May 16, 2023

“The Yankee Plague: Escaped Union Prisoners

and the Collapse of the Confederacy”

– Lorien Foote

May 16, 2023 

During the last winter of the Civil War, nearly 3,000 Union prisoners escaped from Confederate prisons in the Carolinas and fled toward Union army lines.  Black and white southerners fed, hid, and guided the fugitives across hundreds of miles of dangerous terrain.  Lorien Foote will share what the journey of escaped prisoners reveals about the transformation of the home front to a battle front inside the Confederacy and how the movement of prisoners of war ultimately shaped the contours of the war’s final military campaigns. 

Lorien Foote is the Patricia & Bookman Peters Professor in History at Texas A&M University. She is the author of four books, editor of three volumes, and writer of numerous articles and essays on the cultural, intellectual, and military history of the American Civil War. Her books include the just-published Rites of Retaliation: Civilization, Soldiers, and Campaigns in the American Civil War (2020); The Yankee Plague: Escaped Union Prisoners and the Collapse of the Confederacy (2016), which was a 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title; and The Gentlemen and the Roughs: Manhood, Honor, and Violence in the Union Army (2010), which was a finalist and Honorable Mention for the 2011 Lincoln Prize.  She is the co-editor, with Earl J. Hess, of The Oxford Handbook of the American Civil War. She is the creator and principal investigator of a digital humanities project, which is mapping the escape and movement of 3000 Federal prisoners of war.  The project includes contributions from undergraduate researchers at four universities.  It can be explored online at