The lady at once returned the salutation with a genial smile, that sent a thrill of pleasure and confidence to his heart. Without further ceremony he thereupon frankly and fearlessly informed Mrs. Taylor that he and his companion were escaped Union prisoners; that they were in a condition of starvation; and appealed respectfully but most urgently to her as a woman, for humanity's sake, to assist them in their sore need by giving them food. She at first hesitated, startled by such a request from such a source. Her husband, she said, was an officer in the Confederate service, and if it became known that she had assisted those whom his government counted enemies, it would possibly bring reproach upon him. Our young hero (for he it was) then addressed her somewhat after the fashion of the unfortunate Ulysses in his appeal to the goddess Calypso; recounted his misfortunes briefly, touched on the terrible fate that awaited him and his companion, should they be recaptured, and all doubtless in such moving terms that, like Desdemona, the lady must have thought, if she did not exclaim:
"'Twas pitiful—'twas wondrous pitiful!"
This is evident from the fact that she scarcely awaited the end of his story, before assuring him that "she would do all she could," following up that assurance in a few moments by offering the manly and polite youth before her an abundant supply of fresh and excellent food; which, she took the precaution of adding, was for himself and his comrade, fearing possibly, from Glazier's famished look, he might consume it all himself! She further assured her visitor that she would keep the secret of his having been there; while he, in return, protested that should the varying fortunes of war give him the opportunity of serving her husband, he would do so at the risk of his life. With his haversack amply replenished, an appetite like a wolf, faith in the goodness of God strengthened, and belief in the perfection of some, at least, of the fairest portion of creation greatly confirmed by this interview, he rejoined Lieutenant Lemon, and the comrades proceeded forthwith to their meal which was enjoyed with a zest known only to the starving. Before reclining himself under the glittering stars, Glazier made this entry in his diary: "Oh! ye who sleep on beds of down, in your curtained chambers, and rise at your leisure to feast upon the good things provided ... you never knew the luxury of a night of rest, nor the sweets of a meal seasoned by hunger, and the grateful remembrance that it was provided by woman's kindly heart, which, wherever it may beat, sooner or later responds to the tale of misfortune."
After a sleep so profound as to extend several hours beyond the time they had agreed upon as best adapted for the resumption of their journey, they found themselves much refreshed and strengthened, so much so that by sunrise they had reached a small stream known as Black Creek, one of the tributaries of the North Edisto River. Here, in crossing a bridge, they very opportunely encountered a colored laborer, who was on his way to work, and who cheerfully turned aside to guide them to a hut, where he assured them they could remain in safety throughout the day. The proprietor of this refuge for hunted wayfarers was a certain "Aunt Katy"—an aged negress, whose heart and hut, and such fare as her scanty larder contained, were always at the disposal of the distressed. Hearing that the strangers were Union soldiers who had escaped from Columbia, she approached them with the following salutation: "Gor A'mighty bress yer, marsters; dis is de yeah ob jubilee, shua, when de Yankees come to Aunt Katy's. Come in, marsters, come in!"
Accordingly they entered, and, by some occult process, the fact of their presence soon became known to the entire slave population of the neighborhood, who came flocking in throughout the day. Such an important occasion would have been incomplete without a prayer-meeting, Aunt Katy herself being a pillar of the Colored Methodist Church, and it was not long before the whole assemblage were on their knees, invoking every imaginable blessing upon the cause of the Union and its defenders, and every evil upon its opponents. Among other things Captain Glazier records, as a feature of this impromptu prayer-meeting, is the petition of a venerable prototype of "Uncle Tom," named Zebulon, "who appeared to be a ruling spirit in the party." This good man's enthusiasm burst forth as follows:
"Oh Lor' Gor A'mighty! We'se you-ah chillen as much as de white folks am, and we spec yo to heah us widout delay, Lor'; cause we all is in right smart ob a hurry. Dese yere gemmen has runned away from de Seceshers, and wants ter git back to de Norf! Dey has no time to wait! Ef it's 'cordin' to de des'nation of great heben to help 'em et'll be 'bout necessary for dat ar help to come right soon.
"De hounds and de rebels is on dar track. Take de smell out ob de dogs' noses, O Lor'! and let 'Gypshun darkness come down ober de eyesights ob de rebels. Comfoozle 'em, O Lor'! dey is cruel, and makes haste to shed blood. Dey has long 'pressed de black man, and groun' him in de dust, and now I reck'n dey 'spects dat dey am agwine to serve de Yankees in de same way.
"'Sist dese gemmen in time ob trouble, and lift 'em fru all danger on to de udder side ob Jordan dry-shod.
"And raise de radiance ob your face on all de Yankees what's shut up in de Souf. Send some Moses, O Lor'! to guide 'em frue de Red Sea ob 'flickshun into de promised land.
"Send Mr. Sherman's company sweepin' down frue dese yere parts to scare de rebels till dey flee like de Midians, and slew darselves to sabe dar lives.
"Let a little de best of heben's best judgments res' on Massa Lincum, and may de year ob Jubilee come sure.
"O Lor'! bless de gin'rals ob de Norf—O Lor'! bless de kunnels—O Lor'! bless de brigerdeers—O Lor'! bless de capt'ins—O Lor'! bless de Yankees right smart. O Lor'! eberlastin'. Amen."
This very pertinent supplication and much more in the same vein, was listened to with marked approval by the audience—a sonorous and prolonged "Amen!" in which our friends heartily participated, greeting the conclusion of Uncle Zeb's prayer. Our subject, in describing the particulars of his escape, remarks that, notwithstanding the fact that the secret of their retreat was known to some thirty or forty of these poor slaves, neither he nor his companion entertained the shadow of a doubt that the secret would be safe with them; and adds that, in addition to their good faith, they possessed a remarkable talent for concealment.
The Steadman plantation was only three miles from Aunt Katy's hut, and accordingly, Ben being sent for, soon made his appearance, and proffered his valuable services as guide. The offer was thankfully accepted; but, despite the preference of Glazier and his companion for the swamp as the safest place of concealment, Ben prevailed upon them to visit his cabin, where they were hospitably entertained by his wife and children. Having been duly inspected as curiosities "from de Norf," our friends were pleased to hear Ben instruct his little daughter to run up to the house of his mistress and "snatch a paper." She soon afterward came running back with the Augusta Constitutionalist, published that morning.
Having gathered from the newspaper a sufficiently intelligible idea of the relative position of Sherman and his opponents, the fugitives bade farewell to the family, and proceeded upon their way, crossing the river by ten o'clock; and shortly after—Ben having parted from them—in consequence of the complicated directions of numerous blind-roads, they became confused, and, instead of pushing forward beyond the South Edisto, as they had planned to do, halted early in the afternoon and "pitched their tent" for the remainder of the day and night—said tent having the sky for its roof as usual.
Their camping-ground upon this occasion was in the heart of a dense pine wood, where, notwithstanding the grim and spectral surroundings, they slept soundly until after midnight, and then arose refreshed and ready for another day's march on the road to freedom. Hoe-cake and pinders (anglice, peanuts) formed their only repast, which they found sufficiently luxurious under the circumstances.
It now became necessary to find their bearings. There was no star plainly visible, and they had not yet learned to take the moon as a guide. Moreover, the heavenly bodies in Southern latitudes have so different an appearance from those seen at the North, that they were frequently in doubt as to the points of the compass. "I remember," writes Captain Glazier, "that it caused me great grief to find that the North Star was much nearer the horizon, and seemed to have lost that prominence which is given to it in higher latitudes, where it is a guide, standing far above tree-top and mountain."
What the lofty stars failed to teach, however, they learned from humbler signs. Glazier, in his youth, acquired the lesson in woodcraft, that moss hangs heaviest upon the northern side of tree trunks; and then the streams in this part of the continent, for the most part, flow towards the southeast, so that our friends were not altogether without indications of their position with regard to the points of the compass.
They were greatly annoyed by a serious obstacle to their safe progress, which presented itself in the shape of a vast multitude of dogs, of all sizes and every variety of breed. There were dogs of high degree, dogs of low degree, and mongrel curs of no degree; and all these animals in common were in possession of one ambition, namely, to nose out and hunt a Yankee!
Consequently, from the deep-mouthed baying of the blood-hound, or the mastiff, to the sniff and snarl of the rat-terrier, their music was not agreeable to the fugitives, who had, however, to contend with this difficulty, and surmount it.
Confining themselves to the pathless forest, the roads were now frequently lost sight of for miles. Occasionally, in the effort to shun the high-road, they would come suddenly upon a dwelling, and the inevitable lank, yellow dog would pounce out upon them, and add wings to their feet.
It was always a pleasant interruption of their lonely tramp to meet any negroes. These people, so patient under oppression, so humble under correction, were ever faithful and devoted to those whom they believed to be the friends of their race. Our hero, of course, had rare opportunities of observing the characteristics of this people. Simple, harmless and gentle, crimes of violence among them were very rare, and the cruelties practised upon them seem rather to have opened their hearts to sympathy than to have hardened them into vindictiveness.
With the aid of many of these devoted people, Glazier and his friend reached and crossed the North Edisto, the latter a task of some magnitude. The river, at the point where they reached it, is not a single stream, but a maze of creeks and bayous, all of which it was necessary to cross in order to attain the opposite bank of what is known as the South Edisto River.
While passing over a bridge that spanned one of the creeks, Glazier heard footsteps upon another bridge in their rear; and so trained and acute does the ear of man become when disciplined in such a school of perilous experiences, that he knew at once they had nothing to fear from those who followed; for, instead of the bold, firm tread of the man who hunts, it was the uncertain, hesitating, half-halting step of the hunted.
"Escaped prisoners," whispered our two friends simultaneously, and Glazier, stepping boldly forth, gave the challenge, "Who goes there!"
"With a trembling start," says our fugitive hero, "the foremost man replied, 'Friends!'
"'Halt, friends! and advance one,'" commanded Lieutenant Glazier.
Very cautiously, and with the manner of one ready to turn at any moment and dash into the recesses of the swamp, one of the strangers came forward to within a few feet of his interrogator, and craning his body over, peered nervously into his face. Thereupon a mutual recognition as Federals was the result, and Lemon discovered that one of the new comers had been a fellow-prisoner with himself. This made matters pleasant, and although it was mutually agreed that it would be wise to separate, and take different routes, both parties unconsciously protracted the meeting until they were startled into caution by perceiving almost directly in front of them, surrounding a large fire, a Confederate encampment. "It proved to be a squad of tax-gatherers, going about the country with quartermasters' wagons, collecting supplies."
Further progress was now impossible. The enemy occupied the only practicable road in front, and they were flanked on both sides by large ponds of water. Our party thereupon stealthily retreated into the woods, where they finally concluded to make themselves contented for the remainder of the night.
PROGRESS OF THE FUGITIVES.
Parting company.—Thirst and no water.—Hoping for the end.—The boy and the chicken.—Conversation of ladies overheard.—The fugitives pursued.—The sleeping village.—Captain Bryant.—The alba sus.—Justifiable murder, and a delicious meal.—Darkies and their prayers.—Man proposes; God disposes.—An adventure.—A ruse de guerre.—Across the Savannah.
On emerging from their place of concealment, the following morning, the road proved to be once more open. The tax-collectors had departed. Warned by the experience of the previous night the newly found friends reluctantly parted company, Glazier and Lemon pursuing a separate route from the others.
Our friends had suffered much in various ways since they shook the dust of Columbia from their feet, but now a dire misfortune overtook them in the total absence of water. The waters of the swamps were poisonous, and their longing desire and hope was that they might soon come upon a spring or stream to slake their burning thirst, which threatened to unfit them for the exertion necessary.
The land, in the region of country they had now entered, was waste and arid—for the most part sand, a few stunted trees being the sole vegetation. These trees had nothing pleasant in their appearance, as forest trees usually have. The branches seemed destitute of sap, as the leaves were of verdure; they had not reached maturity, and yet possessed none of the lithe grace of saplings.
Our fugitives were parched, fevered, and weak before they emerged from this inhospitable tract of country, but at length reached a point where the vegetation was fresher, and finally, to their great joy, discovered a spring. Here, to use Glazier's own words, they realized "the value of cold water to a thirsty soul." "The stream ran through a ravine nearly a hundred feet in depth, while high up on the banks were groves of pines."
After their passage through the "Desert," they were in excellent condition to appreciate the wild and solemn grandeur of the spot they had now reached, and for a considerable time they could not make up their minds to leave the place. At length, however, they resumed their journey. December second found the two friends still far from their destination, and by no means out of danger. It was one week only since they bade adieu to Columbia, and yet many weeks seemed to them to have passed. Still they were making considerable progress, and had by this time reached a swamp near Aiken, South Carolina.
Having journeyed all night since quitting the secluded ravine, they were ready once more to cast themselves upon the soft moss under a venerable tree, near which was a bubbling spring. Here they slept soundly until dawn, when a colored boy passing down a road which came within their range of vision, attracted attention. The boy was carrying a basket, and they were suffering very seriously again from hunger. Lemon followed, and called to him: "Hold on, my boy; I want to see you!" The lad muttered something, but the only word they could distinguish was "chicken!" He then ran off as fast as his legs would carry him. The lieutenant, with great emphasis, endeavored to reassure him, but it was of no use. He ran as if a legion of evil spirits was at his heels, and Lemon returned to his comrade very much disappointed and chagrined. "Now they are sure to overtake us," said he, "we shall be prisoners again before night!"
"Never fear," was the reply of his cooler companion; "as long as there is a swamp in the neighborhood, we'll lead them a lively dance."
So the friends gathered up their belongings, and in a few minutes put a considerable distance between themselves and their resting-place of the preceding night. Finally they concealed themselves in a swamp about a mile distant. A road bordered the margin of their sanctuary so closely, that they distinctly overheard a conversation between three ladies who passed. The chasing of a negro boy by a Yankee was the topic of their discourse.
This information made our friends more cautious, and it is well they were so, for, towards evening, several mounted men armed with guns were seen by them upon the main road leading to Aiken; their evident purpose being to intercept the fugitives, of whose presence in their neighborhood the boy had made report.
Forewarned was forearmed, and our hero and his companion determined to give the enemy a wide berth. Again, therefore, plunging into the recesses of a neighboring swamp, they went quietly to sleep, and slept until midnight, when Glazier awoke to see thousands of stars glittering through the spectral branches of the pines, and away off toward the western horizon, a flood of silvery effulgence from the waning moon.
Entranced by the beauty of the scene, he awoke his comrade, and all around being buried in profound silence, they proceeded on their way. It was not long before they found themselves upon the outskirts of the village of Aiken, and no practicable path upon either side presenting itself, but one resource remained, namely, to steal cautiously through, although this involved the imminent risk of discovery. On, therefore, they walked until they came to the border of the village. They found it dumb with sleep. Not a sound disturbed the silence. The very dogs, their usually sleepless foes, appeared for once to have become wearied and gone to rest.
There is something solemn about a sleeping town. The solitude of the swamp and wood is solemn; but the ghostly stillness of a town, where all its inhabitants lie buried in sleep, and no sign or sound proclaims the presence of life in man or beast, is of so weird a character as to produce a sensation of awe, akin to fear. The shadows that enwrapped them as they came beneath the buildings, and the fitful gleams of moonlight that fell upon them when streets were crossed, seemed not lights and shadows at all, but strange, intangible things. And when at length they reached the outer limit of the village, and the distant woods were seen by the moon's rays, our travellers felt as if they had been wandering in a graveyard, where the tombs were houses, and they wished they were in the swamp again, where such uncanny fancies never troubled them. When the toad and lizard, snakes and other loathsome things, crawled around their swampy bed, they cared nothing; but the dead silence of a cloudless night, brooding over a swarm of their fellow-beings, brought with it a feeling they could not account for or understand; and therefore it was with a sense of great relief they found themselves at the outer edge of the town.
Their satisfaction, however, was somewhat moderated when, at a sudden turn of the road, they abruptly came upon a man and a boy, who were picking their way with such velvety tread that the two parties were face to face before either was aware of the proximity of the other. The strangers appeared to be the more alarmed, for they were just making a secret and rapid detour with the view of debouching into a side street, when, feeling sure that none but fugitives would be so anxious to escape an interview, Glazier hailed them:
"Don't be uneasy, boys! We're friends! We're Yankees!"
His conjecture proved correct. The strangers were Captain Bryant, of the Fifth New York Cavalry, and a friend. "They had," says Captain Glazier, "a negro guide, who was to secrete them in a hut until the next night, when they were to proceed, as we had done, and reach the line of freedom by the nearest route."
The interview was brief, the parties differing as to which was the most expedient route, and the discussion terminated by each taking the one he thought best. Glazier and his comrade made off to a swamp, and upon securing a safe resting-place, were overjoyed to find a venerable sow and her litter approaching. They greeted the porcine mother, says our friend, "otherwise than did wandering Aeneas the alba sus lying under the hollow trees of ancient Italy," for, "enticing them with crumbs of hoe-cake," they both in unison struck a juvenile porker on the head with a heavy stick, and a mammoth knife, the gift of Uncle Zeb, came into requisition, and did good service. Over the embers of a fire kindled in a hole in the ground, they roasted the little fellow, and made a delicious meal.
They had scarcely finished their unexpected feast, when the thud of an axe in the distance smote on their ears, and Glazier crept cautiously out to reconnoitre. The wood-cutter proved to be a colored lad, and having a vivid recollection of their scampering friend of "chicken" fame, he hailed him in this wise: "Hello, Sambo!"
This manner of salute left the party addressed, in doubt as to the colors under which the young white stranger served. Off went his hat, therefore, and he stood grinning and waiting to hear more. Our hero walked quickly up to him, and frankly explained the situation, concluding, as usual, with a request for information and aid. Both were promptly tendered, and shortly after, the fugitives were concealed in a corn-fodder house. Here, in the evening, a motley and humorous delegation of darkies waited upon them and after ventilating their sage opinions upon the conduct of the war, organized a prayer-meeting; and, if the fervor of human prayer availeth, they doubtless damaged the cause of Secession materially that evening.
The topographical knowledge of these well-meaning friends appears to have been at fault for had Glazier followed the route they advised, instead of striking the railroad running from Charleston to Augusta, on the west side of Aiken, which would have enabled them, by pursuing it to the westward, to reach Augusta, they would have struck it on the east side, and consequently by mistake have followed it towards Charleston, precisely the place to which they did not want to go.
"How far is it, my boy, by this road, to Drainside?" asked a mud-splashed traveler of a shrewd lad by the roadside.
"If you keep on the way you are heading, and can manage the Atlantic and Pacific on horseback," replied the boy, "it is 23,999 miles. If you turn your horse's head and go right back, it is one mile."
Our friends were in a somewhat similar condition. Soon, however, in the darkness, they came to a small village, where a freight train was in waiting for an early start. They tried to conceal themselves on board this train, but very fortunately for their safety they could not find a hiding-place in or under the cars, and shortly afterwards discovered that Charleston was its destination and not Augusta. Had they boarded this train they would certainly have been recaptured in Charleston and sent back to imprisonment. "A merciful Providence interposed," Glazier writes. "Thus 'man proposes,' often to his own ruin, but 'God disposes,' always to His own glory, and the good of his creatures."
A blood-hound was on their track in the course of the night, the deep bayings being plainly audible, but his scent being at fault, the trail of the fugitives was lost, and he shortly barked himself out of hearing.
When daybreak came and a passenger train filled with rebel soldiers and recruits swept past them, setting up a savage yell at sight of the pedestrians, it was feared by the latter that the train might be stopped with a view to their capture, so they once more concealed themselves in the wood.
The sound of heavy cannonading reassured them as to the proximity of Federal troops; but, where was Augusta? Accurate information on this point was absolutely essential before further progress was made; and Lemon was commissioned to obtain it. He was so far successful that he learned from some negro wood-choppers—much to the chagrin of both—that they had been walking all night in the opposite direction from Augusta, that is, on the direct road to Charleston! They also learned, what was much more cheering, that they could cross the Savannah River, at a point twenty miles below Augusta, at Point Comfort; that Sherman was making straight for Savannah, and therefore their chances of ultimately falling in with his army were by no means impaired.
No time was lost in moving forward in the direction indicated, and during the night our hero met with an adventure which we cannot do better than relate in his own words; he says: "We came to a fork in the road, and after debating some time as to which course we should pursue, I leaped over the fence and made for a negro hut, while several hounds from the plantation house followed hard on my track. I managed, by some tall running, to come in a few feet ahead, and bolted into the shanty without warning or formality, slamming the door behind me to keep out the dogs. A great stupid negro was standing before the fire, his hands and face buried in fresh pork and hoe-cake, which he was making poor work at eating. His broad, fat countenance glistened with an unguent distilled partly from within and partly from without. Turning my eyes from the negro to the untidy hearth, they were greeted, as were also my olfactories, with a skillet of pork frying over the coals.
"Without troubling him to answer any questions, I opened the mouth of my haversack and poured into it the dripping contents of the skillet. I next observed that the ashes on the hearth had a suspiciously fat appearance, and, taking the tongs, began raking among them. My suspicions were verified, for two plump-looking hoe-cakes came to light, which were also deposited in the haversack.
"Looking around still farther I saw what I had not observed before, Dinah's black head, as she peered out from among the bed-clothes, rolling two of the most astonished white eyes that ever asked the question, 'What's you g'wine to do next?' Not seeing any practical way in which I could answer her mute question, I said to Sambo, 'Call the dogs into the house.' This he did hastily. I then asked, 'Uncle, what road must this rebel take for Tinker Creek?' 'De right han' one, out dar', I reckon,' he answered. Again bidding him keep the hounds in the house till morning, I rushed out to the road and joined my companion. We made lively tracks for about three miles, after which we took it more leisurely, stopping to rest and refresh ourselves at every stream that crossed the road."
The winter was by this time fairly upon them, and sleeping in the open air by no means a pleasant experience. They therefore made long marches, and by the aid of an occasional friendly push from their negro allies at length arrived in the vicinity of Point Comfort. This was on the seventh of December, and the twelfth day of their pilgrimage. After being somewhat alarmed by the proximity of a pack of dogs, with which some boys were hunting, they escaped discovery, and securing another negro for a guide, they on the same night found themselves upon the banks of the Savannah River.
A colored man's cabin, as usual, sheltered them during the day, and their host and his dusky neighbors (many of whom flocked around to see the Yankees, as was their custom) proving to be fishermen well acquainted with the river, our friends prevailed upon one of their number to undertake the task of carrying them across. The first difficulty that presented itself was, where to find a boat; but their host remembered, he said, a place upon one of the tributaries of the Savannah where one lay, not exactly in good sailing trim it is true, for the authorities had ordered the destruction of boats along all the streams where escaped prisoners were likely to seek a passage, and this craft had not escaped their vigilance; but he thought, by the liberal use of pitch and cotton, materials easily obtainable in that neighborhood, it could be made sufficiently water-tight to answer their purpose. Accordingly, accompanied by their friendly Charon, with his pitch-pot and cotton, they reached the spot indicated and found the boat.
It was in a very dilapidated state, but "all night long the faithful fellow worked, caulking and pitching," while the fugitives "lay concealed in an old hollow beech log."
It was long after midnight before he had finished his task, and launched the boat into the stream. She looked very shaky, but the extemporized shipwright reassured them by saying confidently:
"She's ready, massa. I'll soon land you in Georgey."
They were scarcely, however, in the boat before she commenced to leak; there was no help for it, so our adventurers betook themselves to bailing the water out as fast as it entered, and the zealous negro pulled away with all his might. They kept her afloat until within a short distance of the wished-for shore, and then, seeing that if they did not quit her she would certainly quit them, the two passengers leaped out, and managed with some difficulty to ascend the beach.
THE PERILS OF AN ESCAPE.
Alligators.—A detachment of Southern chivalry.—A scare.—Repairs neatly executed.—Misery and despair.—Virtue its own reward.—Hunger and desperation.—Audacity.—A Confederate officer.—"A good Union man."—"Two sights and a jambye."—A narrow escape.
Captain Glazier and his companion were not insensible to the danger they incurred of being drawn under the water by an alligator; animals they knew to be numerous and voracious in that river, and were therefore not slow in quitting its banks. So, bidding a hearty good-bye to their humble companion, who was already busy re-caulking his boat for the home voyage, they once more plunged into the recesses of the swamps, intending to push forward as far as possible before the morning dawned.
They wended their way through a Southern cypress swamp. Some distance back from the river they could perceive a large plantation-house, with its out-buildings and accessories, protected by groups of oak and beech; but they dared not approach it. Under the far-reaching and sheltering cypress they pursued their way.
The cypress here attains considerable height, the branches issuing from a trunk formed like a cone; but occasionally they are to be seen of very stunted growth. Around the full-sized tree are frequently to be found a whole family of dwarfs, nature having arrested their growth when from one to ten feet high. These would present an unsightly look, were it not for the mantle of Spanish moss that envelops, and gives them a graceful and picturesque appearance.
Large alligators lay along the bayous, and on every prostrate log, watching the movements of Glazier and his companion. "They were," he says, "apparently pleased at our misfortunes, and sent towards us loving, hungry glances." As soon as approached, these "wardens of the marshes" would hobble to the edge of a bayou, and allow themselves to fall in; their eyes remaining above water blinking at the invaders, as if inviting them to follow. They were probably, as Glazier observes, "a detachment of Southern chivalry doing duty on their own grounds."
Finally, emerging from the swamp they entered a corn-field, and discovered a delicious spring; and not far off, a friendly negro. They arranged to meet him here at eight o'clock, at which hour he returned and piloted them to some of his friends a short distance off. They were several times upon the point of being discovered—once by a planter, and again by a number of white children, who, attended by their nurse, and a pack of curs, approached within a few feet of their hiding-place. Our friends gradually edged themselves towards a thicket, which was distant about four miles from Briar Creek, the latter being eighteen miles from Millen—the junction of the Augusta branch and the main line of the Central Railway of Georgia.
At this thicket, feeling very weary, our fugitives threw themselves on the ground, and were soon asleep. Nothing occurred to disturb their slumber; but, on awaking, their consternation was great to find themselves guarded by sentinels! Four large hounds stood looking down at them with an air of responsibility for their safe-keeping; snuffing occasionally at their persons to discover, probably, if they had the scent of game. This indicated an alarming condition of things. And the fear fell upon them that the owner of the hounds had discovered them while they slept, and they were again prisoners. But their alarm soon subsided. No human being appeared; and the dogs seemed to consider their responsibility at an end, now that the slumberers were awake; and walking around them in the most natural manner, with much show of dignity, trooped away without even a parting salute, but greatly to the relief of our alarmed friends. They were soon after confronted by another source of affright. This was the approach of a large cavalry patrol, which came so near their place of concealment, that they were compelled to forego a fire, cold as it was, and eat their sweet potatoes raw—the only rations left them. They however escaped observation.
They knew nothing of the whereabouts of General Sherman; but certain unmistakable indications satisfied them that they were now approaching the scene of military operations. Bridges destroyed, while others were under the guard of bodies of soldiers; large herds of stock driven by the planters themselves to the recesses of the swamps and forests for protection; the hurrying across country of men on horseback and afoot, and the general appearance of excitement and unrest that prevailed around them, convinced Glazier and his companion that the formidable Sherman was not very distant.
It was hard to be deprived of the comfort of a fire at such an inclement season, for the weather had become intensely cold, and rain fell incessantly. A merciful Providence, however, directed their steps towards a spot where an aged negro was cutting wood and warming himself at a fire by turns, and they were thus enabled to thaw their frozen garments and gather some warmth in their numbed limbs. With the aid of the old negro, they improvised a rude tent by means of their blankets, and on leaving for his supper, he promised to return in the evening with some hoe-cakes. This promise he faithfully fulfilled, and remained to cobble Glazier's shoes into a condition of comparative comfort. During the day the shoes had threatened to part company with their owner and leave him barefoot.
The aforesaid shoes having been subjected to the process of repair, our hero at first demurred to their liberal dimensions, but learned, partly from the cobbler and partly from experience, that as the 'possum skin (which formed the uppers) began to dry, it acquired the hardness and durability of horn; and hence, extra space became necessary. The shoes lasted him till the end of his adventures, and are still preserved as a memento of auld lang syne.
The following day was passed in the swamp, a wretched, dispiriting, drizzling rain, falling from morn till night, bringing the temperature down to zero. They recommenced their journey at dark despite the weather; preferring to push ahead rather than seek shelter again, with their friends, and so delay their progress. Thus they tramped wearily along, until the small town of Alexander was reached, and by this time their condition had become so desperate, that they knocked at the first cabin they came to. A white woman, in reply to their inquiry, as to which was the road to Millen, said "she did not know." And now, for the first time since their escape from Columbia, a feeling of despair took possession of them. They were cold, hungry, worn out, nearly naked, and shelterless, and such was their misery and despair, that had they not suddenly stumbled upon a large frame building used by negro laborers on the railroad, they would have been recaptured from utter powerlessness to seek concealment, or have fallen by the wayside and died.
Here, however, they met with a generous reception, and obtained the information they sought. After exchanging some kind words with these humble people, who heartily sympathized with them, Glazier and his comrade proceeded on their way.
Everything went well until they unexpectedly came to the banks of a considerable stream, and, after a careful search, failed to discover any practicable means of crossing it, except by fording. The fact of its being fordable gave rise to an incident with a moral, and as the gallant captain relates the story we will quote his own words:
"Sitting," he writes, "on a log, and ruminating over our chances, a very selfish piece of strategy suggested itself. Accordingly, I said to Lemon, 'There is no use of both getting wet; we can carry each other over these streams. If you will carry me over this, I will carry you over the next,' I said, 'these streams,' although only one was before us, and the most prominent thought in my mind was that, in all probability, there would be no other.
"Lemon somehow failed to see the point, and consented. Accordingly, taking off our shoes, I mounted on the lieutenant's shoulders, as school-boys sometimes carry each other, and he staggered through the stream with me, doing no worse than wetting my feet. This worked well. I congratulated myself, and gave a generous sympathy to Lemon in his shiverings. The chances were ten to one, I thought, that the carrying business was at an end, when suddenly another stream, wider than the first, rose up in the darkness before us. There was no use in wincing, and I stripped for the task. The lieutenant ascended to the position he had fairly earned. I plunged into the water. The middle of the stream was reached in safety, when, through no fault of mine, either the water became too deep, or my back became too weak for the burden, and the consequence was, the worthy gentleman was nearly as well soaked as myself when we reached the opposite shore. Selfishness, as well as virtue, sometimes brings its own reward."
They crossed three other streams during the night, but, by mutual consent, the carrying contract was canceled, and each did his own wading. "Thus," adds the captain, "another grand scheme for human elevation fell to the ground!"
Weary and wet to the skin, they persevered in their onward course, until they reached another cypress swamp, and discovered a road through it, which had evidently been the scene of a recently fought battle. Fences and buildings were razed to the ground, while fragments of military equipments were scattered about profusely—broken muskets, spent cartridges, and dead cattle; all told the story of a late conflict.
Our fugitives had no means of learning at the time any particulars of the supposed fight, but were afterward informed that less than a week previous to their being on the spot, General Kilpatrick's cavalry and the Seventeenth Army Corps had swept like an avalanche along that road.
The temperature by this time had somewhat moderated, and Glazier and his companion, thinking it unlikely the road would be much used for a time, concluded that they might with safety lie down and obtain some necessary rest and sleep. In their exhausted condition, they slept through the day and the greater part of the following night, arousing themselves with difficulty for the work still before them.
Judging from the fact that many of the dead horses seen on the road bore the brand of the "United States," and from other indications, they arrived at the conclusion that the Union forces were not very distant, and that they themselves were now possibly in the wake of Sherman's army. This being the case, the hope revived in their breasts of soon joining their friends—unless they had the misfortune to be picked up by the enemy's scouts. Hence, having lost so much of the night, they decided to travel this time by day, and at once put their determination into practice. Glazier and his friend soon discovered, however, that they were not expedited in their journey to any great extent—the streams being greatly swollen by the recent rains, formed a serious obstacle to their further progress.
They also felt that traveling by daylight was attended with much hazard to their safety. One advantage of journeying through a part of the country lately traversed by an invading army, was found in the fact of there being much smouldering fire along their line of march, and thus our friends ran no risk of attracting attention by approaching these fires at their several halting-places. This circumstance afforded one element of comfort—warmth. But another, still more important, was lacking, namely—food.
They had traveled the entire day without meeting a single negro, and hence, their commissariat was non est, and gaunt hunger created in them a sense of desperation. In this state they reached, after sunset, a plantation, where no house appeared but a number of humble shanties; and, weary, starving and desperate, they boldly advanced to the door of the best-looking cabin, and knocked for admission.
"Who's thar?" was answered in a tone, common to the poor whites and blacks of that section, that afforded no indication of the color of the speaker. That, however, was the first thing to determine before proceeding further. So our hero replied, interrogatively: "Are you black or white in there?" "Thar aint no niggahs heah," was the response, and the indignant tone of its delivery placed it beyond doubt that they had fallen upon a family of "poor whites." Glazier thereupon changed his voice to that of the "high-toned" rebel, and asked why he kept an officer of the Confederate army waiting for admittance. The man reluctantly opened the door, and the soi-disant Confederate demanded in an imperious tone, "How long is it since our army passed here?"
"What army?" was the cautious query, before an answer was vouchsafed.
"Why the rebel army, of course!"
The man hereupon stated that Wheeler's cavalry had passed by a week before, following Sherman's rear guard.
"How far is it to General Wheeler's headquarters?" asked Lieutenant Glazier.
"I dun'no!" growled the other; "but I guess it's a right smart distance."
To other questions, as to the possibility of obtaining one or more horses and mules, and even a suggestion that something to eat would not be unwelcome, the fellow protested that the —— Yankees had stripped the country of everything, and left them neither horses, mules, nor anything to eat. Through the intervention of his wife, however, Glazier finally obtained some bread and sweet potatoes; and, delivering a lecture to him upon the gross ingratitude of treating in such a niggardly manner a soldier who had left a home of opulence and comfort, to battle for his rights and liberties, with much more of a similar audacious character, he left the house.
Time, however, was too precious to be wasted, and, at the conclusion of the meal, they hurriedly resumed their march.
A solitary planter passed them, returning their carefully-worded salutation, and, evidently mistaking them for Confederates, volunteered the information that "our cavalry"—meaning Wheeler's, had passed that point last Tuesday. He was barely out of view, when they overtook a couple of negroes going to their work; and of them Glazier inquired the distance to the nearest plantation, receiving for answer, "Jess a mile, massa." "Are there any white folks there?" asked our hero. "Narry one, massa," was the reply; adding, "Dat ar planter is what dey call a Beeswaxer"—meaning a Bushwacker, "and Massa Sherman took dem all orf." Not wishing to commit themselves by imprudently revealing their true character, Glazier asked them indifferently, if they had seen any of Wheeler's cavalry lately. To which one of them responded, "Dar's right smart of dem down at Mars' Brown's, free mile from de swamp, and dey's hazin' de country all 'round."
This intelligence was not encouraging, but our friends thought it the wiser course to proceed at once to the plantation the negro had described. They soon reached the place, and, finding that the dwelling of the owner was closed, they, without delay, advanced to the nearest of the smaller tenements, such as were usually occupied by slaves.
Glazier did not pause to knock at the door, but boldly raised the latch and entered. He expected to see the usual negro auntie with her brood of pickaninnies, or to meet the friendly glance of one of the males, and therefore walked in very confidently, and with a pleasant smile. This, however, soon changed to a look of amazement, when he found himself face to face with a Confederate officer in full uniform. Quick as lightning, our hero determined upon his course.
"Ah, sir!" he exclaimed, with all the coolness he could assume, "I perceive we are in the same service. I can only hope you have not been so unfortunate as myself."
"How unfortunate may you have been, sir?" the vis a vis inquired.
"Why, at the late cavalry fight at Waynesboro', I lost my horse, having him shot under me. I have not had the good fortune to obtain another, and the consequence is, that I have been compelled to walk the whole distance to this point."
"I reckon, then, stranger, our cases are not altogether dissimilar," the Confederate rejoined; "I had my horse killed there, too, but luckily got a mule."
In anticipation of an inquiry which, if addressed to himself, might lead to unpleasant complications, Glazier now asked: "What command he was attached to?" "Forty-third Alabama Mounted Infantry," said the other; and then put a similar question. "Third South Carolina Cavalry," said Glazier, feeling that he would be more at home as a trooper than an infantry soldier. To carry out his assumed character, he added some remarks regarding Sherman's barbarities, and was just congratulating himself upon the gullibility of the Confederate, when his apprehensions were revived by a remark, that it was "strange a rebel officer should be dressed in a Federal uniform."
"Not at all, sir," was the quick response, "a poor fellow must wear what he can get in times like these. I have not had a full equipment since I entered the service, and hang me, if I ever expect to get one. In the fight at Waynesboro' we captured a few Yanks, and I just stripped one fellow after he died, and took his clothes."
This explanation appeared to satisfy the rebel officer, as he remarked, "that was a good idea, and I wish I had been as sensible myself." After inquiry about the probability of obtaining some "grub" from the auntie, whose hut he supposed the place to be, and receiving a discouraging reply, Glazier was advised to call upon a Mr. Brown. The property of this loyal gentleman had been protected from seizure by General Sherman, on account of his having claimed to be a "good Union man," and by General Wheeler, because he was a "good rebel," and his larder was described to be, in consequence, well stocked. Our hero prepared to depart, first earnestly inquiring the road to Mr. Brown's residence.
"About two sights and a jambye," said the Alabamian, which interpreted, meant, twice as far as they could see, and the width of a swamp.
Having obtained all the information he desired, without the remotest intention of availing himself of the "good Union man's" hospitality, Glazier said "good-day," and rejoined his friend. They made the best of their way along a path, until a turn carried them out of the rebel officer's sight, then wheeled suddenly round, and ran rapidly for a considerable distance in the opposite direction to Mr. Brown's.
RECAPTURED BY A CONFEDERATE OUTPOST.
Fugitive slaves.—A rebel planter.—The Big Ebenezer.—A sound of oars.—A ruse de guerre.—Burial of a dead soldier.—A free ride.—Groping in the dark.—"Who goes there!"—Recaptured.—Nil desperandum.—James Brooks.—Contraband of war.—Confederate murders.—In the saddle again.—A dash for freedom.—Again captured.—Tried as a spy.
Our hero had been somewhat impressed with the subdued tone and manner of the Confederate officer with whom he had lately parted. To some extent he manifested a discouraged and cowed bearing, and this, taken with some other circumstances in their recent experience, led our friends to hope that the end was not very remote.
After bidding adieu to the Confederate, they walked about two miles before discovering a place of concealment in another swamp. Here they unexpectedly came upon a party of negroes sleeping around a large fire. They proved to be fugitive slaves, who had abandoned their homes in Burke County, Georgia, to follow in the rear of Sherman's army. They had formed part of a body of several hundred persons of all ages and both sexes, who had escaped and sought refuge upon an island in Big Ebenezer Creek, and had been inhumanly shelled out by the Confederates. Thence they had scattered over the country in small bands, and the present detached party were working their way back to their masters. Captain Glazier despatched one of them with a haversack in search of some food among the resident colored people, and the result was so far satisfactory that our friends were put in possession of a good supply of sweet potatoes.
After another march, and while still in the swamp, they heard wood-choppers, and Lemon started to reconnoitre. Guided by the sound of the axe, he approached a small clearing, and seeing a negro, as he had expected, wielding the axe, walked forward to him, but was suddenly startled by observing a burly white man sitting on a log, smoking and looking on. They eyed each other for a moment in silence, when presently the planter demanded in a blustering voice, "What are you doing here, in a blue uniform?" Lemon was not slow to answer in a corresponding tone, "I am serving my country, as every loyal man should do: what have you to say about it?"
"I believe you're a d——d Yankee," said the planter. "You're welcome to your opinion, old Blowhard," responded Lemon. "This is a free country; I am a Yankee—all but the d——d—and now what do you propose to do about it?" (All this in an assumed tone of bluster, as the best adapted to the situation.) "We'll see! we'll see!" rejoined the planter, and at once started in a direct line for his house. Lemon lost no time, but returned as quickly as possible to his comrade, and without any deliberation they evacuated the enemy's country with as much expedition as their tired legs were capable of exerting. Their ears were soon saluted with the music of a pack of hounds let loose on their track by the burly rebel, and the affair would have had a disastrous ending if they had not opportunely encountered a considerable stream, and by wading through it for nearly a mile, succeeded in cutting off the scent of the hounds.
The planter had raised a hue and cry for miles around, and our hunted friends, from their covert, saw mounted men patrolling the corduroy road through the swamp, seemingly under the belief that the "Yankees" would be driven to use this highway eventually, and thus fall an easy prey into their hands. The man-hunters, however, found themselves at fault, for our hero had learned, in the hard school of experience, to anticipate all such contingencies. He and Lemon therefore secreted themselves until late in the night, determined to rob them of their game.
It was approaching midnight, December fifteenth, when the fugitives crept cautiously to the margin of the swamp. A large fire denoted the position of the planter's picket. They ventured out through the mud and water with the purpose of flanking the enemy on their left—a hazardous proceeding, and attended with much suffering from the intense coldness of the water. In two hours, however, they had reached a point on the opposite side of the encampment, and fearing discovery and pursuit, soon placed two or three miles between themselves and the foe. Sometimes they were made cognizant of the nearness of the parties in search of them, by overhearing their conversation, which treated mainly of Sherman's march to the sea, how it would affect the Confederacy, and similar interesting topics.
Our friends passed the last picket at the edge of the swamp, but deeming it unwise to relax in speed or vigilance, pushed forward to the banks of the Big Ebenezer, which advanced them three miles further.
Here, upon the charred abutment of a burned bridge, Glazier and his friend paused, and with the dark river in their front, debated how they were to reach the other side. The dawn was just breaking, and through the rising mist they could discern the opposite shore, but no practicable mode of reaching it. They must not, however, remain here after daybreak, and therefore sought and found a place of concealment, again in the hateful swamp, but not far from the river's bank. They were soon enjoying the rest and sleep of the weary.
Lemon was startled from his slumber by a sound resembling that of oars. He awoke Glazier, and both listened intently, at a loss to understand the meaning of such a sound in such a place. In a few minutes the noise ceased, and looking cautiously from their hiding-place, they observed two men pass near them, having the appearance of messengers or couriers, with despatches, which they could plainly see in their hands. It at once occurred to our hero and his companion that the boat in which these men had rowed themselves up the river, could be made available for crossing to its opposite bank. They found it moored to a tree, and at once embarked and crossed the stream. To prevent pursuit they cast the boat adrift, and as speedily as possible left "Big Ebenezer" behind them.
At a short distance from the river side Lemon stumbled over the dead body of a soldier, which, upon examination, proved to be that of a Federal. Our friends having no means of placing the body underground, concluded to bury it in the river, and thus prevent to some extent its desecration by dogs or other carrion-seeking animals that might find it exposed. This was the best they could do under the circumstances, and thus the poor body found a sailor's, if not a soldier's grave.
They had advanced not many paces again when they discovered two horses tied to a tree, possibly the property of the two couriers whose boat they had previously utilized. These they looked upon as fair spoil in an enemy's country, and with little compunction and less ceremony mounted and started on their way. A few miles brought them to the verge of the wood, and the day was now breaking. They therefore reluctantly dismounted, turned their steeds adrift for fear of detection, and trudged forward on foot once more.
Soon they had reason to congratulate themselves on their prudence in dismounting. Another quarter of a mile brought within view a Confederate picket, but they were not themselves observed. They accordingly sought a hiding-place among the thick undergrowth, and were soon asleep, remaining so until midnight. They then turned the flank of the picket and proceeded on their journey.
Long immunity from the peril of recapture had now inspired Glazier and his friend with hope and full confidence in successfully attaining the end of their struggles. The swamp, the river, the alligator, the man-hunter, and worse than all, the blood-hound, had been met and successfully overcome or evaded; and after three long weeks of travel from the execrable and inhuman people, who had held them as prisoners of war, and treated them worse than dogs, they now found themselves within twenty miles of Savannah.
Resting himself upon a fallen tree, clad in rags, hungry and reduced almost to the proportions of a skeleton by long fasting, Glazier with his companion were able to congratulate themselves upon their wonderful preservation thus far. All seemed to foreshadow their final triumph, and their spirits were cheered, notwithstanding that food had not passed their lips for the past thirty-six hours, with the exception of a few grains of corn picked up by the way. Probably within the brief space of twenty-four hours they would be again free and under the protection of the glorious flag, in whose defence they had fought and suffered so much.
Flushed with their past success and elated with hope for the future they recommenced their march. They had no exact information as to the position of the Federal army, and were in fact groping their way in the dark—figuratively as well as literally—every sense on the alert to avoid the enemy's picket lines.
On reaching Little Ebenezer Creek about midnight they were chagrined to find the bridge destroyed, but after reconnoitring for a time, were satisfied that the coast was clear on the opposite side. Finding some broken planks they constructed a raft and paddled themselves across the stream.
They were now on the Savannah River Road, over which Kilpatrick's cavalry and the Fourteenth Army Corps had passed but a week before. Old camping-grounds were numerous along their way, and each was examined closely for any bread or other eatables they thought might have been left by the army.
They were closely engaged in this search, when "Who comes there?" was gruffly shouted by a voice near them.
"Friends," promptly answered Glazier.
"Advance one!" commanded the picket.
"I advanced promptly," writes Captain Glazier, in the history of his capture and imprisonment, "and arriving near my captors found them to be mounted infantry. They were sitting upon their horses in the shade of some cypress-trees. One asked, 'Who are you?' to which I replied, 'A scout to General Hardie, and must not be detained, as I have important information for the general.'
"The picket replied, 'I'm instructed to take every person to the officer of the picket that approaches this post after dark.'
"'I can't help it, sir. It is not customary to arrest scouts, and I must pass on.'
"'You cannot; I must obey orders. I do not doubt the truth of your assertion; but until you have seen the lieutenant, you will not be allowed to pass this post.'
"Finding that I had met a good soldier I saw that it was useless to trifle with him, and tried to console myself with the thought that I should be able to dupe the officer; and as we were hurried on towards the reserve of the picket my mind was occupied in arranging a plan for our defence, as spies to the great rebel chief. Arrived at the reserve we found nearly all asleep, including the lieutenant, in close proximity to a large rail-fire.
"A little rough shaking soon roused him up, and, rubbing his eyes, he asked, 'What's wanted?'
"I quickly answered, 'I'm surprised, sir, that scouts to our generals should be arrested by your picket.'
"He said, 'My instructions are positive, and no man can pass this post without examination.'
"'Very well, then,' I said, 'be good enough to examine us at once.'
"'Have you passes?'
"'No, sir; not at present. We had papers when we left the general's headquarters; but having been scouting in Northern Georgia, for the past two weeks, our papers are worn out and lost.'
"'You have some papers about you, I suppose?'
"Thinking that by answering in the affirmative, and producing quickly an old package of letters which had been received while in Libby Prison, that none of them would be examined, I hastily drew them from the side-pocket of my jacket and held them before me, saying, 'I hope here are enough, sir.'
"The lieutenant's curiosity led him to take one which had been received from Colonel Clarence Buel, of Troy, New York. He held it near the fire, and noticing the date, turned his eyes towards me and again to the letter; the second glance seemed to satisfy him that I was not a rebel, and he remarked very indignantly, 'Then you are scouting for General Hardie, are you? I believe you are a d——d Yankee spy! and if you were to get your deserts I should hang you to the first tree I come to,' Said I, 'Lieutenant, do not be too hasty. I can convince you that I have been a prisoner of war, and if you are a true soldier I shall be treated as such.'
"Becoming a little more mild he gave us to understand that we should start at ten o'clock the next morning for Springfield, the headquarters of General Wheeler.
"After detailing a special guard for the prisoners, and instructing them to be on the alert, the lieutenant laid himself down by the fire, leaving us to reflect upon the hardness of fate, and the uncertainties attending an effort to escape the clutches of a vigilant enemy."
Glazier did not despair, but at the first opportunity communicated to Lemon his determination to reach the Federal lines at all risks; he would never return to South Carolina a prisoner; the horrors of prison-life and the privations and sufferings they had already endured, should never be repeated in his case, but rather—welcome death! Their enemies—albeit fellow-countrymen and Americans—were inhuman and barbarous, and before putting himself in their hands again, he would submit to be hung by bushwhackers, or torn to pieces by blood-hounds. Their case was now desperate, and for his part he would take the first chance that offered of getting away. Our hero thought he could count on Lemon's concurrence and co-operation. The men of the picket told him they had been arrested at the outpost; and it was now clear that if the fugitives had been so fortunate as to pass this picket, they could have reached the Federal lines in less than an hour. Only a step intervened between captivity and freedom—the thought was very disheartening.
An instance of exceptional kindness on the part of a Confederate must not be omitted here. James Brooks, one of the picket, came to the prisoners and invited them to partake of some hoe-cake and bacon. He said he had been out foraging, and would share his plunder with them. Having been without food for forty-eight hours, save a few ears of corn, they eagerly embraced the generous offer. The hoe-cake was produced and partaken of ravenously and thankfully. The other men of the picket were disgusted at the liberality of their comrade, calling him a "blue belly," and a fool to give good bread to a couple of d——d Yanks. Like a true man, however, he made no reply to their brutal taunts, and gave the captives a most excellent breakfast.
Having finished their welcome meal, they asked permission to bathe themselves, under guard, in a little stream not many rods from the reserve, which request was granted. Here the prisoners in their desperation offered the guard one hundred dollars in Confederate scrip, which had been given them by their negro friends, to assist them in making their escape. The guards seemed to distrust each other, and declined the proposal. They, however, said they would be right glad to have the money, but feared to take it, as they were held responsible for the safe return of the prisoners. The offer of the bribe was reported to the lieutenant, who at once ordered the delinquents to be searched, and all the scrip found upon them was confiscated, as contraband of war, and appropriated to rebel uses, leaving our two unfortunate friends penniless. They were further threatened with condign punishment for offering to bribe the guard. One said "Shoot them;" another, "Let 'em stretch hemp;" several recommended that they be taken to the swamp and "sent after Sherman's raiders,"—referring, probably, to the manner in which they had disposed of some of the Federal sick, who had been left in the rear of the army. Of this incident Glazier writes: "I had been told by the negroes that fifteen of our sick, who fell into the hands of the rebels but a few days before our recapture, were taken to a swamp, where their throats were cut, and their bodies thrown into a slough hole. I cannot vouch for the truth of this statement, but it came to me from many whose veracity I have no reason to question."
Let us in the name of humanity doubt it!
At ten o'clock A. M. a mounted guard, consisting of a corporal and two men, were detailed to march the prisoners to the headquarters of General Wheeler. They had not proceeded far when Glazier assumed to be footsore, and pleaded his utter inability to walk any further. Believing this, one of the guards dismounted and helped him into the saddle. Our hero was no sooner mounted than he decided that, come what would, he would make his escape. In a few moments the guard who was on foot espied a black squirrel darting across the road, and oblivious of his responsibility, gave chase to it, Glazier looking on and biding his time. The squirrel soon ran up a tree, and leaped from bough to bough with its usual agility. Suddenly it halted on a prominent branch, seeming to bid defiance to its pursuer. The carbine was instantly raised, and discharged. Without waiting to note the result, Glazier, feeling that now was his opportunity, dashed off at a gallop, urging his horse to the top of his speed. Before the squirrel-hunter could reload, he was many yards away. The corporal in charge fired his revolver, and at each discharge of the weapon, shouted to the fugitive to halt! but Glazier gave no heed to the summons, and might have succeeded in reaching the swamps and defied recapture, if he had not unfortunately galloped into a rebel camp! Baffled, he turned his horse, and endeavored to cross an open field, but the corporal continued to shout, "Halt that d——d Yankee!" when a body of Texan Rangers from General Iverson's cavalry division, some mounted and some dismounted, gave chase, hooting and yelping, and finally overtook and compelled him to surrender.
The guard whose horse Lieutenant Glazier had ridden came up and vented his rage at the escapade in no measured language. The Texans, however, enjoyed the fun of the thing, and laughed at, and ridiculed him. Said one, "You are a d——d smart soldier to let a blue-belly get away from you—and on your own horse too!" Another joined in with, "Say, Corporal, which of them nags can run fastest?" Nothing of course was said about the squirrel!
On Lemon and his guard coming up they resumed their march to headquarters—Glazier's lameness exciting no further sympathy, nor the offer of another mount.
The escort with their charge reached General Wheeler's headquarters in the afternoon, and the report handed in stated that, "the two prisoners had been captured while attempting to pass the out-post, under the pretence of being scouts to General Hardie."
Wheeler ordered them at once into his presence and questioned them closely.
Captain Glazier thus graphically relates the interview:
"'Then you are scouting for Confederate generals?' said Wheeler.
"I replied, 'We would have rejoiced if we could have convinced your out-post that we were.'
"'None of your impudence, sir! Remember that you are a prisoner.'
"'Very true; but when you ask questions, you must expect answers.'
"'What are you doing with that gray jacket?'
"'I wear it, sir, to protect myself from the sun and storm.'
"'Where did you get it?'
"'One of the guards at Columbia was kind enough to give it to me, when he saw that I was suffering for the want of clothing to cover my nakedness.'
"'He could not have been a true rebel, to assist a Yankee in making his escape.'
"'He knew nothing of my intention to escape; and I believe he was at least a kind-hearted man.'
"'Why don't you wear the Federal uniform? Are the Yankees ashamed of it?'
"'By no means, sir! What few garments were spared me at the time of my capture were worn out during a long imprisonment, and the clothing which was sent on to Richmond by our Government during the winter of 1863 for distribution among the prisoners, was, for the most part, appropriated by your authorities.'
"'Like most of your contemptible Yankee crew, I believe you to be a lying scoundrel, and you shall answer to the charge of spy.'
"'Very well, sir, I am compelled to await your pleasure; but you have heard nothing but the truth.'
"'Guard! take the prisoners to the jail, place them in a cell, and keep them in close confinement until further orders.'"
The above colloquy between Wheeler and his prisoners reflects small credit upon him as a leader of "Southern Chivalry."
FINAL ESCAPE FROM CAPTIVITY.
In jail.—White trash.—Yankees.—Off to Waynesboro.—No rations. Calling the roll.—Sylvania.—Plan for escape.—Lieutenant John W. Wright.—A desperate project.—Escaped!—Giving chase.—The pursuers baffled.—Old Richard.—"Pooty hard case, massa."—Rebel deserters.—The sound of cannon.—Personating a rebel officer.—Mrs. Keyton.—Renewed hope.—A Confederate outpost.—Bloodhounds.—Uncle Philip.—March Dasher.—Suspicion disarmed.—"Now I'ze ready, gemmen."—Stars and stripes.—Glorious freedom.—Home!
In obedience to orders, Glazier and his comrade were at once marched off to the county jail at Springfield, Georgia, then in the hands of the military authorities. They were the only military prisoners confined there, and were allowed the privilege of leaving their cell and going into the yard for fresh air. They were not a little amused by the crowds of wondering citizens who visited the jail to view the "two live Yanks."
These worthy citizens were greatly exercised that the prisoners should be permitted to leave their cells, and called on the jailer to remove them from the yard or they would take the keys into their own hands; but the officer in command told them that he was personally responsible for their safe-custody, and refused to remove them. These white Georgians were a very primitive class of people. Utterly illiterate and uninformed, their mode of speech was as bad as that of the most ignorant slaves on the plantations. The term "white trash," whatever its origin, was a most appropriate designation. No care had been taken to educate them—no school-houses built; education being confined to the few whose wealth enabled them to send their children to Northern schools, or to engage a private tutor. Discovering that the prisoners were harmless, many of these people asked them questions of a curious and comical nature. They thought Yankees were imps of darkness, possessed of horns and hoof, and, seeing that the prisoners were formed not unlike themselves, were with difficulty persuaded that they were "Yankees." Their idea of the causes and character of the war was ludicrous in the extreme, and will hardly bear description—the negroes themselves being far better informed upon this, as they were upon most other subjects.
A very brief examination before a hastily convened board of officers resulted in a finding that the captives were "escaped prisoners of war," and not "spies." They were accordingly asked, where they were captured, where imprisoned, when they escaped, etc.; and then a strong guard from the Second Georgia Cavalry was detailed to convey them, with fifteen other prisoners from the Fourteenth Army Corps, to Waynesboro.
From the other prisoners Glazier gleaned much useful information concerning the situation of the Union lines, and also learned where the rebel troops were stationed in Sherman's rear. Should he attempt another escape, this knowledge would be valuable. The rebel escort cared very little for the wants of their prisoners, and issued no rations whatever to them—they themselves being entirely dependent on foraging for their own supplies. As the unfortunate prisoners could not forage for themselves they had to go without, a condition of things that spoke little for the soldierly feeling of the guard. All attempts to elude the vigilance of the latter during the day had failed, and as darkness drew on, Glazier and his friend felt in very low spirits. They came to a halt a few minutes before dark, and were quartered in an old building for the night.
In passing through a large swamp, just before halting, the water was so deep that each man had to wade through as he best could. The guard exerted themselves to their utmost to keep them together, but in spite of their efforts to do so, one of the prisoners fell out, and his absence was overlooked by the sergeant, although noticed by his fellow-prisoners, who succeeded in convincing the sergeant that all were present. The mode was this: Glazier found out the absent man's name, and then volunteered to call the roll from a list in the sergeant's possession. It being dark, a piece of pitch-pine was lighted, and the list handed to Glazier, who proceeded to call the names. All answered, except the absentee, when, according to previous arrangement, each affirmed that no such man had been among them. The sergeant sapiently concluded that the name had found its way upon the roster by some error, and nothing further was said about it. Had this little ruse not been resorted to, great efforts would have been made to recover the fugitive. Picked men would have been detailed, hounds called out from the nearest plantation, and a very short time would have convinced the unfortunate victim how little hope there was for him who sought to shun the horrors of prison-life by an escape.
We do not propose entering into any detail of this march into captivity, more especially as our hero has himself fully and graphically described it in his "Capture, Prison-Pen and Escape," compiled from a diary kept during the whole period of his adventurous career, and published in 1865. We will merely state here that on Monday, December nineteenth, 1864, after a dreary march of twenty-five miles, the captives found themselves encamped for the night at the little village of Sylvania, Georgia; half-way between the point of their departure and that of their destination, Waynesboro.
Glazier's mind, during the whole of the day, had been preoccupied with but one subject—how to escape!—this problem excluding every other thought or consideration of himself or his surroundings.
Early in the evening the prisoners were stationed on the porch of a large unoccupied building, and here it was determined they should pass the night. The villagers of Sylvania knew little of the sad realities of war, having hitherto happily escaped the visits of the armed hosts. They surrounded the men of the escort, and plied them with many curious questions, which were good-naturedly answered with as much, or as little exaggeration as good soldiers usually indulge in when confronted with greenhorns. Their attention, thus agreeably occupied by the simple-minded villagers, was in some degree removed from their charge, and this little circumstance seemed propitious to Glazier, who was watching intently his opportunity.
The sergeant had notified the prisoners that his foragers had returned with a quantity of sweet potatoes and some corn-bread; that the former would be issued to the "Yanks," and the latter to the guard. Orders also were given to place all the food at one end of the porch, where a fire had been kindled of rail fence; and the potatoes were to be served to the prisoners from that point.
Glazier, under the pretence of desiring to use the fire for the purpose of roasting the potatoes, obtained leave for all to remain outside on the porch until after supper. This concession reluctantly granted, hope sprang in his breast that the opportunity he so ardently sought was now at hand. Quickly he determined upon his plan of operation, and seeing Lieutenant John W. Wright, of the Tenth Iowa Volunteers, near him, whispered in his ear an outline of his desperate project, and invited the latter to join in putting it into execution. To this proposition, without a moment's consideration, Wright consented.
The two candidates for freedom then sauntered towards the end of the porch, conversing loudly and cheerfully upon general topics, and thus excited no suspicion of their intentions. The hungry prisoners gathered around the ration-board, when Glazier covertly signaled his companion, and each suddenly clutched a good handful of the corn-bread. Under cover of the increasing darkness, and screened from observation by the men who stood between them and the guard, they quietly but rapidly, in a stooping position, stole away, making for the edge of a neighboring wood. Not a word was spoken, and in less time than it takes to record it, they were concealed among the foliage and undergrowth; and, befriended by the darkness, were completely masked from the observation of the enemy.
Fortunately their flight was unobserved until after the distribution of the rations, when the guard missed their corn-bread. This seemed to be felt more than the loss of their prisoners, the sergeant exclaiming, in euphemistic southern (according to Glazier), "By dog on't! the d——d Yankee officers have done gone and took all our corn-bread. I'll have them, if it costs me a horse!"
Calling out a corporal and four men, he quickly ordered them to go to the nearest plantation for hounds, and to "bring back the two Yanks dead or alive," adding that he "guessed they had taken the Springfield road," which was the nearest route to the Federal lines.
It happened, however, that the peremptory orders of the sergeant were overheard by Glazier and Wright, who were hidden not many yards away in the wood. Instead, therefore, of proceeding on the direct road by way of Springfield, they retraced their steps in the dark, and by this means baffled their pursuers. Having reached the Middle Ground Road, over which they had lately passed, they bounded over it to avoid leaving their foot-prints, and thus broke the trail. They were now in a large and densely-wooded swamp, and, effectually concealed by the umbrageous covering, sat down to a council of war.
We may here state that Lieutenant Lemon, the late faithful companion of our hero, had been prevented from participating in the plan of escape, and was eventually taken back to be re-tortured in his old quarters at Columbia. Wright was also an escaped prisoner from Columbia, whom Glazier had often met during his imprisonment there. He escaped from "Camp Sorghum" a few days after Lemon and Glazier, but unfortunately was recaptured just when he felt that he was about to bid adieu to his captivity.
Lieutenant Wright possessed one advantage for the dangerous and desperate enterprise they had now re-entered upon—he knew the country. By his advice, therefore, it was agreed to remain quietly concealed in the swamp until night, when he would lead the way to the hut of a negro who had befriended him during his previous attempt to escape.
About midnight he piloted Glazier to the hut of "Old Richard," a worthy and kind-hearted negro, who had supplied him with hoe-cake and bacon just before his recapture. Richard was in ecstasies on beholding his friend, Massa Wright, again, whom he knew to have been retaken, and with due formality, our hero was introduced. On being asked for some bacon and sweet potatoes to put with their corn-bread, he replied: "Pooty hard case, massa; but dis yer darkey'll do de best he can. Can't get nuffin' on this plantation, but reckon I can buy some 'tatoes down at Massa Smith's, three miles from yer, and will go down thar after I finish my task to-morrer. As to meat," he said, "you know, massa, dat in the Souf de slave takes what de white folks frows away, and I reckon you all couldn't eat a tainted ham dat ole massa gib me t'other day; but if you can, God knows dis chile gibs it to you wid all his heart." Having become, from long fasting, almost entirely indifferent to the sense of taste, our friends gave Old Richard to understand that the ham would be welcome.
The important question of rations having been thus satisfactorily arranged, Richard was asked to guide the fugitives to some place of hiding, where no rebel could find them. Accordingly, they were conducted to a swamp, and soon discovered a secure place of concealment for the day. "The whippoorwill and turtle-dove," Captain Glazier writes, "enlivened the hours with their inspiring notes, and as night began to approach, the gloomy owl, from the tree-tops, uttered his solemn warning cry. The pine and cypress, swayed by the breeze, moaned a perpetual chorus, and under their teaching we learned, during the long, dreary hours, how much we were indebted to these dismal wilds, that concealed both friend and foe.
"Here the rebel deserter concealed himself from his pursuers. Here the loyalist found a hiding-place from the rebel conscripting officer. Here the trembling negro had his first taste of freedom. Here the escaped Union prisoner was enabled to baffle blood-hounds and human-hounds, and make his way to the Federal lines."
The day wore away at length, and as darkness was approaching, Old Richard, true to his promise, was on hand with the supplies. He gave the fugitives all he had been able to purchase with his small means, and they, after asking God to bless him for his kindness, departed. Our friends trudged away, rejoicing, notwithstanding their fatigue, and the bodily weakness of Glazier. For the latter had by this time been reduced in weight to not more than ninety pounds, his usual weight having been about one hundred and forty-five. He was still, however, filled with indomitable "pluck," and a determination to conquer the situation, with all its dread horrors, and return to his colors. Wright, on the other hand, had a splendid physique, and cared little for hardships that would have intimidated, or perhaps killed, an ordinary man. On several occasions he picked Glazier up and generously bore him upon his broad shoulders over the worst parts of the swamp, the latter being too weak to make his way alone without falling into the slough-holes.
They were startled, in the course of this night, on seeing two men, who, by their conversation, which was overheard, proved to be rebel deserters from Wheeler's command. Our friends deemed it the wisest plan to secrete themselves behind a log until the men had passed.
At break of day they again concealed themselves, and rested between the roots of an ancient cypress. Their ears were now greeted with the distant boom of heavy cannon, which came from the direction of Savannah. This helped in directing their course for the following night, and also announced to them in plain language that they were not very far from the friends they longed to meet.
Refreshed and hopeful they started as the shades of evening fell, determined, if possible, to accomplish a good march before daylight.
They had not, however, proceeded far, when a large plantation became visible, the white mansion gleaming through the trees. Wright recognizing the place, suggested that Glazier might procure a good supper, and something for the haversack, if he would boldly call and personate a rebel officer, trusting to his face and ready wit to carry him through. He had heard from some negroes that the only occupant was a Mrs. Keyton and some young children, the wife and family of the planter, who was an officer in the rebel army; and further that there were no hounds about the place.
Glazier, with characteristic promptness, acquiesced; and the following is a description of the interview, extracted from the diary, which amid all his wanderings and trials he never failed to keep regularly written up:
"After hearing Wright's description, and having agreed upon signals of danger, should any occur, I started on my foraging expedition, with a good degree of assurance.
"Stepping up to the door of the mansion, I rapped, and the lady soon made her appearance. She seemed both refined and intelligent. I asked, 'Can you give this rebel a supper?' She replied, 'You shall have the best the house affords,' and invited me to step in and take a seat by the fire. I did so, saying, as I took my seat, 'Madam, I am shocked at the dastardly conduct of General Sherman in his march through Georgia. It has been characterized by nothing but what should excite revenge, and move to action, every man possessing a true Southern spirit. Our aged citizens, who have banded together for mutual protection, have been treated as bushwackers—have been driven from their homes, and their property confiscated. Our hounds, always true to the interests of the South, have been shot down by the road-side for no other reason than that they were used in tracking escaped prisoners—'