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Pretty much all wars have had their significant horror and heroic sides to the victors and losers.Conditional surrender /unconditional surrender tried to maintain some civility between both sides. The victor if he wasnt careful would be left with an army to feed and transport and shelter and provide security and medical support for.
Sometimes it was in the interest of both sides to let the losers walk away.
A white flag didnt neccessarily mean surrender. It signified the wish to ceasefire/short term truce and parlez terms for collecting wounded and burying dead.
I've always wondered about that Imperial Infantry figure. He could either be surrendering or defending himself from a mounted asailant. It is interesting to note that there are almost no surrendering figures before 1914, yet quite alot after it. Presumably surrendering was as common before the 20th century as during it, dont you think?
Interesting question, Jon.
To surrender in Ancient times, if allowed, might mean slavery or human sacrifice later.
Similarly, surrender during the Crusades might mean the same. And common soldiers met short shift during many a medieval conflict.
Surrender usually wasn't an option in the Colonial wars. Massacre of prisoners was the norm (on both sides!)
During the Seven Years War captured soldiers were induced (even tortured) to change sides.
There are examples of killing prisoners in the Nap Wars....the Turks, the Spanish Guerillas & the Russian cossacks.
Being a PW doesn't become anywhere near being a safe option until after the Geneva Convention....& not neccesarily then. Look at the fate of Russians in Nazi hands & vice versa or prisoners of the Imperial Japanese.
Ah but, in the 18th century it was very common for the entire force to surrender. Think of the many seiges of the 1700s. The garrison would receive the "honours of war" and march away to fight another day. Professional soldiers were too valuable to waste. They were "exchanged" through an elaborate system of rules with what we would see almost as umpires. War gamers would have loved it.
It wasn't until the AWI that the modern prison camp was invented after the Convention Army of General Burgoyne was seized in violation of the "convention" (the term surrender was avoided). The British faced the problem of how to treat "rebels". The military museum at Edinburgh Castle has a really good exhibit on this topic. "Rebel" and French prisoners were kept in the castle in the AWI.
In the Napoleonic wars and the wars of the 19th century there were again many prison camps. During the American Civil war the status of prisoners was again under question as one side did not recognize the nationhood of the other. The condiditions on both sides were terrible, exemplified by Andersonville in Georgia. One might have expected better from fellow countrymen but civil wars often bring out the worst in people.
In both the AWI and the ACW the "rebels" had an advantage on POW treatment in that during the early days of the conflict they were successful in obtaining a number of POWs that could be held as hostages, thus insuring that their own POWs would be treated as POWs rather than as traitors.
I think that prison camps in America preceded Burgoyne's surrender. A great many American POWs were kept in hulks in NY harbor, and the Americans kept a fair number of Brits and their supporters in various facilities throughout the country. As for the ACW, the conditions on both sides, while never ideal, deteriorated significantly after Grant stopped the POW exchanges.
It was just a joke I think all Nations have had there moments which they would rather forget, for me the British surrendering to a much smaller Japanese force at Singapore springs to mind.
Hope there's no hard feelings Brian
No problem, Brian...
As I wrote I don't feel resposable for what italians did years before my birht! And I'm not just talking about the last war: I coud go back to the colonial wars too, and the piedmontese "invasion" of southern Italy, down to romans and etruscans!!
There is an italian "core" in all the people who lived this country in the past, but I don't agree with anything they did of course; they're not "me" so I don't feel hungry if someone offends them.
Useless to say that that anyone should understand that later italians are different from the former... just like in any country!!