Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Richmond, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Belle Isle Prison

 
 
Belle Isle Prison Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, November 3, 2009
1. Belle Isle Prison Marker
Inscription. Directly in front of you, in mid-river, is Belle Isle. Despite the large number of Union prisoners brought to Richmond during the Civil War, the city had only two full-time prisons. Libby Prison for Union officers, a mile and a half downriver, was the more famous of the pair, but Belle Isle, designed for Union enlisted men, was the most miserable.

Confederate authorities realized that the island would make an ideal site for holding captured enlisted men from the Union army. The first prisoners arrived from the battlefields in July 1862. Overcrowding soon became the prisonís primary problem. At times as many as 6,000 men occupied the portion of the island that had been set aside for prisoners. The absence of wooden buildings increased the suffering of the incarcerated soldiers. Poor sanitation, winterís cold and summerís heat and sun, malnutrition, and an insufficient number of tents plagued the prisoners. By 1864, about 20,000 men had spent some time on the island. The precise number of deaths is not yet known, but the sum could approach 1,000 men.
 
Location. 37° 32.13′ N, 77° 26.799′ W. Marker is in Richmond, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Tredegar Street 0.1 miles west of South 5th Street. Click for map. This marker is located outside
Belle Isle Cemetery image. Click for full size.
2. Belle Isle Cemetery
Prisoners who died on Belle Isle were buried in the little cemetery [at the] northeastern end of the island. Surviving prisoners often stole the [wooden] headboards from the graves for use as firewood. At the end of the war, Union agents disinterred the bodies that could be found and removed them to the newly established Richmond National Cemetery on the Williamsburg Road, just east of the city. The man inspecting the grave is photographer John Reekie.
the Civil War Visitor Center at Tredegar Iron Works. Marker is at or near this postal address: 470 Tredegar Street, Richmond VA 23219, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Belle Isle and Old Dominion Iron and Nail Works (a few steps from this marker); Tredegar Rolling Mills (within shouting distance of this marker); Tredegar in 1951 (within shouting distance of this marker); President Lincoln Visits Richmond (within shouting distance of this marker); Making Machines at Tredegar (within shouting distance of this marker); The Bulldozer Press (within shouting distance of this marker); Industrial Recycling (within shouting distance of this marker); Neighborhoods at Tredegar (within shouting distance of this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Richmond.
 
More about this marker. The marker has been damaged and the title is illegible. On the bottom of the panel is "A post-war photograph of Belle Isle, taken just upriver from Tredegar."
 
Also see . . .
1. Belle Isle. National Park Service (Submitted on January 18, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 

2. Richmond National Battlefield Park. Civil War Visitor Center at Tredegar Iron Works (Submitted on January 18, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
Belle Isle Prison Marker (facing south) image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, November 3, 2009
3. Belle Isle Prison Marker (facing south)
 

3. The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar. (Submitted on January 18, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
 
Categories. Cemeteries & Burial SitesWar, US Civil
 
Belle Isle Prison Marker (facing west) image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, November 8, 2009
4. Belle Isle Prison Marker (facing west)
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,848 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Paid Advertisement