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[142] above the end would be broken through, and the prisoners might emerge like the head of a turtle from its shell. However, in comparison with the number who attempted to escape in this manner, few succeeded, as the odds against their success were too great. Only a few could be entrusted with the secret of an attempt, as any considerable gathering of the prisoners in one particular place was almost sure to arouse the suspicion of the guards. Frequent inspections were made to discover these underground passages, and some of the guards became quite skilful in thwarting such plans. Then, too, in almost every prison there were spies in the guise of prisoners, who reported any suspicious circumstances to the authorities. But if all these dangers were avoided, others remained. Since the prisoners had no means of discovering whether or not they were proceeding horizontally, passages often came to the surface too soon, as it seems to be a tendency of those burrowing underground to work upward. Sometimes the passage of a team caused the roof to fall. At Salisbury, a Confederate officer, making his rounds, broke through the thin crust and sank to his waist.

Attempts to escape in this manner were not always treated with severity. In some prisons the guards appear to have regarded it as a game, at which each side was trying to thwart the other. A prisoner at Andersonville tells of starting a tunnel from the little hut which he occupied. The attempt was betrayed, possibly by a spy, and the sergeant of the guard came and investigated. Plunging a steel ramrod into the ground in various places, he discovered the excavation and sent a negro down to find how far the work had been completed. The negro brought back a box by which the dirt had been removed. ‘Hello,’ said the sergeant, ‘that is the third time I have caught that box. Take it and go to work somewhere else, boys.’

Comparatively imperfect tools sometimes accomplished wonderful results. With a small jeweler's saw procured for the making of bone or metal jewelry—a common occupation in

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Salisbury, N. C. (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Andersonville, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (1)

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