never forsake you, the woman wrote, urging her father to be cheerful and hopeful to preserve his health and to trust that God would judge his captors in the afterlife.78 Ironically, however, contact with family members often caused consternation, especially when they visited. Some military prison inmates received personal visitors, a priv ilege that was seldom extended to penitentiary inmates but these visits often resulted in mental torture Old Capitol Prison officers limited visits to fifteen minutes, hardly enough time for inmates to get reacquainted with their callers, let alone have any meaningful conversation Prison officials mandated that officers supervise all visits, again revealing inmates dependence on officials for continuing their relationships When the wife and child of one of the Old Capitols inmates 76 Carter M. Louthan to Ella Brown, March 12, 1864, Louthan Family Papers, call MSS1 L9361A, unprocessed collection, VHS. 77 Amy Murrell Taylor, The Divided Family in Civil War America (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 20 05), 160. 78 Jane to Dearest Father, May 30, 1862, Camp Chase, Ohio Papers, 18621863, Folder 1 of 12, VHS.
204 received permission from Washingtons provost marshal to visit, the provost marshal dictated that the meeting occur in the presence of a guard, be limited to fifteen minutes, and remain open only to persons named in this pass. The pass guaranteed one interview only and expi red on the sundown of the day of the visit, creating a harsh condition for the pass holder.79 Some passes even dictated the content of visitors discussions just as officials dictated the content of letters. Catherine Best, who tried to see Old Capitol in mate William Carlisle, encountered obstacles along the way The provost marshal stipulated that the two could converse ON FAMILY MATTERS ONLY under a guards sight and only for a maximum of fifteen minutes.80 Officials used this restriction to negate the possibility that visits might threaten security, either that of the prison or the Union cause. Nonetheless, such time and content constraints unnerved inmates loved ones A s they navigated Washingtons congested streets to reach the prison they worried t hat their time would expire before they could use their pass es. They also worried that seeing their loved ones behind bars would be an experience too difficult to withstand. Sometimes inmates themselves found visits from their loved ones too much to bear. Old Capitol inmate George Henry Clay Rowes wife visited him twice during his imprisonment After she left the second time, Rowe watched through prison windows as she meander ed through the city streets and he became completely exasperated by his situati on His wife, he realized, 79 Pass No. 380, Headquarters Military District of Washington, Provost Marshals Office, June 17, 1864, Record Group 393, Pt. 4, Entry 2131: Passes, N ARA I. 80 Emphasis in original. Henry B. Todd Capt. & Provost Marshal Col. M. Murphy, Adjutant to W. Wood, Supt. Old Capitol Prison Headquarters Provost Marshals Office, Washington, D.C., March 2, 1863, Record Group 393, Pt. 4, Entry 2131: Passes, NARA I.
205 was in a strange city with no one to take charge of her, and, soon after she vanished from sight, Rowe became maddened and yelled after her, violently shaking the prison bars.81 Visitation, then, could be both a blessin g and a curse for inmates Although prisoners wanted to see their loved ones, it was often too emotionally draining to see them while in such a degraded state Many inmates, like Castle Thunder prisoner Junius H. Browne, acknowledged that imprisonment rendered men unrecognizable. In a letter home, Brown declared that if his best friend were to see him in prison that he would not know me. Indeed, Browne concluded, I do not know myself I look like a felon ious mendicant; and in France would be sent to the galleys on suspicion that I was an escaped convict.82 Although Browne was likely exaggerating, imprisonment embarrassed him and he wished to be spared the humiliation of seeing friends Inmates friends and family members often shared these sentiments and some chose not to visit with prisoners at all. Analysis of passes granted to visitors at the Old Capitol Prison reveals that many individuals entered the prison only to bring inmates items, most commonl y clothing, all of which were subject to Superintendent Woods inspection.83 Helping inmates in this way solved the problem of painful visits as it offered prisoners supp ort while maintaining distance. Both Union and Confederate civilians could send packages to their family members until February 1864, when Union authorities discovered that Confederate officials had sent 81 Griffith, Fredericksburgs Political Hostages, 417. 82 Brownes letter was published in the Cincinnati Times and reprinted in the Richmond Daily Dispatch. See Our Condition Bettered by Gettysburg Richmond Daily Dispatch, November 13, 1863, accessed A pril 21, 2010, http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr 83 See, for example, pass authorized by Henry B. Todd, December 24, 1863, granting visitation privileges to Frank R. Smith; H.B. Todd to Mr. Wood, December 16, 1863; H.B. Todd to Mr. Wood, September 14, 1863; a nd Henry B. Todd to Mr. Wood, August 24, 1863, all from Record Group 393, Pt. 4, Entry 2131: Passes, NARA I.
206 packages intended for Union inmates in Richmond to General Robert E. Lees army instead.84 Once the practice of sending packages ceased, in mates still had over one long year to bear before the war ended and military prisons closed. Once penitentiary and military prison inmates entered their respective institutions, their lives changed drastically. All inmates wanted to shorten their stays beh ind bars, but this was a difficult task for those who lacked political or social connections. Inmates who remained in penitentiaries and military prisons were at the mercy of officials to maintain family and other outside relationships, and this fact compo unded inmates suffering. Nonetheless, civilians remained interested in the well being of their loved ones. Visitors continued to observe the institutions; public interest in penitentiaries and military prisons remained and, in fact, increased following th e Civil Wars end. As the Conclusion, Chapter 8, will demonstrate, the American public remained fascinated with the memory of military prisons and the reality of penitentiaries, as the histories and evolution of both of these types of institutions remained inextricably intertwined. 84 Organizations like the U.S. Sanitary Commission and the U.S. Christian Commission could also send packages. Flory, Prisoners of War 100 101.
207 CHAPTER 8 CONCLUSION This dissertation has demonstrat ed that many of the practices, regulations and punishments evident in penitentiaries were employed in Civil War military prisons Penitentiaries and military prisons were based, theoretically, on the principle of humane treatment. Officials believed that they remained true to this ideal despite overcrowding harsh punishments such as use of lethal force and whipping, and having inm ates inhabit cramped, filthy cells or endure solitary confinement. Such practices were common in antebellum penitentiaries, a fact that explains their continuance in both wartime penitentiaries and military prisons during the Civil War. It also invites rec onsideration of Civil War era scholars assertions that military prisons were uncharacteristically harsh Camp Chase, Castle Thunder, and Old Capitol Prison were, in fact, more representative of the number of inmates commonly held in military prisons as no ted in the Introduction, so it is instructive to examine them to understand how military prisons actually operated, even when they had high populations. Economic, political, ideological, and cultural trends influenced the nineteenth century vision of punis hment, as Mark Colvin has noted, since they inspired the establishment of both penitentiaries and military prisons .1 But the administration, operation, punishment, and experience of inmates in both types of institutions was comparable throughout the centur y and during the Civil War revealing that external forces had little impact on what went on behind bars Throughout the century, prison administrators lacked experien ce. They were politically appointed from the very first days of penitentiaries in the early 1800s and this continued through the 1870s Officials were only required to possess high qualities of the head and heart to secure 1 C olvin, Penitentiaries, Reformato ries, and Chain Gangs 2.
208 their jobs.2 Although different structurally, penitentiaries and military prisons had much in common, includ ing the types of inmates that they held common civilian criminals and military offenders. This study has also shown that inmates crimes mattered little in shaping their experiences behind bars even as wars circumstances compl icated the penal environment The penitentiary reformatory program was absent throughout the century minimizing, if not virtually eliminating, the differences in purpose between the two types of institutions and fostering the similarity of inmates experiences in penitentiaries and military prisons. Nineteenth century penitentiaries and mi litary prison inmates freely communicated with each other, challenged the authority of guards, and used whatever outside influences they had to try to secure release. Viewing the prisons as a finan cial burden to the state, officers at both institutions also required many inmates to work. This, however, had the unintended consequence of creating a situation that often facilitated communication and sometimes fostered escape plots. Even though labor wa s supposed to be part of the penitentiary program, overcrowding left many inmates sitting idle, just as they did in military prisons. All penitentiary and military prison inmates feared disease, suffering, and consequently dying behind bars. Both penitent iaries and military prisons occupied unfavorable ground, had poor ventilation, and bred disease, leading to miserable internal conditions. Other internal conditions were also the same as officials dealt with overcrowding, debated the use of corporal punishment, and shot inmates who assaulted them Military prisons, in fact, ultimately reveal the continuation of trends apparent in penitentiaries in the previous years. 2 E.C. Transactions of the Third National Prison Reform Congress Report of the International Penitentiary Congress of London, Held July 313, 1872,To Which is Appended the Second Annual Report of the National Prison Association of the United States, Containing the Transactions of the National Prison Reform Congress, held at Baltimore, Maryland, January 2124, 1873. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1873 93.
209 Regardless of the types of inmates held in penitentiaries and military prisons, the two ins titutions served the same basic function Penitentiaries became custodial rather than reformatory in the first half of the nineteenth century, preventing criminals from harassing other civilians and from threatening the social order Civil War military pri sons were also custodial T hey held enemy prisoners of war, political prisoners, or common criminals, and prevented individuals from threatening t he Union or Confederate causes Ultimately, this study has reconsidered Civil War military prisons, shifting a nalysis from the question of inmates suffering and intentional maltreatment Instead, it has investigated the internal dynamics of military prisons administration, punishment, and inmates experience in the context of penitentiaries This study revealed n ot only that military prisons were not as horrendous as scholars envisioned them to be. It also sheds light on the increasing role that the national governments played in imprisonment during wartime, a role that fits with the nineteenth century trend towar ds centralized power. To bring closure to this story, we will now examine the final days of military prisons, their purpose in the reunited nation, and the place of penitentiaries in post war society. Unlike the Virginia and Ohio penitentiaries Camp Chase, Castle Thunder, and Old Capitol Prison closed after the Civil War.3 But these institutions, along with other military prisons and the war itself, left a legacy. Wars end, as Blake McKelvey has noted, helped to coordinate in time and character the scattered strands of normal penological development as the compelling urgency of growing populations, the inspiration of native and foreign achievements, the zeal of new agencies for social control, and popular confidence in high ideals coalesced to generate an effective reform movement.4 3 President Lincoln closed the D.C Penitentiary in September 1862. 4 Blake McKelvey, American Prisons 64.
210 Public attention focused on penitentiaries and military prisons during the war because so many individuals black and white, male and female faced incarceration Penitentiaries kept the publics attention after the war since many Union and Confederate veterans faced imprisonment, and society did not want those who sacrificed during the war to suffer behind bars .5 These veterans, and other penitentiary inmates, however, continued to face the same circumstances as did their ante bellum and wartime counterparts. The purpose of penitentiaries and military prisons continued to overlap during and after the period in which federal authorities began closing military prisons. The Civil W ar left the nation in chaos. Federal officials temp orarily used military prisons to help ensure order in both the North and the South before again relying solely on penitentiaries And in the North, during the final months of the war, President Lincoln designated as military prisons many penitentiaries inc luding the Ohio Penitentiary that held prisoners under sentence of courts martial.6 This is consistent with the federal governments increasing centralized power as it maintained responsibility for imprisonment throughout the country as the United States e ntered Reconstruction Concurrent use and federal control of both penitentiaries and military prisons occurred in Columbus and this practice was also vitally important to Richmond s security after the war because of the disorder that accompanied the Confederate capitals fall and the presence of Federal soldiers who had the power to arrest people.7 In their final days, military prisons held some of the wars most egregious offenders and detained 5 Abbott, Crime Wave of 18651870, 233234. 6 Lincoln designated the Albany Penitentiary (New York), the state prison at Clinton, New York, the Ohio Penitentiary, the Penitentiary at Jefferson City, Missouri, and other prisons as the Secretary of War may designate as military prisons. Abraham Lincoln, Order Concerning Prisoners February 15, 1865, accessed September 21, 2012, http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/textidx?c=li ncoln;rgn=div1;view=text;idno=lincoln8;node=lincoln8%3A627. 7 Dabney, Richmond: The Story of a City 200.
211 criminals, both civilians and soldiers, even as federal offic ials discharged prisoners of war and enforced federal power These functions proved no different than those exercised during war. After the Civil Wars end, federal officials released prisoners of war and closed military prisons, but not all in military pr ison ers received immediate discharges. Federal officials vacated Camp Chase by July 1865, but had greater difficulty shutting down Old Capitol Prison and Castle Thunder since they held many criminals and penitentiary space was either limited as in Richmo nd, or nonexistent, as in Washington. In November 1865, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton directed that Old Capitol Prison be immediately broken up and ordered that some other suitable place be selected as a place of confinement for Union deserters.8 Aft er the war, federal officials ensured that these prisoners served the ir full sentences in penitentiaries For example, in August 1865, federal officials transferred two New York soldiers from the Old Capitol to New Yorks Sing Sing Penitentiary and Concord State prison to complete their sentences.9 In addition to deserters and common criminals, federal officials used military prisons to punish high profile supporters of the Confederacy High ranking Confederate officials, such as Virginia Governor John Let cher and Andersonville Prison commandant Henry Wirz, served sentences in the Old Capitol Prison.10 Federal authorities also used Castle Thunder Prison for the confinement of evil doers of all kinds and grades, according to the Richmond Daily Dispatch Cri me was so prevalent in Richmond that federal officials delayed Castle Thunders closing for some time Although f ederal officials ordered the prison to be vacated on December 12, 1865, 8 E.D. Townsend to Maj. Gen. C.C. Augur, November 29, 1865, O.R. Series II, Vol. 8, 819. 9 Under Sentence, North American and United States Gazette (Philadelphia, PA), August 25, 1865. 10 Ex Governor John Letcher Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, DC), July 12, 1865; Vermont Watchman and State Journal (Montpelier, VT) November 17, 1865.
212 the continued influx of inmates rendered immediate closing impossible.11 The citys devastation encouraged crime a problem that was not brought under control until January 1866, when government officials finally closed the facility and transferred the remaining inmates to Libby Prison.12 Both during and after the Civil War, military prisons and penitentiaries confined individuals for committing property crimes and crimes against person s. The fact that both institutions punished both types of crimes, regardless of whether offenders were convicted in civil or military courts, d emonstrates that parallels existed between civilian and military prisons and, more broadly, that penitentiaries and military prisons punished all crimes regardless of their primary classification. Between December 12 and 30, 1865, when federal troops contr olled Richmond, the Daily Dispatch reported commitments to the Castle for many crimes, ranging from stealing, drunk and disorderly conduct, being in the city without proper passes, selling liquor to soldiers, fighting in the street and shooting to assault and battery The paper reported a total of seventy seven commitments, including twenty five U.S. soldiers and forty four African Americans Federal officials incarcerated U.S. soldiers primarily for drunk and disorderly conduct or for being in the city wit hout a proper pass, both crimes that undermined military discipline .13 Military prisons and penitentiaries confined inmates guilty of the same crimes throughout the Civil War and Reconstruction periods. In both Ohio and Virginia, inmates served time for fa miliar crimes including attempted homicide, stealing, grand larceny, assault and battery, attempted rape, horse stealing, pocket picking, larceny, forgery, burglary, murder, incest, and 11 Castle Thunder, Richmond Daily Dispatch, December 12, 1865 accessed April 24, 2010. 12 Multiple News Items, The Scioto Gazette (Chillicothe, OH), January 9, 1866. 13 General search conducted between the dates cited in the text. http://dlxs.richmond.edu/d/ddr/ [accessed May 21, 2010].
213 stabbing. In Virginia, there were some racially specific crimes, such as enticing blacks to steal and poisoning, crimes common among slaves in the antebellum South.14 In the first few years after the Civil War, inmates were also incarcerated for military crimes common during wartime, such as absence without leave, sleeping o n post, desertion, insubordination, spying, and aiding the Rebels Some prisoners, like Ohio Penitentiary inmate Dr. Payne, a surgeon in the Confederate army who served as a spy, were convicted during the war and finished their sentences in the postwar per iod .15 Because penitentiary populations remained high, inmates were mixed together, the only definite segregation being between male and female convicts.16 The case of the Ohio Penitentiary suggests that the federal government continued to use penitentiaries to punish soldiers from all areas of the Union, just as they had used the D.C. and Ohio Penitentiaries during the war In October 1865, eighteen military prisoners sentenced by court martial arrived at the Ohio Penitentiary from Little Rock, Arkansas The y were found guilty of larceny, drunkenness, sleeping on post, desertion, embezzlement, selling side arms, and serving as rebel guerrillas.17 These convictions and consequent penitentiary sentences reminded 14 Survey of crimes compiled from Virginia Penitentiary, Prison Register and Indexes, 18651980 Prison Register No. 1, LVA, and from a general newspaper search: Local Matters: Sentence of the Prisoners The Richmond Daily Dispatch, December 21, 1865; Multiple News Items Daily Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), June 19,1875; St. Louis Globe Democrat October 10, 1875, Issue 144, Col. C, 11; Latest News Items Daily Evening Bulletin (San Francisco, CA), July 13, 1876; Horrible Affair at Canton, Ohio, Crisis (Columbus, Ohio), October 16, 1867; Multiple News Items, St. Louis Globe Democrat January 4, 1876; Military Prisoners Ledged in the Ohio Penitentiary, October 19, 1865, From Columbus Senate Proceedings Penitentiary, January 19, 1866, Neighborhood News Special Reports, February 8, 1866, Local News, May 16, 1866, Rebel Spy Released from the Ohio Penitentiary, July 21, 1866, Multiple News Items, October 11, 1866, Local News, July 9, 1867, News of the Day, December 24, 1868, all from The Daily Cleveland Herald 15 Military crimes compiled from Virginia Penitentiary, Prison Register and Indexes, 18651980, Prison Register No. 1, LVA; Rebel Spy Released from Ohio Penitentiary, The Daily Cleveland Herald July 21, 1866; News of the Day Cleveland Herald May 19, 1866; Military Prisoners Ledged in the Ohio Penitentiary, Cleveland Herald October 19, 1865. 16 Butler, Gendered Justice in the American West 8. 17 Military Prisoners Ledged in the Ohio Penitentiary, The Daily Cleveland Herald October 19, 1865.
214 soldiers that although the war was over, they sti ll needed to abide by both military and civil law while completing their service, just as they were expected to do during wartime. Similarly, in May 1866, twenty six regular army soldiers, likely serving in the South, were sentenced to the Ohio Penitentiar y for desertion and insubordination.18 Although penitentiaries were commonly viewed as institutions that held state offenders, their use in the postwar period demonstrates how the federal government continued to use them to house military prisoners, just as it had done before and during the Civil War Ohio Penitentiary officials continued to demonstrate this fact through 1870s As the 1870 annual report reveals, penitentiary officials dispensed with classifying inmates by race in their recapitulation of total inmates Instead, they classified inmates by gender and noted whether they were sentenced to the penitentiary by state courts, U.S. civil courts, or U.S. military courts.19 As time passed, deserters and other soldiers confined during the Civil War were released from penitentiaries but veterans presence in prisons increased as they struggled to readjust to civilian life In the antebellum period Alexis de Tocqueville noted that the disbanding of armies increased the number of criminal offenses among ve terans after the War of 1812 since soldiers were temporarily deprived of employment This trend manifested itself again after the Civil War as the incarceration rate of Civil War veterans spiked.20 Many Union and Confederate veterans filled northern and so uthern penitentiaries after the war as they resorted to crime, presumably attempting to overcome their financial hardships As penitentiary and military officials had done in previous years, post war penitentiary administrators paid special attention to th is group of inmates since they were prone to cause trouble. Rebecca McLennan has noted that veterans 18 News of the Day, Cleveland Herald May 19, 1866. 19 See Appendix. 20 Beaumont and de Tocqueville, On the Penitentiary System in the United States 6062; Kimmel, Manhood in America, 95; Kuntz, Criminal Sentencing in Three NineteenthCentury Cities 299.
215 carried their wartime skills into prison Clinging to their identity as citizen soldiers who had sacrificed a part of their lives in defense of their coun try, they consequently posed challenges for prison officials. Veterans frequently hamstrung administrators efforts to run the prison industrial system smoothly by slowing production or otherwise misbehaving.21 Nonetheless, penitentiary administrators trea ted incarcerated veterans the same as criminals, just as previous penitentiary and military prison officials had done. A t the Ohio and Virginia Penitentiaries, administrators assessed soldiers service records as they did criminals education and family ba ckgrounds They noted whether or not veterans received honorable or dishonorable discharges from the army, assuming that members of the latter group were more likely to cause trouble For example, in 1869, Ohio Penitentiary officials recorded 198 Union Arm y and five Confederate Army veterans, of whom 191 had been honorably discharged and seven deserted.22 In the Virgi nia Penitentiary that same year, officials noted forty four white Union veterans and fifteen to twenty former Confederate service men.23 V eteran s imprisonment conferred a stigma that undoubtedly shocked both penitentiary officials and the general public as it did during the Civil War Criminal behavior contradicted the image that soldiers were expected to uphold, as was demonstrat ed in the discus sion of the D.C. Penitentiary in Chapter 4 .24 While many Civil War veterans committed crimes, others received appointments to official penitentiary positions as political favors, not because of practical experience. This 21 McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment 140. 22 Prison Statistics Milwaukee Daily Sentinel March 2, 1869. 23 By Telegraph from Washington Georgia Weekly Telegraph and Georgia Journal & Messenger (Macon, GA), December 14, 1869. 24 James McPherson asserts that Civil War soldiers enlisted and continued fighting due partly to ideals of masculinity. McPherson contends that duty and honor were closely linked to concepts of masculinity in Victorian America, and that war was a stern test of manhood, as soldiers desired to prove their manliness and honor under fire and soldiers were supported by civilians at home for their sacrifice. See McPherson, For Cause and Comrades 25, 31.
216 continued the well established trend of inexperience in penitentiary operation that began in the antebellum period and continued during the war in both penitentiaries and military prisons. In the post war period, m any Civil War veterans, particularly south erners, experienced financial strain For this reason, Virginia state officials appointed veterans like Henry R. Jones, former adjutant in the Confederate quartermasters department, to penitentiary positions since they were reduced to poverty and had si zable families to support.25 Jones was appointed in 1870, when the f ederal garrison left Richmond, signaling a shift in political control In order to provide Confederate veterans with financial support and ensure that penitentiary management was acceptable to Southerners, Virginias governors continued the practice of appointing distinguished Confederate military veterans as superintendents This move was both practical and political, since the national government had denied Confederate veterans pensions.26 Military commanders and even prisoners of war sometimes received appointments as prison commandants since state officials and the public felt confident in their abilities to manage inmates based on their wartime experience or believed that their incarceration prepared them for prison management Regardless, post war appointees to supervisory positions in prisons lacked direct experience in prison management, as had their predecessors in penitentiaries and military prisons. For example, General C.C. Wolcott whom the Northern press touted as one of the most brilliant officers in Shermans Army, served as warden of the Ohio Penitentiary for over three 25 Multiple News Items, Scioto Gazette (Chillicothe, OH), May 15, 1866; To His Excellency Gov. G.C. Walker, Governor of Virginia, February 19, 1870, and Petition on behalf of Henry R. Jones, March 21, 1870, Penitentiary Papers, 18671897 Subseries VI, Folder 1: Applications and Recommendations 1870, 1872, 1874, LVA. 26 Keve, The History of Corrections in Virginia 70. Although the Federal garrison left Richmond, Radical Republicans and President Ulysses S. Grant exerted heavy influence on the South in the early 1870s, particularly through the Enforcement Acts. For disfranchisement of former Confederates during Congressional Reconstruction and the Enforcement Acts, see Eric Foner, Reconstruction: Americas Unfinished Revolution, 18631877 (New York: Perennial Classics, 1988) 253261, 454459, and Michael Fitzgerald, Splendid Failure: Postwar Reconstruction in the American South (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2007), 72, 89.
217 years.27 Similarly, when Richmond was still under martial law in 1868, General John Schofield, district commander of Richmond during Reconstruction, appointed former prisoner of war Burnham Wardwell as warden at the Virginia Penitentiary possibly as a reward for his wartime loyalty .28 Wardwell ran an ice business in Richm ond both before and during the Civil W ar and remained a devout Unionist throughout Confederate authorities arrested and imprisoned Wardwell in Castle Thunder for much of the war. Wardwells experience as a prisoner made him sensitive to prisons internal conditions and he wanted to make positiv e changes at the penitentiary. L ike his predecessors, however, Wardwells intentions yielded few, if any, concrete results His imprisonment seem ed to ma ke him uncomfortable with penitentiary punishments like the dungeon, the whipping post, and the practice of gagging. However, Wardwells solution to these problems reviving the contract lease program that had gained prominence before the war proved to be equally, if not more detrimental, to convicts as casualty rates among leased workers were high Convicts were often overworked to the point of exhaustion and were subject to disease.29 Subsequent surgeons reports reveal the brutality of the convict lease system In 1871, s urgeon M.M. Walker noted that contractors were not required to submit monthly r eports of railroad labor ers to penitentiary officials, but he did report that thirty one convicts died accidentally while working on the Covington and Ohio Railroad. That same year, thirty eight inmates died in the penitentiary, but all were documented in annual reports as having died of disease or natural causes, suggesting 27 The News Telegraphic Summary, Milwaukee Daily Sentinel March 10, 1869. 28 Information about Wardwell and his appointment from Scott Reynolds Nelson, Steel Drivin Man: John Henry, The Untold Story of an American Legend (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 59, 65, 66. 29 Nelson, Steel Drivin Man 68; Alex Lichtenstein, Twice the Work of Free Labor: The Political Economy of Convict Labor in the New South (London : Verso, 1996) 51.
218 that penitentiary conditions while far from ideal were not necessarily ruthless .30 Even though penitentiary officials sent convicts to labor, frequently resulting in death while workin g on the Covington and Ohio Railroad, state officials and some former Confederate soldiers praised Wardwell for his efforts at reform and his ability to bring about sectional healing, revealing how individual personalities significantly affected prison ope ration and perceptions. During Reconstruction, sectional healing, corporate malfeasance, and government corruption eventually trumped other controversial issues, most particul arly African American rights. P rison management was no exception.31 It is signific ant that the press highlighted Wardwells conciliatory nature and admirable management of the Virginia Penitentiary in the late 1860s, the very time that Congress was conducting its investigation of Southern military prisons.32 Publicizing Wardwell was seem ingly an attempt to calm sectional tensions and emphasize the importance of the Union over sectional divisions. In July 1868, members of the Virginia State Guard visited Wardwell at the penitentiary and thanked him for raising upon the dome of this instit ution that starry flag we love so much, and against which many of us fought during the dark days of the rebellion. According to the State Guard, not only did Wardwell represent the long awaited reestablishment of federal authority in the former Confederat e capital, he was also an honor to the prison The men pledged their devotion to Wardwell, praised him for arranging soldiers quarters so comfortably and nicely, and noted that never before was 30 Report of the Board of Directors of the Virginia Penitentiary, with Accompanying Documents, for the Year Ending Sept. 30, 1871 (Richmond: B.F. Walker, Supt. Public Printing, 1871), 2526, 2829. [ These reports cited h ereafter as Report of the Board of Directors of the Virginia Penitentiary followed by the report date.] 31 Fitzgerald, Splendid Failure 118. 32 In 1869 the U.S. House of Representatives released Report No. 45, which challenged the idea that the Northern refusal to continue prisoner exchanges in 1863 directly caused suffering and death in Northern and Southern prisons. Sanders, While in the Hands of the Enemy 310.
219 there a warden who did as much for the comfort and welfare of the prisoners as Wardwell.33 This commentary represented Northerners desire to emphasize the supremacy of the Union and the humanity of its institutions. This situation involving Wardwell was exceptional and probably exaggerated, given the fact that the meeting took place around the Fourth of July, a time to emphasize national unity. Positive feelings surrounded the penitentiary on the surface, but contrary to Wardwells glowing review and other efforts to emphasize reform its internal dynamics wer e dismal throughout Reconstruction In reality, little changed at the Virginia Penitentiary and other penitentiaries after the war. Many antebellum penitentiary regulations s urvived into the postwar years, and rising prison populations continued to pose their own disciplinary problems for penitentiary officials Since prison populations were high and inmates largely intemperate, ignorant, or assumed by prison officials to be such, prison officials attempted to manage inmates with specific rules and daily labor. When inmates entered the Ohio Penitentiary, officials forbade them to read anything which will inform them of what is going on outside prison walls, a regulation familiar from earlier years Such dictates, albeit difficult to enforce, were upheld throughout the nineteenth century designed to cut off criminals from the outside world and separate them from the familiar comforts of family and society Penitentiary officials still scrutinized carefully all correspondence to and from prisoners and b anned all newspapers or books that conveyed the progress of events in the world.34 Such rules could not erase inmates memories or prevent incoming convicts from sharing information with those already imprisone d, and post war 33 A Singular and Gratifying Scene. Rebel Soldiers Paying a Tribute to a Union Man from Maine, Bangor Dai ly Whig & Courier (Bangor, ME), July 2, 1868. 34 Latest News Items, Daily Evening Bulletin (San Francisco, CA), September 24, 1875.
220 penitentiary inmates continued to communicate as had their antebellum and wartime penitentiary and military prison counterparts. The internal dynamics of prisons, whether penitentiaries or military prisons, were indeed strikingly similar Late nineteenth century contemporaries recogn ized that there were few differences apparent among institutions of confinement By the 1870s, the International Penitentiary Congress of London thought it appropriate to consider all types of prisons, from state penitentiaries to local jails, in one repor t since the differences between them were few and far between If military prisons had existed in this decade they, too, would have been included in this report The conclusions that the Congress made in 1873 aptly summarize the administrative state of mil itary prisons and penitentiaries from 1800 to the post war years. Regarding discipline, the Congress concluded that, little is sought beyond the security of the prisoner and the convenience of the prison keeper. In the area of re form, the Congress stated that many prisoners of all classes left the prison no better than they entered it, an assessment that suggests that prisons perpetuated a criminal class and that prisoners had a difficult time readjusting to society, often finding themselves re incarc erated, as was the case with many Civil War veterans.35 Many nineteenth century contemporaries before, during, and after the Civil War were uncomfortable with soldiers being held in civilian penitentiaries. In light of todays circumstances, we have to question the extent to which these concerns have changed and how there continues to be overlap in the civilian and military systems of punishment. As this dissertation has observed, federal officials supported the detention of prisoners of war, including prom inent military prisoners like Confederate Cavalry General John Hunt Morgan, in 35 Ibid. 45, 88.
221 penitentiaries like the Ohio Penitentiary The federal government redefined Morgans raid as a civilian crime in order to justify his punishment, an action that Southerners prot ested. The current war on terrorism reveals that we are not done dealing with such issues. Just two short years ago, the U.S. government debated whether to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed by military tribunal or in a civilian federal court. Thi s debate elicited opposition from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington based think tank, whose members denounced the idea of using the civilian court, which would try Mohammed in the same courtroom as a common criminal near the site of the World Trade Center where 2,796 people perished.36 Ultimately, government officials decided to use a military tribunal, but this case is reminiscent of the overlap between civilian and military punishment and, more specifically, the connection between nineteenth century penitentiaries and military prisons. Overall, despite changes in economic structure and war, few things changed in penitentiary administration, punishment, and inmates experiences from 1800 to 1865. In a way, this phenomenon of imprisonment a lso foreshadows the role of prisons in the United States and, perhaps, in most western democracies While the system did evolve to a degree, it also has retain ed the proven practices from preceding eras Even certain elements of punishment remain, such as solitary confinement and the ultimate corporal punishment, execution by the state. Military prisons and secret American shadow prisons in foreign countries use enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding to force inmates to cooperatea co ntinuation of corporal punishments Prisons also continue to protect society, to an extent, by marginalizing 36 Seth McLaughlin, Jury Out on Whether to Try Terrorists in Civilian Court or Military Tribunals The W ashington Diplomat (March 2010), accessed August 14, 2010, http://washdiplomat.com/index.php?option=com_content&view =article&id=6050: jury out on whether to try terrorists in civilian court or military tribunals&catid=204:march 2010&Itemid=240; David Glovin and David Lerman, Khalid Sheikh Mohammeds 9/11 Trial Tests Military Courts, Bloomberg (May 4, 2012), accessed A ugust 14, 2012, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/20120504/khalid sheikh mohammed s 911trialtests military courts.html
222 certain demographic or economically disadvantaged groups and identifying them as potential criminal element s to be watched and detained. This dissertation has look ed beyond the traditional study of military prisons in the Civil War years and incorporates them into the narrati ve of imprisonment in nineteenth century America Their operation after the war lends strong support to this disserta tions findings that both types of institutions were intrinsically intertwined and one cannot be viewed without the other Not only has it shown that imprisonment during these years continued to build on prior norms and reflected the societal, economic, mo ral, and governmental issues of the day, it has also opened the window on a new focus with regard to the continuing evolution of prisons in America up to this very day Likewise, it suggests that the overlap of the civil and military sectors in regards to punishment is still possible, that the federal government plays a significant role in punishment, and that definition of crimes, penal institutions, and criminals themselves, rather than becoming firmly established, continues to remain fluid.
223 APPENDIX The tables contained in the appendix reflect all available population data that I collected from annual reports or newspaper sources. Since I referenced a wide range of population statistics in the text, I thought it best to include all avai lable data regarding total penitentiary and military prison population, as well as the race and gender of inmates where known Blank spaces denote unavailable data. The data collected from the Ohio and Virginia Penitentiaries appears first since it is spe cifically referenced in the Conclusion. The sources include: Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution (Virginia) 18171870. Message from the President of the United States Transmitting the Annual Report of the Inspectors of the Penitentiary of the District of Columbia, 1834 1854. Ohio Penitentiary, Annual Report of the Director and Wardens of the Ohio Penitentiary to the Governor of Ohio, 18321870. Report of the Warden of the Penitentiary accompanying the Annual Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 18601862. Thornton, Mary C., A Complete Guide to the History and Inmates of the U.S. Penitentiary Di strict of Columbia, 18291862. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 2003. United States Federal Census, 1860 and 1870. Bangor Daily Whig & Courier (Bangor, ME) Columbus Crisis (Columbus, Ohio) Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL) Milwaukee Daily Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI) Newark Advocate (Newark, OH) North American and United States Gazette (Philadelphia, PA) The Daily Cleveland Herald (Cleveland, OH) The Daily News and Herald, (Savannah, GA) The Daily Patriot (Concord, NH)
224 The Hinds County Gazette (Raymond, MS) The Ripley Bee, (Ripley, OH) The Scioto Gazette (Chillicothe, OH) Vermont Chronicle (Bellows Falls, VT) Weekl y Georgia Telegraph, (Macon, GA)
225 Table A 1. Virginia Penitentiary Population (Crimes), 1870 1870 Crimes Total 1st degree murder 10 2nd degree murder 51 Voluntary manslaughter 12 Murder of infant 3 Homicide 76 Malicious & unlawful stabbing & cutting 18 Malicious shooting 19 Malicious wounding 4 Malicious assault & larceny 15 Assault with intent to kill 13 Rape 17 Attempt at rape 8 Robbery 43 Arson, house breaking, & malicious assault 28 Burglary 60 Burglary & larceny 15 House breaking 140 House breaking & larceny 60 Horse stealing 103 Mule stealing 5 Ox stealing 1 Receiving stolen goods 1 Forgery 10 Grand larceny 150 Petit larceny 150 Bigamy 2 Obstructing railroad 3 Felony 15 Obtaining property under false pretences 2 Perjury 1 Beastiality 2 Poisoning 2 Total 828 Table A 2. Virginia Penitentiary Population (Race and Gender), 1870 1870 Race and Gender Total White men in prison 99 White men on railroad 53 White women in prison 4 Black men in prison 229 Black men on railroad 380 Black women in prison 63 Total 828
226 Table A 3. Ohio Penitentiary Population (Sentencing Courts), 1870 Sentencing court Gender Total State courts Males 936 State courts Females 37 U.S. civil courts Males 15 U.S. military courts Males 12 Grand total 1,000 Table A 4. Virginia Penitentiary Antebellum Population Year Black Men Black Women White Men White Women Property Crimes Crimes against the Person Total (minus pardons) 1800 1838 412 50 1 53 9 27 1,372 441 2,028 1817 (Jan. 1) 158 1818 171 1819 168 1820 191 1821 211 1831 (from 1833 18 34 report ) 168 1833 34 73 4 114 1838 (Oct. 1; from 1839 report) 48 9 120 2 179 1839 (Sept. 30; from 1839 report) 58 8 112 3 138 43 181 1840 41 179 1846 (from 1 Nov. 1847 report) 78 4 140 3 225 1847 (from 1 Nov. 1847 report) 76 4 129 2 140 50 211 1848 81 2 116 1 122 66 200 1849 75 4 119 1 115 72 199 1850 58 4 126 1 133 56 189 1851 64 3 139 1 144 70 207 1855 74 15 220 1 310 1856 78 14 222 0 185 129 314 1857 84 9 218 2 191 122 313 1860 (1861 Directors report) 87 7 290 5 389 Report of 18371838 records the se totals from the Penitentiarys opening in 1800 through December 31, 1838 Data for 1817 through 1821 is taken from the 18371878 report. This report does not distinguish race, and the number of inmates listed is incomplete.
227 Table A 5. Ohio Penitentiary Antebellum Population Year Black Men Black Women White Men White Women Total (minus pardons) 1832 215 1834 187 1835 22 253 1 276 1836 32 0 280 2 314 1837 392 1838 443 1839 0 485 1840 488 1841 480 1842 461 1843 460 1844 42 3 415 3 464 1845 482 1846 498 1847 445 1848 425 1849 336 1850 424 1851 469 1852 503 1853 531 1854 587 1855 601 5 606 1856 3 592 3 598 1857 608 1858 683 10 693 1859 838 15 853 1860 97 2 820 13 932 Ohio Penitentiary, Report of the Keeper of the Ohio Penitentiary December 6, 1832, OHS. Figures for the years 1834, 1837, 1838, 1843, 18451854, and 1857 denote from 1857 report. Blank cells denote unavailable data. Figures for the years 1855 1859 do not specify race.
228 Table A 6. Washington, D.C. Penitentiary Antebellum Population Y ear Black Men Black Women White Men White Women Total 1833 9 2 25 0 42 1834 14 5 43 0 74 1835 17 7 48 0 87 1836 14 1 33 0 64 1837 25 6 42 0 93 1838 30 8 39 2 103 1839 33 10 43 3 109 1840 30 8 51 2 107 1841 20 3 40 2 79 1842 18 4 42 2 82 1843 20 5 39 0 84 1845 23 3 41 2 88 1846 25 3 37 2 89 1847 27 3 35 1 87 1848 24 2 26 0 73 1849 20 4 22 0 58 1850 21 11 20 1 65 1853 24 7 53 4 106 1854 21 6 58 2 114 1860 49 7 112 1 169 Years listed are years that reports were publ ished; they contain population from the previous year. Example: report year 1835 contains population from 1834. Table A 8. Ohio Penitentiary Civil War Population Year Black Men Black Women White Men White Women Total 1861 109 3 799 13 924 1862 107 4 643 14 768 1863 709 31 768 1864 608 21 629 1865 6 25 30 655 Population figures for the years 18631865 do not specify race. Table A 9. Virginia Penitentiary Civil War Population Year Black Men Black Women White Men White Women Total 1861 81 6 289 3 379 1862 345 1863 27 9 250 3 318 1864 1865
229 Table A 7. Washington D.C. Penitentiary Civil War Population Year Black Men Black Women White Men White Women Total 1861 51 6 98 3 158 1862 332 Table A 10. Camp Chase Civil War Population Date Civil Prisoners Prisoners of War Political Prisoners Deserters Total Dec. 11, 1861 300 Apr. 6, 1862 1,400 July 24, 1862 1,300 1,300 July 28, 1862 1,600 Aug. 14, 1862 1,600 Sept. 3, 1862 600 Oct. 27, 1862 12 711 723 Dec. 31, 1862 In total In total 133 March 18, 1863 1,008 30 Apr. 7, 1863 41 468 Oct. 27, 1863 2,100 Nov. 7, 1863 131 2,072 2,145 Dec. 7, 1863 2,448 Dec. 23, 1863 2,700 Jan. 9, 1865 7,700 Feb. 3, 1865 262 8,933 9,073 Total figure for prisoners of war and political prisoners Civil prisoners total includes 3 females Civil prisoners total includes 2 females Table A 11. Old Capitol Prison Civil War Population Date Civil Prisoners Prisoners of War Political Prisoners Deserters Total June 1, 1863 185 Dec. 29, 1863 928 Feb. 3, 1865 120 176 296 Table A 12. Castle Thunder Prison Civil War Population Date Civil Prisoners Prisoners of War Political Prisoners Deserters Total Nov. 5, 1862 290 Nov. 15, 1862 390 Dec. 29, 1862 750 June 6, 1864 109 16 0 711 Total population figure includes 7 white women. Civil prisoners figure denotes blacks and women; deserters denote Yankees.
230 REFERENCE LIST Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia Doc. No. 1. Message of the Governor of Virginia and Accompanying Documents. Richmond: William F. Ritchie, Public Printer, 1862. Doc. No. 6. Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, Year Ending September 30, 1862. Virginia House Documents. Doc. No. 6. Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, Year ending September 30, 1862. Virginia House Documents. Doc. No. 6. Communication Rel ative to Reprieves, Pardons, etc., 1862. Virginia House Documents. Doc. No. 7. Case of Charles Smith, Communication Relative to Reprieves, Pardons, etc., 1863. Virginia House Documents. Doc. No. 7. Communication Relative to Reprieves, Pardons, etc., 1863. Virginia House Documents. Doc. No. 8. Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, 1847. Virginia House Documents. Doc. No. 9. Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, Year Ending September 30, 1863. Virginia House Documents. Doc. No. 12. Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, Year ending September 30, 1864. Virginia House Documents. Doc. No. 13 [and others]. Annual Reports of The Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, 1856 Virginia House Documents. Doc. No. 13. Annual Report of The Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, Year Ending Sept. 30, 1856. Virginia House Documents. Doc. No. 13 Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, 1857. Virginia House Documents. Doc. No. 13. Annual Report of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, year ending September 30, 1861. Virginia House Documents. Doc. No. 14 Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Penitentiary Institution, 1851. Virginia House Documents. Doc. No. 16. Case of Frances Marion, Communication Relative to Pardons, Reprieves, etc., December 1863 Virginia House Documents.
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246 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Angela M. Zombek was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She graduated from St. Joseph A cademy in 2000 and earned her Bachelor of A rts in history from The College of Wooster in 2004. Zombek then earned her Master of Arts in history from the University of Akron in 2006, and received her Doctor of Philosophy in history from the University of Florida in 2012. She is currently an a ssistant professor of history at St. Petersburg CollegeClearwater Campus.