Alexandria Library -- Special Collections

Document of the Month

April 2005

Jeremiah Harwood's Release from Duty at Slave Pen, January 19, 1866

Who was Harwood?

The Slave Pen (1315 Duke Street) was one of five military prisons in Civil War Alexandria.*** It housed drunken and disorderly soldiers. During the war years, a Senate committee investigated the condition of the prison and whether cruel and unusual punishments took place there: "[T]he shower-bath is occasionally resorted to; that punishment, however, is inflicted upon only about two percent of those incarcerated, usually but once, and for a short time only." [The shower bath was used in mid-19th century prisons to discipline inmates. A naked prisoner sat in a barrel about 4 1/2 feet high with a discharge tube at the bottom. Bound hand and foot -- and with his head immobilized by a wooden or iron yoke -- water poured down on his head from a pipe placed above the barrel.]

Jeremiah Harwood enlisted with the New York 79th Infantry, Company G, on May 13, 1861 at age 21. The company was known by other names including the Cameron Rifle Highlanders. Harwood mustered out with the company on May 31, 1864. He later joined the Veteran Volunteer Corps, or Invalid Corps, as a part of the 6th Regular Infantry when it was organized at Camp Stoneman, Washington, DC in the spring of 1865. He mustered out from this unit a year later. Harwood's pension commenced on April 23, 1867. His widow Sally received a pension in 1900.

***The Mount Vernon Cotton Factory also known as the Washington Street Prison (515 N. Washington Street) and the Prince Street Prison (southeast corner of Prince and Fairfax Streets) held Confederate prisoners. Confederate sympathizers and civilians suspected of spying were sent to Odd Fellows Hall (218 N. Columbus Street). The Alexandria Jail was located at 403 N. Saint Asaph Street.

The Washington Street Prison and the Slave Pen are now office buildings. Prince Street Prison, Odd Fellows Hall, and Alexandria Jail are private residences.

Related Resources
  • Janice G.Artemel. The Alexandria Slave Pen: The Archaeology of Urban Captivity
  • James G. Barber. Alexandria in the Civil War
  • Jeremy J. Harvey. Occupied City: Portrait of Civil War Alexandria, Virginia
  • George G. Kundahl. Alexandria Goes to War: Beyond Robert E. Lee
  • Papers of Captain Rufus Dudley Pettit, Inspector of Prisons (photocopies)
  • Lonnie R. Speer. Portals to Hell: Military Prisons of the Civil War
  • Manuscript Box 240 -- VF: Civil War: Harwood, Jeremiah......
  • Manuscript Box 240 -- VF: Civil War: Military Administration, 1864
  • Manuscript Box 240A -- VF: Civil War: Slave Pen - Consolidated Morning Report, 1866
  • Vertical File: Slavery -- Slave Pen

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