previous next

[375] and the secesh sympathies of the woman were at once aroused, and she gave them of her substance, and started them on their way with directions how to avoid the Yankee soldiers, who occasionally scouted in that vicinity. This information was exceedingly valuable to the refugees, for by it they discovered the whereabouts of the Federal forces.

When about fifteen miles from Williamsburgh, the party came upon the main road, and found the tracks of a large body of cavalry. A piece of paper found by Captain Jones satisfied him that they were Union cavalry; but his companions were suspicious, and avoided the road, and moved forward, and at the “Burnt ordinary” (about ten miles from Williamsburgh) waited the return of the cavalry that had moved up the road, and from behind a fence-corner, where they were secreted, the fugitives saw the flag of the Union supported by a squadron of cavalry, which proved to be a detachment of Colonel Spears's Eleventh Pennsylvania regiment, sent out for the purpose of picking up escaped prisoners. Colonel Kendrick says his feelings at seeing the old flag are indescribable.

The party rode into Williamsburgh with the cavalry, where they were quartered for the night, and where they found eleven others who had escaped safely. Colonel Spears and his command furnished the officers with clothing and other necessaries.

At all points along the route, the fugitives describe their reception by the negroes as most enthusiastic, and there was no lack of white people who sympathized with them and helped them on their way.

From the officers we learn that there is a widespread Union feeling in Richmond. Jeff Davis is held in detestation, but all who do not heartily indorse the rebel government are spotted and watched. There are at this time eighteen persons confined in Castle Thunder on charges of attempts to assassinate the rebel President. These prisoners also confirm the report that an attempt was made to burn Jeff's mansion, and that one morning his servants found a coffin upon his porch.

In their escape the officers were aided by citizens of Richmond — not foreigners of the poorer classes only, but by natives and persons of wealth. They know their friends, but very properly with-hold the mention of their names. Of those who got out of Libby, there were a number of sick ones, who were cared for by Union people, and will eventually reach the Union lines through their aid.

The officers also report the fact that some time ago, through the aid of citizens, they obtained communication with the soldiers on Belle Island, and there was to be a concerted movement to escape. The soldiers had been furnished with arms, which they had secreted. The officers at Libby were to secure the guards there, and act in concert with the Belle Island men; but just as the affair was ready to be carried into execution, the project was exposed. Suspicion at, once rested upon a certain Union lieutenant-colonel, who was in favor with the rebel authorities, had the freedom of the city, and moved about at will in the hospitals and elsewhere. He had been suspected for some time, and one day was accused of exposing the affair.

The indignation of the officers whose plans had been thwarted through the perfidy of (as they believed) one of their number, cannot be described. Some cried out: “Hang him! Hang him!” One ran to his blanket, and, tearing it into strips, said he had a rope ready; and others were in favor of pitching the fellow out of the window, and letting his brains bespatter the pavement below. Wiser counsels, however, prevailed, and it was concluded it was better to let the traitor live, and report him to his Government, if ever opportunity offered. The lieutenant-colonel, we understand, will be reported to the War Office. His excuse is that he informed a Federal officer in a hospital of the attempted escape, and that a rebel surgeon overheard the conversation.

These prisoners confirm in every particular the statements heretofore made of the treatment of Federal prisoners there. The rations of the officers were about the same as those of the rebel privates; but our privates on Belle Island did not fare so well. As long as the boxes sent from friends at the North were delivered, they lived as well as could be expected under the circumstances. Those who had money were allowed to send out and get what they wanted, by paying three times more than Richmond prices, the profits going into the pockets of the officers of the prison. In other respects the treatment was quite harsh.

When a prisoner entered the prison, any articles found upon him that were fancied by rebel officers or guards were taken possession of; they pretended the money and articles were deposited with the Quartermaster.

The sleeping accommodations were very poor, and the only place they bad to exercise their limbs in was the dining-room. For a while the officers were not furnished with meat at all, and at one time they received flesh which was pronounced by those among the officers who knew something about butchering, as mule-meat, as they knew of no cattle used for food which had bones like those found in the meat.

The privates on Belle Island, it is unquestioned, have eaten dogs; in fact, were obliged to do it in order to sustain life.

On the boat coming up from Fortress Monroe yesterday, the officers had a meeting, which was presided over by Colonel W. P. Kendrick, of the Third West-Tennessee cavalry, and at which Colonel West, of the Fourth Wisconsin, acted as Secretary, and the following card was unanimously adopted:

The undersigned, officers of the United States army, and recently prisoners of war, desire to express their deep gratitude to Major-General Butler, Brigadier-General Wistar, Colonel West, of the First Pennsylvania artillery, and the gallant officers and men of the Eleventh Pennsylvania


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Williamsburg (Virginia, United States) (3)
Belle Island (New York, United States) (3)
Tennessee (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Fortress Monroe (Virginia, United States) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
T. S. West (2)
William Spears (2)
W. P. Kendrick (2)
J. J. Wistar (1)
D. J. Jones (1)
Jeff (1)
J. A. Butler (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: