Dutchman, but I believe history calls him a Swede; he was dark, about five feet nine inches high, weighed about 125 pounds, spare, very stooping gait, a quick, short stepper; his dress was very nobby, generally citizen's of various hues; he wore a lady's fine gold chain about his neck, with several turns across his glow-worm-colored vest.
When we arrived Wirtz
detailed a number of our men to go outside and build log cabins for his quarters and other purposes; these men had to take the oath of honor not to go more than one mile from the stockade.
Going out at sunrise, they came in at sunset; for their hard day's labor they received an extra ration.
and the officers of the guard came in every morning to count us for rations, and to see if any had escaped through the night, the men standing in line in two ranks.
The whole were divided into detachments of from twenty-five to 250 each.
Our sergeant had charge of the rations for each squad, and if any men were missing, they were held responsible, and the rations of the whole camp would be stopped until some man divulged when, where, and how he or they got out. Many times we got no rations for three days, but finally the secret was starved out of some man who knew.
They generally escaped by the tunnel process, as follows: A party would put three blankets together, get as near the dead line as practical, erect a booth or tent, and pretend to dig a well inside of about six feet in diameter, the soil here being sandy, without a stone.
Having dug to the depth of twelve or fifteen feet, they would start a hole, as high up as they could reach from the bottom (about five or six feet from the surface), a trifle larger than a man's body, and with their hands paw the sand from the tunnel hole into the well when the tunnel was beyond the stockade; the men would then wait for a dark, stormy night, and then ‘git.’
I had a hand in one of these tunnels with some sailors, Austin Littlefield
, of East Somerville, being one of them.
We had worked it for weeks, when the day preceding the night we had selected to go out, a traitor informed on us, and Wirtz
, with a strong guard, came in and crushed it. The next day the traitor was discovered,