Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation



First Advisor

Mark M. Smith


The dissertation explores the experiences of four hundred thousand Union and Confederate prisoners during the American Civil War. While much has been written on the overlapping experiences of soldiers, civilians, and slaves, less attention has been paid to those behind masonry walls or wooden stockades. The premise of the dissertation, borrowed from the theory and methodology of sensory history, is that while human sensory physiology changes slowly over time, perception is fluid and varies by time, place, and culture. Drawing from nearly two hundred unpublished manuscripts as well as newspapers, government records, and postwar narratives, this dissertation explores the experiences of captivity in the Civil War through the senses of smell, touch, taste, hearing, and sight. It is divided into seven chapters, each an essay devoted to either an individual sense or a multisensory theme. Focusing on the senses is important because it recovers the dark side of a war still often romanticized in popular and scholarly memory. Prisoners described captivity as not just traumatizing but deeply animalizing.


© 2015, Evan A. Kutzler

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