January 11, 2013

Prison Sketches

Major Henry Vander Weyde, a professional artist and member of the New York Volunteers, was imprisoned from October 1864 until the end of the war in one of Danville’s prisoner of war camps. His sketchbook, gifted to the Museum by Robert Mann in January 2012, features drawings of fellow prisoners and portraits of local men and women. His depictions of prison scenes give an accurate portrayal of life within the prison as well as vistas of Danville seen from his prison windows.  Some drawings, such as "Flanking the Enemy," show the harsh realities of prison life while others display a sense of dark humor.    flanking_the_enemy

The original images, approximately 4 by 6 inches, have been professionally scanned,enlarged, and framed for more adequately viewing.  In addition to the reproduced images, the original sketchbook will be displayed in a vitrine due to the fragile nature of this amazing primary source document.

Text panels giving background on Henry Vander Weyde and excerpts from other prisoners’ journal entries and accounts of prison life in Danville during the Civil War will further enhance the exhibition and offer additional information about conditions in Danville’s prisons.