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[Detail] The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865

Historical Research: Interrogating Historical Data

Read the December 3, 1863, entry on Union soldiers held as prisoners of war in Richmond. It refers to harsh conditions and notes that the Confederacy had refused to exchange African American soldiers: "The general opinion is that they have sold the Negroes, or hung them. They have probably done both." April 1864 entries also mention brutal treatment of prisoners of war after the surrender of Fort Pillow, Tennessee, and Plymouth, North Carolina.

  • What evidence supports the allegation that African American prisoners were either sold into slavery or executed?
  • How can you test the accuracy of the accusation that prisoners of war were massacred at Fort Pillow and Plymouth?
  • What do these reports reveal about the brutality of war?