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Prisoner of War Camp in Lynchburg

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The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast

Civil War tents on grounds of E. C. Glass High School

 

It’s hard to imagine Americans being held as a Prisoner of War in America, but there was once an instance in our history where this actually occurred, during the Civil War.  Most of us probably never think about this but during the Civil War Lynchburg housed thousands of Prisoners of War.  In 1862, the current site of E. C. Glass High School, was known as the fairgrounds.  During this period it was a large military encampment that quartered Confederate troops on their way to various battlefields earlier in the war.  In June of 1862 (about 150 years ago) the city of Lynchburg had thousands of Union POW’s arrive in the city as trainloads of prisoners, who were captured by General Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley, were taken to the Fair Grounds.  Below are copies of articles that were reprinted from The Daily Virginian which recently appeared in the News and Advance.  The photo above shows what a tent during the Civil War would have looked like.  These tents are on the grounds of E. C. Glass High School, which can be seen in the background.  The Virginia State Flag would not have been flying during the War.

June 12, 1862

“A large number of Yankee prisoners variously estimated at from 3,000 to 3,500 who were taken by Jackson some weeks since, arrived here yesterday, and were escorted to the Fair Grounds.  The poor [demons] looked jaded and dirty, whilst some of them were actually bare footed. …though they came into our country upon a hostile mission and deserved death on the battlefield, there was much in their woebegone appearance to excite our sympathy.  They are prisoners in an enemy’s country and that is enough to repress any undue manifestation of exultation over them, and to excite emotions of humanity towards them; but if it were not, the fact that many of our own brave country men are similarly circumstanced should …awaken feelings of pity for our …foes.”

June 13, 1862

“Our Yankee Guests—The prisoners of whom we spoke yesterday are encamped near the Fair Ground, and will, we understand, remain there several days.  We indulged in conservation with a number of them yesterday and found them exceedingly insolent.  They seem to presume upon their condition as prisoners, to offer insult to those who would reason with them calmly about the folly and wickedness of their invasion of our territory … We saw not a man who talked otherwise or seemed disposed to admit that we have any right of self government.  They say that we will be compelled to submit to their overwhelming numbers … We are sorry to say that we left them with a more decided repugnance for the whole race than we had previously.”

June 13, 1862

“We are not in favor of treating our enemies who are helpless prisoners in our hands, with either inhumanity or indecorum … And yet it becomes us not to act in such a manner as to lead our enemies to suppose they are welcome amongst us, or that our people have any sympathy for their cause. … They should not be feted and entertained at private houses, as we understand was the case with the Yankee officers who were here a few nights ago.  If Northern men amongst us … would indicate to the public, their sympathy for the cause represented by the prisoners of, they could not adapt any means that would more effectually accomplish that object, than by acting in the manner aforesaid … it is obviously proper that the community should know whether there are any amongst us who have Northern proclivities…”