Chapter 15: the escape.
Frank and I had escape on the brain.
We thought of nothing else, and were constantly watching our chances.
One day I passed the guard and went out to the hospital, but my feet were bare, and I was advised by a sick man who had been out not to try it. I had kept my old boots, although they were worn out, so Captain McHugh
cut off the tops, sewed them to the bottoms, making a kind of moccasins, and I was ready for the road.
Our old mess of three were to go together.
On the afternoon of November 23 Frank and I were walking around the camp.
Directly in front of our hut we saw three prisoners, with their guards, come to the guard line and throw over the wood they had brought in. The sentinels on the beats had been talking together, and, having finished, marched directly from each other, leaving a space between them uncovered.
The prisoners with their guards started to return to the woods.
“Now is our chance, John,” said Frank, and without waiting for McHugh
, with our hearts beating like trip hammers, we passed over the dead line, and were outside following the others before the sentries faced about.
We kept with the other prisoners until we reached the woods, then pretending that we saw our party over a little hill started to join them, and entering a place where the bushes were thick, dropped and waited.
There were several details
out for wood, and that was no doubt the reason why the guard did not stop us when we went to join our imaginary squad.
They soon marched in and passed very near us, but we were not noticed, and waited for darkness before we moved.
We had a small map of the country and knew the route we wanted to take, but how to strike it was the question, as the night was dark and we did not have the stars to guide us. We struck out at random and soon came to a road; this we followed until we arrived at a plantation.
Frank stood guard while I went forward to reconnoitre.
I crept up to the house and was looking around the corner when a negro girl came out, and, in a way peculiar to the race, called, “Joe!
I spoke to her; she turned her head, screamed, and started on the run, but I followed.
For about five minutes we had as pretty a “go as you please” race as one could wish to see. She was soon reinforced by a man with a club.
I halted and he came to me. He said, “I know you; you are a Yankee, and have escaped from the camp.”
I informed him that he was right, and that I wanted to be directed to the main road.
“All right,” he said, “I will help you, but the first thing you want is something to eat,” and, joining the girl, went into the house and brought out meat, bread and a dish of butter-milk.
Frank came up, and we ate the first square meal we had seen for months.
We then formed in single file, the negro in the advance, and had gone but a short distance when we heard voices, so we went into the woods while he kept the road.
It proved to be some of our old guard.
They asked the negro who went into the woods.
He answered, “Only some of the boys.”
They called us to come out, but we did not come, so they came in
after us. We ran into the woods, but turned and came out again into the road.
We had lost our guide before we had found our road, but continued on until we came to a broad avenue, and taking that walked as fast as possible for several hours, finally coming to a steep bank at the end. We afterwards learned that this was an abandoned railroad.
We struck across the country and near daylight came upon a plantation.
The negro quarters were some distance from the mansion, were about twenty in number and located in a square.
We flanked the mansion and made our way cautiously to the negro quarters.
Seeing a light in one of the cabins we crawled up, and looking through the cracks between the logs saw an old colored woman cooking.
We rapped on the door and called, “Auntie!”
She started, asking, “Who's thar?”
We answered that we were Yankees escaped from the prison.
She opened the door, looked at us, then to the right and left, and said, “Come in.”
Going back to the fire she gave a bundle of rags that was lying before it a kick and out rolled a negro boy. She ordered him to tell her brother that two Yankees were at the house, and that he must come and take care of them.
As soon as the boy had gone she invited us to eat. A hot corn dodger was on the hearth and she fried us a slice of bacon.
We were tired and hungry, and appreciated her kindness.
We must have walked thirty miles since leaving the prison, but found we were only five miles away and in the wrong direction.
Very soon the boy returned with the brother.
He was pleased to see us, shook hands and requested us to follow him. He took us to his house, which was outside the square and better than the rest, but we remained at a safe distance
until he went in and sent the children away, “because,” said he, “children got heap of mouths, and would tell that you were here.”
We entered the house, and retired with our clothes on, in the bed just vacated by the man and wife.
The plantation was owned by A. R. Taylor
, and our good friend was the driver.
He was very intelligent, having travelled all over the country with his master.. He fully understood the danger he was in, and that if we were found in his house he would hang to the nearest tree, but he laughed at it and said, “Negroes were cheap now, and one would not be missed.”
We remained in bed all day, locked in our room, the man and his wife going away to work.
We had a cold lunch, and before starting at night they made us a nice soup.
We began our journey soon after sunset.
The night was clear, the moon shining brightly.
Our friend went with us to the Lexington turnpike
, and giving us directions left us with many good wishes for our success.
We tramped along without speaking, and made very good time.
Our road lay through the town of Lexington
, and we intended to go around it, but, like all other southern towns, it has no outskirts, and before we knew it we were in its centre.
Lights were burning in several houses, and we could hear talking, but pushed on and were safely through.
On the other side we met a negro, who gave us valuable information.
We walked all night.
The country was so open that when daylight came we could find no place to hide, and as a last resort went into a barn, and covering ourselves with hay, were soon fast asleep; but our slumbers were disturbed by an old man who came in to feed the cattle, and for their fodder took our covering.
He had two dogs that jumped upon us.
It looked as though our march to freedom was ended, but we drove away the dogs and began to talk with the old man. One of the many resolutions we had made at the beginning of our journey was that we would not be recaptured by any one
man. We had seen two persons brought back by one man and did not think it appropriate.
We had provided ourselves with stout clubs, and it looked as though we should have a chance to use them.
Our friend said, “I can't hear a word,” and thinking that he meant he would hear no explanation, we got in position to use our clubs.
Frank said, “I guess he is deaf.”
Then we asked him by signs if he was; he answered, “Yes.”
We then told him that we were conscripts going to join General Bragg
's army at Augusta
, and had lost our way. Frank wore an old rebel jacket, and it would have been hard to tell by our clothing what we were.
He appeared satisfied, however, and put us on the road.
We had gone but a short distance when we heard the barking of dogs, and knowing if the bloodhounds were on our track it was good-by liberty, we entered a brook and travelled up stream several miles to throw them off the scent, then came out and lay in the woods until night.
When it came time to resume our journey we could not move, as we were exhausted with our long tramp of the night before.
We had eaten nothing since we left our colored friend at Taylor
We crawled out of the woods, and seeing a house, dragged ourselves to it. After waiting a while a negro came out, and we attracted his attention.
He saw our helpless condition, and taking us to an old shed, made a bed on some husks and brought a quilt from his house to cover us. He then went for our supper, but returned in haste with a piece of corn-bread and the information that
we must leave at once, as the rebel patrol was at the house looking for us, having learned from the old man that we were in the woods.
Tired and sore, we returned to the woods and remained until morning.
Our plan was not to travel by day, but hunger drove us. We moved along cautiously, and suddenly came upon the cabins of “white trash.”
Dogs of all shapes and sizes welcomed us, and a white woman came out with several children clinging to her dress.
It was hard to tell which was the most afraid, the woman or we poor wanderers.
We asked her if she could direct us to Boatride's plantation, one of the places Ben
, the colored man whom we had met near Lexington
, had mentioned.
She “reckoned not,” but we reckoned that we could find it and moved along.
This danger proved to us that it was not safe to be seen by daylight, and we returned to the shelter of the woods.
While there a negro boy came along a path, and when opposite to us we spoke to him. At first he was frightened, but as we stood up he came to us and said, “You are Yankees.”
We asked him how he knew.
He said, “I can tell by the blue pants;” some rebel soldiers had told him that Yankees wore blue clothes.
We soon became well acquainted, and he promised to bring us food.
He kept his word, and said at night he would come and take us to his mother's house.
Just after dark he came with another boy, and we were soon made welcome at his home.
They were expecting us, and the table was set. Roast pork, sweet potatoes, hot biscuits, butter and plenty of new milk were on the bill of fare.
What a feast!
To sit in a chair at a table, and eat with a knife and fork like a human being; we could hardly believe it was real.
The family consisted of the mother, two daughters and this boy, besides a baby.
The daughters were delighted with us and the mother named the baby for me, so (if he is alive) there is to-day in South Carolina
a young man thirty-five years old bearing the name of John Gregory Bishop Adams
, besides several others belonging to the boy's family.
They also said we were the handsomest men they ever saw. Well, we must have been.
I had on the clothes described in a previous chapter, was twenty-three years old, and, having never shaved, my face was covered with white hairs an inch long.
Frank looked better, but did not wear his party clothes on this occasion.
The old lady said master told them not to go out after dark because the Yankees
would catch them, but wondered what he would say to see them now. They were owned by a Dr. Vose
, and I should judge he was a kind master.
We were not anxious to leave our good friends, but felt that we must be on our way, so we bade them good-by, and, guided by the boy, began our night's march.
He went with us about two miles and gave us in charge of a man who travelled with us until nearly morning, then hid us in a barn on the plantation of a Mr. Williams
The next day was Sunday, and we were on exhibition from morning until night.
We were stowed away in the loft, and our first visitor was a man with our breakfast.
After that a constant line of white eyes could be seen in the darkness as the procession filed past.
The usual salutation was, “Hello, boss!
How has you been?”
Then followed all sorts of questions.
One asked if we toted ambitions
(meaning arms). We told him that we had some ambitions left.
He said that was good, because we might have to use it. They
asked if we belonged to Mr. Grant
's or Mr. Sherman
's company; but while they were ignorant of many things, they were all loyal and ready to do anything for us.
We left the barn at night and ate supper in the field.
A negro guided us several miles, then gave us in charge of two others, who promised to remain with us until morning.
With the negroes as guides we seldom travelled in the road, for they knew all the short cuts.
Our new acquaintances were not very sharp, as they had had a hard master, but they rejoiced that the Yankees
had killed him. The face of one looked like a skimmer, for his master had fired a charge of shot into it. They were very superstitious.
Coming to a fence, Frank and I were getting over in different places, when they pulled us down, and said all must get over in one place, because there was luck in it. Here we saw a man crossing a field with a lantern.
Calling their attention to it they said it was not a man, but a Jack-o-lantern going to the graveyard.
When we arrived at the main road our guides left us, as they had never been so far from home before.
We were glad to part with them, yet they did the best they could.
Following the Pike
road until daybreak, we came to a plantation that answered the description Ben
had given us of Boatride's. He said that his brother Dick lived there and would help us. We made our way to a cabin, called up a colored man, and asked him if his name was Dick
He didn't know, didn't know Ben, didn't know anything that he proposed to tell, but at last light broke through the clouds.
We found he knew enough, only feared to trust us. He said that colored people had to be very careful, as all kinds of ways were used to trap them.
He hid us in the barn.
The colored women came in, and although they did not speak to us,
left food in abundance where we could get it. The old master came in twice, but not having been introduced we held our peace.
At night Dick
came for us and took us to his house.
He had invited his friends, and the house was full.
They sang to us, and, besides giving us a nice supper, they packed a haversack with bread and meat for us to take.
Being on the main road, we thought it best not to take a guide, but found travelling quite difficult, as the road was lined with refugees fleeing from Augusta
, and we often had to flank them, which made our progress slow.
Morning found us about fifteen miles from Augusta
We hunted up a negro, and using Dick
's name for reference, he put us into the second story of a barn.
We climbed up on a plank which he removed so no one could get at us, neither could we get out. Through the cracks of the barn we could see men, single and in companies, going to join General Bragg
's army at Augusta
The negro said that Sherman
was expected there, and our plan was to get as near as possible, wait until the city was taken, then enter.
One night more and we would be within a few miles of our destination.
When it became dark our man put up the plank and we came down.
We made about ten miles that night.
The settlements were growing thicker and the roads and woods were full of refugees.
We halted at a cabin where they were having a first-class minstrel show.
The negroes were seated in a circle around the fireplace and the old banjo was a-ringing.
We walked into the room.
The music ceased, and they thought the d--1 had come.
We explained our position and asked them to care for us. While they were anxious to do so, they could not make up their minds where would be a
It was suggested that they hide us in the cabin.
This had two rooms, but the master had locked the door of one and taken the key. The partitions did not run to the roof.
One of the boys climbed up and pulled up a board so that we could drop down into the other room.
Making a ladder out of stools and negroes, we ascended, then dropped.
We found a bed in the room, and a hole in the bottom of the door, made for cats to pass in and out; this was used as a dinner hole, the negroes passing rations through it. We awoke in the morning much refreshed, but when I looked at Frank I was startled.
He was as black as a negro, and he broke out laughing when he saw me. In reaching our room we had passed through several years' collection of soot and had taken some with us, and, not having a key to the bathroom, were forced to keep dark
The negro came at night and unlocked the door, having obtained the key through the house servant.
They said, “We are going to take you to see a white man.”
We answered, “Oh, no!
We take no stock in white men.”
But they replied, “He is one of you'ns.
We talked with him to-day, asked him if he would like to see a Yankee, and he said he reckoned he would.
Then we told him we had two hid, and he asked us to bring you to his house.”
We had the most perfect confidence in the negroes, and followed them to a house where we found a true Union man. His name was L. H. Packard
, from Kent's Hill, Maine
He prepared supper and made us feel at home.
had lived in the south eight years, had been married, but his wife was dead, leaving two little girls, one five, the other seven years of age. His life had not been a happy one since the war, as he was resolved not to enter the rebel army.
He had worked
in a flour-mill and in several other industries, and was now making shoes for the rebels.
He gave me the address of his sister in Maine
, and I promised to write to her if I lived to return home.
He could give us no information in regard to Sherman
Like ourselves, he had expected they would come to Augusta
, but they had not, and he feared they had gone toward the sea. We remained with him several hours, and made his heart glad by the news we brought from God's country.
When we parted he gave us forty dollars in confederate money, and I gave him a little badge of the 2d corps.
He took us to the trundle-bed where his little girls were sleeping.
They awoke and kissed us good-by.
The name of the sister in Maine
was Mrs. H. H. Bulen
As soon as I reached home I wrote to her, sending my photograph.
In the month of October, 1889, two ladies called on me at the State House
; one was Mrs. Bulen
, the other her brother's child, the younger of the two whom I saw twenty-five years before in a trundle-bed in South Carolina
My good friend Packard
died a few years ago in this State, having returned north soon after the war. His daughter remembered seeing us that night, and also remembered the corps badge which her sister, who resides in Philadelphia
Our friend Packard
sent one of the negroes with us as guide, armed with an old-fashioned horse pistol.
He was apparently very brave, would march in advance of us, and say, “I'd like to see anybody take you'ns now;” but hearing the least noise, would forget that he was our protector and fall back in our rear.
He was the only armed guide we had on our journey, and our experience with him was such that we did not care for more.
We were in doubt what to do, as Sherman
, not coming to Augusta
, had forced us to change our plans, but concluded we had better cross the Savannah River
and try to strike him in Georgia
Our guide turned us over to another, who advised us to remain with him until the next night, which we did.
After supper, in company with the negro, we started for the river.
He knew all the short cuts through the swamps, also the location of creeks, and coming to one he would cross on a log, but we, not knowing in the darkness where to step next, would walk in. Then he would turn around and say “Creek thar, boss,” a fact we had already learned.
In the distance we heard a strange noise, which grew louder as we walked along.
We asked what it was, and were informed that it was the shouters; that they were having a shouting meeting on the plantation where we were going.
Arriving at the plantation, we found it a singular village.
The houses were set on posts some eight feet from the ground, as the river overflows in some seasons of the year.
No white people were there, as it was owned by the man who owned and lived at the place where we found Mr. Packard
, and this swamp plantation was in charge of the driver named Isaac.
Our friend called him out, told him who we were, and what we wanted; he said, “Come right in,” and turning to the meeting, of which he was in charge, said, “Meeting dismissed without prayer.”
All gathered around us. We sat up until morning, talking of the north and of freedom,--subjects they were anxious to hear about, -and they asked many intelligent questions.
The past few days my feet had been bare,--my old boots not being able to stand the rough service required of them.
An old colored woman kept her eyes on my feet, and began to untie her shoes; taking them off, she came to me and said, “Honey, take these shoes.”
“Oh, no,” I replied, “you will not get another pair, and a cold winter is coming.”
“No matter if I don't,” she said, “ain't you suffering all this for me, and hadn't I ought to go without shoes if they will help you get home?”
and she forced me to take them.
They were rudely made, the uppers being untanned and sewed with rawhide, while the bottoms were pegged on with homemade pegs, but they did me good service, and I wore them inside the Union
lines three months later.
Another gave me a pair of socks, and, washing my bleeding feet, I was once more comfortable.
We could find no trace of Sherman
's army, and remained with Isaac two days. We slept in the barn, and were well supplied with food; we also had plenty of peanuts, as they grew on this plantation, and were called “ground peas.”
At night the negroes held another meeting, and at their request I read the Bible
My scripture lesson was the third chapter of John.
They asked me to pray, but I excused myself.
I never attended a meeting where all were so earnest.
The singing was grand.
They sang one song where all shake hands, and the words were, “My brother, ain't you mighty glad you're going to leave this sinful army,” etc. They kept time with their feet and hands, closed their eyes, and swayed from side to side as they sang.
The next day we decided that it was best to cross the river.
The rebels had cut holes in all the boats, and sunk them; but the negroes were sharp, and had taken them up, repaired them and sunk them again, so all they had to do was turn the water out and they were as good as new.
We embarked just as night was closing in, a negro taking the paddle.
The entire inhabitants followed us to the shore and knelt in prayer for our success; no cheers were given, but with hats, aprons and bandannas, they waved their farewells.
They remained until they saw us safely landed on the Georgia
shore, and we felt that we had parted with dear friends.
Our boatman secreted his boat and guided us to the turnpike.
We travelled without interruption for about two hours. The moon was very bright, and all was quiet save the sound of our own footsteps.
We had just crossed a bridge when we heard horsemen approaching, so dropped by the roadside, under the shadow of a tree.
We did not dare breathe as the five rebel cavalrymen rode past.
Renewing our journey, we soon saw a fire by the roadside, and creeping up to it saw a rebel picket on duty, his three comrades sleeping by the fire.
Thinking it dangerous to go on, we turned up a lane and found a negro, who secreted us. From him we learned that the roads were all picketed, and that the mounted patrols were constantly riding up and down.
Danger was on every hand, but we still had faith.
We remained with the negro through the day, and at night started again; we could not travel in the road, as the pickets were very thick, but made our way slowly through the woods.
Arriving at a plantation, we found the negroes much excited.
One of the girls started for the mansion, saying she was going to tell master.
We caught her and told her she must take care of us, but she would not talk, and turned back to the house, where all the colored people were gathered.
We followed and walked in. I was the spokesman and told our story.
They asked if we came through the yard.
We said we did; they could not
see how we got through, as ten rebel cavalrymen were sleeping on the piazza.
While we were talking a white woman appeared.
She was quite good-looking, had long, curly hair, and her dress was clean and becoming.
She said, “I will take care of you;” we thanked her, but said we didn't care to trust a white woman.
This pleased the negroes, as she was a slave and a field-hand besides.
The story she told us the next day was a sad one.
The overseer of the plantation was a brute, but had charge of all the slaves.
She was employed in the house and he desired to make her his mistress, but she repelled his advances and was severely whipped; again he urged her, with no better results.
He then drove her to the swamps to work, and she was employed carrying heavy logs on her shoulders.
This was one of the damnable features of slavery.
Her brother, named Pat
, was the driver.
(I have several times used the word driver
, and some may not understand its meaning.
The driver is an intelligent, faithful slave, selected by the overseer as foreman.
He turns out the slaves in the morning by blowing a horn, gives them their tasks, and has charge of them in the field.) She took us to his house, which was better than the rest, and we slept in the room with Pat
and his wife.
We were awakened in the morning by the firing of cannon, and the negroes came rushing in with the news that Sherman
The firing grew nearer and nearer, musketry could be plainly heard, and through the cracks in the logs of the house we could see smoke where barns were burning.
The negroes grew more and more excited and reported often.
“They are coming, boss, they are coming.
Massa Sherman's company will soon be here!
They done burn old Sam Jones
barn, and they are fighting down by the creek; foa night you will be with them.”
Our hearts beat hard and fast.
's rebel cavalry were forming, and after advancing, fell back.
We were sure that night would find us safe under the old flag.
We congratulated ourselves on our good judgment, talked of the foolishness of those who had tried to escape through the mountains, when our plan was so much easier, and concluded that of all the men who had escaped we were a little the smartest.
Night came on. The negroes said they would not cross the creek until after dark, and we waited.
All night these faithful negroes kept watch for us, and in the morning, with long, sad faces, reported that “Massa Sherman had done gone down the river.”
We could not follow by day, but started quite early in the evening.
We had gone but a short distance when we struck a company of cavalry camped on the roadside.
We entered the swamp to flank them, but it was so dark that we lost our way, and after travelling all night, tearing our clothes and scratching our faces and hands, we came out where we entered, and again passed the day at Pat's house.
We were rather discouraged, and the colored people felt about as badly as we did, yet did all they could to cheer us up. Our friend, the white slave, made us gingerbread and biscuit to take with us, and said many comforting words.
With a firm resolution to get through the lines we began our journey.
It was a dark, rainy night, and we had to guess our route.
We came to a place where the road forked.
Frank was sure he knew the road we ought to take, and I was just as confident that he was wrong.
each other for an hour, not daring to speak.
above a whisper.
These cat-fights occurred nearly every night, and we made up in the daytime.
One not in our place might think it strange that we should lose our temper, but we were strained up to the highest point, and were nervous and irritable.
It was the same with nearly all who escaped.
I have known two men who were fast friends who were never the same after they were recaptured, Not so with Frank and I.
He was such a dear, good fellow that he gave in to me nearly every time.
Finding we were on the wrong road we struck across the country and came upon a nice cabin near a large house.
We were listening under the window, and could hear the hum of a spinning-wheel.
As we stood there a woman opened the shutter and, as the day was just breaking, she saw us. We entered the house and found a yellow man in bed. He said, “Go away from here.”
We told him who we were, but he would do nothing for us. We had our clubs, were in good fighting condition and holding them over him made him swear that he would not tell he had seen us. The woman was friendly and gave us directions how to reach the creek, but we dare not take the road, fearing the yellow fellow would forget his promise.
This was the first instance where a man with a drop of negro blood in his veins had refused to help us. We turned into the woods, but they were so thin that we were forced to cut down small pine trees and stick them in the ground where we lay down.
It was so cold we could not sleep, and as we dare not travel through this open country, we kept alive by rolling over and over on the ground.
Besides being cold we suffered for food, as we had eaten nothing since the previous day. We
could endure it no longer, and late in the afternoon resumed our tramp.
Calling at a cabin, a negro baked the last morsel of meal he had in the house for us, and after we had eaten it, directed us to the creek.
Here we found a new trouble.
's cavalry had burned the bridge, and we had “one wide river to cross.”
We made a raft out of pieces of plank, and went over all right.
Frank was on the forward end of the raft; as we reached the opposite bank he caught a grape-vine and swung himself on shore.
He left the raft and so did I, the only difference being that he was safe on land while I went into the water and came up under the raft.
He fished me out, and with my clothes nearly frozen on me we continued our journey.
Arriving at an old mill we called up the miller.
He let us in, but was afraid to keep us, as the rebel pickets were very near, and liable to come there at any time, so we must keep in the woods.
I was too wet to lie down, so we ran along in the edge of the woods.
We saw places where Sherman
's army had camped only the day before, and the fires were still smoking.
As we were running along we saw a negro coming towards us on horseback.
Driven by hunger, we hailed him and asked for food.
He said he was going to mill, but would return in about an hour and would take us to a place where he could feed us.
We waited until he returned, when he told us to keep him in sight and follow along in the woods; we had gone only a short distance when he began to whoop and put his horse into a gallop.
What was up we could not make out until, looking towards a shanty, we saw a rebel soldier walking towards us on crutches.
He came near and said, “Come out, boys,
and have a talk.”
We looked at each other, then at the Johnnie Reb
. There were two of us with two clubs, and, so far as we could see, only one rebel, and he a cripple; so we came out. The negro came riding back, and we asked him what it meant.
He looked frightened, but said, “I know this man; his father raised me. He fought, but he never wanted to fought.”
The rebel said it was not safe to stay there, but designated a place where he could meet us; he mounted the horse behind the negro, and we went through the woods.
Arriving at the place designated, we saw our Johnnie jumping and coming all sorts of gymnastic performances.
We demanded an explanation; he said, “I am as sound a man as there is in the Confederacy
I was slightly wounded at Atlanta
, and was sent to guard your boys at Andersonville
I saw them starved to death and swore that if ever I could help one get away I would.
Now is my chance, and I'll be dog-goned if I don't do it.”
He was a typical rebel in every respect, a regular Georgia
cracker; hair long, high cheek bones, tall and slim, but he talked well and appeared earnest.
After the negro had turned out the horse he came to us and he and the rebel talked over the situation.
The trouble was what to do with us now we were with them.
Johnnie suggested taking us home; the negro said it would not do, as his wife's sister would betray us; but Enos
(his name was Enos Sapp
) said the Yankees
had her husband a prisoner and he reckoned she would be mighty glad if some one would help him. They talked over all the chances of the rebels finding us. We listened with much interest.
At last Enos
said, “Gentlemen, I am going to take you to my house; it may make a row, but I am boss of my own ranch.”
Being in his hands, we could do nothing but go
with him. The house was only a short distance off. Enos
walked on his crutches.
He said if the war lasted thirty years he should use them until the end. When we arrived we found two log houses; in one were two women and five children; the other was the servants' quarters.
Poor as our friend was he owned slaves; one, the man we had seen in the woods; the other, the man's mother, a poor broken-down old woman.
He introduced us to the women as two friends of his. They sat in the corner of the fire-place smoking corn-cob pipes, and said very little to us, not because they were displeased but because it would require an effort to talk.
We made ourselves at home.
One of the women asked me if I would have a smoke.
As I had little chance to indulge in my favorite habit I gladly accepted her offer.
She took the pipe out of her mouth and handed it to me. That broke the ice; we talked upon various subjects, mostly of war. Enos
's wife said the Yanks used them better than their own men, as the rebels took her best horse and the Yanks left the old one.
They didn't seem to know or care what army we belonged to. Supper was announced and we went outside to the other house.
I suppose this was the dining hall.
The table was set, but there was not a whole plate on it or two pieces alike.
The old colored woman waited on the table, poured the tea and passed the food.
Our host was a religious man and asked a blessing at the table, but he had a hard time carving the pork and remarked that it was tough as h--. After the vesper meal we returned to the mansion.
The pipes were the first thing, and as they all wanted to smoke, they fixed up a new one for me. Enos
then told them who we were, and we saw indications of fear on their faces.
The sister, whose husband was in a Yankee
prison, asked if we knew Sam. We could not recall him, but without doubt had met him, and assured her that wherever Sam was, if in a Union prison he had enough to eat; a good bed and all the comforts of life, more than he would have at home.
They questioned us about our Yankee women.
They said they had heard that they wore good clothes and had jewelry; we told them they had been rightly informed, and they said, “Why, you all have no slaves; where do they get them?”
Our answer was that our women worked.
We told them of the mills in Lowell
, of the shoe shops in Lynn
, and other places where women were employed.
“Well,” they said, “we would like nice dresses and jewelry, but we could not work; no woman could be a lady and work.”
So those poor deluded creatures were happy in thinking they were ladies, while they wore dirty homespun dresses, ate hog and corn-bread, and smoked pipes in the chimney corner.
When it came bedtime Frank and I were puzzled what to do. The rain came down in torrents and we had been so wet and cold, besides being very tired, we thought it best to remain over night, but there were only two beds in the room and eight people for them; where did we come in?
One of the women got up and from under one of the beds brought out an old quilt and a blanket; she said we could make a “shake-down” before the fire.
We were glad of that, for we had had no chance to skirmish since we started, and there were too many of us
for a bed. The women went behind a curtain that was let down in front of the beds, undressed the children, tucked two in one bed and three in the other; the man and wife slept with two, the sister with three.
Both of us could not sleep at once, so we divided the watch; neither slept much.
After they thought we were asleep the wife said to Enos
, “I don't like this; I feels sort of jubus.
If my uncle knew these men were here they would hang you before morning.”
“Don't care a d-n,” said Enos
; “I said that I would help them and I shall do it; what did they all do for you when I was fighting?
Not a thing; I tell you this is a rich man's war and a poor man's fight.
I have got my eyes open.”
After that we felt safe and went to sleep.
We turned out the next morning feeling much refreshed, but the rain continued to fall and we could not travel, although every hour was precious to us.
Frank made the women happy.
They had some old shoes that were ripped, and being a good cobbler, he repaired them.
We said if we had some stock we would make them new ones, and they wanted us to wait until they got the stock.
It rained hard when night came, but we must be on the road, and the negro was sent with us. We clasped the hand of Enos
, gave him our address, and told him if we could ever be of service to him not to fail to call.
I have never heard from him since, but remember him kindly as one of the few rebels who gave me a kind word and treated me like a human being.
We travelled all night.
Everything indicated that the army had just passed over the ground,--fences were gone, barns had been burned, there was no crowing of the cock in the morning and the grunting hog was a thing of the past.
At daylight, wet to the skin, we halted at a negro cabin.
He welcomed us, but, like everything else, had been “cleaned out.”
He was old and the only one left on the plantation, all the rest having gone with “Massa Sherman.”
had passed the day before, and he was delighted with them; said they had bands just like the circuses and guns that they loaded in the morning and fired all day.
After drying our clothes before the fire and cooking an ash-cake he took us to a barn across the road and covered us with husks.
was but ten miles away, and we felt confident that this was our last day in the rebel lines.
We planned to leave the road and travel through the fields.
If the pickets halted us, we were to run and let them fire.
We believed that they could not hit us in the darkness, and that the firing would alarm our pickets, who would protect us.