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Libby, We’ll Meet in Paris Chicago

August 23rd, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe · 3 Comments

From the Library of Congress comes the above lithograph of Libby Prison in Richmond as it appeared on August 23, 1863. It’s hard to find too much information about this image, but here is some background that sounds reasonable enough, although I can’t vouch for it:

The Image is copyright 1882 by J. L. Barlow whose offices were located at the Libby Prison Building, Richmond, Va. The View was lithographed by A. Hoen & Co of Richmond and published by Allen and Wm. A. Mountcastle (also of Richmond).

The reverse of the card has printed text including affidavits from former Confederate Officers and former prisoners at Libby attesting to the accuracy of the view. We know that Barlow sold these engravings at the Libby Prison Museum, managed by John Ransom during this time but it appears that he also licensed Allen and Mountcastle to sell the View mail order as a slug on the reverse reads “Price of Engraving, 50 cents, postpaid. / Address all communications to / Wm. A. Mountcastle, Sole Agent…. Richmond, VA”.

As readers of our entry on Libby Prison will know, not long after 1882, the entire facility was dismantled, moved to Chicago, Illinois, and operated as the Libby Prison War Museum from 1889 until 1895. Check this out:

It’s a postcard of Libby Prison War Museum at Wabash between 14th and 16th streets in Chicago, courtesy of Chuckman’s Collection.

PS: Does that flag flying above that first image of Libby seem right? It looks like the Confederate battle flag, but it wouldn’t have flown above Libby. And it doesn’t appear to be the second national flag, which was the Confederacy’s official flag in August 1863. And yet look closely at the postcard: is that the same flag flying above Libby?

RE THIS POST’S TITLE: I’m not proud of this.

Tags: Virginia History · Visual History

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Peter // Aug 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    The 1882 lithograph is pretty much a composite of several elements with heavy retouching (notice that the sentry/rocks in the bottom foreground are drawn in). The image of Libby Prison looks like a light retouching of t an 1865 Andrew Russell plate: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2005684433/ .
    This 1865 print provides a more accurate flag: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3g06811/

  • 2 Brendan Wolfe // Aug 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Yes, thank you, Peter! Those guys in the foreground — it seems like the perspective is a bit off, too. They’re too big. Thanks for the links.

  • 3 Peter // Aug 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    It reminds me of this (in)famous print of General Grant at City Point which always pops up in discussions of Photoshopping before Photoshop:
    http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2007681056/

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