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Author of popular American histories (Jefferson’s Vendetta, 2005), Wheelan takes up the Confederacy in this work. Focusing on the Civil War history of Richmond’s Libby Prison, Wheelan notes the building’s pre-war existence as a warehouse and, in the course of his narrative, details its configuration and location in Richmond, essential preliminaries to the author’s central scene: an ingenious escape through a tunnel by 109 Union prisoners in 1864. The culmination of previously thwarted attempts to escape the overcrowded, fetid misery of Libby Prison, the successful one naturally provoked Confederate manhunts that Wheelan follows to their denouements. That some fugitives were harbored by Richmond resident and Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew permits Wheelan to relate her heroic story; that a subsequent attempt by the North to liberate Libby Prison, a cavalry raid by Ulric Dahlgren, gives the author the same opportunity: both Van Lew and Dahlgren are recognizable to the Civil War readership. The Union escapees, however, are not, so buffs will be intrigued by Wheelan’s thorough research into their biographies and wartime exploits. --Gilbert Taylor
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ISBN-10:  1586487167
ISBN-13:  B003NHR7EY
Genre:  American History
Publisher:  PublicAffairs
Date Published:  February 9, 2010
Format:  Hardcover
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review by . October 18, 2010
Before Andersonville there was Libby Prison in Richmond.
It has been referred to as "The Bastille of the South".  In March 1862 General John Winder informed a man named Luther Libby,  a Maine native and Richmond businessman that the Confederate government was expropriating his three building tobacco warehouse complex for use as a prison for captured Union officers.  Over the next three years thousands of Union officers would be incarcerated in a facility that would come to be known as Libby Prison.  The place would prove …
Libby Prison Breakout: The Daring Escape From The Notorious Civil War Prison
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