The Photographic History of the Civil War
                  Volume 7 -
Prisons and Hospitals

  View of Belle Plain Camp of Confederate Prisoners, May, 1864


View of Belle Plain Camp of Confederate Prisoners, May, 1864

This photograph was taken just after the Spotsylvania  campaign, in the course of which Grant lost thirty-six thousand men in casualties but captured several thousand Confederates, part of whom appear crowding this prison camp. A tiny tortuous stream runs through the cleft in the hills. Near the center of the picture a small bridge spanning it can be descried. Farther to the right is a group of Union soldiers. The scene is on the line of communication from Belle Plain, the base of supplies, to the army at the front. Exchanges had been stopped by order of General Grant on the 17th of the previous month, when he started the hammering process by which he ultimately exhausted the Confederacy but at the price of terrible losses to the Union. The prisons in the North became populated to suffocation, yet Grant held firm until it was certain that exchanges could have little influence on the final result.

page 39  in 1911 book


  • I am sure that the editor of the book never fathomed the technological capabilities of the twenty-first century. The images readily available today enable us a closer look at the photos he used than any any of his readers could possibly have had, except for those with access to the originals.  Even then, it's likely that few of the images were enlarged to the extent that they can be today.  On the extra image for this photo, close ups examine four different areas.
  • This photo is from the Library of Congress, not scanned from the book.

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Page last revised05/24/2006

More Civil War Material:
American Civil War Anecdotes, Incidents and Articles.

This online edition of The Photographic History of the Civil War includes improved images using digital images from the Library of Congress, when available. It also includes additional images that are either cropped from the Library of Congress digital images or are related to the specific topic being discussed in the article or page.

Volume 7 of the History is the first volume I'm publishing online simply because it was the one I was interested in when I decided to publish.

More to come, I hope.


Copyright 2004 Michael P. Goad  All rights reserved.