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Knife, Fork, and Plate from Libby Prison
Armed Forces History, Division of History of Technology, National Museum of American History

Knife, Fork, and Plate from Libby Prison

Date: 1862
Catalog #: 75529M    Accession #: 296035
Credit: Division of Military History and Diplomacy, National Museum of American History

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: 8.6" H x 8.6" W x 0.75" D

Physical Description

Metal and bone knife & fork and a metal plate.

Specific History

This knife, fork, and plate was issued to prisoner of war Colonel John S. Crocker, 93rd Infantry Regiment, New York Volunteers, by the commandant of Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia, and used by him at Libby and Salisbury prisons, 1862.

General History

Libby Prison was comprised of 3 buildings. It had been designed and built as a warehouse by John Enders, who died before putting it to use; following his death, it was sold to Luther Libby from Maine. He erected a sign "L. Libby & Son, Chip Chandlers". At the beginning of the war, Libby was given 48 hours to vacate the building, so it could be used as a prison. The only thing Libby left behind was his sign. So the building became Libby Prison. During the war, Libby had held over 125,000 men, mostly Union officers. On February 9, 1864, the most bold and daring of prison escapes happened at Libby. One hundred and nine Union army officers managed to escape from Libby by crawling through a fireplace, sliding down a chimney, and slithering through a 53 foot long tunnel. The escape came after months of digging with tools smuggled into the prison by a northern sympathizer, Elizabeth Van Wert, a.k.a. Crazybet. Libby was vacated just before the Union Army captured Richmond, and spent the rest of the war empty.


Country: United States
States: New York, Virginia
War: Civil War
Service: Army
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