February 4, 2011
"Useful Enemies: German Prisoners Of War During The American Revolution"
Daniel Krebs, University of Louisville
Paper Abstract: During the American War of Independence, the revolutionaries captured thousands of British and German soldiers and kept them as prisoners of war for weeks, months, or even years at a time. Focusing on common German soldiers in American captivity, this case study examines several ways in which these men became useful enemies, not just financial burdens or bargaining chips during exchange negotiations. The paper focuses on German prisoners of war as objects for propaganda efforts, as a means to boost American morale, instruments to establish the revolutionaries as legitimate belligerents in the war, prisoner-laborers, recruits, indentured servants, and new citizens of the United States. Ultimately, we see that British and German prisoners of war were treated comparatively better than Americans in British hands, but not because the revolutionaries based their actions on more humane ideals. Rather, Americans searched for and found ways to make use of and even profit from keeping enemy captives.
Papers are pre-circulated electronically through the KEAH website: http://louisville.edu/history/kentucky-early-american-studies-seminar.html
The KEAH meets at the Kentucky Historical Society, located in at 100 W. Broadway, in Frankfort, KY.
The Kentucky Early American Seminar is sponsored by the Kentucky Historical Society and University of Louisville.
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