[CIVIL WAR] - WAR DEPARTMENT
General Orders No. 202-400
Washington, D.C. War Department, 1863. 8vo. (6 7/8 x 4 1/2 inches). Series of bound General Orders No. 202-400 (without No. 329, 381, 393). Penciled ownership notation, "H.H. Hine." Order No. 359 contains manuscript signature of Assistant Adjutant General, "E.D. Townsend"
Quarter brown morocco with brown cloth boards, spine with raised bands in 5 compartments, lettered gilt
A fascinating bound volume of General Orders, which includes Lincoln's forceful response to unequal treatments of Black prisoners of war.
Bound volumes of War Department General Orders are rare. Each order was separately published and circulated and it was only government departments, or high-ranking officers or department heads who would have been in a position to receive them during the entire war. The present volume was assembled by "H. H. Hine," who was possibly Henry H. Hine who enlisted on 1 December 1861 and was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant into Co. D of the 2nd Colorado Infantry. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant and transferred to Co. M of the 1st Colorado Cavalry on 14 April 1863 before being dismissed on 3 May 1864. The General Orders compiled in this volume span July to December 1863 and include numerous notable orders such as order No. 252, which President Abraham Lincoln issued as a response to reports of unequal and harsh treatment of Black Union soldiers who had been captured by Confederate forces. In this order, Lincoln sought to address the mistreatment of Black troops by issuing a directive that conveyed a forceful message. The order states: "For every soldier of the United States killed in violation of the laws of war, a rebel soldier shall be executed. For every one enslaved by the enemy or sold into slavery, a rebel soldier shall be placed at hard labor on the public works, and continued at such labor until the other shall be released and receive the treatment due to a prisoner of war." The concept of an-eye-for-an-eye retaliation which Lincoln employed, though politically and logistically impossible, highlights his commitment to the equal rights and humanity for all Americans. While the order conveyed a strong message of equality, these principles were still a work in progress and it could not eliminate the deeply ingrained racism and hostility present during the Civil War and the harsh mistreatment of Black prisoners of war persisted. Other notable orders in this volume include order No. 315, which outlines the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act, a controversial law that allowed the suspension of habeas corpus, giving President Lincoln and his administration broader powers to arrest and detain individuals suspected of disloyalty to the Union. This act remains a significant and debated chapter in U.S. legal and constitutional history, raising questions about the balance between civil liberties and government authority during times of national crisis. Other orders contain announcements important to the army. Order No. 349, for example, announced that Major General William T. Sherman was appointed to the command of the Department and Army of the Tennessee, while order No. 398 contains a congratulatory message announcing that Major General Ulysses S. Grant and his troops received official thanks from Congress.