This Week in the Civil War - #814
Retaliation was a most disturbing aspect of the American Civil War. In 1863, following the Kentucky execution of two captured Confederate officers, two Union officers in Richmond’s Libby Prison were selected for execution. About that time, General “Rooney” Lee, son of Robert E. Lee, also was captured and held for execution, if the Libby prisoners were executed. A tense standoff was averted when Rooney Lee’s wife died, and he was exchanged on humanitarian grounds. But in 1864 when Union prisoners were strategically located within Charlestown to inhibit the Union barrage against Fort Sumter, 600 captured Confederates were shipped to Morris Island and subjected to artillery fire coming from Charlestown’s Confederate defenders . Both sides eventually removed their hostages; amazingly, no prisoner on either side died in 44 days of constant bombardment.