While many books have been inspired by the horrors of Andersonville prison, none have chronicled with any depth or detail the amazing tunnel escape from Libby Prison in Richmond. Now Joseph Wheelan examines what became the most important escape of the Civil War from a Confederate prison, one that ultimately increased the North’s and South’s willingness to use prisoners in waging “total war.”
In a converted tobacco warehouse, Libby’s 1,200 Union officers survived on cornbread and bug-infested soup, and slept without blankets on the bare floor. With prisoner exchanges suspended, escape and death were the only ways out.
Libby Prison Breakout recounts the largely unknown story of the escape of 109 steel-nerved officers through a 55-foot tunnel, and their flight in winter through the heart of the enemy homeland, amid an all-out Rebel manhunt. The officers’ later testimony in Washington spurred two far-reaching investigations and a new cycle of retaliation against Rebel captives.