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The United States reclassifies convicted Confederate privateers as prisoners of war

Federal Government and Politics, iconic image
02/15/1862
Confederate privateer William Smith had been found guilty of piracy in federal court at Philadelphia in October and sentenced to death. The trial caused a sensation in the South and reprisals were threatened against Union prisoners of war.  General John H. Winter visited Libby Prison in Richmond on November 10, 1861 and drew lots among the senior Union prisoners there to select who would be tried as criminals in retaliation.  The trials never took place and the Union reclassified the convicted privateers as prisoners of war, ending the dispute. (By John Osborne) 
Source Citation: 
D.F. Murphy, The Jeff Davis piracy cases: full report of the trial of William Smith for piracy, as one of the crew of the confederate privateer, the Jeff Davis : before Judges Grier and Cadwalader, in the Circuit Court of the United States, for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, held at Philadelphia, in ... (Philadelphia, PA: King & Baird, 1861), 12-13 
Spencer C. Tucker, ed., The Civil War Naval Encyclopedia (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2011), 179-180
How to Cite This Page: "The United States reclassifies convicted Confederate privateers as prisoners of war," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/38113.