The Battle of Savannah
The Battle of Savannah
Private Robert Knox Sneden
a) Private Robert Knox Sneden was an American mapmaker and a landscape painter. Sneden specialized in the creation or painting of maps for the Union Army at the time that the Civil War took place (Riggs, 2003).
b) Private Robert Knox Sweden’s experience in Camp Lawton as a prisoner of war was relatively difficult. In 1863, Sneden was apprehended and incarcerated in Richmond, Virginia. Consequently, Sneden was relocated to Andersonville Prison in Georgia and then moved to Camp Lawton. As a prisoner of war at Camp Lawton, Sneden did not ignore his work of mapmaking and illustration. Most of the brilliant sketches by Sneden were drawn while he was at the prison. This is overly attributed to him being a paroled prisoner. During this period, Sneden inscribed Latin prescriptions in the hospital and was given considerable liberty outside the fortifications (Riggs, 2003).
c) At the hands of his captors, Sneden lived in numerous prison camps. For instance, Sneden was held captive in a tobacco storehouse near Libby Prison. While being held captive there, Sneden suffered Typhoid Fever, but continued to make his drawings. Despite being crippled while serving in Andersonville Prison, Sneden continued making covert drawings. Moreover, to keep the sketches from being seized by the Confederates, Sneden sewed the drawings in his coat’s lining (Riggs, 2003). Irrespective of Sneden suffering at the hands of his captors at the different prison camps he was held, Sneden respected his superiors despite being held by fellow Americans and proceeded to create drawings that would prove to be useful in battle.
d) Presently, Robert Knox Sneden is idolized in the Civil War stories as a mapmaking genius and an efficient memoirist. His memoirs were collected and published as the novel, Eye of the Strom while the drawings were published as Images of the Storm. Sneden is also known today for his accurate and well-drawn maps of the Civil War. Apparently, the maps drawn by Sneden are the largest set of Civil War art that exist in America (Riggs, 2003).
2. Condition and Morale
a) The Battle of Savannah for the American soldiers proved to be demoralizing to the army at present. Before the battle with the British, the city of Savannah was attacked by Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell under the orders of Sir Henry Clinton who wanted to capture Savannah. The Americans, under the command of General Howe, defended the city despite being numerically outmatched. Inevitably, Howe was defeated, which caused the Americans to be demoralized by the defeat and flee of the General. Moreover, the morale of the soldiers was further demoralized during the Battle of Savannah with the British. Savannah was captured by the British after the Americans lost. About 100 Americans died while others drowned (Lumpkin, 2000).
b) Before the Battle of Savannah, the American soldiers were mostly successful in their previous fights. For instance, the Battles of Lexington and Concord saw American soldiers force the considerable British army retreat after being attacked by them using guerilla tactics. In 1776, the American soldiers under Colonel Henry Knox managed to overwhelm the British in Boston forcing them to retreat to Nova Scotia. The Battle of Saratoga, which took place between 1777 and early 1778, saw the American soldiers at Saratoga under the command of General Horatio defeat the British forces under General Burgoyne. In 1776, the Battle of Trenton saw the soldiers under General Washington, successfully attacking and overwhelming the British forcing them to retreat to their base (Middlekauff, 2005).
c) The terrain of the Savannah proved to be disadvantageous to the American soldiers. This is because much of the Savannah was marked by marshes that proved to be difficult for the soldiers to maneuver. Moreover, groups of hills made it impossible for the soldiers to advance without being noticed and proved to be hiding bases for the British. Moreover, storms and hurricanes made it impossible for the fleet to advance into the area and the fog impaired visibility for the soldiers (Lumpkin, 2000).
d) In order to improve the morale of the soldiers during the battle, the American troops were allied together with the French troops. Under the command of Count d’Estaing, the French forces combined with the American troops to renew their objective of recapturing Savannah. Moreover, the troops were motivated by the actions of General Washington who reclaimed the North and played a part in eliminating majority of the British from the South (Lumpkin, 2000).
e) Regardless of the efforts put in by the allied army between the Americans and the French, the British maintained the capture of Savannah (Lumpkin, 2000). This demoralized the soldiers since they were not able to recapture back the city and at the same time had suffered considerable losses in their troop numbers attributed to starvation, weather and war induced injuries. Most of the people living in the South were presumed to be loyalists and were opposed the settlement of the British. However, most of them expressed despair on the American troops, which further demoralized them.
f) At first, the American soldiers believed in the cause of the fight, which was shown by their participation in the battle. Under the command of General Benjamin Lincoln, the objective of the Battle of Savannah was to recover the city since it determined the defeat or victory of the American forces over the British and gain freedom. However, the cause diminished due to the incapability of the forces in regaining Savannah.
g) Most of the soldiers were in poor health attributed to the cold and rainy weather of the Savannah. The British army had inflicted numerous injuries on the American troops in the previous battles, especially the Siege of the Savannah. These injuries highly deteriorated the health of the soldiers. Moreover, the American soldiers experienced malnutrition attributed to the food they ate. The soldiers’ diet mainly comprised rice, corn and a solution of water, sugar and fermented molasses.
3. Law of War/Enemy Prisoners of War
a) One of the main laws of war common during that time was the negotiations of armistices. The Articles of War of the U. S Army codified customs such as the execution of spies and the obligation of organization and uniforms. Additionally, the laws at that time provided for the prosecution of soldiers and civilians involved in violating warfare laws. The conduct and exchange of war prisoners, handling of conflicting combatants, freedom of slaves and handling of property and civilians in occupied territory, were other established laws exercised at that time (Holland, 2009).
b) The laws of war at the time of the American Revolution were simply customs observed by the European armies and navies. Since these customs were not documented, they were regularly abused hence forcing the laws to be unaccepted among foreign troops. However, most of the customs were reviewed and codified into laws of war by focusing on the main aspects that were evident during that time (Holland, 2009).
c) At that time, prisoners of war were mostly men and most of them were sailors and soldiers. A few safeguards were followed, and they focused on processing and management of prisoners. One of the main safeguards provided for the prisoners was the ability to work. This was done to increase the number of skilled personnel in the country. Moreover, prisoners were safeguarded through the banning of torture and the provision of food and clothes and basic amenities.
d) Prisoners were detained in prison camps. Most of these prison camps were run by the Union and Confederate armies. For instance, one of the main camps responsible for holding war prisoners was Andersonville Prison. These camps were prisons and most of them were fortified through stockades. Additionally, these camps did not provide the basic amenities required by the prisoners leading to numerous deaths. For instance, Camp Sumter in Georgia accounted for the deaths of 13000 prisoners of war due to harsh conditions (Springer, 2010).
e) The conflict affected operations regarding prisoners of war by changing the way prisoners were treated. This is evidenced by the creation of informal conventions that concentrated on the treatment of prisoners of war. Treaties such as the Geneva Convention arose from the informal conventions developed at the time. These conventions eventually led to the 1874 Brussels Conference, which formed the precursor for the protection and treatment of prisoners of war. This led to the inclusion of inhumane treatment of prisoners of war as illegal and hence advocated for the humane and diplomatic treatment of prisoners.
f) The Battle of Savannah was characterized by confusion and disagreement between the American and French unified forces. This is evidenced by the low expectation the French had for the Americans. Additionally, leader of the French army, d’Estaing had considered on abandoning subsequent attacks on the British through when their first diversionary attacks failed, but he did not, which inevitably led to the army’s fall. Moreover, the British troops were in synchronization with the Loyalist forces, which gave them an advantage on the allied army. Moreover, d’Estaing together with his co-leader, Count Pulaski was injured. Over 1000 Americans and French died while British only incurred a loss of 20 men (Lumpkin, 2000). The Battle marked the unity of the South and North since Americans on both sides of the country demanded independence from the British. Presently, the Battle of Savannah is engraved as the bloodiest battle of the American Revolutionary War.
Holland, T. E. (2009). The laws of war on land (written and unwritten). Clark, New Jersey: Lawbook Exchange.
Lumpkin, H. (2000). From Savannah to Yorktown: The American Revolution in the South. Lincoln, Nebraska: ToExcel.
Middlekauff, R. (2005). The glorious cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789. New York: Oxford University Press.
Riggs, D. F. (January 01, 2003). Images from the Storm: Private Robert Knox Sneden (review). Civil War History, 49, 1, 84-85.
Springer, P. J. (2010). America‘s captives: Treatment of POWs from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror. Lawrence, Kan: University Press of Kansas.