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[175] through some reports sent to General Bee at San Antonio, he ordered us to be closely guarded, and not to allow us to see any citizens. So a guard was put all around our camp, and we were regularly penned up; but soon after that we got an order to move to San Antonio — we were told, for the purpose of being paroled. We did not exactly believe it, but we were getting tired of Mason, and wanted to get to San Antonio, where we could better hear and see what was doing. So, after a stay in Mason of three months and sixteen days, we started on the road once more. I forgot to mention that while we were in Mason, Major Hill, a rebel officer, offered any of the men passes if they would go to work for some of the farmers round there; but he made nothing by it, for although we were offered five dollars a day, and had no clothes, and wanted the money, not one man would do a thing for them; at the same time the crops were ripe, but the farmers had no one to help them; and while at Mason our coffee was stopped, and we got rye and wheat instead. It is a great dish, I assure you; but we soon got used to that, and it went just as good as the pure old Java.

Nothing of any particular note occurred on the march to San Antonio. The weather was very hot, roasting, but by that time we were all pretty well acclimated, and could go as far in a day and farther than the Secesh horses. They were dying on the road every day, while we were improving. In due time we arrived in San Antonio for the second time, and of course were on tiptoe to know what was going to be done with us. Finally we were ordered to a camp on the head of the San Antonio River, five miles from the latter place — a good camp, with plenty of wood, and a good river to bathe in. That was what we wanted, for a soldier is out of his element if he has not plenty of water. After we had been in camp a few days, Captain Price, a Confederate officer, came and told us that we were going to be paroled but that if any of us wanted to join their army we could get a commission and all our pay; but the bait would not take, and we all remained true blue to the old flag. We were then visited by General Bee and the Inspecting General. He complimented us highly for our clean and healthy appearance, and asked us to join the South; but still the same answer. We then asked him about the parole and why we were guarded so closely. He told us it was our own faults that we were not free long before; that we could be soon then by joining; but he knew it would not work; so he threatened to punish us still more. We told him to do his worst; that our day would come some time. He then told us we had been on intimate terms with some of the disloyal citizens of the country, and would have to be kept under a close guard as long as we were prisoners in Texas.

Shortly after this we were joined in our camp by the sixty men that were left in Camp Verde. They were all in good health, but like the balance of us, were all disappointed in not getting paroled; but we soon went about building more summer houses, and after that was done, started and built a theatre out of green bushes, boards, and moss, which we found in abundance on all the large trees; we had quite a fine place, and as we all gave a hand to the work, it was soon completed. We had a good stage of boards, foot-lights, and a drop-curtain made out of a wagon cover. The building would seat about five hundred persons comfortably, the seats made out of boards and large trunks of trees; but the greatest trouble was to raise funds to start with. That, however, was accomplished by the rebel officers making a donation in the shape of some fifty dollars in Confederate money; with that we bought dresses, wigs, and candles to light up with. We had a big time the opening night, and the receipts of the house amounted to nearly one hundred dollars; of course none of our party paid any, but all the rangers had to come down or else stop out. We had very good music, having some tip-top musicians amongst us; we had to borrow the instruments in San Antonio. The orchestra consisted of three fiddles, one flute, one clarinet, and a guitar. We gave entertainments twice a week as long as there was any money around. At last so many of our men used to be away from camp that there was an order given to put on a close guard, and allow no one outside the lines on any business, and any of us found outside the guard were ordered to be shot; but that did not keep us in, for then we were determined to go out anyhow, to show them that they could not keep us in. We tried all kinds of plans to get out, and then came back and told them we had been in town. The officers came down heavy on the guard for letting us out, but they could not find out how we run the blockade; but we did. About this time some of the men determined to make their escape, and go over into Mexico, nearly three hundred miles. We tried to dissuade them from it, but they were getting tired of the whole arrangement, and would go; so some fifteen started one night in three different parties for the Rio Grande. They were not missed for three days. The rebels vowed vengenance against us and them, and thirty mounted men started after them; nine escaped, and the other five got out of provisions and had to apply for some at a house, where they were captured and brought back, after being nearly safe. They then put balls and chains on their legs, and confined them in the guard-house; but one night two of the five cut the chains and started off again. They were missed in about an hour, but they were not caught for two days. They travelled forty-five miles the night they left. Major Taylor, the officer in command, told them that he had orders to shoot them, but that if they promised him that they would not run away again, he would let them off; so they had to promise. The guard was now doubled, and it was mighty hard to get out; but we did do it, after all, and four more started, and got clear through to Mexico, and from there to New Orleans. We were a little too sharp for their sentinels. About this time the weather was beginning to look wintry,

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A. P. Mason (2)
J. S. Bee (2)
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A. P. Hill (1)
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