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Index of selected articles from the National Tribune that pertain to Richmond, VA during the Civil War.

The National Tribune was published in Washington D.C. well after the war and served generally as the organ of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) and as a forum for old soldiers to share their reminiscences. In more modern times, it morphed into what is now Stars and Stripes. Only recently have these valuable sources reached wider use by historians. The webmaster would like to thank Robert E. L. Krick and Eric J. Mink for contributing these sources. 

National Tribune 9/2/1882; description of harsh conditions on Belle Isle and brief account of the "dog slaying" incident
National Tribune 9/9/1882; brief description of prison life on Belle Isle
National Tribune 9/13/1883; description of prison life at Castle Thunder and "Royster House" (GH#20)
National Tribune 1/10/1884; notes on the opening date of Belle Isle
National Tribune 1/24/1884; account of the capture of the 4th New Jersey at Gaines' Mill, and subsequent imprisonment in Libby Prison and Belle Isle is the summer of 1862
National Tribune 2/14/1884; brief account of prisoner's experience in Libby, Pemberton, Belle Isle, and Andersonville; notes that small pox broke out in Pemberton
National Tribune 2/14/1884; description of how Belle Isle was set up as a prison by captured Gaines' Mill prisoners from Libby
National Tribune 1/29/1885; letter disputing Col. Streight's claim of being responsible for the tunnel out of Libby Prison - gives list of the known working party
National Tribune 5/14/1885; excellent account by Col. Thomas Rose of the organization and completion of the Libby Prison tunnel
National Tribune 1/6/1887; good description of the "dog slaying" episode on Belle Isle
National Tribune 2/9/1888; good description of the proposed relocation of Libby Prison to Chicago
National Tribune 3/11/1888; brief account of a prisoner being shot on Belle Isle for going near the "dead line"
National Tribune 7/11/1889; Details of the dog-killing incident at Belle Isle - notes regarding a female soldier found there
National Tribune 8/15/1889; part one of a two-part memoir by Capt. J. W. Chamberlain, 123rd Ohio, describing at length his imprisonment in Libby Prison
National Tribune 8/15/1889; part two of a two-part memoir by Capt. J. W. Chamberlain, 123rd Ohio, describing at length his imprisonment in Libby Prison
National Tribune 9/5/1889; account of kind treatment on Belle Isle of a drummer-boy imprisoned there
National Tribune 12/18/1889; account of the 4th of July celebration in Libby during 1863 by Louis Beaudry, the former editor of the "Libby Chronicle"
National Tribune 3/27/1890; excellent description of the tunneling effort at Libby Prison by one of the tunneling party (W. S. B. Randall, 2nd Ohio Inf.) - slightly different from Moran's account
National Tribune 4/21/1891; notes on tools used for tunneling out of Libby Prison
National Tribune 12/29/1891; Excellent set of letters from Libby Prison, recounting treatment and life in prison. Mentions purchasing one of the Rees images from the prison guards, and sending it North.
National Tribune 8/20/1891; good account of life in Richmond prisons in 1861
National Tribune 3/17/1892; lengthy but excellent account of the tunnel escape and "powder mine" of Libby Prison - and disputation of falsehoods recently circulated; by Frank E. Moran
National Tribune 6/2/1892; account of prisoners stealing flour from the cellar of Libby Prison
National Tribune 10/6/1892; notes on the mining of Libby Prison
National Tribune 11/10/1892; "Belle Isle Revisited," gives account of the author's trip to Belle Isle and notes its changes
National Tribune 4/20/1893, 4/27/1893, 5/4/1893; excerpts from accounts of a Federal scout describing his encounter with John Van Lew, Elizabeth's brother, at Cold Harbor, in which John Van Lew tells the scout that if he can get a message to her, she will provide information from Richmond. Also accounts meeting with a fleeing employee of John Van Lew, in order not to serve in the Confederate army
National Tribune 12/14/1893; description of a clever escape of two men from Libby Prison
National Tribune 12/28/1893; brief account of harsh treatment on Belle Isle - notes that he was almost killed by a train on his way to Belle Isle
National Tribune 1/25/1894; description of how the Confederates "tricked" Yankees into moving from Pemberton Prison to Belle Isle
National Tribune 6/13/1895; refutation of the claim that prisoners at Belle Isle were "jolly fellows;" good details of the harsh treatment, and attempts to escape
National Tribune 8/29/1895; brief description of the author's prison experiences at Belle Isle, Pemberton, and Scott's prisons
National Tribune 1/23/1896; brief account of the theft of a blanket in Libby Prison in January, 1865
National Tribune 9/7/1896; man in Richmond is making gavels and other trinkets from Libby Prison wood
National Tribune 11/4/1897; old soldier still has the flute he kept at Libby Prison, and apparently played for Jefferson Davis
National Tribune 4/27/1899; "Doc" Aubrey's account of imprisonment in Libby - just a boy at the time, he was captured trying to sell newspapers to the army. T. P. Turner took interest in him, put his money in the safe in his office, and tells him to get the money on his return. Very positive portrayal - nothing sensational.
National Tribune 5/4/1899; continuation of Aubrey's account of life in Libby - further mention of T. P. Turner, and notes that he returned his hard-earned money to him upon release. Unique for its positive portrayal of Turner.
National Tribune 7/27/1899; "A Union Man in Richmond;" description of sentiment in Richmond leading up to secession; John Minor Botts' speech at the African Church, and the Secession Convention in the Mechanics' Institute.
National Tribune 7/27/1899; "A Union Man in Richmond;" description of sentiment in Richmond leading up to secession; John Minor Botts' speech at the African Church, and the Secession Convention in the Mechanics' Institute.
National Tribune 8/3/1899; "A Union Man in Richmond" part three of serial account. Describes the scene in Richmond immediately following secession. States that Gov. Letcher was often drunk; the vote to ratify secession was held in the Old Market building (with serious voter intimidation going on); the Hampden Sydney Battalion passing through Richmond.
National Tribune

8/10/1899; “A Union Man in Richmond;” part four of serial account. Describes John Minor Bott’s stay in “a negro jail in Lombard Alley” [Castle Godwin], the economic situation in Richmond, the Battle of First Manassas, the man who [Mr. Gretter] who tossed the first shovelful of dirt for the Richmond defenses, the dangerous nature of “Lombard Alley” [probably Locust Alley], and the post-war collapse of the upper floor of the Capitol building

National Tribune

8/17/1899; “A Union Man in Richmond;” part five of serial account. Describes the scene in Richmond in early to mid-1863. Mentions hedonistic activity at the Exchange, Ballard and Spotswood hotels; prostitution and gambling flourishing in Richmond around the Exchange Hotel; trying to get a pass out of Richmond from Gen. Winder; and subsequent trip to Staunton on the railroad

National Tribune 9/14/1899; “A Union Man in Richmond” part six of serialized account. Describes the feeling in Richmond at the time of the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid, Pawnee Sunday (1861), a female Confederate spy at his boarding house, and other details of life at his boarding house.
National Tribune

9/21/1899; “A Union Man in Richmond” part seven of serialized account. Describes the tough economic conditions in Richmond in 1863 (with a nice description of the scene at the Old Market), the small-pox epidemic in Richmond (blames Longstreet’s men for bringing it to the city), an unreported assassination attempt on President Davis, and garroters in Richmond.

National Tribune 9/28/1899; “A Union Man in Richmond” part eight of serialized account. Describes the capture and execution of Timothy Webster, the Libby Prison escape (mentions prisoners being aided by Van Lew, and good feeling amongst the Unionsts toward her), a shooting of a prisoner at Libby, “the clerk” of Libby being involved in trading with the prisoners (Ross), and being shot at while near Locust Alley. St. Charles Hotel mentioned.
National Tribune 7/12/1900; good account of the fall of Richmond in 1865, by a boy who lived on Church Hill; notes that advancing Union troops were fired upon from convalescent patients from Chimborazo
National Tribune 8/9/1900; Part one of Silas Crocker's serialized account of life in Libby - relates the stock story of money stealing by Dick Turner and mentions a sergeant beating a man who would not give up his ring.
National Tribune 8/16/1900; Part Two of Silas Crocker’s serialized account of life in captivity in Richmond - relates the story of his stay on Belle Isle with good details on the prison’s geography. Very fair account, though bitter, he complains only of the quantity of the food. Says the mental strain was the hardest. Also relates the method used to trick the prisoners into thinking they were to be exchanged, and then putting them in trains and sending them south.
National Tribune 9/27/1900; "The Fall of Richmond" Part one of Hiram Peck's [10th CT Inf] excellent memoir describing advancing on Richmond from Fort Burnham on April 3, 1865, and the occupation of Richmond. Gives an interesting description of seeing a copy of the Richmond Sentinel meant to be published that day. Notes on number of rail cars captured.
National Tribune 10/4/1900; "The Fall of Richmond" Part two of Hiram Peck's memoir. Describes Lincoln's visit to Richmond, details of the evacuation fire, the reopening of the Richmond Theater, and response to Lee's surrender in Richmond. Mentions Castle Thunder detectives being locked in Libby, and gives a description of Hollywood Cemetery.
National Tribune 11/15/1900; description of Elizabeth Van Lew's secret room which has recently been found
National Tribune 4/11/1901; former prisoner at Belle Isle describes the cold winter of 1863-64 and mentions the rations coming to the island via barge from the north bank
National Tribune 4/18/1901; description of life in Pemberton Prison in 1865. Notes that Dick Turner was in charge there, and gives some examples of his cruelty
National Tribune 5/2/1901; notes on the Belle Isle singing quartet
National Tribune 7/4/1901; Van Lew mansion to become a club house
National Tribune 9/19/1901; brief article describing the author's reception at Libby, and being bayonetted by a guard while there
National Tribune 1/2/1902; notes from a former Libby Prisoner, who commanded the prison after the occupation of Richmond; mentions Dick Turner being imprisoned there.
National Tribune 10/23/1902; Capt. Beecham's good, but very bitter, account of life on Belle Isle after Gettysburg. Includes a copy of an article from Jackson Warner, Commissary in Richmond denying that prisoners were starved: he says that they were as well fed as Confederate soldiers. Of course the author disagrees with him. Author was on Belle Isle for 15 days.
National Tribune 10/30/1902; letter describes the fire in Richmond threatening Libby Prison and Castle Thunder, and the author broke open the door to let prisoners out.
National Tribune 11/27/1902; interesting account of mail distribution in Libby
National Tribune 1/29/1903; takes up account of Belle Isle where Beecham left off (NT 10/23/1902); describes the moving of prisoners to Andersonville and the trick that the Confederates played to get the prisoners to get off the island.
National Tribune 4/16/1903; further information on the "battle of the gate" at Belle Isle - the red-headed Sergeant was named Hite, and a deserter from the Union army. Describes his various acts of cruelty, including his use of a wooden horse for punishment. Mentions not being fed on New Year's Day, 1864, as well as the scarcity of coffins during this period. Asks if anyone remembers the killing of the Lt.'s dog.
National Tribune 4/30/1903; soldier corroborates account of breaking open the doors of Libby upon the evacuation of Richmond; also relates his imprisonment in Libby and Belle Isle; relates the cruelty of the doctor on Belle Isle, and the kindness of another doctor who took him to a hospital in Richmond. Mentions having witnessed the bread riot, but cannot be telling the truth, because he was captured in 1864
National Tribune 6/25/1903; more on the dog-slaying incident at Belle Isle
National Tribune 7/30/1903; letter from a soldier in Libby Prison mentioning the dearth of food for the prisoners
National Tribune 8/13/1903; description of Belle Isle in 1862; described badly, but notes that "that prison had not yet become noted for atrocities that distinguished it later," and there were 3,000 to 4,000 prisoners there at the time
National Tribune 9/3/1903; description of life on Belle Isle after Gettysburg. Describes Bossieux stealing money from the prisoners, and mentions being in charge of a bathing detail in the river - only 40 were supposed to go out at a time, but the author let out many more. Also mentions that he was later put on commissary detail, going by boat to Richmond to get the rations
National Tribune 10/15/1903; diary entry describes Dick Turner stealing money from the prisoners at Pemberton Prison; mentions Libby.
National Tribune 12/31/1903; author asks some leading questions: Why was the cook house on Belle Isle below the sinks? Where are the Germans [emphasis] who ate the Lieutenant's Dog? Also notes that he took the paw of the dog out of prison.
National Tribune 1/7/1904; former prisoner at Pemberton and Belle Isle says that Belle Isle was worse than Andersonville, and that dead prisoners would be frozen stiff to the ground
National Tribune 4/7/1904; brief description of the author's captivity in Libby, and the state of finances in Richmond - author relates that he was able to exchange $10 for $100 CSA and buy goods with it. Also notes that the guards occasionally allowed this practice through the windows.
National Tribune 5/19/1904; brief letter describing imprisonment in Pemberton Prison and Belle Isle from late 1862 to early 1864. Mentions a one-eyed guard named Sgt. Marks who clubbed prisoners, and Lieut. Bossieux being in charge of Belle Isle.
National Tribune 8/11/1904; letter of a Gettysburg prisoner who spent six weeks in Belle Isle. Mentions a soldier taking the oath of allegiance to the CSA, and that a large party escaped on Aug. 12, along with several guards from the 42nd NC. Also mentions prisoners working for the rebels, who paid them with extra rations.
National Tribune 9/15/1904; poem written by Col. Bartleson (KIA at Wilderness) on the wall of Libby Prison
National Tribune 3/8/1906; I. N. Johnson, one of the Libby tunnelers, is looking for the addresses of several of the others in the tunnel party, and gives a partial list.
National Tribune 6/28/1906; man claims to be the one that caught and killed the dog at Belle Isle and ate it.
National Tribune

8/30/1906; Maj. L. P. Williams’ account of the Libby Prison tunnel and escape. Gives details on the construction of the tunnel. Williams succeeded in making his escape.

National Tribune 9/6/1906; a veteran of Richmond prisons asks questions about them. Pemberton, the Belle Isle sutler, and the dog-slaying incident are mentioned.
National Tribune 3/7/1907; more debate about the last people to leave Libby Prison before the city fell.
National Tribune 3/28/1907; details and praise of Chaplain McCabe while in Libby Prison
National Tribune 3/28/1907; details on the pontoon bridge at Richmond - notes its length, as well as that the author of the article was on the bridge when General Lee crossed it
National Tribune 5/30/1907; more debate about the last Yankees to leave Libby Prison.
National Tribune

2/28/1907; description of Col. Abel Streight’s escape through the Libby tunnel - notes he had some difficulty getting out because he was a “large man” and that he was initially helped by “Aunt Rhoda,” a local negro.

National Tribune 3/11/1926; excellent article by Capt. A. G. Hamilton, detailing his personal experience in the Libby Prison tunnel escape, notes escaping with Col. Rose, and watching him be recaptured while still in Richmond [contrary to other reports]. Gives a detailed account of his travel to Union lines at Williamsburg.
National Tribune 12/13/1928; excellent description of the Libby Prison escape, offers several new details.
National Tribune 11/30/1933; note that the timbers of Libby Prison are being used in a barn in Hamlet, Indiana, owned by Frank Davis. Describes the barn timbers and notes that many timbers are still covered with initials of prisoners
National Tribune 6/13/1940; brief note that the timbers of Libby Prison are being used in a barn in Hamlet, Indiana, owned by Frank Davis

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