October meeting – Craig Swain

October LCCWRT Meeting Notice. We welcome all guests with the hopes that they will join, so please consider bringing someone to the meeting this month.

Meeting time: Tuesday, October 14, 2014; 7:30 p.m.

Location: Presbyterian Church, 207 West Market Street, Leesburg, Virginia (across the street from Thomas Balch Library)

Topic: “The Immortal 600”: The Prisoners of Morris Island

Our scheduled speaker, Ed Bearss, is unable to join us, so Craig Swain will be stepping in to explore one of the Civil War’s more controversial episodes – 600 prisoners held on Morris Island outside Charleston in the summer of 1864.

In June 1864, retaliating for the Federal bombardment of Charleston, Major-General Samuel Jones placed 50 senior Federal prisoners in the city.  His Federal counterpart, Major-General John Foster, refused to cease the firing and responded by bringing fifty Confederate officers of similar rank to Morris Island.  But by August both sides agreed to exchange prisoners – these first fifty.  But within days of that exchange, 600 Federal prisoners arrived in Charleston to take the place of the first fifty.  The Federals refused to offer any additional exchanges and in turn brought 600 junior-grade officers to Morris Island.  These “Immortal 600” lived for around 45 days in a stockade on the island, exposed to Confederate counter-battery fire. Three would die on the island.  Later in the fall, the remaining 597 were relocated to Fort Pulaski, Georgia.  There 13 more died.  In March all remaining prisoners were shipped back to northern prison camps (where 25 more died before the war ended).  The use, on both sides, of prisoners as human-shields became point of contention after the war.  But the episode also spoke to the broader issues with prisoner handling in the Civil War.

About our speaker:
 Craig Swain is a member of the Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable.

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