Libby Prison

Libby Prison (HMO0G)

Location: Richmond, VA 23223
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 31.848', W 77° 25.603'

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"Hope was all that sustained many."

Near this site, from about 1845 until 1889, stood the building that housed Richmond's famous Libby Prison. Originally built as a warehouse by wealthy Richmond businessman John Enders, Sr., a portion of the structure was leased prior to the Civil War by Northern-born Luther Libby, who sold groceries and shipping supplies here. When the war began Libby was evicted by the Confederate government, which used the building as a prison for Union officers captured at battlefields throughout the South.

Later in the war nearly all Union prisoners in Virginia came though Libby before being distributed to other facilities such as Belle Isle here in Richmond, or Andersonville in Georgia. On Feb. 9, 1864, 109 Union officers escaped from Libby through a 50-foot-long tunnel; only 48 were recaptured.

After the war Libby Prison was carefully dismantled and moved to Chicago, where it was reconstructed as the "Libby Prison National War Museum." It was demolished there about 1898 to make room for a coliseum.

Many prisoners felt inspired to record their experiences at Libby Prison. Pennsylvanian Clarence Wilson remembered lying down at night "dovetailed together like sardines in a box, on the bare floor, without anything to cover us. I came out weighing 90 pounds." The overcrowding affected Libby Hospital as well: Ohioan George Peet wrote of being jammed into one room with 110 other patients. From their mats of straw the men fought daily battles with maggots and filth, while "every now and then some poor fellow would get delirious and would shriek out; others were groaning horribly." Andrew Hamilton, who escaped from the building in 1864, recalled "great, gloomy rooms" in which nearly 1200 men sat, watching "the inexpressibly slow passage of time." "Hope was all that sustained many," he concluded.
HM NumberHMO0G
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, September 6th, 2014 at 2:36pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 285573 N 4156525
Decimal Degrees37.53080000, -77.42671667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 31.848', W 77° 25.603'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 31' 50.88" N, 77° 25' 36.18" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)757, 804
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 2001 E Cary St, Richmond VA 23223, US
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