“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Asheville in Buncombe County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)

Wartime Jail

Asheville's Prisons

Wartime Jail Marker image. Click for full size.
August 11, 2012
1. Wartime Jail Marker
Inscription. During the war, many large buildings such as schools, warehouses, and churches became temporary prisons in Southern cities. After Asheville's jail on Pack Square overflowed with Confederate draft evaders, deserters, Union prisoners of war, and runaway slaves, the adjacent school, formerly the Asheville Military Academy, became a prison.

Lt. Alonzo cooper, 12th New York Cavalry, was confined here in 1864 with 56 Confederate deserters and a slave. "The room was so full," he wrote, "that it was impossible for all of us to lie down at once, and we were obliged to take turns standing up." Cooper planned an escape: "It was all arranged that the powerful negro should seize the Sergeant from behind and hold him while [we] secured his pistol and the keys." The escape failed, however, and the Confederates gave the slave 100 lashes. "The shrieks and groans of this poor fellow," Cooper wrote, "was enough to send a chill of horror through the most hardened. He begged for mercy in the most piteous terms, and as the cruel strap laid open the quivering flesh, and the blood trickled down his body, I shouted ... that the poor fellow was not to blame, half so much as the white men. ... [B]y holding my hands to my ears [I] tried to shut out the sound of his pitiful cries for mercy. While reason remains to me I can never forget the scenes of that terrible night."

Confederates imprisoned Hendersonville newspaper editor Alexander Jones, a Unionist, in Asheville. He was conscripted into the Virginia infantry but deserted to Cincinnati. After the war, Lt. Col. James A. Keith, who led the infamous Shelton Laurel Massacre of Unionist civilians in Madison County in 1863, was jailed in Asheville for two years awaiting trial. Fearing "Judge Lynch" (hanging by a mob), he escaped on the night of February 21, 1869, and never returned.
Erected by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 35° 35.82′ N, 82° 33.663′ W. Marker is in Asheville, North Carolina, in Buncombe County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Montford Avenue and Hill Street, on the right when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is in the parking lot of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. Marker is at or near this postal address: 36 Montford Avenue, Asheville NC 28801, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Battery Porter (approx. mile away); Historic Hilltop (approx. 0.3 miles away); Appalachian Stage (approx. 0.4 miles away); Jimmie Rodgers (approx. 0.4 miles away); Daniel K. Moore (approx. 0.4 miles away); Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D. (approx. 0.4 miles away); Immortal Image (approx. half a mile away); O. Henry (approx. half a mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Asheville.
Categories. War, US Civil
Credits. This page originally submitted on . This page has been viewed 381 times since then and 100 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on . • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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