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The Business of Captivity: Elmira and Its Civil War Prison - Michael P. Gray - Google Книги

This thread is how prisons, guards and suppliers formed the "Business of Captivity" The author goes into great detail, compiling primary source material along with excellent writing to bring forth a truly awesome work on Elmira. The chapters are broken down into easy to read sections and build upon each other without dragging the reader through trivial details. The average reader will appreciate it's easy to read format while the historian will appreciate the thoroughness of research and detail used in compiling the material for this book.

The myriad of difficulties in running a prison camp as a business are well laid out and it's hard to imagine the daily life and death struggle that took place when you begin reading about all the business ventures that took place within the stockade walls. The most ingenious were the trinkets that were produced by the prisoners to be sold within as well as outside the camp by prison guards.

The "Elmira Jewelry trade" was in full swing and supplied many a lady with finely crafted rings, necklaces and so forth made from bone, wood, animal hair, or any scrap that might have been missed by a previous "jeweler". From July to July , death and sickness became so commonplace that a separate business of transporting and interring the dead sprang up. One man, an escaped slave, John W. Jones supervised the burial of all the Confederate prisoners at Elmira and made himself a tidy nest egg for after the war.

He became known as the wealthiest colored man in that part of the state. Even the endnotes are filled with primary source material and each chapter has many quotes and references. Cover to cover the reader will discover that human interest has been successfully merged with historical research. I highly recommend this book to anyone curious about fortifications and prisons during the Civil War.

Michael is one of the most knowledgeable Special history by an excellent historian. Michael is one of the most knowledgeable people on Civil War prisons. That knowledge is reflected in this must read. This was an excellent piece of non-bias work dedicated to telling the truth of the business of prison management in the North during the War of Northern Aggression.

Gray was very meticulous in detailing facts and figures about the day to day obstacles that confronted the U.


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Gov't and the management staff in running Elmira Prison. The enormous amount of food, lumber, clothing, staff, paper and every other item that is necessary to operate a prison is well documented along with its many atrocities. It must have taken many months for Michael to review the receipts and records that were kept by the prison staff. Also documented was how Elmira gained financially by being a training area for soldiers and then as a prison town. This book is also a great genealogy reference because of the many individuals quoted and referred to.

Every aspect of running a prison is covered from dealing with a budget that was too small more money was spent on Elmira than any other prison , prison escapes, disease, flood, corrupt or incompetent officials and staff, contractors, transportation and the unforgiving winter weather. As I read this book, I kept picturing what my ancestors my have been doing to occupy the long, boring days as they dragged by behind the walls of Elmira Prison.

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The end notes are just as interesting as each chapter was with the many quotes and references. I would like to thank Mr. Gray for this factual and non-biased look into my ancestors past experiences. See all 4 reviews. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers.

Learn more about Amazon Giveaway. Of the twelve thousand Confederate prisoners sentenced to Elmira, almost one quarter would die in captivity. Elmira grew from a town of less than 9, in to a city of 12, by The story of the prison and the military organization that built and operated the camp is a complex one but the story is told clearly and well.

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The best chapters are the ones that deal with camp organization and society, which evolved as prisoners sought to supplement their inadequate diet and clothing through entrepreneurial activities. Prisoners with some education or skill were able to increase their chances of survival by either acquiring prison jobs as clerks or accountants or by making goods mostly jewelry to sell outside the prison walls. The story of the men who ran the camp, their problems with provisioning the prisoners, their frustration with bureaucracy and at times their concern with costs over prisoner welfare is also well told and interesting.

Sanger, was particularly interesting — Gray appears to have solved a minor mystery about why Sanger left the camp in December and his subsequent career. The delay in getting adequate clothing to the prisoners in a brutal winter was particularly appalling and both sides participated in the bungling — clothing provided by the Confederacy could not be distributed except by captured and paroled Confederate officers and a delay of several weeks ensued until three Confederate officers finally arrived in Elmira. Economic historians will find it a frustrating book since it does not deliver on its promise to examine the economic impact of the prison and military base on Elmira.

There are two reasons for this — the first is that the book ends rather abruptly with the end of the war and the closing of the prison.