“He then looked very sick, pale, and emaciated. He was hardly able to get about. He was afflicted chronic diarrhea, and complained of severe griping pain in his stomach.” That’s how Patrick Creen described James H. Phalan when he saw him working at the Washington Navy Yard.
Phalan was among the Union soldiers imprisoned in the harsh, unsanitary and overcrowded conditions at Libby Prison during the Civil War. After his release in 1863, he lived with his Aunt Hannah Griffin and his wife Hanora, and he tried to work at the Navy Yard. His aunt said, “He tried to do a little easy work in the Navy Yard but was troubled continually with cramps and chills and under treatment all the time. He had to give up this position a few weeks from inability to continue on account of his illness.”
After two years, he and his wife moved a few streets away, but his affliction carried on, and he began to work making feather brushes. Phalan died in 1870 from the lasting, painful complications due to his time spent in Libby Prison.
For more information on Civil War soldiers, see the Navy Widow’s Certificates, 1861-1910.