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In comparative safety.

The western end of the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad was in the hands of the Confederates, and strongly guarded, hence the crossing of the Chowan placed us in comparative safety. There was a large plantation on the western shore of the Chowan where we crossed. The opposite side was dense swamp. When we came near to the river we could see a gunboat lying on the opposite shore, near a farm house. It was the only place where we could cross, or rather where we could command a boat in which to cross. It was necessary to use a little strategy to get the gunboat out of the way, so that we could cross over. Our guide said that he would try his hand on her. He left us and was gone for several hours. He returned a little before night, and in a few minutes the boat got up steam and moved off up the river, and was soon out of sight around the bend. The guide had sent a messenger to report to the captain of the boat that the escaped prisoners were endeavoring to cross above, and the boat went in search of them. As soon as the gunboat had turned the bend we resurrected a boat, and in a short time we landed across, just at dusk. The owner of the plantation was a Tory, so our guide said. We demanded accommodations for the night. The next morning we pressed into service every mule, horse, and cart on the place, and made fast time over an open stretch of twenty-five miles to the railroad, which we reached about sundown. We boarded a train and reached Weldon, N. C., for late supper. The next morning we breakfasted at the Spotswood Hotel, in the city of Richmond. After breakfast, having improved our toilet as best we could under the circumstances, we proceeded in a body to the provost-marshal to report. General Winder, a large bodied, bigsouled old soldier, was filling this position. We announced that we were escaped prisoners—captors of the Maple Leaf. He arose and gave expression to his admiration by shaking hands all around. He [171] wanted to hear all the particulars, and listened to the story as it was briefly related, shaking his fat sides with laughter at any amusing episode of the escape. As soon as the general was satisfied with our story, he ordered the quartermaster into his presence, and ordered him to furnish us with blank pay-rolls, and to immediately pay us off in full of indebtedness. We soon had our pockets full of money, and after spending the remainder of the day in seeing the sights, and adding to our wardrobes, we boarded a train and were soon with our old comrades again.



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