War of the Rebellion: Serial 119 Page 0665 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - UNION AND CONFEDERATE.

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Columbus, Ohio, December 7, 1863,

His Excellency DAVID TOD, Governor of Ohio:

SIR: In obedience to your order we proceeded to the Ohio penitentiary about 10 o'clock a. m. on the morning of November 28, 1863, and presented to the warden your note, of which the following is a copy:


Columbus, November 28, 1863.

N. MERION, Esq., Warden, &c.:

I am astounded at the escape of Morgan and other rebel prisoners, and desiring authentic and reliable information of all the circumstances attending the escape I send Quartermaster-General Wright and Secretary Hoffman to visit the prison and learn from you and by personal inspection of the prisoners all that can be known on the subject. Please communicate freely with them.




In compliance will your request the warden accompanied us to that part of the prison occupied by the Morgan prisoners. With a lighted lamp we examined one only of the seven cells from which escapes were made.

As we could not conveniently explore the openings below, we adopt as correct the following report of examination made by F. N. Desellen to the warden of the penitatiary:

OFFICE OHIO PENITATIARY, Columbus, November 30, 1863.

Captain N. MERION, Warden Ohio Penitatiary:

SIR: Pursuant to your request I took an assistant and examined that part of the cells and of the house from which John H. Morgan and six of the prisoners confined with him made their escape on the night of the 27th of this month.

Clearness and brevity require a short description of the cell block and house in which they will others had been confined. The cell bock is about 100 feet long, 20 wide, and 40 high. It is built of hammered limestone, in such a manner that the doors of the cells are all on the sides and are the only external openings. There are five rangers of cells, one above the other, with thirty-five cells and each range. The doors are latticework of 2-inch bar iron, opening outward, and strongly secured. The cells opening on opposite sides of the block are separated by a center wall of brick, running parallel with the fronts, and those on the same side by transverse brick walls. Each, except the highest range, is closed above by a brick are which rests on the transverse walls and supports the floor of the cell above it.

The cell house is a stone building, the walls of which are eleven feet distant from the cell block. The intervening space is flagged, and lighted with gas at night. This space has been the walk of the prisoners by day, and the first of lowest and the second range of the cells those in which they have been locked at night.

The foundation of the cell block consists of three parallel walls, with end walls, all of unhewn stone, the parallel wall being the foundation of the brick partition wall before mentioned. The space between the outer and center wall is six feet. An arch of twenty inches curvature rests on these walls and runs from the extreme west end of the cell bock to the east wall of the cell house, and from cover of what was intended for an air chamber. This camber has had two transverse partition walls with an air through each; an opening inches square, secured by an iron grating, formerly admitted external air to the chamber, but is now closed by a blank of coal. The floor conforms to the original eastern slope of the ground on which the cell house stands. At the west end of the chamber the space from the floor to the center of arch is about thirty inches; at the east end it is five feet six inches. The cells stand across this chamber, the arch of which is composed of three courses of brick, the lower set on end, the second and third on edge, making eighteen inches of brick-work, set as usual in lime mortar. On this a floor bed of lime mortar of the depth of three inches at the center of the arch receives the cement floor of the cells, which is three inches thick; thus making a vertical distance from the top of the floor to the center of the arch beneath twenty-four inches. To obtain access to this air chamber a small opening was made at the left inside corner of cell Numbers 20. The thickness of the cement, lime mortar, &c., between the surface of the floor and the top of the arch at this spot is about twenty-six inches. The foundation wall