© 2022 South Carolina Public Radio
Radio Website Header-Waves 6 3.0.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
WEPR-FM, 90.1, Greenville/Spartanburg, will be operating at low power during tower maintenance. The transmitter may also be taken off the air periodically. Streaming is not affected.

Living by Inches: Captivity in Civil War Prisons

Stereograph showing an exterior view of Libby Prison, a Confederate military prison, Richmond, VA.
Civil War Photograph Collection (Library of Congress)
/
Stereograph showing an exterior view of Libby Prison, a Confederate military prison, Richmond, VA.

From battlefields, boxcars, and forgotten warehouses to notorious prison camps like Andersonville and Elmira, prisoners seemed to be everywhere during the American Civil War. Yet there is much we do not know about the soldiers and civilians whose very lives were in the hands of their enemies. On this week’s Journal, Dr. Edgar talks with Dr. Evan Kutzler about Living by Inches (2019. UNC Press), the first book to examine how imprisoned men in the Civil War perceived captivity through the basic building blocks of human experience--their five senses. From the first whiffs of a prison warehouse to the taste of cornbread and the feeling of lice, captivity assaulted prisoners’ perceptions of their environments and themselves.

Kutzler demonstrates that the sensory experience of imprisonment produced an inner struggle for men who sought to preserve their bodies, their minds, and their sense of self as distinct from the fundamentally uncivilized and filthy environments surrounding them. From the mundane to the horrific, these men survived the daily experiences of captivity by adjusting to their circumstances, even if these transformations worried prisoners about what type of men they were becoming.

All Stations: Fri, Feb 07, 2020, 12 pm | News Stations: Sun, Feb 09, 4 pm

Stay Connected
Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.