Hopewell, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
The Bull Ring At City Point
A Dreaded Provost Prison
“It was a pen of filth and vermin.” – William Howell Reed, a Sanitary Commission agent
The Bull Ring was the Union provost Marshal’s prison at City Point used for the confinement of Union soldiers convicted or charged with desertion, murder, rape, disobedience, theft, drunkenness and other crimes. The pen was composed of three large one-story barracks which were surrounded by high wooden fences strictly guarded by sentries day and night. At the entrance was a horizontal bar of wood, supported by two upright posts from which were suspended short ropes used for tying up prisoners by the hands or thumbs as punishment.
According to William Howell Reed, a Sanitary Commission agent, the condition of the inmates was horrible. “It was a pen of filth and vermin.” Reed said he “could readily believe the officer, who had been a prisoner at Richmond, when he said that he would rather be confined in the Libby prison for six months than in the Bull-Ring for one.”
During the last week of the war thousands of Confederate prisoners were sent to City Point to await transportation
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list.
Location. This marker has been replaced by another marker nearby. It was located near 37° 18.793′ N, 77° 16.62′ W. Marker was in Hopewell, Virginia. Marker was at the intersection of Cedar Lane and Maplewood Avenue, on the right when traveling south on Cedar Lane. Touch for map. Marker was in this post office area: Hopewell VA 23860, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location. A different marker also named The Bull Ring At City Point (here, next to this marker); St. John's Episcopal Church (a few steps from this marker); St. John's Episcopal Church Bell (within shouting distance of this marker); Dr. Peter Eppes House (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Porter House (about 600 feet away); City Point, Virginia (about 700 feet away); a different marker also named City PointAppomattox Manor (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hopewell.
More about this marker. On the upper center panel is a photograph of the Bull Ring with the caption, "The Bull Ring served as a stockade for Union troops accused of various crimes. Sanitary facilities at the compound were primitive, and shelter, when it existed at all, was inadequate. One witness to the suffering remembered: “…In rain and snow and frost I have seen hundreds, perhaps thousands, of men huddled together without a particle of shelter or protection from the elements…its horror and its odor sickened me to think of, even a quarter of a century later…” The court martial board tried, on the average, four cases a day. Sentencing followed conviction. In a single day one man, saw five men sent off to execution."
On the lower center is a portrait of General G.W. Custis Lee. The caption reads "Not all those confined at City Point were criminals. Captured Confederate soldiers were held until special transports arrived to carry them to prison camps in the North. In the two weeks prior to the surrender at Appomattox Court House, some 14,000 Confederates passed through City Point en route to northern prisons, including Generals Richard S. Ewell, Joseph B. Kershaw, and G.W. Custis Lee (right)."
On the lowere right is a photograph of "The Bull Ring under construction."
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. This marker has been replaced by the linked marker.
Also see . . . Petersburg National Battlefield. City Point (Submitted on June 4, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
Credits. This page was last revised on May 9, 2020. It was originally submitted on June 3, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,417 times since then and 99 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on June 3, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. 2. submitted on June 4, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. 3. submitted on June 4, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.