Sanders, Charles W. 1947- (Charles W. Sanders, Jr.)

views updated

Sanders, Charles W. 1947- (Charles W. Sanders, Jr.)


Born 1947. Education: Louisiana State University, B.A.; North Georgia College, M.Ed.; Naval War College, M.A.; Kansas State University, Ph.D.


Office—Department of History, 316 Eisenhower Hall, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506. E-mail—[email protected]


Kansas State University, Manhattan, instructor, 2000-02, assistant professor, 2001-05, associate professor of history, 2005—.


Teaching awards; Jefferson Davis Award, Museum of the Confederacy, 2006, for While in the Hands of the Enemy: Military Prisons of the Civil War.


While in the Hands of the Enemy: Military Prisons of the Civil War ("Conflicting Worlds: Dimensions of the American Civil War" series), Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 2005.


Charles W. Sanders is a historian and instructor who earned his doctorate at Kansas State University and began teaching there in 2000. He specializes in nineteenth-century United Sates history and teaches courses on that period, the Jacksonian era, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and Manifest Destiny and American empire. He has also taught introductory and advanced seminars and the history of the United States to 1877.

Sanders is the author of While in the Hands of the Enemy: Military Prisons of the Civil War, a study and comparison of the prisons of the Union and the Confederacy. Prisoners died at a somewhat greater rate in Southern prisons, but the Union prisons had more oversight, particularly by the United States Sanitary Commission, the scrutiny of which was not matched in Confederate prisons. Neither side had a prison system in place when the war began. President Abraham Lincoln at first refused to recognize Confederate soldiers as prisoners of war, but was forced to change his policy, and prisoner exchanges were made until 1863. When they were halted, populations on both sides soared, causing even more suffering from malnutrition, exposure, and illness. Sanders finds both sides to be equally guilty in their harsh treatment of prisoners.

In reviewing While in the Hands of the Enemy in the Journal of Southern History, Louis S. Gerteis wrote: "Prisoner exchanges ended, Sanders insists, because Ulysses S. Grant saw a military advantage in ending them. This decision led to overcrowding and harsh conditions in southern prisons and to what Sanders describes as Secretary of War Edwin Stanton's Radical-inspired policy of reprisals against southern prisoners." Gerteis commented that Sanders criticizes the open pits that were used as latrines in Camp Morton in Indiana, but notes that there is no indication of how close or far from standard practices this may have been. Gerteis suggested that it may have been much closer than conditions at an abandoned tobacco warehouse in Richmond where prisoners were kept by the Confederacy, and where they were required to relieve themselves on the high side of the floor, so that it rolled away from the area where they slept.

This volume received the Jefferson Davis Award from the Museum of the Confederacy. In a press release issued by Kansas State University, Cheryl May wrote: "Michael B. Chesson, chairman of the Davis Award Committee, praised the book's ‘sober and even-handed condemnation of both sides’ and concluded ‘this work is indispensable, and will be added to various lists of the top Civil War books.’"



Civil War History, March, 2007, "The Museum of the Confederacy Has Awarded Its 2005 Jefferson Davis Award to Charles W. Sanders Jr. for His Book," p. 106.

Journal of Southern History, February, 2007, Louis S. Gerteis, review of While in the Hands of the Enemy: Military Prisons of the Civil War, p. 191.


Kansas State University Web site, (April 14, 2006), Cheryl May, "Book on Civil War Military Prisons Wins Prestigious Jefferson Davis Award for K-State Professor Charles W. Sanders, Jr.," press release; (February 16, 2008), brief biography.

About this article

Sanders, Charles W. 1947- (Charles W. Sanders, Jr.)

Updated About content Print Article