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Within the bombarded town

These buildings in Petersburg, formerly tobacco warehouses, had been used, when this photograph was made, for the temporary confinement of Union soldiers captured during the numerous sorties of the winter of 1864-65. On account of the continual bombardment on both sides and the number of shots which fell within the town, the prisoners who languished within these walls called them ‘Castle Thunder’. In the South commercial buildings that already existed were transformed to a large extent to serve for the detention of prisoners. Tobacco factories were often used for this purpose; the light and ventilation were good, and comparatively little machinery was used, so that they could be easily cleared. At ‘Castle Thunder’ there was but little besides tobacco with which to feed either the prisoners or their captors. When the Federal troops finally occupied the city, they found the warehouses full of tobacco and gleefully helped themselves to it. Not a single source of supply of food was to be found within the town. Rations from the Federal stores were issued to a large number of the needy and hungry inhabitants.

‘Castle thunder’ on April 4, 1865—a Petersburg tobacco factory used as a prison

Inside the prison yard


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