Constructing the Past


The prisoners on Rock Island, though some would later describe it in awful, vivid detail, were provided with far more than many prisoners could expect. Aside from proper food, water, shelter, and latrines, the prisoners were given much freedom to do with their time what they so desired. Prisoners were allowed what reading material they received from friends and family, and they formed debate societies, drama clubs, and mock trials. Lastly, beginning in 1864, prisoners at Rock Island who so wished were allowed to enlist in the Union Army. Prisoners who did not want to be exchanged back to the South or who no longer agreed with the Confederacy could take an oath of allegiance to the United States and enlist with the Yankees.