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Virginia in the American Civil War

Library of Virginia collections pertaining to the American Civil War


Both the Union and the Confederacy maintained prisons and prison camps for people captured in battle.  Both sides exchanged prisoners at certain intervals, keeping prisons manageable in terms of size during the first two years of the war.  By the end of the war, funds and resources were scarce. Confederate prison conditions fell by the wayside, evidenced by high mortality rates.

Nearly 500,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were imprisoned during the war. About 10 percent of these soldiers died in prison from battle wounds, disease, and unhealthy conditions. Prominent prisons in Virginia included Libby Prison, Belle Isle, Castle Thunder, and Danville Prison. In addition to books on Confederate prisons, the Library's manuscript holdings reflect upon the personal accounts, rations allowed, descriptions of the buildings and grounds, and the conditions soldiers endured. 

Suggested Keywords

Use the following suggested keywords to search the LVA Catalog:

  • Richmond (Va.) History Civil War, 1861-1865 Prisoners and prisons
  • Virginia History Civil War, 1861-1865 Prisoners and prisons
  • Libby Prison

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