My sincerest thanks go out to fellow blogger, Dop Troutman, who sent me the following images he took of Fort Jefferson, Florida. Fort Jefferson was a military fortress built on an island off of the coast of Florida near Key West. During the Civil War, the base was also used as a military prison by the Union. After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the trial of the conspirators, Dr. Samuel Mudd, Samuel Arnold, Michael O’Laughlen, and Edman Spangler were sentenced to prison at Fort Jefferson. They were imprisoned here from 1865 until their subsequent pardons in February of 1869. Michael O’Laughlen died at Fort Jefferson in 1867 from a Yellow Fever epidemic that struck the base.
Dop, who writes about a variety of topics on his blog “View From the Jeep“, emailed me a couple weeks ago telling me he was planning on visiting the Fort and asked if I would like any photographs of anything in particular. I happily took him up on his offer telling him I would love any pictures he might be willing to send me, especially pictures of the conspirators’ cell from different angles. True to his word, Dop graciously sent me several photographs. I’m happy to share them along with Dop’s very detailed descriptions.
“Sally Port is the only entrance to the fort. The 4 conspirators were all housed together in one open-air cell. That cell is directly above the Sally Port door. The three narrow windows above the door mark the cell:”
“These are of Mudd’s Cell after he was thrown in the “dungeon” following his attempted escape. There is no proof this was the actual location, but the conditions would have been the same. The interesting thing about the fort is that there were no doors, cells, or bars. It was an open-air prison. No “cages”, just guards stationed everywhere to keep prisoners in their place. However, the lack of food & fresh water and the oppressive heat usually took the spunk out of everyone:”
For the story of this plaque, click here.
“There used to be a sign above the door that read something like “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter”, but its been removed:”
“You can see how large the space is. I’m sure Mudd shared this space with other prisoners. We estimate it to be about 1100 square feet:”
“This is the conspirators’ shared cell. All 4 were housed here beginning in late January 1866 until their release. O’Laughlen died here of yellow fever. Included are a few pics of the floor. You’ll see small canals cut into the floor. These were done by Mudd to divert rainwater from his bed. We measured the space as being 15′ by 40′:”
Thanks again, Dop, for these great views of Fort Jefferson!
These are the best photos of the fort that I have ever seen — and I have seen a lot! Thank you so much