Lorien Foote’s Article a Finalist for Army Historical Foundation Award

We are delighted to announce that Lorien Foote’s article in the March 2016 issue, titled “‘They Cover the Land Like the Locusts of Egypt’: Fugitive Federal Prisoners of War and the Collapse of the Confederacy,” is a finalist for the 2016 Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award. Lorien’s discussion of escaped prisoners of war in South Carolina (which she estimates at around 2,676 between September 1864 and February 1865) provides insights into the collapse of the Confederate state. As Lorien states in this excerpt, the story of these federal fugitives provides insight into the Confederacy’s final years in three ways:

First, this story uncovers the temporal and spatial dimensions of the collapse of the Confederate prison system and the movement of fugitive prisoners in the region between September 1864 and February 1865. As Edward Ayers and Scott Nesbit have pointed out, studying these dimensions allows us to find variations in experience and to make connections between events. The location and timing of three mass outbreaks—from Florence in September, from trains to Columbia and from Columbia itself in October and November, and from the railway lines that ran between Columbia and the North Carolina border in February— shaped the contours of fugitive travel in the state. Fugitive movement concentrated within four distinct travel corridors during October, November, and December, and the encounters among fugitives, slaves, and communities differed in each corridor.

Second, tracing the escape and flight of Federal prisoners of war exposes to view spaces where the Confederacy no longer maintained control in South Carolina. Before Sherman invaded the state, officials lost the ability to defend loyal citizens from a variety of enemies who moved within and across its borders. Finally, the movement of Federal prisoners across the landscape makes explicit the role citizens took on during a state’s collapse at the end of the war. South Carolina’s experience suggests that the disintegration of Confederate and state authority facilitated a breakdown of order that left citizens largely responsible for their own security. Families and individuals, rather than Confederate officials, made decisions on the ground about what constituted loyalty and when, if, and how they would handle threats to the state. Citizens were no longer willing to contribute their manpower or their resources to a government that no longer functioned. When Confederate authorities proved unable to respond to the threat of fugitive Federals, effective control reverted to local agency.[1]

Keep reading on Project Muse (https://muse.jhu.edu/article/611880). The winners of the Distinguished Writer Award will be announced at the Foundation’s annual meeting on June 15.

[1] Lorien Foote, “‘They Cover the Land Like the Locusts of Egypt’: Fugitive Federal Prisoners of War and the Collapse of the Confederacy,” Journal of the Civil War Era 6, no. 1 (March 2016): 32.