TIL about Elmira, a Union-owned prison camp during the Civil War. The camp had two observation towers constructed for onlookers, and citizens would pay 15 cents to look at the inmates. Concession stands by the towers sold peanuts, cakes, and lemonade while the men inside starved.

Read more: https://www.nellaware.com/blog/elmira-prisoner-of-war-camp.html

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  1. >Life inside the camp for the POWs was dull, and many sat around with nothing to do. There were those that found ways to occupy themselves through various means. Some built trinkets out of different items they found throughout the camp such as beef bone or horse hair; guards would then sell them throughout town. Those who were skilled in carpentry were hired by Union personnel to help build various facilities throughout the camp for a small wage and extra rations.

    >The outside of the prison took on a festive type atmosphere. Two observatories, as well as food and beverage stands, were erected on the opposite side of Water Street during the summer months, and for 10-15¢, curious onlookers could view inside the camp. Prisoners, unhappy about being gawked at, would sometimes perform pejorative type circus acts. In the beginning of September, the army took possession of the area and dismantled one of the towers. The other tower remained open though business declined due to the encroaching cold weather, and onlookers were beginning to realize the harsh reality of what they were paying to see.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elmira_Prison#Prison_life

    They weren’t starved. You’re thinking of Anderson, the Confederate POW camp.

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