Publication Date





Kent State University Press


One of the things asked of any new historical publication is that it deal with historiography and suggest proof of necessary change. James Riley Weaver's Civil War meets that requirement by adding substantially to the source literature on military prisoners. Most assume that when President Lincoln issued his new policy concerning the issue of African-American soldiers and their white officers (General Order No. 252, issued July 31, 1863), he also ended the exchange of all prisoners of war. Paroles had proved ineffective on both sides, and the Confederacy insisted on treating black soldiers in a much different manner than white soldiers. Points of contention included execution for the white officers responsible for black soldiers and the Confederacy’s legal commitment to enslaving any African-American soldiers they captured. Within three weeks, the Union War Department halted the parole and exchange of officers. Weaver himself, a 23-year-old white cavalry officer in the Army of the Potomac, found himself affected by these circumstances even though he was not personally involved in any of the affected areas. These are the circumstances under which Weaver composed the diary entries catalogued by the editors.