The authorship of this poem is uncertain. Carolyn M. Bartels, writing in the introduction to The Forgotten Men: Missouri State Guard (Two Trails Publishing, Independence, Mo., 1995), attributes it to James Lewis, a Missouri Confederate who was held prisoner at the military prison in Alton, Illinois. Ronald D. Lee, whose great great grandfather Levi Lee served with Company H, 8th Florida Infantry, attributes it to Confederate soldier Jeff Thompson, who was imprisoned at Gratiot Street Prison in August 1863.

According to Mark Boatner's The Civil War Dictionary, Gratiot Street Prison in St. Louis, Missouri, "held, in addition to prisoners of war, Union army deserters, bounty jumpers, spies, bushwhackers, and disloyal citizens. Originally a medical college, the building held around 500 with safety but usually 1,000 were confined there. The inmates were a desperate and violent group, and the building was twice set on fire by them. A number tried to escape by attacking the guards or tunneling under the walls."

"Prison Bars"

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Last modified 18-April-2001