Belle Isle Prison Camp

Union soldiers who were captured during battle were sent to various prison camps across the Confederate states. One of these prison camps, Belle Isle, was in Richmond Virginia.

Although it was designed to have a capacity of three thousand soldiers, as many as eight to ten thousand soldiers occupied it at one point. Overcrowding led to sickness, disease, constant hunger, and little protection from the extreme weather conditions. It was reported that the same river that was used upstream for drinking was also used downstream as the latrine.

This Belle Isle ledger at the National Archives from today’s date in 1864 shows the men who were seeking treatment on that particular day. The poor conditions at Belle Isle are evident by reading through some of diseases recorded.

The prison camp was shut down shortly after these records were taken and the prisoners were transferred to other locations, but not before as many as 1000 men died there.

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