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Danville 

Civil War Prison


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Photo of Danville Prison

Danville Prisoner List        

Diary of John Beck (POW in Danville Prison)  


Burials in Danville National Cemetery

Danville Prison Escape - Letters written by an escapee.


Danville, Virginia was known for its tobacco industry.  The Civil War Prison located there was not truly a prison but was made up of 6 tobacco warehouses used to contain Union prisoners.

 

Inmate Maj. Abner Small of the 16th Maine Volunteer Regiment (in his diary) reported that crowded conditions and boredom were the worst problems at Danville Prison No.3.  He stated:
"Our quarters were so crowded that none of us had more space to himself than he actually occupied, usually a strip of the bare hard floor, about six feet by two. We lay in long rows, two rows of men with their heads to the side walls and two with their heads together along the center of the room, leaving narrow aisles between the rows of feet...I remember three officers, one a Yankee from Vermont, one an Irishman from New York, and a Dutchman from Ohio, who messed together by the wall opposite me. When they came to Danville they were distinct in feature and personality. They became homesick and disheartened. They lost all interest in everything, and would sit in the same attitude hour after hour and day after day....It grew upon me that they were gradually being merged into one man with three bodies. They looked just alike; truly I couldn't tell them apart. And they were dying of nostalgia."  

Source: Excerpt from the book - Road to Richmond; the Civil War Memoirs of Abner R. Small.

 

Inmate Isaac B. Campbell of the 4th NY Cavalry stated he arrived at Danville Prison in September 1864 weighing 173 pounds and when he was released he weighed just 78 pounds.  In his words he had "the scurvy and was about starved.  I was in bad shape.  I had no coat or shoes and no blanket to lie under.  From this exposure I was quite deaf".  While in prison, he had one shirt that he was never able to wash.  He would take it off and pick the lice from it.  

Source: Submitted by his great granddaughter.

 

A letter was written in February 1864 to the Secretary of War "James A. Seddon" by the townspeople of Danville.  It contained a petition asking for removal of the Yankee prisoners to some other place, because the sick prisoners who were located in the middle of town were infecting the entire population with smallpox and fever.

 

One building remains of what was once Danville Prison.  It is Civil War Prison No. 6, located at 300 Lynn St., Danville, VA.
Newspaper Item during the Civil War.....
Two Union soldiers who have escaped from Danville, Va., prison, and arrived at Cincinnati, state that the entire number of prisoners in the Danville prison was estimated at about 4500, of whom about 500 had died. The small pox had prevailed for some time previous to their escape, and some of its victims had been found dead in the prison, being allowed to remain there several days without the benefit of medical assistance.

From the Diary of John Beck (one time POW at Danville)

Sunday, January 1, 1865

The morning was clear and cold got corn bread at 10 A.M.  It was the gloomiest New Years day that ever shone upon me being shut up in a Southern Hell.  Had been Soup at 2 P.M. with 2 lbs. of Pork Boiled along for 439 Hungry Men.  The rumr was that we were getting Pork & beens which came out the little end of the horn.  The skye was clear all day but the air very cold.  I read 10 chapters in Mathew, The air became more moderate during the night.  Read More

 

Information from 

"The Ninth New York Heavy Artillery" published in 1899 by Alfred Seelye Roe.

On July 9th 1864 over 600 Union soldiers were captured at the Battle of Monocacy.  

106 of them were from the Ninth NY Heavy Artillery.

"After their capture, they marched by foot to Staunton, Virginia, where they were loaded into stock cars and transported by rail on to Danville, arriving on July 29, 1864. Prisoners were released February 19, 1865.  On that date they were let out of the prison and loaded on box cars for the trip to Richmond, Virginia.  There they spent one or two nights in the Pemberton tobacco warehouse located a short distance from Libby Prison. Then on February 22, 1865, they were marched to a landing where they boarded a Confederate vessel and were transported down the James River to Aiken's Landing.  There they were exchanged.  After a three mile walk to Varina Landing, they boarded the Union transport "George Leary" bound for Annapolis, Maryland." 

The Author "Alfred Seelye Roe" was also captured at Monocacy and imprisoned at Danville.

 
 LINKS: 
 In Search of the Graves of Our War Dead
 Burials in Danville National Cemetery
 John J. Munnel's Escape from Danville Prison
 Michael Hileman Memoirs
 Civil War Soldiers Database Ancestry
 Confederate Prison Camp Rules
 Civil War Databases and FAQ
 
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