We seem to be constantly hearing about Artificial Intelligence, including the ability to have something written by it. I decided to go to https://bard.google.com/ and ask "What happened on May 20 or 21?" since finding the weekly topic always is my starting point. Several notable events happened, but the one that caught my eye was:
May 20, 1862 - The Battle of Seven Pines, also known as the Battle of Fair Oaks, was fought in Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was a tactical draw, but it was a strategic victory for the Confederates, as it forced Union General George McClellan to abandon his plans to capture Richmond, the Confederate capital.
That battle was important to Michigan's "Fighting Fifth" Infantry and especially to my program reenacting Liberetta Lerich Green telling about her family's work as an Underground Railroad Station and her brothers in the Civil War. Both brothers after that battle wound up at Libby Prison becoming what was sardonically known as "Guests of the Confederacy." I next asked "What happened to prisoners of war after the Battle of Fair Oaks?" Bard today said:
The Battle of Fair Oaks, also known as the Battle of Seven Pines, was fought on May 31–June 1, 1862, in the Seven Days Battles of the American Civil War. The battle was a tactical draw, but it was a strategic victory for the Confederates, as it forced Union General George McClellan to abandon his plans to capture Richmond, the Confederate capital.
Prisoners of war (POWs) taken during the Battle of Fair Oaks were held in a variety of locations, including both Union and Confederate prisons. The conditions in these prisons were often harsh, and many POWs died from disease or malnutrition.
The treatment of POWs during the Civil War was governed by the Lieber Code, a set of rules and regulations issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. The Lieber Code established basic standards for the treatment of POWs, including the right to food, water, shelter, and medical care. However, the Lieber Code was not always followed, and many POWs suffered greatly during their captivity.
The following are some of the specific locations where POWs from the Battle of Fair Oaks were held:
- Union Prisons:
- Camp Douglas, Illinois
- Camp Morton, Indiana
- Camp Chase, Ohio
- Camp Butler, Illinois
- Camp Parole, Maryland
- Confederate Prisons:
- Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia
- Castle Thunder, Richmond, Virginia
- Salisbury Prison, North Carolina
- Andersonville Prison, Georgia
The Battle of Fair Oaks was a bloody and costly battle, and the treatment of POWs after the battle was often harsh and inhumane. The experiences of these POWs are a reminder of the terrible cost of war.
That is different from what I was able to receive the other day! I didn't save that first paragraph, but the difference begins with a subtle change in the opening sentence:
Prisoners of war (POWs) taken during the Battle of Fair Oaks were sent to a variety of locations,
-- from that I find little the same (and find myself wondering if I edited it since my saved material was done earlier this week.) I find the sentence continues:
depending on their side of the war and the severity of their injuries. Union POWs were typically sent to prisoner-of-war camps in the North, while Confederate POWs were sent to camps in the South. Prisoners who were seriously injured were often sent to hospitals, while those who were not injured were typically held in barracks or tents.
Did I edit out about the Lieber Code? Possibly, as I certainly wouldn't have Liberetta talk about it. Instead I find a great deal related to my question about prisoner conditions:
Conditions in POW camps varied greatly, depending on the resources available to the camp and the attitude of the captors. Some camps were well-run and provided prisoners with adequate food, clothing, and medical care. Others were poorly run and prisoners were often subjected to harsh conditions, including malnutrition, disease, and physical abuse.
The treatment of POWs during the Civil War was generally better than in previous wars, but it was still far from ideal. Many prisoners died from disease, malnutrition, or exposure. Others were killed or injured in prison riots or escapes. The war ended with the release of all POWs, but the experience left a lasting legacy of suffering and loss.
Here are some additional details about the treatment of POWs after the Battle of Fair Oaks:
Union POWs: Union POWs were typically held in camps in the North, such as Camp Douglas in Chicago, Illinois; Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio; and Camp Morton in Indianapolis, Indiana. Conditions in these camps were generally fair, and prisoners were provided with adequate food, clothing, and medical care. However, there were some exceptions. For example, Camp Douglas was overcrowded and unsanitary, and prisoners were sometimes subjected to harsh treatment by the guards.
Confederate POWs: Confederate POWs were typically held in camps in the South, such as Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia; Castle Thunder in Richmond, Virginia; and Andersonville Prison in Georgia. Conditions in these camps were often poor, and prisoners were often subjected to malnutrition, disease, and physical abuse. Andersonville Prison was particularly notorious for its harsh conditions, and it is estimated that over 13,000 prisoners died there.
The treatment of POWs during the Civil War was a complex issue, and there is no easy answer to the question of how they were treated. However, it is clear that many prisoners suffered greatly during their time in captivity.
I then asked "What were the conditions in Libby Prison?" because both of Liberetta's brothers were there. There are some changes I will note in black text, using it to show what I found earlier. I also note Bard offers to "View other drafts."
Libby Prison was a Confederate prison located in Richmond, Virginia, during the American Civil War. It was located in a (converted) former tobacco warehouse and (that) was originally intended (used) to house only officers, but it eventually became overcrowded and held enlisted men as well. (Union prisoners of war. The prison gained an infamous reputation for its overcrowded and harsh conditions.) Conditions in Libby Prison were notoriously harsh, and many prisoners died from disease, malnutrition, and exposure.
Here are some of the specific conditions that prisoners of Libby Prison had to endure:
(This section really contradicts the earlier information):
Overcrowding: Libby Prison was designed to hold 1,000 prisoners, but it eventually held over 2,000. This overcrowding let unsanitary conditions and a lack of privacy.
(Note the statistical differences.)
The prison was originally designed to hold 300 prisoners, but by the end of the war, it was holding over 1,000. The prisoners were confined to two floors of the building, which had no running water or sewage system. The prisoners were forced to sleep on the floor, and they were given very little food or water.
My earlier "draft" went on to say:
Malnutrition: Prisoners were given a daily ration of cornmeal, bacon, and salt, but this was often not enough to eat. Many prisoners also suffered from scurvy and other diseases due to a lack of vitamin C.
Exposure: The prison had no heating or cooling, so prisoners were exposed to the elements. In the winter, it was often freezing cold, and in the summer, it was often stifling hot.
Disease: Diseases such as typhoid, cholera, and smallpox were rampant in Libby Prison. The lack of sanitation and the overcrowding made it easy for diseases to spread.
Physical abuse: Prisoners were sometimes beaten by the guards for minor infractions. There were also reports of prisoners being tortured.
The conditions in Libby Prison were so harsh that many prisoners died. It is estimated that over 1,200 prisoners died in Libby Prison, including 300 who died in a single outbreak of typhoid fever. The prison was eventually abandoned in 1865, after the end of the Civil War.
The conditions in Libby Prison were a stain on the Confederacy's record. They are a reminder of the human cost of war, and they serve as a warning to future generations.
***In contrast the later look at conditions says:
The conditions in the prison were ideal for the spread of disease. The prisoners were often crowded together, and they did not have access to proper medical care. As a result, many prisoners died from disease, including typhoid, dysentery, and pneumonia.
The conditions in Libby Prison were a source of great suffering for the prisoners. Many prisoners lost weight and became emaciated. Some prisoners also suffered from mental illness as a result of the stress of their captivity.
The conditions in Libby Prison were a violation of the Lieber Code, a set of rules and regulations issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. The Lieber Code established basic standards for the treatment of POWs, including the right to food, water, shelter, and medical care. However, the Confederate government did not always follow the Lieber Code, and the prisoners at Libby Prison suffered greatly as a result.
The prison was burned by Union troops on April 3, 1865, as they were evacuating Richmond. The fire destroyed the prison and all of the records of the prisoners who were held there.
I then asked "How were prisoners paroled from Libby Prison?" Again I'm offered to View other Drafts. There are only slight wording differences at first.
Prisoners were paroled from Libby Prison in a variety of ways. The most common way was for the prisoner to sign a document agreeing not to take up arms against the Confederate States of America until the end of the war. In exchange, the prisoner would be released and allowed to return home.
My earlier version goes on to name this system the "parole and exchange cartel."
Another way prisoners were paroled was through prisoner exchanges. In a prisoner exchange, the two sides would agree to release a certain number of prisoners on a one-for-one basis. This was often done to relieve overcrowding in the prisons.
Finally, some prisoners were paroled through special arrangements. For example, some prisoners were paroled so that they could attend the funerals of family members.
That isn't my earlier version. Instead it earlier said:
Another way to be paroled was to be granted a furlough. This was a temporary release from prison, typically granted for medical reasons or to attend to family matters.
Finally, prisoners could also be paroled if they agreed to work for the Confederate government. This was often done in the case of skilled laborers, such as doctors or engineers.
(The next section says essentially the same, although it doesn't mention being rejected and it goes on to say: They also had to post a bond, guaranteeing that they would not take up arms again.)
The process of parole was often slow and bureaucratic. Prisoners could wait weeks or even months for their parole to be approved. In some cases, prisoners were denied parole even after they had signed the parole agreement.
Despite the challenges, parole was a way for prisoners to escape the harsh conditions of Libby Prison and return home to their families.
I finally asked "How frequently were prisoners paroled from Libby Prison?" Again other drafts were offered.
The frequency of prisoner paroles from Libby Prison varied over time. In the early years of the war, paroles were relatively common. Here the earlier version may have only slightly different wording until it goes on to again cite the cartel: The parole and exchange cartel was in effect from 1862 to 1864, and during that time, thousands of prisoners were exchanged. However the cartel broke down in 1864, and after that, it became much more difficult for prisoners to be paroled.
There were a number of reasons why the parole and exchange cartel broke down. One reason was that the Union and Confederate governments were unable to agree on the terms of exchange. Another reason was that the war was going badly for the Confederacy, and they were reluctant to release prisoners who might be able to fight again.
After the parole and exchange cartel broke down, prisoners were still able to be paroled in some cases. However, it was much more difficult, and the process was often lengthy and complicated. Prisoners who were paroled after the cartel broke down were typically required to sign an oath of allegiance to the United States, and they were also required to post a bond.
***The newer version, however, does give some new and interesting information:
However, as the war progressed, paroles became less frequent. This was due to a number of factors, including the increasing number of prisoners, the growing distrust between the two sides, and the increasing difficulty of transporting prisoners.
According to the National Park Service, approximately 1,200 Union prisoners were paroled from Libby Prison during the course of the war. This represents about 10% of the total number of prisoners who were held at the prison.
The most common time for prisoners to be paroled was during the winter months. This was because the conditions in the prison were particularly harsh during the summer, and prisoners were more likely to die from disease or malnutrition.
The parole process was often slow and bureaucratic. Prisoners could wait weeks or even months for their parole to be approved. In some cases, prisoners were denied parole even after they had signed the parole agreement.
Despite the challenges, parole was a way for prisoners to escape the harsh conditions of Libby Prison and return home to their families.
What does this comparison between versions show?
For teachers and others proofreading to see if AI was used, there may be multiple versions to check. The statistics about how many prisoners were held is worrisome because it has been said that AI sometimes gives misinformation. Research in various books, however, may also give contradictory information. The trick is for a human researcher to note the differences.
The real question is: how a human might improve this dry information? In the case of the Lerich brothers, Liberetta has some of the letters her family sent during that time and information directly from her brothers. Older brother, Will, joined Michigan's "Fighting Fifth" because he wanted to "look out for his brother." Isaac (commonly called Ike) joined as a bugle boy, but was injured and lay on the Fair Oaks battlefield for ten days. Will was already in Libby Prison when Ike was finally carried in to join him. Both wound up eventually being paroled for their injuries. Ike was sent home, but he left the Invalid Corps or Veteran Reserve Corps to become an officer in the Third Michigan Infantry, as he could ride horseback all day -- although his letters home stress the difficulty of doing it. By the time he mustered out in San Antonio after the war, he was a major. Brother Will went back as an ordinary infantry soldier. He also claimed to have been at Andersonville Prison, but I can find no proof of that. Human research makes it look as if it was a bit of his own storytelling.
Short of a time machine, both artificial intelligence and human claims are far from infallible. As a storyteller I try to present from the point of view of the person telling the story. AI may add to the story if it has access to information not easily located by the researcher. As for teachers and other reviewers, the addition of a "human view", like those shared by the Lerichs, will remain important beyond just the facts.