The Prison at Alton
For more than three years, Alton was the site of a Civil War prison that would see over 11,000 prisoners pass through it’s gates. Most were Confederates, but others were local citizens, including some women, who were charged with treason, making anti-Union statements or aiding in the escape of a prisoner. Prisoners in the four-story building were kept in 4-foot x 7-foot cells that each held nine men. Conditions were harsh and mortality rates high compared to other Union prisons. A Confederate Cemetery on Rozier Street in Alton holds the bodies of nearly 2000 Confederate dead from the prison. Others were buried on Smallpox Island where they were taken in an effort to stop the spread of the disease.