Plate 89. Libby Prison, Richmond

Text and photograph from Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War, Vol. II. Negative by Alexander Gardner, text and positive by Alexander Gardner.
The Old Tobacco Warehouse is too well known to need much description. This view was taken after the time was passed when Union officers and men looked wearily through the tiara at the monotonous flow of the James, and wondered how much longer they could endure without going mad; or peeping out into the street at the risk of being fired at by some sentry, watched the relief on its rounds, or the arrival of more prisoners to swell the already overcrowded numbers in durance. The Union flag floats upon the building, and the tables are turned. Rebel prisoners occupy the floors, so lately filled by Northern soldiers, with permission to kick up their heels to their hearts' content. There is a little crowd around the door at the corner, formed of destitute persona seeking relief. It was in this office the Union prisoners were received by the prison-keepers, and coolly dispoiled of any little trifles left about their persona, by their captors. The lower windows on the end of the building, light some of the small cells in the foundation, where officers were placed for punishment. It was here that Captains Flynn and Sawyer were confined, pending the retaliatory execution, to which they were condemned by the rebel authorities, and fortunately prevented by the prompt measures adopted by our Government. When Turner – brother of the notorious Dick – gave himself up, to escape vengeance at the hands of the soldiers, he was deposited in one of these places, that he might have a chance to appreciate the misery of some of those he had so ruthlessly confined there. This view of the Libby is taken from Castle Thunder, a warehouse of the same order of architecture.
Currently not on view
Object Name
albumen photograph
date made
Gardner, Alexander
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 7 in x 9 in; 17.78 cm x 22.86 cm
place made
United States: Virginia, Richmond
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
Government, Politics, and Reform
Gardner's Sketchbook
Civil War
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Gardner's Sketchbook
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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