The New International Encyclopædia/Libby Prison

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LIBBY PRISON. A Confederate military prison during the Civil War, situated in Richmond, Va. It was a building three stories high in front and four in the rear, containing six rooms (excluding the cellar), each about 105 by 45 feet. Before the Civil War it was used by its owner, a Mr. Libby, as a tobacco warehouse. It was first used as a prison after the first battle of Bull Run, and continued to be thus used until the close of the war. At times as many as 1200 prisoners were confined there, most of them being Federal officers. The Confederate officers in immediate charge were Major Thomas P. Turner, commander, and Richard Turner, inspector. The prisoners suffered terribly from starvation, cold, and other causes, and many died or had their health permanently shattered while in confinement. Many attempts at escape were made, the most famous being that of February 9, 1864, when 109 prisoners made their exit through a tunnel 50 feet in length, which had been laboriously excavated by a small party of men under Col. Thomas E. Rose. Of the 109, 48 were recaptured, 2 were accidentally drowned, and 59 reached the Federal lines. In 1888-89 the building was taken apart, carried to Chicago, and there reconstructed. In September, 1889, many valuable relics having been stored in it, it was formally opened as the Libby Prison War Museum.