Abstract

Major John Henry Gee was the commandant of the Confederate prison at Salisbury, North Carolina from 1864 until 1865. During his tenure, thousands of Union prisoners of war died of starvation and diseases or were shot when attempting to escape. Shortly after the end of hostilities, Major Gee was arrested, charged with two counts of violations of the laws of war and brought before a military commission to be tried. The trial of Major Gee is one of the first recorded trials for war crimes and a rare early example of domestic prosecution of an enemy fellow-national for what was effectively an international crime, in a war in which his side had been vanquished. Unlike the war crimes trial of Henry Wirz, commandant of Andersonville prison during the American Civil War, little attention has been paid to this important precedent.

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