Was there compassion for wounded enemy soldiers?

Discussion in 'Civil War' started by primalclaws1974, Jan 13, 2015.

  1. We often hear that there was no compassion when there were enemy wounded. I have even heard in this war, as well as the Revolutionary War that sometimes the soldiers would kill the wounded they found in camps in cold blood. But I have also heard that in the Civil War that sometimes there would be minor "truces" and both sides would sometimes give water, food, and other human decencies to hurt enemies. Is there any truth to any of this?
  2. Interrogator#6

    Interrogator#6 Active Member

    I do not have any information regarding ACW battlefield compassion towards wounded enemies. I would think such information would be scarce. Most warriors in the heat of battle, trained to think of the enemy as a sub-human might have difficulty to switch mode from killer to compassionate.

    And with the state of ACW battlefield medicine it can easily be understood how one might think it an actual mercy of a clean kill to a severly wounded enemy rather than a painly and lengthy recovery lasting months, only to suffer the life of a cripple.

    What I have information on are "rumours" of compassion shown to enemies in POW camps. I have encountered in reading of several inspefic references of Freemason assisting brother Freemason "across the lines". This rises to Lore in Freemason Literature.

    Also there are references of "fratinization" between Billy Yank with Johnny Reb when at picket duty in static situations. Tales of trading coffee for tobacco are legendary in memiors and letters to home.
  3. Yes, I have also heard of trading supplies between the lines. How did they hold their fire long enough to do such things? When was the "time" to start killing again? Seems odd you would make a trade with a man and then shoot him down.

    As for compassion at the POW camps, that seems a little hard to believe. Andersonville was notorious for cruelty and subhuman treatment. But that may have been more due to too many people in the prison, and not enough supplies, more than actual treatment.
  4. Interrogator#6

    Interrogator#6 Active Member

    How was trading done? I am not certain as I was not there but I am lead to understand there were periods of relative peace and calm lasting for weeks into months. Picket soldiers might strike up conversations at night when they thought the sergents were not around, leading to minor friendships. Eventually this might turn to local truces and face-to-face meetings for swaps.

    Curiously something similar took place which lead to the creation of the Africa university city of Timbuctoo. Situated at the northern most bend of the Niger River Tuareg traders (Tunesia Arabs) discovered the locals would trade Gold for Salt. Eventually salt merchant built a settlement which developed from mere outpost into a University town.
  5. nailah783

    nailah783 Member

    There may have been some compassion as they were fighting their own. Thinking of how cousins were on different sides of the line, and sometimes even brothers, I can see how there would be some compassion. This wasn't like the other wars where they were fighting different countries. They were fighting each other, so that does make a little bit of difference.
  6. Interrogator#6

    Interrogator#6 Active Member

    There are anadotes from the ACW of Freemasons somehow recognizing that POWs were brother masons, and therefore pledged to assist their captive. These case speak of extra food and medical attention. But one has to look hard, now, to find these books, and question the verasity of these books as most read like fiction.

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