Harper’s Weekly – December 5, 1863

With the South suffering from shortages of all kinds by 1863, Union captives usually were almost starved, stripped of most of their clothing and valuables, given no blankets, and provided little or no shelter from the heat, cold and humidity. Most of the Union prisoners were sent to one of two military prisons situated on the James River in Richmond. Belle Isle was used only for enlisted men who numbered 15,000 or more at the end of 1863, according to a few who were exchanged. Nast illustrated the conditions at Belle Isle, as related by two returned prisoners.