Special Civil War program offered at NHS

Published 9:04 am Wednesday, April 3, 2019

ANDERSONVILLE — Surrender occurred more frequently during the American Civil War than during any other American war. Whether it was individuals or entire regiments raising the white flag, surrender added to the complexity of the war.
During the Battle of Plymouth in April 1864, the 85th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment ultimately surrendered to Confederate forces. The Regiment’s nearly 500 enlisted soldiers found themselves within the confines of the prison at Andersonville just a few weeks later.
In today’s Code of the United States Fighting Force, Article II states, “I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have means to resist.” Although it is not a formal law, the Code is considered an important part of U.S. military doctrine and tradition.
Was a similar code in place during the Civil War? How were those who surrendered viewed by their comrades? How did surrender affect the way captors treated prisoners of war?
Author David Silkenat will answer these questions and dig deeper into the complexities of surrender during the Civil War in a special presentation at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 7 at the National Prisoner of War Museum located at Andersonville National Historic Site.
Silkenat is a senior lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of three books: Raising the White Flag: How Surrender Defined the American Civil War (2019), Driven from Home: North Carolina’s Civil War Refugee Crisis (2015), and Moments of Despair: Suicide, Divorce, and Debt in Civil War Era North Carolina (2011). He is a two-time winner of the North Caroliniana Society Book Prize. He serves as the chair of the Scottish Association for the Study of America and on the Editorial Board for the Journal of the Civil War Era. His latest book provides the first comprehensive study of Civil War surrender. A book signing will follow Silkenat’s presentation.