Group of Confederate prisoners, Fairfax Court House, Virginia, USA, June 1862.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Albumen print by Alexander Gardener (1821-1882) from a negative by Timothy H O'Sullivan (1840-1882), of a group of Confederate prisoners of war at Fairfax Courthouse, Virginia. These soldiers were probably taken prisoner during the battle at nearby Chantilly Plantation on 1 September 1862. In the early part of the war, both sides had a system of exchanging prisoners of equal rank, release of captives on parole conditional on an oath not to take up arms again. By 1863 the system had broken down and prisoners were kept in camps. Conditions were often appalling, due in part to the sheer numbers, 400,000 in all on both sides.