Knife, Fork, and Plate from Libby Prison


Physical Description

Metal-and-bone knife and fork and a metal plate.

Specific History

This knife, fork, and plate was issued to prisoner of war Colonel John S. Crocker, 93rd Infantry Regiment, New York Volunteers, by the commandant of Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia, and used by him at Libby and Salisbury prisons, 1862.

General History

Libby Prison's three buildings were designed and built as a warehouse by John Enders, who died before putting them to use. Following his death, the warehouse sold to Luther Libby from Maine, who erected a sign "L. Libby & Son, Chip Chandlers". At the beginning of the war, Libby was given 48 hours to vacate the building so it could be used as a prison. The only thing Libby left behind was his sign; the building became Libby Prison. During the war, Libby held over 125,000 men, mostly Union officers. On February 9, 1864, the most bold and daring of prison escapes happened at Libby. One hundred nine Union army officers managed to escape by crawling through a fireplace, sliding down a chimney, and slithering through a 53-foot-long tunnel. The escape came after months of digging with tools smuggled into the prison by a Northern sympathizer, Elizabeth Van Wert, a.k.a. Crazybet. Libby was vacated just before the Union army captured Richmond, and spent the rest of the war empty.

Date Made: 1862Associated Date: 1861 - 1865

User: Crocker, John S.

Used At: United States: Virginia, Libby PrisonUnited States: Virginia, Richmond

Subject: POWsRelated Event: Civil WarCivil War and Reconstruction


See more items in: Political and Military History: Armed Forces History, General, Military, ThinkFinity

Exhibition: Price of Freedom

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Credit Line: Mrs. Nelson Head

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: AF.75529MCatalog Number: 75529MAccession Number: 296035

Object Name: plateObject Type: plate

Physical Description: tin (overall material)Measurements: overall: 21.844 cm x 21.844 cm x 1.905 cm; 8 5/8 in x 8 5/8 in x 3/4 in


Record Id: nmah_419263

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.