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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Page last revised05/24/2006
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.