Second in notoriety only to the infamous Andersonville prison in Georgia, the Libby Prison located in Richmond, VA, was originally a business operated by Libby & Son grocers and was intended to hold captured officers of the Union army. Enlisted men would come to Libby Prison, be registered as POWs, and then be transferred elsewhere, but each day more prisoners were brought in than left and within a short period of time there were more than 4,000 prisoners being held there.
The prison was briefly used as the main hospital for all of Richmond's prisoners in the summer of 1862. By autumn of 1863, conditions at the prison became so bad that many of Richmond's prisons were now being used as prison hospitals, most of which were former factories that were just as deficient as hospitals as they were as prisons.
Unlike Andersonville, these prisoners were housed inside the building and the guards in tents on the grounds surrounding the building, but accommodations were no better at Libby, there were no beds and the only water available to the prisoners came directly from the river and the food rations were at a minimum from the onset.
As conditions worsened for the Confederate Army, so did the conditions at the prisons. The sparse rations received by the prisoners were reduced to almost nothing. As the prisoners died, their bodies were placed in a room until there were enough of them to fill a wagon, then they were taken for mass burial.
In the 1880’s the prison building was taken apart, brick by brick, numbered and transported to Chicago, IL where it was reconstructed and became the Libby Prison War Museum. Only a plaque marks the original site in Richmond.