Re: Official U.S. Policy on Confederate POW's
Lincoln refused to sell medicines to the Confederacy, even though Jefferson Davis offered to pay for them in gold and even though Davis explained that the medicines would be used to care for sick and wounded Union prisoners of war. The Confederacy had a very hard time obtaining medical supplies. Captain Samuel Ashe, the last officer commissioned in the Confederate army, complained about this refusal:
As Lincoln declared medicines contraband of war, Davis asked for permission to buy at the North medicines for the Northern prisoners, but his request was refused. (Ashe, A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern States, Crawfordville, Georgia: The Ruffin Flag Company, reprint of 1938 edition, p. 57)
Some Northerners criticized Lincoln's policy of preventing medical supplies from going to the South:
The United States government early declared . . . all medicines, surgical instruments and appliances contraband of war, and they were so regarded to the end of the struggle.
The ill temper and inhumanity of the time in the North extended even to the medical profession, as evidenced at the convention of the American Medical Association, held in Chicago, in 1863, when Dr. Gardner, of New York, introduced preamble and resolutions petitioning the Northern government to repeal the orders declaring medical and surgical supplies contraband of war; arguing that such cruelty rebounded on their own soldiers, many of whom, as prisoners in the hands of the Confederates, shared the suffering resulting from such a policy, while the act itself was worthy of the dark ages of the world's history. It is lamentable to have record that this learned and powerful association of the medical men . . . in their senseless passion hissed their benevolent brother from the hall. (Rutherford, Truths of History, p. 22)