The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001 Page: 366
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Any serious study of Civil War prisons must begin with William Best
Hesseltine's Civil War Prisons: A Study in War Psychology (1930), an impar-
tial account that delves into the psychological effects endured by those
incarcerated in both northern and southern prisons. In 1962 Hesseltine
edited an issue of Civil War History devoted entirely to Civil War prisons.
This issue contains seven essays dealing with various prison camps and
their inhabitants. In a brief introduction Hesseltine warned the prospec-
tive student to separate truth from fiction and interpret statistics careful-
ly. The former is one of the most dangerous pitfalls associated with the
study of this topic. Hesseltine explored the biased accounts of southern
prisons in his 1935 article "The Propaganda Literature of Confederate
Prisons." The "bloody shirt" accounts produced after the war often exag-
gerated conditions and insisted that Confederate officials sought to
exterminate Union prisoners through starvation and neglect.
Although the flood of recent publications and reprints of standard
works indicates a renewed interest in this topic, only two monographs
written in the last decade contribute significantly to the field. Arch
Frederic Blakey's John H. Winder, C.S.A. (199o) provides an unbiased
account of one of the war's most controversial men, the Confederacy's
highest-ranking prison official. It remains the only book-length treatment
of Winder. The finest piece of recent scholarship on a Civil War prison is
William Marvel's Andersonville: The Last Depot (1994). This monograph
towers above the overabundance of works dealing exclusively with the
war's most notorious prison. In his attempt to absolve Capt. Henry Wirz
and other Confederate officials, however, Marvel largely ignores the
Confederacy's role in the controversy over the status and exchange of
Camp Groce began as a Confederate camp of instruction two and a
half miles southeast of Hempstead, Texas, in 1862. The owner of the
land, Leonard Waller Groce, at one time possessed in excess of 67,000
acres in Texas. Groce purchased this particular area, the Liendo
E. Barnett, Roy R. Barkley, Penelope C. Anderson, and Mark F. Odintz (eds.), The New Handbook
of Texas (6 vols.; Austm: Texas State Historical Association, 1996), III, 349; Col. M. L. Crimmins,
"Leonard Waller Groce, The Cofounder of Texas' Main Cash Crop, Cotton," West Texas Hzstorical
Association Yearbook, 27 (Oct. 1951), 99-110. Leon Mitchell Jr., "Camp Groce: Confederate
Military Prison," Southwestern Hstoncal Quarterly, 67 (July, 1963), 15-21.
s William B. Hesseltine, Czval War Prisons: A Study in War Psychology (New York: Frederick
Ungar, 1930); Hesseltine (ed.), Czvwl War Hstory, 8 (June, 1962), 117-20; Hesseltine, "The
Propaganda of Confederate Prisons,"Journal of Southern Hstory, 1 (Feb., 1935), 56-66.
4 Arch Frederic Blakey, John H. Winder, C.S.A. (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1990);
Wilham Marvel, Andersonville" The Last Depot (Chapel Hill: University of North Carohna Press,
1994). Another recent work of interest is Lonnie R. Speer, Portals to Hell: Military Prisons of the
Czval War (Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1997). Speer's comprehensive work, including
a glossary of prison illnesses and comparative tables of numerous facilites, serves primarily as a
solid reference guide to Civil War prisons.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/m1/434/: accessed November 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.