Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Terms Of Bredell's Parole

I'm trying to figure out how Edward Bredell joined up with Mosby's men because I think it's interesting that this staff officer - a college educated, wealthy, city boy - ended up with one of the most celebrated units of the Civil War, who also happened to have been an extremely tough bunch of hombres.  While, at the moment, I'm not sure how Bredell got from the western theater to the Shenandoah, I have learned a bit more about what happened to him at Vicksburg.

According to the Civil War Prisoner of War Records, 1861-1865, Bredell was captured at Vicksburg on July 4, 1863 and paroled the same day.  U.S. Grant had made an agreement with John Pemberton, the commander of Confederate forces at Vicksburg, that, if Pemberton would surrender the city, Grant would parole all Confederate prisoners.  The rationale behind this was that Grant did not want to be responsible for the care and feeding of 30,000 prisoners of war.  So it appears that most of the Confederate forces were paroled rather quickly, between July 4 and July 8, although I've seen records that the parole regime continued through July 15.  Most of these men were shipped to Mobile, Alabama, and records suggest that they were still arriving in that city in the middle of August 1863.  So Bredell was most likely in Mobile in August.

I made a point earlier this week about the idea that Bredell would have survived the war if he had honored the terms of his parole and then stated that I wasn't exactly certain what those terms were.  I assumed, based on my general knowledge of Civil War-era prisoner paroles, that he had promised not to take up arms against the United States.  But I also think it's possible that he promised not to take up arms again as an officer and that was one of the things that led him to join up with Mosby as an enlisted man.

The image above, that I found at the National Park Service Confederate Parole Records Index, shows the general parole form used at Vicksburg in July 1863.  It states clearly that the paroled prisoner promised to "not take up arms again against the United States, nor serve in any military, police or constabulary force in any Fort, Garrison or field work, held by the Confederate States of America, against the United State of America, nor as guard of any prisons, depots or stores nor discharge any duties usually performed by Officers or soldiers against the United States of America, until duly exchanged by the proper authorities."  One has to assume that Bredell signed this form, or a form similar to it, and, therefore, had given his word that he would not take up arms against the United States until he was officially exchanged for a Union counterpart.  

There is a gap in Bredell's service record from his capture at Vicksburg until he joined Mosby in June 1864.  Based on the above information and this gap in his service record, I think it's possible that Bredell waited until he was officially exchanged before joining Mosby in Virginia.  If that is true than Bredell kept his word and the terms of his parole.    

1 comment:

Bruce Allardice said...

That's correct, Jeff. The Confederate government declared the Vicksburg parolees exchanged in lte 1863. As a staff officer of a general (Bowen) who'd died a week after teh Vicksburg surrender, Bredell would have been free to join any unit he wished.