On the eighth of December Glazier made this note in his diary: "Getting into the hospital is no easy matter, but Tresouthick is becoming more and more sick, and has good hopes." But
"The best o' plans o' mice and men Gang aft aglee;"
and all hope of escape for our two worthies was interrupted by the inconvenient fact that a couple of their comrades anticipated them in point of time, and by so doing aroused the guards to such a state of vigilance, that our over-sanguine boys saw there was no chance for them. Consequently Lieutenant Tresouthick's illness vanished as it had come, and he was soon pronounced convalescent.
Mournful news.—How a brave man dies.—New Year's Day.—Jolly under unfavorable circumstances.—Major Turner pays his respects.—Punishment for singing "villainous Yankee songs."—Confederate General John Morgan.—Plans for escape.—Digging their way to freedom.—"Post No. 1, All's well."—Yankee ingenuity.—The tunnel ready.—Muscle the trump card.—No respect to rank.—Sauve qui peut!—A strategic movement.—"Guards! guards!"—Absentees from muster.—Disappointed hopes.—Savage treatment of prisoners.—Was the prison mined?
The Richmond papers occasionally found their way into the hands of the prisoners, and the following mournful item of news is transcribed from one of them. The writer of the ensuing letter was a man about thirty years of age, who was accused by the rebel authorities of having acted as a spy on behalf of the Union government. A gloom hung over the prison for some days after the reading of the article:
Castle Thunder, Richmond, Virginia.
Dear Father:—By permission and through the courtesy of Captain Alexander, I am enabled to write you a few lines. You, who before this have heard from me in regard to my situation here, can, I trust, bear it, when I tell you that my days on earth are soon ended.
Last Saturday I was court-martialed, and this evening, a short time since, I received notice of my sentence from Captain Alexander, who has since shown me every kindness consistent with his duty.
Writing to my dear parents, I feel there can be no greater comfort after such tidings, than to tell you that I trust, by the mercy of our Heavenly Father, to die the death of a Christian.
For more than a year, since the commencement of my confinement, I have been trying to serve him in my own feeble way, and I do not fear to go to Him.
I would have loved to see you all again; God saw best not; why should we mourn? Comfort your hearts, my dear parents, by thoughts of God's mercy unto your son, and bow with reverence beneath the hand of Him who "doeth all things well."
* * * I sent a ring to my wife by a clergyman, Monday last; I also sent a telegram to yourself, which will arrive too late, as the time of my execution is set for the day after to-morrow.
Dear parents: there are but few more moments left me; I will try to think often of you; God bless and comfort you; remember me kindly and respectfully to all my dear friends and relatives. Tell Kitty I hope to meet her again. Take care of Freddy for me; put him often in remembrance of me.
Dear mother, good-bye. God comfort you, my mother, and bless you with the love of happy children. Farewell, my father; we meet again by God's mercy.
The following account of the execution is from a Richmond paper:
"At eleven o'clock yesterday forenoon, a detail of one hundred men from the City Battalion, marched from Castle Thunder with Spencer Kellogg, the recently condemned spy, in custody.
"The cavalcade reached the scene of execution about half-past twelve o'clock, where, as usual, a vast concourse of people, of both sexes and all ages, were congregated. After a few moments spent in preliminary arrangements, the prisoner was escorted, under guard, to the gallows. While seated in the hack awaiting the perfection of the arrangements for his execution, he conversed freely with the utmost nonchalance with Dr. Burrows, frequently smiling at some remark made either by himself or the minister.
"Arriving under the gallows, the charges preferred against the accused and the sentence of the court-martial were read. A short but impressive prayer was then offered by the minister, at the conclusion of which the condemned man, unaccompanied, mounted the scaffold.
"In a few moments Detective Capehart followed, and commenced to adjust the rope over the neck of the condemned, in which he assisted, all the while talking with the officer. On taking off his hat, to admit the noose over his head, he threw it one side, and falling off the scaffold, it struck a gentleman beneath, when the prisoner turned quickly, and bowing, said: 'Excuse me, sir!'
"A negro next came on the scaffold with a ladder, and proceeded to fasten the rope to the upper beam, the prisoner meanwhile regarding him with the greatest composure. The rope being fastened, the negro was in the act of coming down, when the prisoner, looking up at the rope, remarked: 'This will not break my neck! It is not more than a foot fall! Doctor, I wish you would come up and arrange this thing!' The rope was then rearranged to his satisfaction, and the cloth cap placed over his head.
"The condemned man then bowed his head, and engaged a few seconds in prayer, at the conclusion of which he raised himself, and standing perfectly erect, pronounced in a clear voice: 'All ready!'
"The drop fell, and the condemned man was launched into eternity!"
Kellogg is said by his captors to have died with the conviction that he had furnished more valuable information, in the character of a spy, to the Federal government than any other ten men in the service. But this has been denied by his friends at the North, who assert that he was innocent of the charge.
With baseless rumors of a soon-to-be-effected cartel of exchange; the drawing of lots for the selection of hostages, upon whom the Confederacy proposed to retaliate for the punishment inflicted upon three Confederates by the Federal authorities who had sentenced them to imprisonment in the Illinois State Prison; listening to yarns spun by real or pretended veterans; playing games of chance; holding spirited debates; reading letters from home; occasionally poring over the newspaper procured by stealth; or meditating plans of escape—the balance of the year 1863 wore on to its close, and still Willard Glazier was a prisoner of war, with no prospect whatever of a speedy release. Then came New-Year's Day, 1864, and some little attempt was made to get up a New-Year's dinner—though no extra rations had been issued. They did their best, however, like Mark Tapley, to be "jolly under unfavorable circumstances."
Nothing occurred out of the usual routine until the twenty-fourth of January, when, as the prisoners, including Glazier, were singing "The Star-Spangled Banner," "Rally Round the Flag, Boys," etc., the door leading into the street was suddenly flung open, and a squad of armed men filed in. Turner was at their head, and quickly crossing the room and placing himself at the door leading up-stairs, to prevent any of the prisoners from making their escape, began: "Now you d——d boisterous scoundrels, I'll teach you to begin your d——d howling in this building again. I want you to understand that you must not drive people crazy out in the streets with your villainous Yankee songs." He then turned to his men and ordered them to "Take their stations around the d——d rascals, and shoot the first man that dared to stir out of his tracks." Having completed which arrangement, he added to his helpless victims: "Now, d—n you, stay here until twelve o'clock to-night, and make a bit of noise or move from your place, if you dare." And he kept them there until the appointed hour, standing and in silence. "The fires went out early in the evening, and the cold became intense. Some managed to get blankets from their friends," in the apartment above, "but the guards soon put a stop to that. One man called down to a friend through a knot-hole in the floor, asking him if he wanted a blanket. The guard heard him, cocked his gun, and aimed at the hole; but a call from below gave the man warning and he fled." And all this for singing a song written by a Southerner, in praise of the flag under whose aegis Major Turner was nurtured and received his military education! It is quite possible that a song identified with the cause of their supposed enemy might have produced a commotion among the ignorant rabble in the street, and hence it is perhaps unfair to blame the commander of the prison for prohibiting the loud singing, which partook somewhat of the nature of defiance; but he could certainly have attained his object as effectually in a manner becoming an officer and a gentleman. Even the victims of the First French Revolution were permitted to express in song through the bars of the Temple sentiments of utter scorn for their enemies, and when the Jacobins in their turn marched to the guillotine they did so, singing the "Marseillaise."
A great sensation was created among the prisoners on the twenty-fifth of the month on account of a visit made to "Libby" by the famous raider, General John Morgan, whom Glazier describes as a "large, fine-looking officer, wearing a full beard and a rebel uniform, trimmed with the usual amount of gold braid;" but something far more interesting than the visit of any man, however famous, began to absorb the attention of our imprisoned hero at this time. He had never ceased to rack his brain with schemes looking to his escape. A life of captivity was indescribably wearisome to him. He not only taxed his own ingenuity in the effort to discover some feasible plan, but eagerly entered into the schemes of others. The result, however, so far as he was individually concerned, was by no means in accordance with his hopes; but, as he has given the details in his "Capture, Prison-Pen, and Escape," we cannot do better (even at the risk of quoting from that work more freely than we had intended) than to let our readers have it in his own words, thus:
"Early in the winter, Colonel Thomas E. Rose, of the Seventy-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, conceived a plan of escape, and organized a secret company of twenty-seven, who were to dig their way to freedom.
"Colonel Rose was well calculated to superintend this work, for he had served in the Mexican War, was taken prisoner by the Mexicans, and after a short confinement, escaped by tunneling from the prison a sufficient distance to be clear of the guards. He had served his apprenticeship and was now prepared to manage and direct. After thorough organization of our company, with secrecy well enjoined, we adopted the following plan of operations:
"In the basement of the building just below our cook-room, was a small unoccupied cellar, which had been closed since our arrival, and was never entered. From this room or cellar arose a large chimney, which passed through the cook-room, and so to the top of the building. Our first work was to make a hole in the chimney from the kitchen, which opening we could easily conceal by means of some slop-barrels. These barrels we managed ourselves to empty, so that all danger of detection from this point was carefully avoided. A short ladder which our considerate jailers had brought into the rooms for the purpose of raising their flag on the building, was used to make our descent into the dark room below. Inquiry was made for the ladder, but as no one seemed to know anything about it, it was inferred that it had been converted into fuel. At the foot of the ladder another opening was made through the chimney wall leading into the underground basement room. By removing a few stones from the wall of this place, we were in a situation to commence the work of tunneling. The only implements in our possession were an old trowel and the half of a canteen. The arduous labor was commenced with only the fragment of a canteen, but with this the progress was so slow that even the most patient were disheartened. Fortunately for us a mason came in to repair the prison walls, and going to dinner before he had finished his work, left his trowel, which in his absence most mysteriously disappeared. To him it may have been of little account, to us it was a godsend. With the aid of this implement we were enabled to make more rapid progress, were greatly encouraged, and worked night and day with ceaseless energy. Two of our number were kept in the tunnel almost constantly. One, by a vigorous use of the trowel and canteen, would advance slowly, placing the loosened earth in an old blanket, which the other would convey out of the tunnel into a corner of the room, from whence it started. Our course was due east, under the street, where constantly paced the sentinels, who at every hour of the night were wont to cry: 'Post No. 1; all's well!'—'Post No. 2; all's well!' etc. Little did they dream that Yankee ingenuity and perseverance were perforating the solid earth under their feet, and opening a path to freedom.
"As we progressed in our work we experienced great difficulty from the want of pure air to breathe, and to sustain our candles, which refused to burn. Consequently, one of our party was compelled to stand at the opening, fanning pure air into the tunnel with his hat. Our atmospheric difficulties were the more increased by the small size of the hole, which was a little less than two feet in diameter, quite irregular in consequence of large stones, and descended in a line below the horizontal. This severe labor was carried on without much interruption for more than three weeks, when, at last, the plan came near being a failure on account of a sad mistake in our measurement. Our intention was to reach the yard of an old shed, or warehouse, in which were then stored the boxes sent us by the Christian and Sanitary Commissions, and by our friends at the North.
"Thinking we had reached the desired point, an opening was made to the surface, when it was found we were still in the street, outside the fence, and within a few yards of the sentries. Not discovered by this mishap, the hole was quickly filled with a pair of old pants and some straw, and the work of excavation continued to the spot intended.
"The selection of this point was very fortunate, as the guards used to skulk about this building at night for the purpose of plundering the boxes, and on the night of the escape, as it happened, they saw every man that came out; but, supposing them to be friends, only whispered to each other, that 'the boys were going through the Yankee boxes mighty fast.'
"These whisperings," adds Captain Glazier, "were distinctly heard by some of our men. The tunnel was about sixty-five feet in length, and was ready for use February ninth, 1864.
"The company of diggers had arranged that they should make their egress first, and inform the others just as they were going out. But each man had a particular friend whom he wished to notify, and, as we were seen packing our clothing, it soon became suspected among our fellow-prisoners that something unusual was in the wind. Curiosity, once on the alert, soon discovered the secret, and then all were jubilant with the hope of escape, and forthwith commenced packing their poor wardrobes. But egress was so slow that it soon became evident to the cool calculator that, at best, but a comparatively small proportion of our number would be fortunate enough to take their departure from 'Libby' before daylight would forbid any further efforts in that direction.
"In order to get down the chimney, as well as along the tunnel, it was necessary to do so in puris naturalibus, wrap our clothing in a bundle, and push it on before us. As soon as it was seen that only a few could possibly get out, many, and in fact most, became selfish, and thought only of attaining their own liberty. All rushed for the mouth of the tunnel, each man seemingly determined to be first out. By this movement, the organization formed by the pioneers or working party was broken up, and the workmen, who were to have had the first opportunity to escape, were not more favorably situated than those who had never borne a hand in the digging. At the entrance to the tunnel were hundreds eagerly awaiting their turn.
"Through the intense anxiety and excitement that arose, there was a rush and a crowd, each one being eager to improve the opportunity. Muscle was the trump card, and won. The weak had to step aside, or rather they were pushed aside without apology. No respect was paid to rank or name. A long-armed second lieutenant had no scruple in taking hold of a pair of shoulders that wore eagles, and pushing them out of the way. It was sauve qui peut, and no standing aside for betters—no deference to age, and gray hairs ceased to be honored. Mere physical force was the test of championship. Those poor weak ones who gravitated to the outskirts of such an eager crowding mass—just as the light kernels will find their way to the top of a shaken measure of wheat—doubtless thought, as they felt themselves crowded further and further from the door of egress:
"'Oh, it is excellent To have a giant's strength, but 'tis tyrannous To use it like a giant!'
"I made several attempts," Glazier continues, "to assert what I considered my rights, but as I had not, at that time, much muscle to back my claims, they were not recognized, and thus I spent the whole night in a bootless struggle for freedom.
"In digging the tunnel we had encountered a large root which we could not well remove, and the passage at this point was very narrow. Lieutenant Wallace F. Randolph, Fifth United States Artillery, a corpulent fellow, was caught fast by the root. There was a man before him, and another behind, which almost entirely excluded atmospheric circulation, and before they could pull him out of his unfortunate predicament, Randolph was almost dead. He was, however, successful at last. This blockade greatly retarded the line of march, and made the crowd within still more desperate.
"Some of the outsiders in the struggle, who despaired of accomplishing anything by strength, had recourse to a stratagem. There had been considerable noise during the struggle for position, and the guards were expected to make their appearance at any moment. The outsiders, taking advantage of this apprehension, went to the farther end of the cook-room, and, in the darkness, made a racket with pots and kettles, which sounded very much like the clashing of fire-arms; while some of their number in the crowd sang out: 'Guards! guards!' In an instant every man was gone from the tunnel, and a frantic rush took place for the single stairway by about five hundred men. Such a struggling and pressing I have never elsewhere seen, or participated in. We neither walked up, nor ran up, but were literally lifted from our feet, and propelled along in a solid mass up the passage, and made our entrance through the door at the head of the stairs as though shot from a cannon—most of us not stopping until we struck the wall on the opposite side of the room. While this was going on, the scamps who had given the false alarm were quietly passing out of the tunnel! The ruse was soon discovered, however, and, in a few minutes, there was as great a jam at the entrance of the tunnel as ever. But, so eager and unthinking were we, that within half an hour, the same trick was played on us again by others and then followed another stampede up the stairs. It is a wonder this affair was not stopped by the guards, but they had no suspicion whatever of what was going on. This was probably owing to the fact that great noises in the cook-room were common throughout the night as well as day. It is however reported that one of the sentinels was heard to call out jocosely to a comrade on the next beat, 'Hello, Billy! there goes somebody's coffee-pot, sure.'
"This struggle continued until morning, when the opening in the chimney was covered, and we went to our several quarters. Here a muster was called to discover how many had made their escape, when it was found that one hundred and fifteen were missing. Arrangements were at once made to account for their absence, and certain men were designated who were to cross the room slyly during roll-call, and be counted twice.
"For some reason the authorities were late that morning, and did not make their appearance until about ten o'clock. On the roll being called the men, according to arrangement, attempted to cross the room, but the movement was discovered, and so the count showed one hundred and fifteen short. The clerk thought he had made a mistake, and counted again, but with the same result. The authorities also thought there must be some error in the count, and joked little Ross, the prison clerk, who was none of the brightest, because he could not count a thousand Yankees!
"We were now marched from one room to another, and counted one by one, but still there were one hundred and fifteen short of the complement. We, of course, pretended to be as much surprised as the authorities. They next sent for Major Turner, and he counted us two or three times, but with an equally unsatisfactory result. He demanded of us where they had gone, and how they got out; but not a man knew.
"The escape was at once made public, and the papers were filled with the news, and the most strenuous measures at once adopted to ensure the recapture of the runaways. The authorities were terribly exasperated, and as a first step, arrested the guards and threw them into Castle Thunder, concluding as a matter of course, that they had been bribed. This set the guards thinking, and one of them remembered he had seen an unusual number of men in the lot near the Yankee boxes. Latouche, the prison adjutant, hearing of this, just before nightfall discovered the locality of the opening. Next, they questioned the prisoners as to where in the building it began, but could obtain no satisfaction, and not until after a long search, did they discover the opening in the chimney."
So the "patient toil and vigil long" of poor Glazier went for nothing. The Confederate authorities seem to have treated the matter very good-humoredly, frankly expressed their surprise at the ingenuity and patience of the subterranean engineers, and manfully set about the task of recapturing the fugitives. Forty-eight were brought in during the next two days, but at the same time it leaked out among the prisoners that the Unionists under General Kilpatrick were within the outer line of fortifications, engaging the rebels, as it was conjectured, with the view of rescuing the prisoners. The consequence was, there was much excitement among the latter, for the boom of cannon sounded distinctly in their ears, and that sound was accepted as the music that heralded their approaching freedom.
All such hopes, however, were doomed to disappointment. The object of the expedition, which was a combined movement from different points by General Kilpatrick and Colonel Dahlgren, was defeated in consequence of the treachery of a negro guide, employed by the latter officer, and one of the effects of this man's treason was the death of that gallant young soldier. The only result that followed to the prisoners was that the rebels became more exasperated than ever, and unfortunately for their reputation, they seem, with regard to the treatment of the few prisoners that fell into their hands on this occasion, to have behaved rather like savage than civilized people. Not satisfied with the perpetration of acts of cruelty upon these particular prisoners, they (according to Captain Glazier's information) undermined the prison building, and stored beneath the foundation a sufficient quantity of powder to blow it into fragments. This proceeding he says they called, with more force than elegance, "preparing the Yankees for hell;" and Major Turner very grimly informed them that if any further attempt at escape were made, or efforts for their rescue, the prison would be blown to atoms! It is not surprising that at such a time, and under the circumstances, the prisoners looked upon this threat as meant in sober reality; but in all probability (or at least let us hope), it was used simply as a means of discouraging attempts upon the part of the incarcerated men, to regain their liberty by their own efforts or that of their friends.
The raiders captured in the expedition under Kilpatrick and Dahlgren had been thrust into a cell directly beneath the room in which Glazier was confined. Contrivances were made to open communication with them for the purpose, if possible, of alleviating their sufferings, as it was well known that food was issued to them in very niggardly quantities, and every indignity the rebels could devise inflicted upon them. After much effort, by the aid of a knife, a hole was cut in the floor, sufficiently large to pass a man's hand, and through this hole Glazier, for several weeks, was instrumental in furnishing the captives with a share of his own and his companions' rations, which were eagerly grasped and devoured by the starving men. No single act of our hero's life afforded him more real happiness than the service he was thus enabled to render the brave men who had lost their liberty in the noble effort to capture the prison and release its inmates.
Belle Boyd, the Confederate spy.—National characteristics.— Colonel Mosby.—Richmond to Danville.—Sleeping spoon-fashion.— Glazier's "corrective point" suffers.—Saltatory entrance to a railroad car.—Colonel Joselyn.—Sympathy of North Carolinians.— Ingenious efforts to escape.—Augusta.—Macon.—Turner again!— "Carelessness" with firearms.—Tunneling.—Religious revival.— Order from Confederate War Department.—Murder!—Fourth of July.—Macon to Savannah.—Camp Davidson.—More tunneling.
The celebrated Confederate spy, Belle Boyd, paid a visit to "Libby" in the latter part of March, and her presence created much comment among the prisoners. She was not that ideal of grace and gentleness which
"Untutored youth, Unlearned in the world's false subtleties,"
enthrones within the temple of his heart, but was, notwithstanding, a remarkable woman. With much of the enthusiasm that characterized "La Pucelle," she appears to have combined a considerable allowance of shrewdness, or common sense; a mixture of qualities, by the way, of more common occurrence than is generally supposed, among the northern and southern people of our continent. There is little difference between the "peartness" of the one, and the "smartness" of the other; or the "high tone" of the South, and the nonchalance of the North. The common national characteristic of the people of both sections, however, is the power of adapting themselves to every variety of circumstance. No matter what the importance, or the insignificance of the occasion, or event, upon which they perceive that their opportunity for the attainment of a desired object depends, they are ready at the right moment to seize and turn it to account; and while, to-day, the banks of the Ganges or the Tigris are made to yield up to them the fruits of their industry and produce, to-morrow, when a modification of the law of demand and supply prevails, we find the same men following the tide of fortune through humbler but equally useful channels. We are pre-eminently a practical people, and that this characteristic to some extent destroys the poetic aspect of American life, cannot be gainsaid. The homes of our infancy, the graves of our kindred, the hills upon whose summits we first felt the glory of the morning, the altar at which we first knelt in prayer, the rustic nook where we listened for the one step to which our boyish hearts beat sweetest time; have no power to trammel our migratory proclivities, or to check our local inconstancy. The sentiments with which such objects are indissolubly connected, are but tendrils clinging round the parent nest, and the wings of the new-fledged bird, bursting them asunder, it soars out into the world to contend and battle with its storms.
One of the least attractive illustrations of this spirit of unrest, is where it extends to our women, and Miss Belle Boyd's is in our estimation a case in point.
"Unknown to her the rigid rule, The dull restraint, the chiding frown, The weary torture of the school; The taming of wild nature down. Her only lore, the legends told Around the soldiers' fire; at night Stars rose and set, and seasons rolled; Flowers bloomed, and snowflakes fell, Unquestioned, in her sight!"
Her career was full of adventure and intrepid daring, and she served the disloyal cause she espoused faithfully and to the bitter end; and then, like other wandering stars of the troubled sky, sank into oblivion. From the time of Miss Boyd's visit until the seventh of May, Willard Glazier continued to lead the same dull life at Libby Prison. The monotony of the hours was unbroken by any circumstance more exciting than a visit from the celebrated partisan chief, Mosby, who is described by Glazier as a preux chevalier, at that time about twenty-eight years of age, in figure slight, with straight fair hair and closely shaven face, except that "a faded German moustache overshadowed his upper lip." It does not appear that he was received as a welcome visitor, although he jocularly remarked to some of the prisoners who had been captured by his own troopers that he was "glad to see them there."
Time! what wonders dost thou work. But a few years have passed, and Mosby, who was erst so malignant a rebel, that even the poor, but loyal, prisoners, presented him the cold shoulder, is now a confidential friend of the late Commander in chief of the Union Army! Longstreet, the rebel General, again swears by the Star-Spangled Banner; and Beauregard, hero of Sumter and Bull Run, is now an advocate of perfect equality between the black and white races in his Southern State of Louisiana!
The visit of Colonel Mosby was the last memorable incident of our hero's sojourn in "Libby." Upon the seventh of May following, the prisoners were removed thence to Danville, Virginia. Several, in the course of this transit, effected their escape, but the great majority were safely conveyed to their new place of imprisonment. The change made no improvement in their unhappy condition. True, the rations furnished at Danville were of somewhat better quality, and more liberal in quantity, but the discipline was equally Draconian, and the penalty of its slightest infraction—death! The chief source of misery among the captives was want of room, the men being compelled to sleep "spoon-fashion," and in detachments, many being compelled to stand up awake while their comrades slept as best they could.
This condition of things, however, did not last long. Early upon the morning of the twelfth, the prisoners were once more marched out and started southward. After a journey of twenty-four hours in cattle cars, exposed most of the time to a drenching rain, they were disembarked and tramped another twelve miles to Greensboro. Here the mass of weary, wet, and hopeless patriots were about to be driven, pell-mell, like a herd of cattle, into a train of filthy cars, when young Glazier thought he espied a chance of evading his captors. He waited until it appeared to him that the guard was sufficiently occupied with other duties to overlook his whereabouts, and then slipped behind a log, where in an instant he lay upon the ground apparently fast asleep, trusting in the confusion attendant upon the departure of the train to escape observation. But fortune was against him. The only result was the infliction upon that portion of his body which some mothers consider the "corrective point" of their children, of sundry unceremonious kicks, which, coming from such boots as the "C. S. A." at that time supplied to their soldiers, were felt to be more persuasive than agreeable. Of course it became necessary to awaken from his profound slumber slowly, which made the kicks still more persuasive, and by the time he was erect, the cars were filled and the doors all closed. The guards therefore insisted upon his effecting an entrance through the small window, which he did with certain vigorous assistance from behind, and landed upon the head and shoulders of Lieutenant-Colonel Joselyn, of the Fifteenth Massachusetts Infantry, who passed him around in such a way that the other occupants of the car were moved to sundry objurgations at the expense of our young friend more forcible than polite, and partaking little of the nature of a hospitable reception! However, this is a world of compromises, and Glazier soon found his level among his fellow-captives.
Their route took them through a portion of North Carolina, where for the first time they met with unmistakable proofs of sympathy. At one city, on learning there were "Yankee prisoners" in town, the citizens came out in large numbers. Many attempted to converse with them, but were forced back at the point of the bayonet. The prisoners then struck up the "Star-Spangled Banner," and "Rally Round the Flag," and in each interlude could see white handkerchiefs waving in the breeze, demonstrations that so exasperated the Virginia guard that they sent a detail to drive "the d——d tar-heels" from the field.
The contiguity of friends of course presented a strong temptation to some to strike for liberty. Every device promising the least chance of escape was therefore resorted to. Among the most ingenious of these was one so graphically described by young Glazier that we make no apology for again using his language:
"The night being very dark," he writes, "and the soil where we were huddled together very sandy and light, many of the prisoners dug holes in the ground and there buried themselves, hoping thus to escape the observation of the guard when we should be marched from the field to the cars. Unfortunately, however, the scheme was exposed by one of the guard who accidentally stumbled into one of the holes, in the bottom of which he beheld a 'live Yankee.' Struck with amazement, he shouted out: 'Oh, my G—, Captain, here is a Yankee buried alive!' Great excitement was the natural consequence. A general search ensued, torch-lights were used, and the trees and ground thoroughly inspected. This investigation brought to light several holes of a similar character, each having deposited therein a Federal prisoner. The guards were very angry and went about shouting, 'Run them through! Pick up the d——d hounds!' but their captain, a good-natured sort of man, stopped all this. 'No,' said he, 'the d——d Yankees have a right to escape if they can. Let them alone. I'll risk their getting away from me!'"
Some of the burrowers did escape, however, and several others hid themselves in the foliage and were left behind.
After this nothing eventful occurred upon the way, and on the fifteenth of the same month, the whole party arrived at Augusta, Georgia, and found the home guards, to whose custody they were consigned, a bad lot. From that city they were soon after removed to Macon. Up to this period, amid all the mortifications of their condition, notwithstanding their tiresome rides and weary marches; despite the chagrin they naturally felt when well-laid plans of escape were frustrated by accidents beyond the power of men to foresee, they still had one source of consolation—there was at least one drop of balm in Gilead—for had they not gotten rid of—Turner!
Judge, then, of their mingled horror and despair when they reached the front gate of Camp Oglethorpe, their future prison, to find that monster before them, lounging gracefully against the gate entrance, and evidently delighted with the idea of being in a condition to shock his former victims with his presence.
The laugh, however, was not entirely his, for, upon mustering them, he discovered that forty-seven had escaped. Smothering his wrath for the moment, he welcomed the remainder to their prison-house, with the gratifying intelligence that it had its dead-line, and all who approached it had better be ready to meet the contingencies of a future state of rewards and punishments!
After horrifying them with his presence, he shortly took himself off, and not long afterward, to their great relief, was ordered back to Richmond.
Before the week had expired, Glazier had an opportunity of estimating how careless(?) some of his custodians were in handling their firearms, being an eye-witness of an attempt by a sentinel to shoot Lieutenant Barker, of the First Rhode Island Cavalry. The bullet, kinder than the boy who sped it on its errand (for this guard was not over fourteen years of age), passed over the old man's head. As the latter noted the direction of the lad's aim, and heard the whistle of the bullet above him, he very temperately asked the somewhat unnecessary question, "What are you shooting at?" "I am shooting at you, you d——d old cuss." "What are you shooting at me for?" mildly inquired the lieutenant. "Because you had your hands on the dead-line," answered the boy. At this moment the sergeant of the guard came up, and taking the precocious ruffian by the collar, shook him with considerable energy, and demanded of him very fiercely, "What the devil are you shooting at that prisoner for, you little scoundrel?" The boy replied that the prisoner had his hands on the dead-line. Whereupon the sergeant shook him again, told him he was a liar—that the lieutenant was not within twenty feet of the dead-line, and consigned him to the custody of the corporal of the guard, who marched the young monster away.
Captain Glazier states that he was within ten feet of the lieutenant when the shot was fired, and that the latter was not within thirty feet of the fatal line. The incident was not very exhilarating upon the threshold of his new abode, and the prisoners naturally felt greatly exasperated when they heard the particulars.
An order was promulgated next morning by the officer commanding, Captain W. K. Tabb, directing that "any of their number not in ranks at roll-call should be shot," which was not calculated to make them think more kindly of their jailers. The fact is, that the prisoners, in pursuance of a settled determination to lose no opportunity of escape that seemed at all feasible, had been again making experiments in tunneling, and this atrocious order was intended as a measure of precaution against similar schemes in future.
Thus excluded from the relief afforded by such hopeful occupation, their poor captives had to find other employment for their leisure hours, and at this time a kind of religious revival took place among them, and if human prayer could have effected the destruction of the Confederacy, that organization would certainly have crumbled into dust forthwith. The enthusiasm was so great that at times the exercises bordered upon tumult, and greatly incensed their less fervent guards. At one time a huge Western man poured forth such a rhapsody in favor of Grant and Sherman, and garnished it with such pungent denunciations of Jefferson Davis, and other Confederate magnates, that one of the jailers commented thus: "D——d smart praying, but it won't do! It won't do!"
On the morning of the tenth of August, an order from the Confederate War Department was read before the entire garrison of Camp Oglethorpe, and caused much excitement. This order directed that a detachment of fifty prisoners, selected from officers of the highest rank, should be forwarded to Charleston, in order that they might be placed under the fire of the siege guns with which the beleaguering Union forces were attempting the reduction of that city. The order further directed that Generals Scammon, Wessels, Seymour, Schuyler and Heckman should be included in the number. The mandate was of course at once executed, and the departure of the devoted band was the signal for a wild burst of indignant reprobation of the Confederate authorities. It happened also, at this time, that one of the sentinels shot and mortally wounded a prisoner. The victim's name was Otto Grierson, and he had been a general favorite. The excuse assigned for the murder was that he was endeavoring to escape, but his comrades declared that at the time the shot was fired, he was fully sixteen feet from the dead-line, and had made no attempt to escape. Young Glazier and others joined in a formal report of the facts to the officer in command, but the only result was that the murderer received promotion, and was granted a furlough!
If the statements of Captain Glazier regarding this and other contemporaneous outrages are to be relied upon (and he is very strongly corroborated), the officers commanding this military prison sadly abused their trust. Even the highest of those officials indulged in such petty exhibitions of puerile spite as to be altogether unworthy of his station, or even the name of an American.
On the arrival of the Fourth of July, the prisoners very naturally determined, as far as their limited resources would permit, to celebrate the occasion. Accordingly, in true American fashion, a meeting was called, at which speeches of a patriotic character were made, songs sung, and a miniature flag, containing the full number of stars and stripes, which one of their number had concealed about his person, was produced, and became an object of much interest. Instead of magnanimously ignoring all this harmless enthusiasm, the commander of the prison marched in a company of guards and violently dispersed the meeting!
On the twenty-seventh of July, six hundred prisoners were counted out, as they supposed to be added to the others under fire at Charleston, but really for removal to Camp Davidson, at Savannah, Georgia.
This change proved for the better. In the first place, in lieu of the Sahara of shadeless sand and clay of their former prison grounds, they found at "Davidson" a number of fine oaks, beneath the shade of which they were permitted to recline in peace. In addition to this, and a matter of infinitely greater importance, their guards were officered by gentlemen. Captain Glazier states that the authorities here issued tents, cooking utensils, and decent rations, and adds this tribute to their generally manly conduct toward the prisoners: "The troops here have seen service, and there is nothing like the battle-field and the suffering there experienced to teach soldiers humanity toward each other. Whenever attempts are made to escape, they give us to understand that they would do the same themselves, under like circumstances, but are still compelled to punish such infractions of discipline. They politely ask our pardon for inspecting our quarters, and in a manner as gentlemanly as possible, remove our blankets from the floor of our tents in their search for incipient tunnels. All this is very gratifying and tends to assuage the bitter hatred which former brutality has engendered. These Georgia boys will be long remembered, and may look for the utmost kindness and consideration from us if the chances of war ever reverse our situations."
This is a record for Georgia nobler far than any she ever gained upon the battle-field, albeit her sons were always in the van. All honor to them! Such victories are well worth the winning.
But pleasant as their Georgia quarters were by comparison with former experiences, the captives were afflicted with the malade du pays—the home-sickness that tugged at their hearts, and bade them again and again risk death for the chance of freedom. Tunnel after tunnel was attempted, and one, constructed by a select band (sworn to secrecy), was upon the eve of completion, when a straggling cow blundered upon the frail covering of turf, and became so securely imbedded in the falling earth that she could not extricate herself. Her bellowing attracted the attention of the sentinel, the plot was discovered, and, of course, frustrated.
Despite such disappointments, however, when the time came, as it soon did, for the prisoners to leave Savannah, they did so with sentiments of gratitude for the comparatively humane treatment they had received at the hands of the Georgians, not unmingled, however, with apprehensions concerning their future, for it was openly rumored that they were destined to join their former fellow-prisoners now under fire of Gilmore's siege guns at Charleston.
UNDER FIRE AT CHARLESTON.
Under siege.—Charleston Jail.—The Stars and Stripes.—Federal compliments.—Under the guns.—Roper Hospital.—Yellow Jack.—Sisters of Charity.—Rebel Christianity.—A Byronic stanza.—Charleston to Columbia.—"Camp Sorghum."—Nemesis.—Another dash for liberty.—Murder of Lieutenants Young and Parker.—Studying topography.—A vaticination.—Back to reality.
The next we see of Lieutenant Glazier is in the city of Charleston, South Carolina, on the twelfth of September, 1864. Coming Street on the morning of that day was crowded with people of every variety of calling, from the priest and sister of charity, out on their merciful errands, to the riff-raff and sans-culottes out on no errand at all but to help the excitement. The city was under siege.
At the end of the street a body of six hundred emaciated, broken-spirited, ragged men, escorted by a strong guard, marched along, and the busiest of the pedestrians paused to gaze upon them as they passed. Coarse and scurrilous was the greeting the captives received from the motley and shameless groups. A few of the more respectable citizens, however, spoke words of grace to them, and some added hopeful predictions of the final triumph of the Union cause. The prisoners were hurried forward to the yard of Charleston Jail, where for the first time in many weary months they beheld the glorious flag of their country floating in the breeze over Morris Island. Weak as they were the patriotic sentiment was still strong within and they gave one rousing cheer! Some, despite the curses of their guard, dancing like children, while others wept tears of joy.
The jail, as Captain Glazier describes it, was a large octagonal building of four stories, surmounted by a tower. In the rear was a large workshop, in appearance like a bastile, where some of the prisoners were confined. As a lugubrious accessory to his own quarters, he had a remarkably clear view of a gallows, erected directly in front of his fragment of a tent. "The ground floor of the jail was occupied by ordinary criminal convicts; the second story by Confederate officers and soldiers, under punishment for military offences; the third by negro prisoners, and the fourth by Federal and Confederate deserters, and it is complimentary to the good sense of the rebels that deserters from either side were treated by them with equal severity." He gives a sad account of the terrible condition of the negro soldiers and their officers who were captured at Fort Wagner, and says the hospital at this place was "a lazar-house of indescribable misery."
On the twenty-second of September, Glazier makes the following note on the progress of the siege:
"Shelling is kept up vigorously. From sixty to a hundred huge, smoking two-hundred-pounders convey Federal compliments daily to the doomed city."
It appears, however, that, for the most part, the destructive effects of this bombardment were confined to what was known as the "burnt district," and caused little damage to the inhabited portion of the city.
Seven days after the above entry in his journal his heart was gladdened by an order for removal, with his fellow-prisoner and messmate, Lieutenant Richardson, to Roper Hospital; a place much more tolerable as to its situation and appointments, though still within shell-range of the bombarding force. Prior to the transfer, a parole was obtained from each, by which they pledged themselves, while in their new quarters, to make no attempt to escape.
Here our prisoner found opportunity under the usual restrictions for writing the following letter home:
[Only one page allowed.] C. S. Military Prison, Charleston, South Carolina, Roper Hospital, October 4th, 1864.
My Dear Mother:
For a long time you have doubtless waited with anxiety some intelligence of your absent son, which would tell you of his health, and his prospects of release from the disagreeable restraints of prison life; and I am now delighted to find this opportunity of writing to you. Since my last letter, which was dated at Libby Prison, I have been confined at Danville, Virginia; Macon and Savannah, Georgia; and at this point. My health for the most part has been very poor, which I attribute to the inactivity of prison life. I have also suffered much for want of clothing. I have a pair of shoes on to-day that I bought more than a year ago; have run about barefoot for days and weeks during the past summer; many of my comrades have been compelled to do the same. I do not look for a general exchange before winter, though I hope and pray that it may take place to-morrow. There is now an opportunity for sending boxes to prisoners. I should be glad to receive one from home if convenient. Please give my love to all the family circle. Remember me to my friends, and believe me ever
Your affectionate son, Willard.
The days passed anxiously with Glazier, when the yellow fever began its inroads upon the prisoners. He had now, at the same moment, to face death at the hands of man, and by the pestilence—a condition of things to which the bravest spirit might succumb. One great source of consolation was derived from the visits of the Sisters of Charity, who were always found where suffering and peril prevailed. Writing of these angelic women, Captain Glazier says:—"Confined as we are, so far away from every home comfort and influence, and from all that makes life worth living, how quickly do we notice the first kind word, the passing friendly glance! Can any prisoner confined here ever forget the 'Sisters of Charity?' Ask the poor private now suffering in the loathsome hospital so near us, while burning with fever, or racked with pain, if he can forget the kind look, the gracious word given him by that sister. Many are the bunches of grapes—many the sip of their pure juice, that the sufferer gets from her hands. They seem, they are 'ministering angels;' and while all around us are our avowed enemies, they remain true to every instinct of womanhood. They dare lift the finger to help, they do relieve many a sufferer. All through the South our sick and wounded soldiers have had reason to bless the 'Sisters of Charity.' They have ministered to their wants and performed those kind womanly offices which are better to the sick than medicine, and are so peculiarly soothing to the dying. These noble women have attended their sick-beds when other Christian ladies of the South looked on unpityingly, and turned away without even tendering the cheap charity of a kind word. They have done what others were too scornful and cruel to do—they have done what others did not dare do. They were, for some inscrutable reason, permitted to bestow their charities wherever charities were needed. Their bounties were bestowed indiscriminately on Federal and Confederate sufferers, and evidenced a broad philanthropy untainted by party-feeling or religious bigotry. Many a poor soldier has followed them from ward to ward with tearful eyes.... Were other Christian denominations in the South as active in aiding us as the Catholics have been, I might have some faith in 'Rebel Christianity.'"
This is no mean tribute to the beneficent influences of the Catholic church, albeit the pen of a Protestant records it; but the facts fully justify him. Protestant England had one—the Church of Rome has her legions of Florence Nightingales. They are found in the camp, and the hospital, and the prison—wherever human sympathy can palliate human suffering; they are to be found where even wives and mothers flee before the dreaded pestilence, and these ministers of divine love, like light and air, and the dews of Heaven, visit alike the rich and poor, the sinner and the saint; the only claim they recognize being the claim of suffering and misfortune.
Willard Glazier remained under the guns of his friends until the fifth of October, and during his sojourn here had various opportunities of forming an acquaintance with vagrant shot and shell that struck or exploded near the hospital building, but fortunately did no greater damage to its inmates than create "a scare."
What was much more serious was the prevalence of the deadly fever, which was of a most malignant type, and carried off, among its many victims, the Confederate commander and his adjutant. The prisoners therefore were removed—the authorities assigning as their reason for the step, the "danger to which they would be exposed on account of the fever;" and although, at the time, it appeared an anomaly to the prisoners, "after bringing them there to be murdered by their own guns, to remove them for the purpose of saving them from death in another shape,"—yet it is possible such was the case. At all events they were removed, and their "Poet Laureate"—Lieutenant Ogden, of Wisconsin—wrote a farewell poem, containing among others, the following "Byronic" stanza:
"Thy Sanctuaries are forsaken now; Dark mould and moss cling to thy fretted towers; Deep rents and seams, where struggling lichens grow, And no sweet voice of prayer at vestal hours; But voice of screaming shot and bursting shell, Thy deep damnation and thy doom foretell. The 'fire' has left a pile of broken walls, And Night-hags revel in thy ruined halls!"
Who will say that a dread Nemesis has not overtaken the metropolis of the Palmetto State? Streets, once the busy scene of commerce and industry, now covered with grass, in this city of secession—formerly the head and front of treason and rebellion and the defiant advocate of human slavery!
Escorted by the Thirty-second Georgia Volunteers, Glazier and his fifteen hundred companions were marched through the principal streets of the city to the depot, where they took the cars for Columbia, the State capital. None will ever forget the parade of ragged and bearded men through King Street. But the Georgian guards, while strictly attentive to duty, showed the politeness and demeanor of gentlemen. He says of them, at this point in the history of his imprisonment, "the Georgia troops seem to be by far the most civil and gentlemanly of all the Southern army. They were the most respectable in appearance, most intelligent and liberal in conversation, and to a greater extent than others, recognized the principle that a man is a man under whatever circumstances he may be placed, and is entitled to humane treatment. They very generally addressed the prisoners as 'gentlemen.'"
The same kind of unventilated and filthy cattle-cars were employed in their transportation as had been used in their various previous removals. All suffered from want of water, air and space. The arrival of the captives at Columbia took place in the midst of a drenching rain-storm, and during the entire night, with scarcely any clothing, no rations, and no shelter, they were exposed to the merciless elements, while not twenty yards off, in front of their camping ground, glared the muzzles of a park of loaded artillery. The prisoners, being in a starving condition, looked the picture of despair. A discovery however was made of some bacon suspended to the rafters of the building that enclosed them, in one corner separated by a partition. As the famished men looked through the bars of a window and saw this tempting food, their eyes watered, and their inventive faculties were aroused. Hooks, strings and poles were brought into requisition, and in a short time most of the meat, by Yankee talent, was transferred from the rafters of the building to the stomachs of the prisoners!
The day following, they were moved to a spot about two miles from the town, and bivouacked in an open field, without any shelter whatever. Surrounded by the usual cordon of sentries, and menaced with the customary "dead-line," they were turned loose to provide for themselves, neither axe, spade, nor cooking utensils being supplied them. Two days after their arrival some corn-meal and sorghum were issued, the latter a substitute for molasses. A great many suffered from diarrhoea and dysentery in consequence, and the place from this circumstance acquired the sobriquet of "Camp Sorghum."
They had no quarters to protect them from the cold November storms, only huts constructed by themselves of brush and pine boughs. The treatment at "Camp Sorghum" was so exceptionally brutal, that almost every dark night starving men would run the guard and risk their lives to escape dying by inches. Sometimes as many as thirty or forty would run in one night. Generally some daring fellow would act as forlorn hope and rush past the sentries, drawing their fire, at the imminent risk of forfeiting his own life, his comrades joining him before the guards could reload their rifles. The latter would then fire a volley into the camp, killing or wounding some of the prisoners. Lieutenant Young, of the Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry, was thus shot dead whilst sitting at his hut, and according to Captain Glazier, "no reason for this atrocity was apparent, and none was assigned by the guards." The poor young fellow had been a prisoner twenty-two months. About this time the guards accidentally killed two of their own men, in their reckless and savage shooting, and afterwards observed more care in firing at the prisoners.
Hounds were kept near the prison to track escaped fugitives. Lieutenant Parker, while attempting to escape, was so much torn and bitten by these dogs that he died the day after his recapture.
Mingled with thoughts of home, and the friends gathered around loved firesides, there had by this time arisen in young Glazier's mind a stern determination to win his freedom, or, in the effort, forfeit his life.
As the weather grew colder, the possession of wood became a matter of necessity, and some of the prisoners were paroled to pass beyond the lines, and gather such broken branches and pieces of bark in the neighboring woods as they could carry back into camp. Glazier availed himself of this privilege, and stored up an abundance of fuel. But a more important acquisition than fuel to him was the knowledge he obtained of the topography of the surrounding country. One great difficulty he foresaw in getting away arose from the sorry condition of his shoes, which were nearly soleless. He succeeded, however, in obtaining the rim of an old regulation-hat, and out of this fashioned a serviceable pair of soles for his worn-out brogans, and thus removed one obstacle from his path.
We need feel no surprise that he and many of his companions thought no risk too great to run for the chance of effecting their escape. Their treatment by this time had become so bad as to be almost unendurable. For example, to avoid being frozen to death, they were compelled to run around all night, and only when the sun arose in the morning dare they venture to recline themselves on the ground to sleep. The truth is, that our friend, in common with many of his comrades, had arrived at the desperate conclusion that no fate, even death by shooting, or by hounds, could be worse than the misery and suffering he was now enduring. It was not alone that they were starved and shelterless, sick and unattended, nearly naked, with no hope of being clad; it was not alone that they were immersed, day and night, in filth and squalor like hogs, with no prospect of relief to cheer them; but, in addition to all this suffering of their own, they were compelled to witness the sufferings of others—to hear their sighs and groans, and look upon faces that hard usage and despair had made ghastly and terrible. They would greet in the morning a man sick and emaciated perhaps, but still a human being, erect and in God's image, who, in the evening of the same day, would disappear from among them, making a desperate dash for freedom. The following day a broken, nerveless, shivering wretch would be dragged into their midst, blood-stained, faint, and with the gashes of a blood-hound's teeth covering his face and throat.
Thus it was that existence became unbearable. Their own sufferings were hard, but to continue for many long months looking upon the sufferings of others added to their misery beyond endurance. Accordingly, when Thanksgiving-day arrived, and the excitement created by Sherman's "march to the sea" had reached its highest point, Glazier and a fellow-prisoner, named Lieutenant Lemon, determined that they would wait no longer the slow process of tunneling, but make a bold effort for liberty—or die in the attempt.
"It was customary," says the former, "to extend the guard-line in the morning for the purpose of allowing prisoners (as previously stated) to collect fuel on a piece of timbered land just opposite the camp, and it was our intention this morning to take a shovel, when permitted to pass to the woods, and make a hole in the ground large enough to receive our two 'skeletons,' and then enlist the services of some friend, who would cover us up with brush and leaves, so that, when the guard was withdrawn, we would be left without the camp." The plan looked feasible, and, if successful, it would not be a difficult matter to reach Augusta, Georgia, at which point they hoped to find themselves within Sherman's lines. The fates, however, decreed otherwise. Their scheme was rendered abortive by the simple fact, that upon that particular morning, the line was not extended at all. Why it was not, is purely a matter of conjecture. Possibly, "the morning being unusually cold and raw," the guard did not care to leave their own snug tents along the line of the encampment, with no greater inducement than that of increasing the comfort of their Yankee prisoners, who, for that day, were left without any fires at all; but, be this as it may, the guard-line was not extended as was usual, and thus the plot of our young friends was frustrated for the time being. They agreed to "watch, pray and act" at the very first opportunity that presented. It was not long before that opportunity came.
Early upon the day following that of their disappointment, the conspirators arranged that each should make a reconnaissance of the lines, discover the weak points of the enemy, and, that being accomplished, rendezvous at a given spot, ready to act upon any likely plan that might suggest itself to them. Glazier had become a tolerably expert physiognomist, and singled out an unsophisticated-looking giant, who was patrolling a certain beat, as the best man among the line of sentries on whom to practise an imposition. This individual was evidently a good-natured lout, not long in the service, and very much resembling our conception of "Jonas Chuzzlewit," in respect to his having been "put away and forgotten for half a century." It is only necessary to add that his owners "had stuck a musket in his hand, and placed him on guard." Yet there was some pluck in him. He was just the sort of man who, led by a good officer, would fight like a lion, but whose animal instincts had so befogged his intellect that, if left to his own resources, he would be as likely to ruin friend as foe.
When Glazier rejoined his comrade, he described this man, and the friends agreed that they would boldly cross the "dead-line" immediately in front of him, be ready to answer promptly his challenge, and, by the audacity of their movement, attempt to deceive him in regard to their real character and purpose. With such a man as they had to deal with, this scheme was certain to result in one of two things: he would let them pass, or he would kill them both; therefore, courage and sang-froid were matters of first necessity.
Accordingly, with the utmost coolness, and laughing and chatting together, they sauntered up to and upon the fatal line. The sentinel looked at them in amazement. He then brought his piece to bear upon Glazier completely covering his person, and, with the usual order to "Halt!" added: "Whar in hell are you going, Yanks?" As if his dignity was seriously offended by this demand, our hero answered this question by asking another: "Do you halt paroled prisoners here?" "His meek 'No, sir!'" Glazier relates, "was not yet lost in the distance when I boldly crossed the dreaded line, adding: 'Then let my friend in the rear follow me;' and so we passed, while the sentinel murmured 'All right!' And right it was, for now we were free, breathing the fresh air, untainted by the breath of hundreds of famishing, diseased and dying men."
They could not proceed very far without falling in with numbers of the paroled prisoners. This they did, but their presence excited no suspicion or comment, as they assumed to belong to the party. They applied themselves to gathering wood and piling it apparently for transportation, and gradually crept on and on until they reached a point beyond the vision of the gray-jackets, when off they started at the top of their speed; and although before long they were compelled to reduce their pace, they put several miles behind them in a space of time that at any other period of their lives, or under any other circumstances, would have seemed impossible. Pausing to regain breath, they turned, and Columbia was no longer within sight. This, in itself, was a relief, for the place was associated in their minds with the intense misery they had suffered within its boundaries.
Could these men have foreseen the not very distant future, they would have known that every sigh and groan that cruelty had wrung from them in that place of torture would be avenged; they would have seen loyal soldiers swarming in its streets, their old comrades in misery torn from the grasp of their merciless jailers, and the soulless "Southern Chivalry" thrust into their place; they would have seen red-handed vengeance doom that city of blood to destruction, and the glaring tongues of fire lap up the costly goods and edifices of its vile and relentless citizens; and those who had no mercy for them in their wretchedness and famine, now awe-struck on finding that the men they had so barbarously trampled upon had now the power and the will to retort upon them with interest; they would have seen brothers in arms, who until now had been merciful to their enemies when in their power, suddenly transformed into ravenous wolves, fierce and terrible in their righteous wrath at the treatment their less fortunate brothers had met with in this city of blood. The Avenger had come! and not one house but would fall a smouldering heap of ruins. They would have foreseen this city ablaze with burning homes for its sins against humanity; its men, so lately drunk with pride and satiated with cruelty to their countrymen; its women divested of all womanly attributes, and invested with those of demons, now all cowed and humbled in the dust! They would have seen one noted instance of the interference of a just Providence that occurred amid all this dreadful saturnalia—a woman, pale, but beautiful of feature, delicate of form, madly rushing to and fro in front of her blazing house, crying for her child that lay within it. They would have seen a poor, emaciated prisoner, roused to exhibit strength and courage by the hope of saving life, rush in and drag the cradle and its innocent living freight from the very jaws of death, while burning rafters crashed and fell upon him; they would have seen him place the babe in its mother's arms, and they would have seen that mother turn with streaming eyes to thank the saviour of her child, and then start back conscience-smitten, and scream and fall, seeing in her child's preserver a man who in the prison had once implored her for a piece of bread because he was starving, and she spat upon him because he was of Northern race!! Could they have seen the future of the coming months, they would have seen all this and more. But no such prevision was vouchsafed them. Their thoughts were now of themselves. They felt that the shade of a deadly peril encompassed them. Columbia and its prison were hidden from their sight, but still they were so near that at any moment the hounds might scent them, and if recaptured, all the horrors they had undergone would be light compared with the fate they must submit to in the future.
Fortunately for the purpose of our fugitives, the settlements, whether towns or villages, in that part of the country, were "few and far between." The residences of the planters were also distant from each other and few in number, and the ravines and swamps which abound there, while in many respects disagreeable and dangerous lurking spots, were still the safest refuges for hunted men. The wilder the country, the better it promised to Glazier and his comrade fleeing for their lives. Their greatest fear was the dreaded blood-hound. Our friends knew they could defeat most of the devices of human ingenuity in tracking them, but they were apprehensive that the instinct of the brutes, which a depraved humanity had enlisted in its service, might render abortive all their plans and precautions. They did their best, however, to baffle their canine foes, and nightfall found them hurrying forward on the Lexington Court-house Road.
THE ESCAPE FROM COLUMBIA.
Mysterious voices.—"I reckon deys Yankees."—"Who comes there?"—The Lady of the Manor.—A weird spectacle.—The struggle through the swamp.—A reflection on Southern swamps in general.-"Tired nature's sweet restorer."
The attention of the fugitives was suddenly arrested by the sound of human voices in their immediate rear. It occurred to both at once to discover as quickly as possible if the speakers were white or black, and they accordingly listened in the hope of learning their color by their dialect. This was by no means easy, the vernacular of the poorer class of whites in that section of the country very much resembling the ordinary dialect of the negroes. The comrades, however, concluded to risk a halt until the strangers came up. Glazier then saluted them with the remark that it was "a pleasant night," with the view of drawing them out before committing himself. "Indeed 'tis!" was the reply. This failed to convey the desired information as to the color of the strangers, and they thought it wiser to hurry forward than prolong the conversation at some risk to their safety. Before they had advanced many steps, however, they were agreeably surprised by hearing one of the same party remark to another, "I reckon deys Yankees," followed by the response, "Golly, I hope to God dey is!" Glazier immediately turned and inquired, "Do you know who I am?" "I reckon I dunno yer, massa," was the reply. "Have you ever seen a Yankee?" asked Glazier. "Lord bress yer, marser, I've seen a right smart heap ov um down at Clumby." "Well," said Glazier, "do we look like them?" "How'n de debbil can I tell dat in de dark, marser?" answered the now unmistakable negro, "but I spec' yer talk jest like' em." "We are Yankees," responded Glazier, "and have just escaped from Columbia. My good fellow, can't you do something for us?" "Ob course!" said our colored friend, promptly. "I'll do all I can for you, marster. I no nigga if I didn't 'sist de Yankees."
The fugitives had heard so much from their fellow-prisoners of the sympathy exhibited by the colored people of the South for Federal soldiers, that they hesitated not for a moment to place the fullest confidence in these humble friends. They thereupon explained their precise situation, and told them the story of their recent escape. They also learned from the negroes that they were returning to their masters, having come from Columbia, where they had been working upon a new prison stockade, now abandoned on account of the expected approach of General Sherman.
The name of their "Master" was Steadman, and, slave-fashion, one of the men was named "Ben Steadman." They were directing their steps to Mr. Steadman's plantation on the Augusta Road, and the fugitives therefore decided to keep in their company and use them as guides. In the nature of things, unless guided by some one accustomed to traveling in a country so bare of landmarks, they would lose ground continually, even if they ever reached their destination.
One of the negroes with that shrewdness engendered by slavery, in which cunning is the only protection against injury; and strength and courage count for nothing; suggested that so large a party would attract attention, and the safety of the two officers might be endangered. It was therefore finally determined that Ben should act as guide, and the other darkies take a different route home. Another advantage to be derived from dividing the party was that in the event of the fugitives being pursued, the double trail would mystify the hounds. Ere long Ben reached a bridle-path, which plunged into the wood, and as it offered superior advantages on account of its narrowness and privacy, and from the fact of its leading to the plantation of a well-known planter and therefore less likely to be suspected of being the road taken by escaped prisoners, the little party concluded that this was their safest route. They therefore hurried forward upon their way, Ben preceding them in the double capacity of guide and scout. A few miles from its commencement this path led to a blind road, which Ben informed them was seldom traveled by any in the night-time but men of his own race, so they turned into it, and had become quite joyful and careless, when suddenly the challenge, "Who goes there?" rang out in the stillness, and the next moment Ben was halted by the sentry of a Confederate picket consisting of eight men, who had bivouacked just off the road. Ben boldly advanced, and our two friends, it must be admitted, with more discretion than valor, started off like lightning, their "guide" meanwhile amusing the guard with a description of how "Dem two oder dam niggas got skeered, kase dey thought Mars Sentinel must be a dam Yank!"
No harm could come to Ben, as he was in a condition to prove that two other negroes had left Columbia with him, and the fugitives therefore feeling that he was safe, concealed themselves among the brush and awaited events. Ben shortly passed their place of hiding, in custody, en route to the Reserve, and our friends were not a little amused, despite their danger, to hear Ben's vigorous denunciation of "dem two cowardly niggas," who had taken to their heels!
A few moments only elapsed before they were made aware, by certain unmistakable tokens, that they were in dangerous proximity to the Confederate encampment, and although nearly famished, for they had eaten nothing since morning, it was deemed safest to lie perdu; so, thanking the good Providence which had sped them thus far on their journey, they lay down and slept.
The enemy's camp, which upon closer inspection, turned out to be simply the resting-place of a local patrol, unconnected with any regular command, broke up early in the morning, and Glazier and his companion once more had a clear road. Although hungry from long fasting, they ran swiftly over the swampy ground, and felt so elated to find themselves again in a state of freedom, that they laughed and joked like boys released from school, and pushed on until the verge of an extensive morass was reached and passed, and they found themselves in a section of country well wooded and watered, the alternate hills and vales presenting a pleasing variety to the eye.
There was here also a public road, but it would have been dangerous to travel thereon, and they therefore strode on beneath the trees and umbrageous undergrowth of the wood. Having had no breakfast, "blueberries" were not precisely the diet they would have selected for dinner, but as necessitas non habet leges, they quietly munched their berries, and we may hope felt grateful that matters were no worse. After a while they made a sudden detour, crossing the high-road, and by so doing, again broke the trail. Next they came to a clearing, but the sight of a planter leaning against a fence, soon sent them back to the friendly shelter of the wood. Late in the afternoon they came to a large plantation on the border of which was a copse, in which they lay down and watched for the opportunity of communicating with some of the house slaves. At the expiration of about an hour, a lady, probably the mistress of the estate, passed within a few yards of them, accompanied by a troupe of merry children. They however went on their way, utterly unconscious of the close proximity of two terrible Yankees!
Here our fugitives remained quietly concealed until night, and then cautiously crept away. They proceeded onward until they found themselves near a junction of cross-roads. Arrived at this junction, matters looked serious. Unlike mariners, they had no compass; unlike Indians, they were inexpert at discerning a trail; and what was more appalling, they distinctly saw reared up against the moonlit sky—a gallows! Our two friends approached this object very cautiously. It was not an unusual thing to hang spies, and not unfrequently those mistaken for spies, but to hang them on a regularly constructed gibbet was not usual; and therefore while Lemon insisted that the black and skeleton-like object that loomed against the horizon was a gallows, he still entertained some doubt upon the subject, and determined to satisfy himself by a closer inspection.
The weird object before them proved to be an innocent guide-board—the article of all others they most needed at that moment. Like the celebrated laws of Nero, however, the directions were posted very high, but Lemon being tall, our hero mounted on his shoulders and by the light of the moon deciphered the inscription. They had now no difficulty in choosing their way. On they pushed therefore; and during the black darkness of the night, crept through the tangled underwood, and over swamps where loathsome, crawling things that shun by day the presence of man, now seemed to seek his acquaintance. How mysterious are these dense untrodden forests of the South! The very air one breathes is living. Throughout the day a million chirping, whirring, twittering sounds, salute the ear. The short grass beneath the forest trees moves, writhes, and creeps with microscopic life, until the brain grows dizzy at the sight. At night it is no less marvellous to hear the myriad denizens of the swamps and woods; and terrible when your tread on some soft, velvety substance reveals a sleeping snake, who, at the same moment, attacks you with his poisonous fang, mayhap, fatally.
It is a singular, but well-accredited fact, that these great Southern swamps have been yearly deteriorating, while the surrounding country has been growing in civilization. Old writers tell us that the reptile life now infesting them in such rank luxuriance had scarcely any existence one hundred years ago. Colonel Byrd writes of the "Dismal Swamp:" "Since the surveyors have entered the Dismal Swamp they have seen no living creature; neither bird, beast, insect nor reptile, came to view. Not even a turkey-buzzard will venture to fly over it, no more than the Italian vulture will venture to fly over the filthy lake of Avernus; or the birds of the Holy Land over the Salt Sea where Sodom and Gomorrah once stood." And yet, in the present day, insect and reptile life swarms there in every form through all the hours of the day and night!
Our fugitive friends, however, felt little inclination to philosophize upon this subject. The hope of coming liberty strengthened their limbs, and they bent all their energy to the task of moving forward; walking, running, creeping, until the dawn of day approached, when weary and footsore they sought some secure spot and lay down and slept—perchance to dream of "Home, sweet Home"—perchance of "Camp Sorghum," and its "chivalric" guards—perchance of the dreadful blood-hounds whose fatal scent might even then be on their trail!
LOYALTY OF THE NEGROES.
Startled by hounds.—An unpleasant predicament.—A Christian gentlewoman.—Appeal to Mrs. Colonel Taylor.—"She did all she could."—A meal fit for the gods.—Aunt Katy.—"Lor' bress ye, marsters!"—Uncle Zeb's prayer.—Hoe-cake and pinders.—Woodcraft versus astronomy.—Canine foes.—Characteristics of the slave.—Meeting escaped prisoners.—Danger.—Retreat and concealment.
It is the morning of November twenty-eighth, 1864. The sun has just risen above the eastern hills, and his slanting beams fall upon the goodly heritage of Colonel Alexander Taylor, "C. S. A." There are, as yet, none of the usual features here of a war-stricken country; everything around is rich and substantial. The residence is a stately mansion in the Elizabethan style, and the lady who, accompanied by two sweet children, walks the broad piazza, is evidently a refined gentlewoman. The colonel himself, like a gallant (but mistaken) knight, has "gone to the wars."
She marvels what makes "Rupert," a noble hound, that but a moment ago stretched himself at full length across the hallway, rise and bound over the lawn, barking loudly and fiercely as he runs. She calls him—at first gently, and then peremptorily, until the old hound with evident reluctance obeys the summons, and crouches at her feet. She then directs a negro, whose tokens of age and long service are as pronounced as those of his canine rival, to find out what there is in the clump of trees beyond the north hedge, to excite "Rupert's" anger. The venerable negro, with the deliberateness of his race, proceeds in the direction indicated, but is saved the necessity of much exertion, by the startling appearance of a young soldier in a motley uniform of gray and blue—his coat of one color—his nether garments of another! He advances boldly toward the house, and the lady scrutinizes the intruder. The result of her examination shows her visitor to be a slight, but sinewy young man, with a frank and honest expression, and seemingly not more than eighteen years of age. The motley stranger drew near, and bowing gracefully saluted her with, "Good-morning, madam."