Columbia Military Prison
Richland County Jail

  The crowded conditions in Richmond occasioned the removal of 40 officers and 116 non-commission and enlisted men to Castle Pinkney in Charleston Harbor, 10 September 1861 where the prisoners found their Richmond experiences duplicated. Gifts of food came from the friends of the prisoners in the city and the "Castle Pinkney Brotherhood" was created on the model of the Richmond Prison Association. Coffee and sugar remained on the rations until 16 October, when the effect of the blockade was brought home to the prisoners in the same fashion as it had been in Richmond. The last of October the prisoners were removed from the castle and taken to the Charleston jail. A few weeks later, some of them were moved again to the jail in Columbia. It was the County Jail for Richland County, located on Washington Street in the heart of Columbia. A three story building, the dimensions of the building was seventy by fifty feet, with the third story occupied by the district sheriff, which left the middle and lower departments available for POW's. In some accounts, the Richland County Jail is referred to as the "Jailhouse Prison" but generally as "Richland Jail"/

During the period of May-November 1862, Captain Thomas P. Whitesides' Co. of York District served as prison guards for 80 Federal prisoners. This company was assembled at Camp Johnson, Lightwood Knot Springs, north of Columbia, on 25 April 1862, and upon mustering into Confederate service on 13 May was designated Co. H, __ Battalion SC Volunteers. The battalion designation was left blank because it was apparently intended that the company would become the 8th company in either the 1st (Charleston) Battalion SC Infantry, or the 3rd (James') Battalion SC Infantry, should either of those organizations be increased to a regiment. In the event, neither became a regiment, and in November 1862, Whitesides' company was instead assigned to the 5th SC infantry. The company left for Virginia on 17 Nov, and joined the regiment in camp at Fredericksburg on 24 Nov, where it became Co. G. In addition to Whitesides, the company officers were 1st Lieutenant James M. Bird, 2nd Lieutenant J. C. Jackson, and 3rd Lieutenant H. Nichols.

  This is a post war drawing of one of the accomdations that Union enlisted men and officers were held in while in Columbia from 1861 until the end of The War,

The first men who were from 1st Manassa and are listed on the attached them as 1862 Jail POW's.

The Post Commandor was Major C. D. Melton and by 16 September 1863, their number had grown to 273 Union and 27 Confederate prisoners and the surgeon was Dr. J. Ford Prioleau. These individuals were confined there with other captured Union Soldiers, some Tories (Union Sympathizers), and Southern Deserters, along with the other criminals. The POWs appear to be those taken in battle in South Carolina and a large percentage were Naval Officers captured in and around Charleston harbor. Union officers were housed within the cells of the jail and the non-commissioned officers and enlisted men were kept in tents in the grounds if the Jail.

On 18 August 1864, Major A. J. Green was commandant of the post and 93 enlisted men and 132 officers languished within its confines. The guard was entirely crowded out of any place for the reliefs to sleep, and are now compelled to sleep on the ground in front of the jail. The officers were housed in jail cells and those below the rank of Lieutenant were housed in tents within the Jail walls. The Commander of the Post Guards was Captain R. D. Senn, was commissioned 9 September 1863, as enrolling officer and then order to Columbia.

Records are very sketchy, I have identified a few men who were there and have attached them as Jail POW's.


Likewise, first hand accounts of the Richland County Jail are scarce. By the far the best, is by Henry Clay Trumbull, formerly Chaplain of the Tenth Regiment of Connecticut Volunteers. His story of story of imprisonment starts:

It was on Saturday evening, July 18, 1863, that General Gillmore made his disastrous assault on Fort Wagner, at the entrance to Charleston Harbor. The next day the dead, and many of the wounded, lay on the sand plain and among the sand hills between that fort and the outer line of the Union works, then held by our brigade. A flag of truce arranged for a cessation of hostilities, in order to bury the dead and remove the wounded. At the suggestion of one of my commanders, I went out on the field to render such assistance as I could in the line of ministry to the wounded. My tent-mate and intimate friend, Adjutant Camp, accompanied me. As we were moving along in the prosecution of my work, we were met by a Confederate officer and three or four men who were on a similar humane mission. The officer claimed that we had passed the truce line agreed on, although it was unmarked, between the two forces, and that we were in consequence his prisoners.

His account gives an excellent view of the jail, its inmates, and daily life. Well worth the read.

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