A glimpse of the POW camp just north of the PA border | Community

The prisoner-of-war camp, long-called from the “Northern Andersonville” prisoner-of-war camp in Elmira, New York, is said to be the most notorious of all Union-operated prisoner-of-war camps. It existed only from the summer of 1864 to July 1865, when, and for a long time, it became a dark symbol of human inhumanity towards humans. Confederate prisoners called it “Hermira.”

The camp nickname influenced the title of Derek Maxfield’s book. “Hermira: The Most Notorious POW Camp in the Civil War”

The rushed, poorly planned and crowded POW camps in the north and south were abandoning land in the aftermath of the war. Unfortunately, both sides saw the camp as inconvenient and distracting from the mission of winning the war. They believed that there was no need to build expensive shelters or provide better food. They only needed to sustain long enough life to win the war. Victory will rescue prisoners from their condition. As a result, the situation in the prisoner-of-war camp became a humanitarian crisis, and even after the blood stopped bleeding on the battlefield, its extent was barely understandable.

In the years following the war, as reconstruction became more and more difficult, the North pointed to Camp Sumter, well known as the Andersonville POW camp in Americas, Georgia, as evidence of federal cruelty and savagery. The South then cited the El Myra camp as a place where Union officials withheld ample food and shelter and deliberately plagued thousands of people in the harsh cold. This two-sided pointing will last for more than a century. And as it was, the legend of Helmira has grown.

Derek Maxfield, sponsored by the Bradford County Library, will discuss his book, Hermira: The Most Notorious POW Camp in the Civil War, via Zoom on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 at 6 pm.


In 2013, Maxfield received the SUNY Prime Minister’s Award for Scholarship and Creative Activity Excellence, and more recently the 2019 SUNY Prime Minister’s Award for Educational Excellence.

In this book, Derek Maxfield contextualizes the rise of prisoner-of-war camps during the civil war, explores the failure of prisoner exchange, and talks about the creation and evolution of prisoner-of-war camps in El Myra. In the end, Maxfield suggests that it’s time to move away from the game of blame and see prisoner-of-war camps (north and south) as a major humanitarian failure.

Derek D. Maxfield is an associate professor of history at Genesee Community College in Batavia, NY. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from SUNY Cortland, a master’s degree in history from the University of Villanova, and a doctorate from the ABD, Buffalo University.

This program is free and open to the public. (570) 297-2436 or Zoom login information.

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A glimpse of the POW camp just north of the PA border | Community

Source link A glimpse of the POW camp just north of the PA border | Community

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