In the first year of the Civil War, prisoner exchanges were conducted primarily between field generals on an ad hoc basis. The Union was reluctant to enter any formal agreements, fearing that it would legitimize the Confederate government. But the issue became more important as the campaigns escalated in 1862. In July 1862, Union General John Dix and Confederate General Daniel H. Hill reached an agreement in which each soldier was assigned a value according to rank. For example, one private was worth another private; corporals and sergeants were worth two privates; and lieutenants were worth three privates. A commanding general was worth 60 privates. Under this system, thousands of soldiers were exchanged rather than languishing in prisons like those in Andersonville, Georgia, or Elmira, New York.
The system was really a gentlemen's agreement, relying on the trust of each side. It broke down in 1862 when Confederates refused to exchange black Union soldiers. From 1862 to 1865, prisoner exchanges were rare. When they did happen, it was usually because two local commanders came to a workable agreement. The result of the breakdown was the swelling of prisoner-of-war camps in both the North and South. The most notorious of all the camps was Andersonville, where one-third of the approximately 46,000 Union troops incarcerated died of disease, exposure, or starvation.
Though the prisoner exchanges resumed in January 1865, the end of the war was so close that it did not make much difference.
WE DO NOT KNOW HOW, THEN “PRIVATE BERGDAHL”, WENT MISSING BUT HERE IS HOW IT WAS REPORTED AT THE TIME:
U.S. Soldier May Be Held by Taliban, Military Fears
KABUL, Afghanistan — A young American soldier who walked off his remote combat outpost in a volatile region of eastern Afghanistan has been captured and is believed to be in the hands of the Taliban network led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, American military officials said Thursday.
American and Afghan forces fanned out in eastern Afghanistan to shut down routes the kidnappers could use to transport the soldier, officials said.
A senior American defense official said that there had been no direct negotiations with the kidnappers but that American forces were reaching out to tribal leaders and local government officials for help.
It was not clear when the soldier left the base. One official said other soldiers reported that he was missing at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, while another said that his absence was discovered during a morning formation on that day.
Military officials contacted by The New York Times said they did not believe that writing about the kidnapping would increase the danger to the soldier, including any of the details published in this article.
At the military’s request, The Times agreed that it would withhold publishing the soldier’s name if reporters learned it. The Times, along with other news organizations, withheld news of the kidnapping of one of its reporters, David Rohde, and two Afghan colleagues, out of concern that publicity in that case would endanger them.
The military is in touch with “people on the ground who understand who the power brokers are to help us through this,” the senior defense official said.
The military believes that the region where the soldier is being held “is pretty boxed in, with not a lot of room to maneuver” for the captors, he said, and that the goal is to prevent the kidnappers from moving him.
“We have no doubt he is in Taliban hands,” he said. The official was unaware of any ransom or other demands made by the kidnappers.
It is believed to be the first time in more than two years that an American service member has been reported missing or has been captured in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
An Afghan police commander, Gen. Nabi Mullahkhiel, said the soldier was missing from a small base in Paktika Province, a rugged region on the Pakistani border where the Haqqani network is powerful. The location could not be confirmed, and American officials declined to identify the location of the soldier’s base, other than to say it was a small outpost in eastern Afghanistan.
They also declined to identify the soldier by name, but they said that his family had been notified.
One military official described the soldier as a private first class who walked off the base voluntarily for reasons that were unclear. The soldier left his weapon behind, said the official, adding that it was not clear whether he left wearing his military uniform.
“We don’t know if he was taken by locals and sold, or if the bad guys got him immediately,” the official said. He also emphasized that “no stone will be left unturned in the efforts for his safe recovery.”
A spokeswoman for the United States military command in Kabul, Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, declined to provide other details of the soldier’s capture, except to confirm that the soldier was based in eastern Afghanistan and that his kidnapping was unrelated to the military operation in Helmand Province in southwestern Afghanistan.
“A U.S. soldier missing since June 30 from his assigned unit is now believed to have been captured by militant forces,” Captain Mathias said. “We are exhausting all available resources to ascertain his whereabouts and provide for his safe return.”
Some reports indicated that a previously unknown Taliban commander had claimed responsibility for capturing the soldier in Paktika. But a well-known Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid, said: “I can’t comment on anything about the American soldier for now, as we don’t know yet. It is not confirmed whether the Taliban have got that U.S. soldier or not.”
Muhibullah Habib contributed reporting from Kandahar, Afghanistan, and Abdul Waheed Wafa from Kabul.