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Immortal Captives: The Story of 600 Confederate Officers and the United States Prisoner of War Policy

by Mauriel P. Joslyn, Pelican Publishing Co.

The horrors faced by Union prisoners of war have been the focus of several Civil War studies, but fewer books have have been devoted to the plight of their often-abused and neglected Confederate contemporaries who were detained in Union prisons.

Immortal Captives, by Mauriel P. Joslyn, tells the chilling story of a chosen group of 600 Rebel POWs who, during the long Union siege of Charleston, S.C., were literally used as “human shields” by Federal soldiers against the counter-bombardent of the Confederate batteries positioned near Morris Island.

The 600 men—all officers—were sequestered in an 11⁄2-acre open stockade in the flight path of the Rebel batteries. Joslyn judiciously excerpts the officers’ letters and diaries to provide insight into their mental state during this tragic episode. Injuries to the prisoners from the actual shelling were apparently minimal, but Joslyn reveals that the officers had much more to worry about than “friendly fire” from Rebel batteries.

Along with an ample supply of good photographs, Immortal Captives incorporates several appendices that should prove especially helpful to genealogists and researchers. Appendix D is a list of those among the “Immortal 600” who died while in captivity, and Appendix F is an alphabetic roster of the prisoners.


Originally published in the December 2008 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here