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Prisoner Interrogation in the Civil War - General Civil War Talk - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Tue Feb 6th, 2007 01:00 am
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CleburneFan
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When reading about the Civil War one often reads that information was gleaned from enemy  captives, but I have never read exactly how that information was extracted from the POWs.  The intel was usually about troop strengths and troop movements, battle plans, etc, but was this vital information willingly volunteered?

Maybe I just haven't read the right book yet, but the ones I have read go into no detail at all about how freely POWs answered questions. The casual reader can easily get the idea that prisoners volunteered pretty much anything and that  was that, but it seems so benign to me, war being war and not at all pretty in its many aspects. This holds true for either side, Union or Confederate.

Do any of you know if mistreatment of POWS to discover important information was standard practice or even an occasional practice or was prisoner interrogation during the Civil War about as pleasant as an afternoon tea party? If brute force was used, why is it that such practice appears to be so seldom discussed?



 Posted: Tue Feb 6th, 2007 03:07 am
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ole
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Fan:

I remember an historian commenting on the ease of getting information from prisoners before shipping them off to a parole location or POW camp. Apparently there were no formal strictures in the ranks against singing long and loud; and apparently the boys were happy to chat with the enemy officer or non-com over a cigar or jolt of "Smash Skull" or a cuppa. Of course, chances are much of what they got from prisoners was rumor, but they'd certainly have been accurate as to brigade, division, commanders, etc.

Suspect they got more information from spies friendly citizens. Anyway, the book was read long ago, so I can't attest to the author's reliability, but I do remember his speculating on it.

Ole



 Posted: Tue Feb 6th, 2007 03:29 pm
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CleburneFan
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Thanks for your reply, Ole. I rather suspected that the prisoners told all as they sat in the officer's tent or just outside it and shared ersatz coffee, stale cigars, and hardtack or maybe a foraged treat. They may even have sung songs. I just haven't come across any passages anywhere that said intell was extracted under extreme duress or torture.

It does make me wonder why, though, that interrogations were so neighborly. It also makes me wonder when attitudes changed...World War I? 



 Posted: Wed Feb 7th, 2007 05:14 am
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susansweet
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But there were others who would not give up anything and were hung like Sam Davis who was accused of spying after he was captured.  Maybe this is a different thread , he was accused of spying not just a captured soldier. 

Has anyone looked in Hardtack and Coffee yet to see what it says ?  I don't remember if that was covered our not . 



 Posted: Wed Feb 7th, 2007 03:10 pm
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CleburneFan
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Thanks Susan. It reminds me that in the books I have read, the definition of a spy seems to have been pretty fast and loose and up to the descretion of the officer  leveling the allegation.

It also reminds me of a humorous situation General Kilpatrick got himself into with regards to Annie Jones, one of his many "girlfriends." Annie  also had the audacity to share favors with General Custer, perhaps her worst sin in Kil's eyes, so Lil Kil ended up accusing her of being a spy and sent her off to prison in Washington.  What became of the poor girl after that, I don't know, but I guess that is a rather definitive way of getting  even and dealing with a lovers' triangle.

Last edited on Wed Feb 7th, 2007 03:17 pm by CleburneFan



 Posted: Wed Feb 7th, 2007 03:27 pm
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susansweet
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Wow you just added another reason I don't like Kill Cavalry .  I wonder if any one does know what happened to Annie.  How sad. 



 Posted: Wed Feb 7th, 2007 05:22 pm
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TimHoffman01
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Here is a link to an interesting article in Cape Cod Confidential - "Dedicated to the history of Crime & Scandal in America's Vacation Land".

http://capecodconfidential.com/cccanniejones011230.shtml

Apparently she went from Washington to her home state and was incarcerated there after first trying to reenter VA. There she attracted the attention of an up & coming politician from NYC, who went to bat for her but things remained hushed up until sometime in 1957 according to the article.  It also includes interesting statements from the major players in the story.



 Posted: Wed Feb 7th, 2007 05:55 pm
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susansweet
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Tim interesting piece of history  Thanks for sharing the article. 



 Posted: Wed Feb 7th, 2007 11:21 pm
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CleburneFan
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Tim, thanks for adding to my knowledge of Civil War facts. I clicked on a link in the article you provided and learned something I had no idea about...the existence during the Civil War of "Daughters of the Regiment" and "Vivandieres." I had never heard about these women before. 

I don't think Annie Jones quite fit either of these descriptions, however.



 Posted: Thu Feb 8th, 2007 01:12 am
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Texas Defender
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   I'm attaching a story of the exploits of the infamous young temptress, Anna Elinor Jones. You might find it to be of interest.

Cape Cod Confidential : Custer's Mistress



 Posted: Thu Feb 8th, 2007 01:16 am
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Texas Defender
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   Oops- my apologies for sending something previously submitted by another member. I'll try to pay more attention in the future. Rookie mistake. <g>.



 Posted: Sun Apr 18th, 2010 07:52 pm
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AnnieJones
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Oh my deah sweet friends - Spy indeed ! Shame on those Boys. And I do mean boys, accusin' me of bein' a traitor spy! Well, I nevah, in all of my grown days evah heard anything so completely foolish, as to label me a spy!

Why, I was nothing more than a sincere, loving companion to those dear Generals, oh they Nevah complained to me while I was in their company .... Oh no, it was only when the beast of jealousy invaded their hearts, that they deemed me a spy and a traitor and sent me away to incarceration.

But, seein's how I am a strong woman, strongah than the Generals, I will say, I accepted their ridiculous vendetta, served my time, and lived the rest of my life, a very happy, fulfilled lady. I harboured no resentment; after all, they are just men.

It's so very nice to know y'all are still thinkin' of lil' ole me after all this time.

My dearest and sincerest regards,

Annie Jones.



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" I intend to make Georgia howl. " - General William T. Sherman, Union Army.


 Posted: Sun Apr 18th, 2010 08:15 pm
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CleburneFan
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My goodness me! It seems I have besmirched the character of Annie Jones. I do declare. It just goes to show that looks can be deceiving.:shock:



 Posted: Sun Apr 18th, 2010 10:47 pm
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AnnieJones
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CleburneFan wrote: My goodness me! It seems I have besmirched the character of Annie Jones. I do declare. It just goes to show that looks can be deceiving.:shock:

My good man, your colorful words are well-intended, and I can assure you, no offense has been taken!

They don't call me " Major " for nothin' ;)

With respect,

Annie.



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 Posted: Mon Apr 19th, 2010 12:48 am
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CleburneFan
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AnnieJones wrote: CleburneFan wrote: My goodness me! It seems I have besmirched the character of Annie Jones. I do declare. It just goes to show that looks can be deceiving.:shock:

My good man, your colorful words are well-intended, and I can assure you, no offense has been taken!

They don't call me " Major " for nothin' ;)

With respect,

Annie.

Like I say, looks can be deceiving.;)



 Posted: Thu May 20th, 2010 04:08 pm
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Old Bay
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I remember hearing one story as I was growing up from a family friend about his great great grandfather who was interrogated by Mosby. Apparently, it included a beating and a death threat as well. No real source to back it up, just one of those stories you get told growing up in these parts.



 Posted: Fri May 21st, 2010 12:18 am
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CleburneFan
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Wow! The great John Mosby! I enjoy stories about him. He is a avery interesting character.



 Posted: Fri May 21st, 2010 12:51 pm
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Old Bay
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Man, I messed up my first post!

I must admend that statement I had earlier. My friend's relative actually rode with Mosby. It was Union cavalry that captured him and interogated him in that fashion, in hopes to find out where a cannon was being hidden. Where Mosby does tie in is that he said if he ever saw the man again he would shoot him on the spot for treachery. No such chance occured, however, as my friend's grandfather served out the rest of the war in a prison camp.

Apologies for messing up!



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