The weather was extremely cold, and through these cracks the chill wind of winter whistled in bitter mockery on the half-starved and scantily clothed inmates. These crevices remained open for more than two weeks after the Colonel occupied the cell. There were four persons in the cell with him, but it had been occupied by a much larger number, and was as filthy as it could possibly be.
On some occasions when the rations were served, the Colonel could not get to the cubby-hole as quickly as the servant thought he ought, and for that reason threw his rations into the filth on the floor. The prison had a hall in the centre, and a row of cells on each side. At the south end of the hall was a large room as wide as the hall and both rows of cells combined. In this room more than three hundred persons were crowded, rendering the atmosphere suffocating and sickening. There was one general roof over the whole building. The attic remained undivided, and was occupied by the guard; and as the cells were merely covered with lattice-work, upon which they patrolled, the whole upper part of the building was in communication with the lower part. When the south wind blew, pestilential exhalations from the large room filled every cell. None of the occupants could remedy this, because the room was so crowded that filth was unavoidable.
In the hall opposite the cell occupied by the Colonel was a trap-door, which led to the coal-hole, an excavation ten feet deep, without light or ventilation. This was a place of punishment for refractory soldiers, citizens, bounty-jumpers, and drunken men. The innocent and the guilty were alike its occupants. Any one who fell under the ban of the commandant, or his subordinates, was consigned to that horrible place. Some were taken out alive and survived, others were taken to the hospital to die, while a few died in it. An ex-speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, named Tarboth, was placed in this modern "black-hole" at 10 o-clock P.M., and taken out at 9 A.M., the following morning, death-stricken. In two days afterward his funeral was noticed in the papers.
American Bastile, A History of the Illegal Arrests and Imprisonment of American Citizens During the Late Civil War
by John A. Marshall, pages 76-78
Thomas W. Hartley, Philadelphia, Twenty-Third Edition, 1877