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Name Libby Prison
Details Confederate Prison at Richmond, Virginia, during the American Civil War. It gained an infamous reputation for the harsh conditions under which prisoners from the Union Army were kept.

The prison was located in a three-story brick warehouse on Tobacco Row. Prior to use as a jail, the warehouse had been leased by Capt. Luther Libby and his son George W. Libby. They operated a ship's chandlery and grocery business. Libby Prison, used only for Union officers, opened in 1861. It contained eight rooms, each 103 by 42 feet (31.4 by 12.5 metres). Lack of sanitation and overcrowding caused the death of many prisoners between 1863 and 1864. Because of the high death toll, Libby Prison is generally regarded as second in notoriety only to Andersonville Prison in Georgia. In 1864, the Union prisoners were moved to Macon, Georgia, and Libby Prison was then used for Confederate military criminals.

After the occupation of Richmond in 1865 the prison was used by Union authorities for detaining former Confederate officers. Conditions were reportedly less harsh than they had been for Union officers or prisoners of both sides generally during the war.

In 1880, the building was purchased by Southern Fertilizer Company. Nine years later, it was bought by candymaker Charles F. Gunther, disassembled, and moved to Chicago, Illinois, where it was rebuilt to serve as a war museum. After it failed to draw enough crowds the structure was again dismantled, this time to be sold in pieces as souvenirs.

Associated Records

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Henry Cushman Letter - Cushman, Henry Theodore

Folded lined letter from Henry Cushman to his brother. Dated Richmond, Viginia, April 30, 1865. Describes a tour of the Libby Prison given to him and a friend by Captain Corcoran.

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A Trip through the Libby Prison War Museum Guide Pamphlet - unknown

Paper booklet, "Trip through Libby Prison War Museum, Chicago." Offers a guide with historical information to the Libby Prison War Museum including the various spaces. Especially intended for those who could not visit.

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Noyes, A. J. Letters - Noyes, Andrew J.

Letters and papers relationg to Andrew J. Noyes, Civil War services and pension, 1861-1899 (10 pieces). Papers related to Andrew J. Noyes including a one dollar bank note from the Bank of Bennington. Other papers include letters Noyes wrote from Libby Prison to his mother and sister after he was wounded and captured at the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861. Also included is a letter written to Noyes' father a month after the battle informing him that his son was wounded but is doing well in Libby Prison as witnessed by a captured Maine priest on parole. Also a small group of records dated 1899 related to a pension from the Department of the Interior Bureau of Pensions and the United State

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Rodgers Statuary Pamphlet - Rogers, John

"Groups of Statuary" by John Rogers, 1882. Showcases the groups of statues which may be purchased from Rodgers. Each statute comes with a description as well as a physical description. Ordering information on back page. One statue was done around the time of the Libby Prison escape.

Image of Libby Prison Order and Correspondence Book - Libby Prison

Libby Prison Order and Correspondence Book - Libby Prison

Order and Correspondence Book of Libby Prison, from January 11, 1862, to December 15, 1863. Found at prison by General Edward H. Ripley when he took command of Richmond. Dark marbled cover with white script label. On inside of cover is a newspaper clipping Proclamation by the president of the confederate states, regarding rules of the prison. Written on first page in ink "Copies of orders, letters, etc. Office of confederate states. Prisons Richmond February 1st 1862".

Image of Flag

Flag -

Confederate flag. Half is red with white stars on blue crossbars, half on end is white. Flag is mostly linen, with cotton stars. Official flag of Libby prison, lowered by General Edward H. Ripley, April 3, 1865. The large piece missing from the white portion of the flag was torn out by souvenir hunters while on exhibition in Memorial Hall, Rutland.

Image of Key

Key -

Key to the entrance door of Libby Prison. Heavy. Paper tag tied to key with note in Edward Ripley's handwriting "Key to the Entrance of the Libby Prison--Union Prisoners released Confederate Prisoners put in April 3, 1865."

Image of Poster

Poster -

Framed document; black lettering on tan paper; decorative border around lettering. Heading: "READ THIS NOTICE!" Officer roll call notice of US Military Prison. Handwriting at top reads: Taken from the walls of theLibby Prison/April 3 of 865_ Edward H Ripley Brig Richmond".

Image of Wood, Worked

Wood, Worked -

Block of wood from Libby Prison, Richmond, VA. with photograph of prison on top. Belonged to the family of Cassius M. Stickney who died 1864 as a prisoner of Libby Prison.

Image of Montage

Montage -

Printed montage of the escape from Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, Feb. 9, 1864. Variety of newsclippings of escape, illustrations, written text and diagrams mounted on cardboard.

Image of Print

Print -

Black and white print with additional white painted highlights titled "Libby Prison / The only picture in existence / as it appeared August 23, 1863." Print shows prison in background, six white tents (one marked "CSA") in front with guards and four people. On back is printed certification of its originality by people and prisoners. Pub. by Allen and William A. Mountcastle, Richmond, Virginia. Copyright J.L. Barlow, Richmond, Virginia, 1882. Originally priced at Fifty cents.

Image of Frame, Picture

Frame, Picture -

Wooden wreath comprised of tabs of wood, one side shaped like a heart, the other like a club, both with diamonds on middle part of plank. Shapes and ends painted gold. Carved from cigar box lids by William Francis Matteson while he was a prisoner in Libby Prison during the Civil War 1863-1864.

Image of Painting - The Compassionate Enemy

Painting - The Compassionate Enemy

Man wearng civil war dress holding bayonet stands at stone wall next to barred window with imprisoned men. Man holds bread in hands while men behind window slip hand through bars. Plaque on frame "The Compassionate Enemy / By Julian Scott, ANA 1846 - 1901 / Born in Johnson, VT. Identified as Confederate guard at Libby Prison.