From the Richmond Dispatch, 8/1/1897, p. 2, c. 5

Recollections of Libby Prison

Portsmouth, Va.

To the Editor of the Dispatch:

I noticed in your issue of July the 14th instant, in the editorial department, an article headed “The Libby Prison Fake,” and I became interested in it at once. I know something about Libby Prison, and of the treatment of prisoners there, having stood guard at the prison every other day for about six months. Now, in regard to the food provided for the prisoners: It will be remembered that none but officers were confined in the Libby building, but there was another building called “Second Libby,” in which privates were kept.

Now, I only speak of what came under my own observation, and as a guard, I had a good opportunity to see much. In the first place, these officers did not, and would not, eat the bread given them by those in control, but instead of doing so made candle-sticks of some of the loaves of corn-bread. The bread was cooked in loaf shape, and they simply made a hole on the top of the loaf and stuck a candle in it. Now, so much for that.

These men did not suffer for food. A plenty of good food was sent to them by their friends North. I saw, on one occasion, 300 boxes of nice bread delivered in Richmond, and stowed away for the use of these prisoners, and they had all kinds of good things sent them – too numerous to mention.

You see, the guards had to go in the prison every day, or very often, to count the men, and that was the time we had a good chance to see these good things.

Of course, there was a difference in the food that was given to the privates.

About the only thing that the men in the prison had to complain of was being confined so close, which could not be helped, otherwise the men were treated good. Why, sir; they were allowed to practice fencing with swords! Time and again they were allowed the use of a room for that purpose. All these acts of kindness came under my own observation.                                         SENEX.

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