From the Richmond Examiner, 2/28/1866, p. 3, c. 3
A SELL WITHIN A CELL – TRYING TO “GET A PEEP OF JEFF. DAVIS.” – We have recently been importuned as to the truth or falsity of a vague report that Jefferson Davis had been transferred from Fortress Monroe to the Libby Prison, Richmond, in anticipation of his trial before one of the civil tribunals of Virginia. We are now enabled to explain the circumstance which gave rise to the report. Some days since several Northern ladies were being shown through the Libby; the natural curiosity of women, which has beset them ever since mother Eve was tempted to taste of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, led them to inspect every hole and corner of the far-famed Libby. But one cell in particular they were prohibited from approaching; it alone was sacred from the intrusion of inquisitive feet and eyes. The Sergeant who conducted the ladies around was embarrassed; he had his orders; they were strict and imperative, and the least violation of them would cost him his position, if not his head. This mysterious hinting around, of course, only excited women’s curiosity the more. They surrounded the Sergeant, and overwhelmed him with questions. Wouldn’t he just tell them, in confidence, and it would never go any farther; they would die to know the occupant of the cell. The Sergeant, who saw a good opportunity to perpetrate a practical joke, after stepping from door to door on tiptoe and listening, after the tragick manner of an actor who is about to divulge some great State secret, returned to the ladies, his forefinger laid upon his lips, the tiptoe ladies imitating him. “I will tell you, but you must swear never to reveal my secret.” A response, “I swear!” came from all. And the bursting Sergeant continued: “Jefferson Davis was brought here at twelve o’clcok on Saturday night, and is now the occupant of that cell!” Foolish man! Did he not know that female curiosity would not be satisfied after that without a peep into the cell that held the Confederate lion? Five, ten, and fifteen dollars – any sum was offered for one key-hole stereoscopick view of the occupant of the cell, but the Sergeant, true to his orders, would not be moved, and the ladies gave it up. He accompanied them to their carriage, his finger on his lips, and his last word was, “Remember!” His visitors replied, fair digits touching the nose on an angle, with a responsive “yes.”
The next day Lieutenant Hunter, in command of the Libby, was beset by a score of ladies, old and young, for passes to inspect the Libby Prison, and the run has continued ever since. It is hardly necessary to add that Jefferson Davis is still a prisoner in Fortress Monroe.