“Out of the Mouth of Hell”

Civil War Prisons and Escapes


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About the Book

Many Civil War prisoners, Confederate and Federal, came to feel that a quick death from a bullet would have been better than slowly starving in a cold, crowded, filthy prison. The hope of freedom was sometimes the only thing that kept a prisoner alive and he tried every way possible to escape. Here are histories of 27 of the most significant locations used to hold soldiers captured on the battlefield as well as political prisoners suspected of disloyalty. They focus especially on the desperate and courageous attempts to gain freedom. Federal and Confederate facilities are each organized alphabetically. Facts about each prison include when it was established, type of facility, location, number and kind of prisoners held, known escapes, and other available data. The histories are rich with detailed accounts of escapes and of conditions inside the prisons.

About the Author(s)

The late Frances H. Casstevens wrote frequently about the American Civil War and North Carolina history. She was retired from Wake Forest University and lived in Yadkinville, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

Frances H. Casstevens

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 384
Bibliographic Info: 25 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011 [2005]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6082-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0453-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v
Preface      1
Introduction      3

1. Alton Military Prison, Alton, Illinois      13
2. Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio      20
3. Camp Douglas, Chicago, Illinois      27
4. Camp Morton, Indianapolis, Indiana      39
5. Elmira Prison, Elmira, New York      51
6. Fort Delaware, Pea Patch Island, Delaware      60
7. Fort Lafayette, New York Harbor, New York      76
8. Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland      83
9. Fort Warren, Boston Harbor, Massachusetts      97
10. Gratiot Street Prison, St. Louis, Missouri      109
11. Johnson’s Island, Lake Erie, Ohio      120
12. Ohio State Penitentiary, Columbus, Ohio      137
13. Old Capitol Prison, Washington, D.C.      153
14. Point Lookout, Maryland      162
15. Rock Island, Illinois      168

16. Camp Sumter, Andersonville, Georgia      181
17. Belle Isle, James River, Richmond, Virginia      189
18. Cahaba Prison, Cahaba, Alabama      202
19. Camp Ford, Tyler, Texas      214
20. Castle Thunder, Richmond, Virginia      221
21. Charleston, South Carolina      239
22. Columbia, South Carolina      248
23. Danville, Virginia      255
24. Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia      263
25. Camp Oglethorpe, Macon, Georgia      283
26. Salisbury Prison, Salisbury, North Carolina      293
27. Camp Davidson, Savannah, Georgia      311

Appendix: Number of Escapes from Federal Prison (1862–1865)      317
Chapter Notes      321
Bibliography      357
Index      365

Book Reviews & Awards

“welcome addition…valuable…highly recommended”—ARBA; “an enjoyable book to read…highly recommended”—The Civil War News; “well-researched…outstanding…a must…a beautiful book…well written, well researched, and nicely presented”—Civil War Book Review; “lots of information…recommended”—Curledup.com; “a valuable reference…detailed, vivid account”—Winston-Salem Journal.