Civil War POW camps and romance novels????

For my current work in progress, I’ve been doing some research on prisoner of war camps during the American Civil War (or for those who prefer: either the War for Southern Independence or the War of Northern Aggression).  The hero spent time at Johnson’s Island, north of Sandusky, Ohio when he was taken prisoner by the Union forces.

War brings about many evils, the worst of which, in my opinion, is the cruelty that man perpetuates on his fellow man.  The American Civil War was no different.  At the beginning of the conflict, captured soldiers were often paroled and sent home, with a promise not to take up arms again.  It quickly became apparent that wasn’t working, so the issue of what to do with captured soldiers arose.  Prisoner of war camps began dotting up behind lines for both sides of the war.

Andersonville in Georgia was beyond a doubt one of the worst of these prisoner of war camps.  Starvation, forced labor, death by disease from deplorable living conditions and from blunt force trauma administered by the guards were the norms at Andersonville.  The camp commander, Henry Wirtz, was captured at the end of the war, and then tried and executed for war crimes in what was probably the first trial of its kind.  To be fair, most of the conditions in the camp were completely beyond Wirtz’s control as the South was heavily blockaded by the North at the time when the greatest concentration of deaths occurred in the camp and food stuffs and medicine were extremely difficult—if not impossible—to procure.  The conditions within his control, he was totally responsible for—the brutality of the guards to the prisoners, the forced labor, summary executions.  At one point, the conditions were so horrendous at Andersonville, that Wirtz allowed five men to leave and go North with a written request for assistance for the Northern prisoners.  That request was denied.  Those five men then returned to Andersonville to continue to wait out the war in the camp because they had promised their fellows in arms they would return.  A man’s word was worth something then.
Johnson’s Island (Union prison for CSA officers) Sandusky, Ohio
When word reached the North of the conditions in the Southern camps the Northern forces retaliated and began to treat their Southern brethren with the same cruelty and utter disregard for humanity that they perceived to be happening in the Southern POW camps.  Rations were cut for the Southern prisoners, medicines denied, and brutality became the norm.  In camps in the far north like Elmira many Southern soldiers froze to death in the winter. 
Elmira, New York housed the Northern equivalent of Andersonville.  The death rate in Elmira matched that of Andersonville and for all the same reasons.  Life in any POW camp during the American Civil War was a literal hell on earth.  Thousands of men were crowded into camps often less than five acres in total area.  Housing very often was whatever the men could find to make a shelter against the elements. The only water sources for these places were often small streams or ponds—and that water was used for drinking, cooking, bathing, and even as latrines.  It was no wonder that so many men died of dysentery.  Small pox often ran rampant in the camps, as did measles.  Both were often fatal. 
One of the very good things to come out of the atrocities committed by both sides in these hellholes was that the United States determined after the war that never again would a US prisoner of war camp be run as any of the camps were during the Civil War.  Long before the Geneva Convention and the rules governing how prisoners of war should be treated, the United States stepped up and made the decision that within a prisoner of war camp, we would never again stoop to such depravity.  

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