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

  Evening Roll-Call for the Elmira Prisoners 1864


Evening Roll-Call for the Elmira Prisoners 1864

This photograph was cherished through half a century by Berry Benson, of the First South Carolina Volunteer Infantry, who escaped from Elmira by digging a tunnel sixty-six feet long under the tents and stockade. It shows the prisoners at evening roll-call for dinner in the winter of 1864. The sergeants in front of the long line of prisoners are calling the roll. There were both Federal and Confederate sergeants. Elmira prison contained from the time of its establishment several thousand Confederate prisoners. The barracks in the foreground had been completed only a few days when this picture was made, and up to that time a large number of prisoners had occupied tents. The leaves are gone from the trees, and it is obvious that the winter frosts have set in. The tents were unheated, and the inmates suffered severely from the cold. The sentry in the foreground is not paying strict attention to the prisoners. The men grouped around the tree are indicated by Mr. Benson as Federal officers. The rate of mortality in this prison was very high.

page 79  in 1911 book


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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.

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Copyright 2004 Michael P. Goad  All rights reserved.