Libby Life: Experiences of a Prisoner of War in Richmond, Virginia, 1863-64


This is the memoir of Lt. Col. F. F. Cavada who was captured two days before the defeat of the rebel forces at Gettysburg and conveyed to Richmond where he spent one year in the rebel prison known as Libby. Composed of notes and sketches taken while imprisoned, this account was published months after his release. With the impressions of incarceration still fresh in his memory, Lt. Col. Cavada gives us a vivid and detailed record of daily life in Libby. From this book, the reader will gain insight into every aspect of the mundane prison routine including accounts of the sleeping arrangements, cooking, bathing, etc. But much to the author’s credit, he dwells not on the long silences and melancholy of prison life, but on the exciting events within the prison which helped to dispel the gloom. The Libby population being composed primarily of officers led, for the most part, to an interest in refined diversions. The prisoners formed a debating club, and many had endeavored to educate themselves with classes in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Latin, Greek, fencing, dancing, and military tactics among others. They even published a weekly prison newspaper called the Libby Chronicle. There was a prison orchestra, and they had parties which included music and dancing. There were also court martial proceedings, hangings, and diseases such as scurvy and small pox to deal with. Two prison breaks are related herein, one in which over a hundred officers escaped, half of which were recaptured. Complete with a new full-name index, this well-illustrated memoir gives the reader real insight into the daily lives of the Libby prisoners.

F. F. Cavada

(1863, 1994), 2012, 5½x8½, paper, new index, 221 pp.

ISBN: 9780788400513