Publication Date

December 2019




UNC Press


Contrary to popular opinion, Civil War battles were not always formal military engagements or guerilla skirmishes between Confederate and U.S. forces. Hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war (POWs) knew that their battles were starkly different from armed conflicts. POWs understood that fights in captivity occurred against their enemies, themselves, elements, animals, insects, and diseases. We know an extensive amount of information about infamous prison camps, including Andersonville and Elmira. Recent scholarship has brought to light the complexity of pardoning and surrendering processes and the "black flag" policy's racial politics. However, the day-to-day lived experiences of imprisoned soldiers and their struggles for survival are regularly portrayed in cliché terms. In Living By Inches: The Smells, Sounds, Tastes, and Feeling of Captivity in Civil War Prisons, Evan A. Kutzler argues that rather than view POWs through a stereotypical lens, we must understand the complicated lives of captives in more concrete ways.