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By June the prison population had ballooned to 20,000.Using prison labor, the boundary of the prison was extended 610 feet to the north during June.Realizing that the Confederates needed their prisoners back in their ranks, and that the Union had an endless supply of manpower, he thought that it was a benefit for the Union that the system had broken down and adamantly refused Confederate attempts in 1864 to revive prisoner exchanges.
The system operated by exchanging paroles from prisoners of equivalent ranks or of different ranks as follows: 1 general = 46 privates, 1 major general = 40 privates, 1 brigadier general = 20 privates, 1 colonel = 15 privates, 1 lieutenant colonel = 10 privates, 1 major = 8 privates, 1 captain = 6 privates, 1 lieutenant = 4 privates, 1 noncommissioned officer = 2 privates.
The Union, as a result, refused to abide by the system.
General Grant also had suspicions that the system wasn’t being completely honored in any case.
The first Union prisoners were shipped to it in February 1864.
With heavy fighting that began in May as Grant battled his way towards Richmond, the number of prisoners swelled to well beyond the capacity of the prison.