Wayne AdamsParolef prisoners at Port HudsonTue Feb 27 20:14:26 2001
The following may shed a little light on prisoner exchange or paroles in 1863: The terms of surrender at Port Hudson La.Article I. – Maj. Gen. Frank Gardner surrenders to the United States forces, under Maj. Gen. Banks, the place of Port Hudson and its dependencies, which with its garrison, armaments, munitions, public funds and materials of war, in the condition, as nearly as may be, in which they were at the hour of the cessation of hostilities, namely, 6 o’clock, A. M., July 8, 1863Article II. – The surrender stipulated un Article I is qualified by no condition save that the officers and enlisted men comprising the garrison shall receive the treatment due to prisoners of war according to usages of civilized warfare.Article III – All private property of officers and enlisted men shall be respected, and left to the respective owners.Article IV. – The position of Port Hudson shall be occupied to –morrow at 7 o’clock, A. M., by the forces of the United States, and its garrison received as prisoners of war by such general officers of the United States service as may be designated by Gen. Banks with the ordinary formalities of rendition. The Confederate troops will be drawn up in line, officers in their position, the right of the line resting on the edges of the prairie south of the railroad depot, the left extending in the direction of the village of Port Hudson. The arms and colors will be conveniently pilled, and will be received by the officers of the United States.Article V. – The sick and wounded of the garrison will be cared for by the authorities of the United States, assisted, if desired by either party, by the medical officers of the garrison Notice Article II, made no mention is made of exchanges or paroles. Daniel P. Smith, the author of Company K, First Alabama Regiment, Three years in the Confederate Service, published in 1885, made the following statements: “General Banks refused to grant terms permitting the release of the prisoners on parole, on the ground that orders from Washington positively forbade it. On the day of the surrender however, he suddenly changed his mind and decided to parole all enlisted men, retaining the officers. Gen. Dick Taylor’s capture of Brashear City, and his nearly successful attack on Donaldsonville, threatening communication with New Orleans, may have had some influence in causing the change of purpose. Gen.Wirt Adams’ audacious dash into Springfield Landing and his destruction of a large amount of commissary supplies stored there, seriously embarrassing the Federal commander in feeding his own troops, also made the paroling of prisoners advisable”. The number of prisoners was listed as 6,233 CSA troops, teamsters, commissary, quartermaster and ordnance employees. Washington came to the conclusion that this was a war of attrition and since so many paroled prisoners keep turning up at the front, it was prudent to stop exchanges. It seems that at Port Hudson, it was not practical to keep the enlisted men. It is possible that they felt that by retaining the officers they would diminish the paroled men’s capacity to make war. Boy were they wrong. The 21st Al. acquired new officers and just kept on going. I think I am correct in saying that this was the longest siege of the war, and most everyone in the Company regrouped and moved on to meet what they thought would be Sherman’s attack on Mobile, from there to the Tenn. campaign, Atlanta and others. Their exchange was official as Oct. 16, 1863. However, they were told that the U.S. Gov. did not recognize the exchange and they all wondered what would happen if they were captured again. Exchanges and paroles were not automatic nor were they all handled in the same manner.