[from the Richmond Dispatch, April 26, 1896.] capture of the Federal steamer Maple Leaf. A bold dash for Liberty. The plot carried out in a minute. Then the Confederate yell. Narrow escapes from being retaken. A series of adventures. Experiences in the Dismal Swamp.
To the Editor of the Dispatch :There occurred many incidents during the late war between the North and the South that are worthy of mention, and among which none are more so than the coup de main enacted on the coast in  1863, by a squad of Confederate prisoners. This interesting incident is known to but few outside of those who took a part in this daring feat. It was on the 8th of April, 1863, that Colonel J. U. Green (who, by the way, is a scion of the Old North State, and is now an honored and highly-respected citizen of Covington, West Tennessee), with four or five other soldiers of the ‘Lost Cause,’ was captured near Memphis by the Federal forces, then holding possession of that part of the State. These prisoners were sent on a circuitous route to Norfolk, Virginia, there to remain until an opportunity offered to send them along with other prisoners to Fort Delaware. I here give an extract from the diary of Colonel Green:
Three days after our arrival at Norfolk, all the prisoners marched on board of the good steamer Maple Leaf, bound for Fort Delaware. Her officers were white men; her crew consisted of negroes entirely, about fifty or sixty in number. We were under the charge of a lieutenant and twelve soldiers, armed with muskets. The two sets of prisoners mingled together, and it soon became known among them that the steamer was to be captured. A low, bulky, heavy-set man, with iron-grey hair and beard was pointed out as captain, whose orders were to be obeyed. He was a sailor and had been captured on board, and in command of a Confederate gunboat. He was suffering at the time from a severe wound. He had laid his plans while in prison; had appointed a staff to assist him, and now there was nothing to do but to win our crowd to his purpose, which was an easy job, and by the aid of his staff officers to assign every man to his duty. There were thirteen soldiers, including the lieutenant, and about as many white men, officers of the steamer. We were divided into squads of three, each squad to deal with a guard distinctly pointed out. This took about two-thirds of our number. The remaining third was held together under a captain, to overawe the crew, and to give help wherever needed. The signal of attack was to be the ringing of the great bell of the steamer by our captain. All these arrangements were quietly make while we steamed out of James river into Chesapeake bay. Norfolk, the forts on either side of the channel, and the gunboats were all left to our rear. In front of us and to our right, was Cape Henry, and to our left Cape Charles. About the middle of the afternoon, every squad being as convenient as possible to the guard to be attacked, and all chattering among themselves or with the guards, suddenly the great bell began to rattle as if the steamer were on fire. In a twinkling each squad  sprang upon its man and bore him down upon the deck, and wrenched his gun from his hands. There was but one blow struck. The squad with which I acted was to seize a sentinel at the foot of the gangway. Our position was unfavorable for very quick action, and our man proved to be a stalwart, brawny Irishman. He was brave, and put forth all his strength. We could not bring him down, nor get possession of his musket until one of our men, who had finished his job, came running with a musket poised over his shoulder and gave him a blow between the eyes with the butt which settled him effectually.