WALLS THAT TALK
WALLS THAT TALK:
TRANSCRIPT OF THE
¯NAMES INITIALS AND SENTIMENTS¯
AND GRAVEN ON THE
WALLS, DOORS AND WINDOWS
LIBBY PRISON AT RICHMOND
PRISONERS OF 1861-‘65
very stones prate of my whereabout.” – MACBETH
BY R. E. LEE CAMP, NO. I, C. V.
The old brick building now so celebrated as "The Libby Prison,"
was built about 1852 by Mr. John Enders, the father of the tobacco trade of
Richmond. Mr. Enders. lost his life by a fall from a ladder while the building,
was in course of construction.
Capt. Libby, from whom the building takes the name, was only a tenant under Mr. Enders, He conducted a ship chandlery business.
The block of buildings which constituted the prison consists of three
tenements, each 110x44 feet, four stories, fronting north on Cary street and
south on Dock. The western end of the block, generally seen in the various cuts
of the building, opened on the cross street.
The corner tenement is now owned by the Southern Fertilizing Company, and
the other two by Mrs. George S. Palmer, a daughter of Mr. Enders who built the
The building was converted into a prison in 1861, and was used as such
until the end of the war.
It was more especially an "officers"' prison, but prisoners of
all grades were received, registered and transferred to Belle Isle,
Andersonville, Salisbury and other points
It is estimated that from 40,000 to 50,000 prisoners passed through this
prison during the period from 1861 to 1865.
The books of the institution were carefully and systematically kept,
including a complete register of arrivals, departures, deaths, burials, &c.,
&c., and are supposed to be now in the possession of the government
In February, 1864, Colonel Streight and a number of his comrades made
their escape by tunneling under the prison walls on the east side and into an
adjoining building from which they emerged into the street.
Some of the party were recaptured, but others, with Colonel Streight,
made good their escape.
At times the demand for troops to meet expected raiding parties was so
urgent that every available man was sent from Richmond; and on one occasion,
when the Libby contained a thousand officers, the entire guard on duty there,
excepting the relief on guard, was marched to the city defences to meet the
A large part of the guard duty at the Libby, especially in the latter
years of the war, was performed by citizens of Richmond far beyond the age of
exemption and totally unable to endure the fatigue of active duty. Probably no
more humane or harmless men ever watched over the slumbers of prisoners of war.
The “rules and regulations” provided, “nor shall any prisoner be
fired upon by a sentinel or other person except in case of revolt or attempted
Five or six cases occurred in which prisoners were killed or wounded in
their attempts to escape.
An ample supply of water was conveyed to each floor by city pipes, and
the prisoners had unlimited supply for bathing and washing.
By act of congress, and by order of the Secretary of War, the rations
furnished prisoners of war were to be the same in quantity and quality as those
furnished to enlisted men in the Confederate States army.
If the rations of the prisoners in the Libby deteriorated in quality and
diminished in quantity as did the rations of the Confederate soldier in the
field, he had cause to complain. But it is doubtful if the prisoners there ever
at any time suffered the total deprivation of food for days, or such irregular
and limited supply, as the Confederate soldier was familiar with.
Any person interested in the “prison” history of the war will find
many historical facts in relation thereto in a volume entitled “The Treatment
of Prisoners,” published by the Southern Historical Society. The biography of
General Bartlett, of the Federal army, who was a prisoner in the Libby, contains
very interesting incidents of his stay there.
The day has happily come in which the soldiers of each side are agreed
that even the bitterness of prison life shall be forgotten.
The present owners of the Libby have generously allowed some of the
timbers to be removed and made into gavels, which will be on sale at the Lee
Camp Fair for the Home for disabled Confederate soldiers.
The presiding officer of every Grand Army Post should have one of these
“souvenirs” with which to “rap” the Post to order.
The above is printed here as a not inappropriate introduction to the list
of names, initials, sentiments, etc., written or graven on the walls, window
frames and doors of the Libby prison by numbers of those who were so unfortunate
as to have suffered forcible detention within its walls.
If any of those whose names are here printed now survive, surely this
little pamphlet will serve to remind them of the part they took in the cause of
the Union, NOW so firm1y established, but THEN in such jeopardy, and will be a
valued souvenir to their children in the years that are to come.
Nor will the list be less prized by those who read here the name of some
dearly loved one, who escaped the dangers of the prison only to die for flag and
And it may chance that some one will read here THE ONLY RECORD LEFT of
some soldier, good and true, who loved his country well, but gave no cry when he
died: whose only epitaph was written with his own hand on the walls of his
Confined in Libby Prison
THE LATE WAR.
Names are in Posts and the Walls,
also the Doors.
Gen'l H. Kilpatrick, prisoner four months.
Brig. Gen. A. G. Estis, prisoner four months.
D. T. Hamilton, Co. E, 5th Cav., 90th Reg. Ind.
Vol. prisoner five months.
Sergeant A. E. Beffett, Co. K, 7th Reg. C. V.; Aug. 13; 1863.
Giles W. Lamkin, Co. K, 7th Reg.; Aug. 13, 1863.
J. W. Crocker, 30th N. Y. Cav. Aug. 7th; prisoner
W. A. Wheetiar, Sturk Shaurk co., N. Y.; Co. D.
H. Lee, W. Beaumont, Wm. Morerand, 128th Ills.
Chas. Howard, New York City; Sept., 1863. This gentleman can explain to
anybody how the dead line was and how many were killed in Libby Prison.
Geo. N. Bliss, East Providence, R. I.; Capt. Co. C, 1st R. I.
Cav.; captured Oct. 19, 1863, at Liberty Mills.
Maneley D. Brownner, Aug. 16, 1862.
Alex. Helong, M. D., of Newark, N. J.; late Ass't Surgeon U. S. Vols.
Capt. Wm. G. Galloway, 1st Capt. 15th U. S.; in
prison in Libby Sept. 20, 1863, until May, 1864.
Col. James A. Penfield, late Capt. 5th N. Y. Cav.; C. T.
Lieut. G. P. Cotton, U. S. Artillery.
Frank Ouke Rose, 1863; 55th Ind. Vol.; captured near
J. W. Wells, escaped through the tunnel.
Stoney R. Morgan.
E. D. Smith, U. S. Navy, May 7th, 1864.
R. F. Campbell, Capt. of 36th Ills. Vol.
John McD., 36th Ills. Vol.
O. W. Bishop, First Vt. Cavalry.
N. G. B. Withereld.
C. Mulholand, 2d Pa. Art'y.
J. C. New.
Richard McGill, Co. E, 7th Reg.
Francis Thibo, 14th N. Y.
Nathan Edwin Hopkins, of J. City, C. T. This name is cut in the door in a
very singular style.
C. J. M.
Wm. D. Doolitle, 30th N. Y. V.
H. J. D.
Keith, Co. D. N. Y.
J. W. N.
J. M. Cole, Co. F, 30 N. Y.
J. W. G.
J. L. Mc. 1st O. V.
J. P. Bowley, prisoner 9 months, Sept.; 1863; N.Y.
J. L. Barthlew, June 8, Penn. V. Vol.; 3 months.
K. S. Newcomb, Chicago, Ills.; 2d N. Y. Cav.; captured Oct. 19, '63, at Liberty Mills.
A. Newman, U. S. G. Boat Daylight.
John. B. Dowd, in Libby Prison March, 1863; Sergeant-Major 85th
Indiana Vol., Rockville, Ind.
Col. John Starr, captured at the battle of the Wilderness, 1863; Libby
Walace Brewer, captured at Port Hudson, La.; Co. A, 128th
N.Y.; June 27, 1863; in Libby Prison July and August.
H. J. Perword, Co. B, 54th Penn. Vol.; entered in Libby Oct.,
1862; exchanged November, 1862.
Chas. C. Aral, Co. B, 2d Reg. Md. Vol.
Chas. Egbert, Co. K, 1st Reg. N. Y. Vol.
G. C. Thomas, Jr., 1st D. C. Vol.
M. L. Ackerman, late Corp. E. H., N. J. Vol.
B. S. Kerney, 1st U. S. In., Feb.; 1863.
J. M. Edgar, came in as a prisoner on Oct. 23, 1861; paroled and left on
March 26, 1862; now a member of Veteran Corps, Washington, D. C.
James Brennan, late 127th Reg. N. Y. Vol.
Frank Clark, late 14th Brooklyn Red Legs.
Chas. M. Ford, U. V. C.; captured at Petersburg, 1864.
T. Gerrish, Bangor, Maine; prisoner in 1864; Reg. 20th Maine;
in Libby two weeks.
John B. Crafts was hung for making a plot to get out in Libbv Prison; Co.
E. 43d N. Y. Vol.
William McKenzie, prisoner in Libby three months; Co. E, 43d N. Y. Vol.
He gives the name of the man that was here, 1863.
G. T. Whitney, August 25, 1863; prisoner four months.
G. W. Robertson, Oct. 1st, 1863, to April 1st,
1864; McCline, Mich.
M. H. Manders, June '64; U. S. M.
A. Richmond, August 12, 1864.
M. L., Co. I, June 14, 1864.
Geo. W. Gilbrad.
W. Hale, 101st Ohio.
J. Smaud, Ills. Vol.
E. B. Dawson, 33d N. J. Vol., August 20, 1864.
Andx. Gillispie, Vt. Cav., Co. E, I. O. V.
J. W. Munday, Lt. B Co., 73d Ind., captured May 3d, 1863. This is very
fine name, and is done well.
W. B. Elwood.
W. Derosier, Co. E, 18th N. Y.
J. B. W., 5th R. I.
Thos. H. Eastman, Co. K, 7th Reg. C. V.
J. A. Smith, Ft. McH. Art'y; 1864, Sept. 10th.
Benj. F. Wicks, Co. K, 7th Reg. C. T. Vol.
Geo. McLeartising, June 8th, 1863.
Geo. Krias, prisoner about 2 hours, 1863, in Libby Prison. (Mason.)
Whitman Chase, N. J. Light Blues captured Stony River.
H. J. Smith, prison 5th May, 1863.
W. E. Hopkins, U. S. Navy, Minnesota.
Simon Skunk, U. S. Navy, Jan. 1864.
P. O. Conner, 1865.
A. B. Isham, 7th Mich. Cav.
W. E. H. Fentris, U. S Navy, 1864.
G. W. Hill, 7th Mich. Cav.
L. V. M. 5th N. J.; captured 17th June, ‘64
David Allen, prisoner 1864.
John A. Rodigo, prisoner from June 27th to Sept. 24th
1862; Co. D, 30th N. J. Vol.; now resides at Newark, N. J
R. H. Wright, prisoner 1863 to 1864.
A. Hunter, Co. E.
A. O. Brag.
Ben. Hendries, 11th Art'y, Troy, N. Y.
A. B. Gipprech, 2d Vol.
W. B. Duke, 5th N. Y.
Wm, Pittgrew, 2d Ohio Vol., mfg.
E. W. Weaver, Ohio, late 43d O. V. J.
C. H. Carlton, U. S. N.
J. W. Wadwalt, Penn. Reg.
P. L. Marsh, 211 Penn. Vol.
J. W. Anwall, Surgeon 11th Reg. Penn. Vol.
E. D. Kenyon, musician in war.
Major Win. Eabird, 5th Cavalry, Cameron Dragoons, N. Y.;
prisoner nine months.
J. Boyd martin, 130th P. V.
Dick Ruth, prisoner nine months.
Chas. Langston, prisoner 1864.
Edwin Lawson, Pa.; Co. H, First N. J. Cavalry.
John M. Brimmer, Co. C V., 75th Pa. V.
Col. Geo. McKay, 37 Ills.
Capt. Frank E. Moores, 7 Ohio Cav.
Major Frank Williams, 4th New York Art'y.
Capt. S. E. Smithfield, 40th N. Y.
Col. R. T. Robinson, 30th N. Y. Vol.
John L. Carter, Art'y.
John E. Cavanaugh, Art'y.
Chas. Loffler, Co. K, 47 Reg. O. G., Ills.
J. B. Bonna, 22d Reg. N. Y.
A. Welsh; Co. I, First U. S. Art'y.
Dennes Shea, U. S. Navy.
Charles Ross, 40 N. Y. Vol.
Mike Flinn, 15 Ct.
Lieu. G. W. McCall.
John E. McDonough, 5th U. S. Art’y.
C. Manning, captured at the first battle Bull Run, brought to Columbia
prison Feb. 22, 1861; from there to Libby Prison 'March 29; from Libby Prison to
Salisbury, N. C.; from Salisbury, N. C. to Gettysburg; from Gettysburg back to
Danville, Va., from Danville, Va., back to Libby Prison again.
Gen'l. Geo, L. Hayes, prisoner in Libby, July.
Gen'l. M. G. Egbert.
Ahira Baker, captured at Hampton Roads from the brig Liaba, of
Providence, R. I., 1862; prisoner in Libby Prison five weeks.
Gen'l Cook, Gen'l Kelly, was in Libby Prison two months. They were
captured in a hotel in Cumberland, Md., by Col. Mosby and Major Gillmore; they
let out of the prison Col. Geo. McKabe, and be carried them through the lines;
they bribed the guard and caught the general.
Edmund L. Lumsden, 1st Lieut. Co. H, 5th Wis. Vol.;
from June 15 to March the 1st.
J. H. Garrison.
Lieut. D. R. Coder, in the post.
C. Graham, 12 Pa. Cav.
J. Becker, Co. C, 38 N. Y. Vol.
Samuel Couts, Co. I, 15th C. V. I.; captured 1863.
B. F. Dill, Co. I, 39th Reg. Ind. Vol.
T. Dale, Co. D, 35th Ills.
F. H. Morab.
C. Cook, 1st N. J. Cav., Co. F.
G. P. Luverfic, Seneca Falls, 128th Ills.
L. J. Beasley, Co. A, 14th N. Y. Vol.
Capt. Andrew Wells, in Libby Prison June and July, 1862; captured at Fair
Oaks: Co. F, 8th Penn. Cavalry. This Gentleman was in line with 210
officers for two to be picked out to be shot. The two that was to be was named
Major Flynn and Col Lurry.
Pemberton James, N. Y. Light Guards.
Am. Learn, N. Y. Vol.
P. Ford, Wis.
John Bergheimer, Co. K, 1st Reg.
J. F. Tenison, 1st Reg. N. Y. Vol.
W. Scofield, 69th Reg.
Don. Stevenson, 44th Pa.
C. Weller, S. N. C. A. Rifles.
Frank Deay, 1st N. Y. Vol.
Geo. Lowery, 14th N. Y. Vol., 1865.
Charles Carroll, 70th N. Y.
A. N., 40th N. Y.
William Burns, Troy Art'y.
J. Riling, Co. E, 73d Reg.
O. A. Word.
B. P., Co. H, 39th N. D.
T. Poor, Ohio.
D. C. Wood, July 4, ‘65
Capt. D. W. Delaney, Co. G, R. I.; June 3, 1864.
D. C. Warren, Co. C, 147 N. Y. Vol.; May 12, 1864.
N. C. Gleason, Co. C, 54th Pa. V. V.
J. C. Taylor, Co. B, 1st Reg I. V. U. S. Corps; Feb. 25, 1865.
W. D. C.
J. G. T.
B. F. S.
J. A. R.
J. A. H. E.
J. M. Sulivan, Co. B. N. H.
Chas. Wipten, Light Guard 71st Reg. N. Y. city; captured at
first battle Bull Run.
J. H. Strington.
W. H. Clynn, 1863.
A. Shoman, Co. I, 15th Ind.
C. C. Fink, J. Watson. These two names are in a window-sash in the top of
the house-N. W. building.
H. Lindon, 3d Ills.
R. A. Luck.
P. L. S.
C. N. Brown
J. B. Price.
John W. Staver, U. S. Navy; 1863.
T. W. Mason, 3d W. V. Ind.; captured May 8th, 1862, at
McDowell, W. Va.
John Ward, 8th Penn. Cav.; captured 11th Oct. 1863,
at Sulphur Springs.
Charles F. Smith, Chicago, Ills.; prisoner Oct, 1862; 8th
W. T. Quigler, Gettysburg, Pa.; prisoner in July, 1863.
James T. McTumtter, taken at Gettysburg 1863.
Geo. H. Patch, prisoner Oct. 20th, 1862, until 1st
L. L. Travis, Co. B, 5th Pa., Waverly, N. Y.; Aug. 20, 1864.
J. C. Taylor, Feb. 21, 1865, Trenton, N. J.
Joseph Seaton, 1862, Trenton, N. J.
J. Henry Gercke, Phila., Pa., B. Co., 5th Penn. Cav.; captured
April 11, 1863, at Williamsburg, Va.
W. Waxam, 30th N. Y.
J. Day, 31st Ind. Vol., 1864.
C. Patton, 88th Ind. Vol., 1862.
J. L. G., Co. E, 109th Reg.
Kenedey, 134th N. Y.
E. S. Noves, Co. C.
B. B. A., Artillery, G.
P. H. Kenedey, Troy. N. Y.
J. W. Avery, 30th N. Y.
W. L. S., Art'y 11th, Troy, N. Y.
Vieale, Pa. Vol.
Eanes, Pa. Vol.
W. W. A., Co. E, 1863.
J. Wimham, 99, 1864.
J. L. R.
R. Eaglev, Co. G, 90 Pa. Vol.
W. W. D., Co. C.
J. R. A.
J. Y. C.
J. L. R. B., Co. K, C. T.
Jas. W. Welan, 109, Co. H, R. I.
J. B. P., Co. H, 5th R. I.
F. E. S., Co. H, 5th R. I.
M. D. R., 3 Pa. Vol.; H. T. G., 188 Pa.Vol. Two swords cut in between
M. J. R., C Co., E. L. B.
S. S. Uch.
Page last updated on 02/12/2008
Copyright © 2008 Civil War Richmond Inc.