Some Native Americans continued to capture Europeans and use them both as labourers and bargaining chips into the 19th century; see for example John R.
Jewitt, an Englishman who wrote a memoir about his years as a captive of the Nootka people on the Pacific Northwest coast from 1802–1805.
Belligerents hold prisoners of war in custody for a range of legitimate and illegitimate reasons, such as isolating them from enemy combatants still in the field (releasing and repatriating them in an orderly manner after hostilities), demonstrating military victory, punishing them, prosecuting them for war crimes, exploiting them for their labour, recruiting or even conscripting them as their own combatants, collecting military and political intelligence from them, or indoctrinating them in new political or religious beliefs.
For most of human history, depending on the culture of the victors, enemy combatants on the losing side in a battle who had surrendered and been taken as a prisoner of war could expect to be either slaughtered or enslaved.
Sometimes, the purpose of a battle, if not a war, was to capture women, a practice known as raptio; the Rape of the Sabines was a large mass abduction by the founders of Rome.
Typically women had no rights, and were held legally as chattel.
The Leipzig citizen Rochlitz remarked in his account about the Battle of Leipzig, that large crowds of French POWs were held on fields outside the town, begged passersby for food, and that most of them didn't survive this ordeal.
The extensive period of conflict during the American Revolutionary War and Napoleonic Wars (1793–1815), followed by the Anglo-American War of 1812, led to the emergence of a cartel system for the exchange of prisoners, even while the belligerents were at war.
The senior officer from each quadrangle was permitted to inspect the food as it was delivered to the prison to ensure it was of sufficient quality.The expanding Mongol Empire was famous for distinguishing between cities or towns that surrendered, where the population were spared but required to support the conquering Mongol army, and those that resisted, where their city was ransacked and destroyed, and all the population killed.In Termez, on the Oxus: "all the people, both men and women, were driven out onto the plain, and divided in accordance with their usual custom, then they were all slain".In the fourth century AD, Bishop Acacius of Amida, touched by the plight of Persian prisoners captured in a recent war with the Roman Empire, who were held in his town under appalling conditions and destined for a life of slavery, took the initiative of ransoming them, by selling his church's precious gold and silver vessels, and letting them return to their country. During Childeric's siege and blockade of Paris in 464, the nun Geneviève (later canonised as the city's patron saint) pleaded with the Frankish king for the welfare of prisoners of war and met with a favourable response.Later, Clovis I liberated captives after Genevieve urged him to do so.The writings of Mary Rowlandson, captured in the brutal fighting of King Philip's War, are an example.Such narratives enjoyed some popularity, spawning a genre of the captivity narrative, and had lasting influence on the body of early American literature, most notably through the legacy of James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans.During his lifetime, Muhammad made it the responsibility of the Islamic government to provide food and clothing, on a reasonable basis, to captives, regardless of their religion; however if the prisoners were in the custody of a person, then the responsibility was on the individual.The 1648 Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years' War, established the rule that prisoners of war should be released without ransom at the end of hostilities and that they should be allowed to return to their homelands.This was done in retaliation for the French killing of the boys and other non-combatants handling the baggage and equipment of the army, and because the French were attacking again and Henry was afraid that they would break through and free the prisoners to fight again.In the later Middle Ages, a number of religious wars aimed to not only defeat but eliminate their enemies.