The Infamous Confederate Prison – Libby Prison, Richmond, VA

Here is a previously undocumented photograph of Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. The second-most infamous prisoner-of-war camp in the Confederacy (after Andersonville), it housed Union officers and had an appallingly high mortality rate. For more information on the prison and its history, check: Libby Prison.

This view is most probably post-war, as most of the photos of the building even in 1865 show the whitewash on the lower levels as intact, and the Libby Prison sign in place hanging over the downhill sidewalk from the upper street facade.

Libby Prison, Richmond, VA
Libby Prison, Richmond, VA

After the fall of Richmond to Union forces, the prison was used to house Confederate officer prisoners of war, this time with greatly improved physical conditions to include windows with panes in them. Later, it became a museum, and was even dismantled and re-assembled in Chicago, but when it failed as a tourist attraction, the materials of the building were sold off as souvenirs.

As you can see the image was exposed to fire at some point, with scorching around the edges. I’m guessing the age to be between 1870-1880.

Here is a photo from the National Archives that shows the prison in 1865.

Libby Prison, NARA image, from Wikipedia
Libby Prison, NARA image, from Wikipedia

4 thoughts on “The Infamous Confederate Prison – Libby Prison, Richmond, VA”

      1. Thanks, will do. It is hard to believe what a group people are willing do to their own. I think we need to learn more about such things – maybe in hopes of preventing it from happening again, if that is possible.

        You’d think one Andersonville and one Camp Douglas would have been enough. Some of my ancestors died at Camp Douglas.

      2. Yes, and humanity hasn’t learned the lesson yet. In the 20th century we had Nazi concentration camps, the Russian Gulags, Japanese POW camps, Cambodia, the Hanoi Hilton, and in the 21st we have Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. I’d include the detention camps for Japanese Americans in the West during WW II, but they were not barbaric and inhumane. They were absolutely contemptible, unjust and despicable, and anyone who was forced into a camp should be financially compensated for the loss of income and property. Even we Americans who like to claim exceptionalism and the “moral high ground” are capable of egregious error. On our behalf, though, we do seem more willing than many to deal with the wrongdoing in public.

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