Captain V. B. Chamberlain escapes from Confederate Prison Camp

Excerpt from The Knightly Soldier by
by Major Henry Ward Camp,
and by


" The possibility of escape was a subject of thought and
conversation among us quite early in our imprisonment.
After Henry's departure, I made up my mind to try the
experiment as soon as matters seemed ripe for it. The
reports of exchange just at hand, which coaxed us into
hope from week to week, for four months, no longer tan-
talized us. I was exceedingly restless and impatient.
There was scarcely a day of which I did not spend more
than one hour in thinking of the possibilities and proba-
bilities of the attempt ; and many a night did my bed-
fellow and I lie awake after others had gone to sleep, and
discuss the merits of various plans. I used to pace our
empty front-room, and think of the sluggish wretchedness
of our life here, and the joy of freedom gained by our own
efforts, — the same round of thought over and over again,
— until I was half wild with the sense of restraint and of

" Our plan, as finally agreed upon, was simple. Twice
during the day we were allowed half an hour in the yard
for exercise; being counted when we came in, or soon after,
to assure the sergeant of the guard that we were all present.
In this yard was a small brick building* consisting of
two rooms used as kitchens, — one by ourselves, the other
by the naval officers. The latter of these had a window
opening into a woodshed ; from which, part of the side being
torn away, there was access to a narrow space between
another small building and the jail-fence. Our intention
was to enter this kitchen during our half-hour of liberty,
as we were frequently in the habit of doing ; to talk with
those who were on duty for the day ; remain there after
the cooks had gone in, leaving lay-figures to be counted
in our stead by the sergeant ; thence through the woodshed,
and, by removing a board of the high fence already loosened
for the purpose, into the adjoining premises, from which
we could easily gain the street. The latter part of the
movement — all of it, indeed, except the entrance into the
kitchen, where we were to remain quiet for several hours
— was to be executed after dark.

"The street once gained, ray comrade and I intended
to take the railroad running northward along the banks
of the Broad River, follow it during the first night, while
our escape was still undiscovered, then strike as direct a
course as possible for the North-Carolina line. Through
the latter State, we hoped to make our way westward
across the mountains, where we should find friends as well
as enemies, ultimately reaching Burnside's lines in East
Tennessee. The distance to be passed over we estimated
at about three hundred miles; the time which it would
occupy, at from twenty to thirty days. The difficulties in
our way were very great, the chances for and against us
we considered certainly no better than equal. What would
be the results of failure we could not anticipate : loss of
life certainly was not the least likely of them.

" Our preparations for such a trip were, of necessity,
few. We manufactured a couple of stout cloth haversacks,
in which, though hardly as large as the army pattern, we
were to carry ten days' provision, — each of us two dozen
hard-boiled eggs, and about six quarts of what we found
described in ' Marcy's Prairie Traveler ' as the most
nutritious and portable of all food, — corn parched and
ground, — just what we children used to call ' rokeeg.'
Besides a rubber-blanket to each, we concluded, for the
sake of light traveling, to carry but a single woolen one.
This, with one or two other articles of some bulk, we placed
in a wash-tub and covered with soiled clothes, in order to
convey them, without exciting suspicion, to the kitchen.
My baggage for the journey, besides what has already been
referred to, consisted of an extra pair of cotton socks,
a comb, toothbrush, and piece of soap, needle and thread,
a piece of stout cloth, a flask about one-thud full of excel-
lent brandy, a piece of lard, a paper of salt, pencil and
paper, and ray home-photographs.

" Two dummies (or lay-figures) were to be made. The
first was a mere pile of blankets ; but its position in the
second story of our double-tier bedstead protected it from
close observation. For the second, I borrowed a pair of
pants, and for one foot found a cast-ofF shoe. The upper
part of the figures was covered with a blanket ; and the
face, with a silk handkerchief: attitude was carefully
attended to. I flattered myself that the man was enough
of a man for pretty sharp eyes, and was satisfied when
Lieutenant B. came in, and unsuspectingly addressed him
by the name of the officer whose pants he wore. . . .

" After the last thing was done which could be done in
the way of preparation, time passed very slowly. I was
impatiently nervous, and spent the hours in pacing the
rooms and watching the sluggish clock-hands. The excite-
ment of anticipation was hardly less than that which I have
felt before an expected fight. The personal stake at issue
was little different."

Camp's comrade in this venturesome move was Captain
V. B. Chamberlain, of the 7th Connecticut. " Well-
informed (an ex -editor), plucky, and of excellent
physique, well calculated to endure hardship, and a good
swimmer. He was that day on duty in the kitchen. At
four, P.M., we went out as usual for exercise. Entering
the kitchen a few minutes before our half-hour had expired,
I concealed myself in a snug corner, before which one or
two towels, a huge tin boiler, and other convenient articles,
were so disposed as to render the shelter complete should
so unusual an event occur as a visit from the guard after
that hour. Here, like another Ivanhoe in the beleaguered
castle, I received a running report of the course of events
outside from the culinary gentlemen, who had, in their
present costume and occupation, about as little resemblance
to United-States officers as to the fair Jewess of the

" It was but a few minutes before the corporal, acting
for the day as sergeant, was seen to enter the room to
which all but the cooks and myself had returned. It was
Corporal Addison, alias ' Bull-Head,' — a lubberly English
clodhopper, looking just like the men in the illustrations
to Miss Hannah More's stories. Our confidence that all
would go well was based in great measure upon his stupidity ;
and it was with greatly increased apprehensions that I heard
that he was accompanied to-night by Captain Senn.

" Rather than pass the ordeal of a visit from him, had
we anticipated it, we should probably have deferred our
attempt another day, even at the risk of losing our chance
altogether. He opened the door and went in. I waited
anxiously to hear what would follow. He seemed to stay
longer than usual. Was there any thing wrong ? Suspense
lengthened the minutes ; but it was of no use to question
those who could see, while the door remained closed,
no more than myself. Presently I was told that the door
was open; he was coming out; there seemed to be no
alarm; he was stepping briskly toward the yard. We
breathed more freely. A moment more, and he was going
back, evidently dissatisfied with something. He re-entered
the room. 'It's all up,' said my reporter. I thought
myself that there was little doubt of it, and prepared, the
moment any sign of alarm appeared, to come from my
retreat, which I preferred to leave voluntarily rather than
with the assistance of a file of men. Too bad to be caught
at the very outset, without so much as a whifF of the air
of freedom to compensate us for the results of detection !
But no : Captain Senn comes quietly out, walks leisurely
through the hall ; and his pipe is lit, — best evidence in the
world that all is tranquil, his mind undisturbed by any
thing startling or unexpected.

"But it was too soon to exult: congratulations were
cut short by sudden silence on the part of my friends.
I listened : it was broken by a step on the threshold, and
the voice of the captain close beside me. I didn't hold
my breath according to the established precedent in all
such cases ; but I sat for a little while as still as I did the
first time that ever my daguerreotype was taken ; then,
cautiously moving my head, I caught a view of the visitor
as he stood hardly more than at arm's-length from me.
He was merely on a tour of inspection ; asked a few
unimportant questions of the cooks, and, after a brief call,
took his leave. It was with more than rare physical
relief that I stretched myself, and took a new position in
my somewhat cramped quarters. Immediate danger was
over: we had nothing more to fear until the cooks went in.
We listened anxiously, until it seemed certain that all
danger from another visit and the discovery of Captain
Chamberlain's absence was over ; then sat down to wait
for a later hour. . . .

" After perhaps an hour of quiet, we set about what
little was to be done before we were ready to leave the
building, — the rolling of our blankets, not yet taken from
the tub in which they had been brought out, the filling of
our haversacks, &c. To do this in perfect silence was no
easy task. Any noise made was easily audible outside :
the window looking toward the jail had no sash, and the
blinds which closed it failed to meet in the center. A sentry
stood not far distant. More than once, startled by the
loud rattling of the paper which we were unwrapping from
our provisions, or the clatter of some dish inadvertently
touched in the darkness, we paused, and anxiously peeped
through the blinds to see if the sentry had noticed it.
The possibility of any one's being in the kitchen at that
hour was probably the last thought to enter his mind.
Many times we carefully felt our way around the room, —
stocking-foot and tip-toe, — searching for some article laid
down perhaps but a moment before, lost, without the aid
of eyesight to recover it, until at length we thought our-
selves ready to pass into the adjoining room, whose window
opened upon the woodshed.

" The only communication between these rooms was by
a small hole broken through the chimney-back, scarcely
large enough to admit the body, and with the passage
further embarrassed by the stoves on either side, so placed
that it was necessary to lie down, and move serpent-wise
for a considerable distance. Captain Chamberlain made the
first attempt, and discovered that the door of the stove on
the opposite side had been left open, and wedged in that
position by the wood, crowded in for the morning's fire ; so
that the passage was efFectually obstructed. The hole had
to be enlarged by the tearing-away of more bricks, which,
as fast as removed, he handed to me to be laid on one side.
Patient labor at length made a sufficient opening, and he
passed through. I handed to him the blankets, haversacks,
and shoes, and with some difficulty followed."

The woodshed gained, the loosened board was removed
from the fence, and replaced after they had passed through.
Across a kitchen-garden they hurried to the open street
beyond, and then, without meeting any person, through
Columbia to the railroad.

"Reaching the iron track, we turned northward, and were
speedily out of sight of houses, fairly started upon our
journey through the country. I wish I could describe the
sensation of pleasure that thrilled through every fiber of
our frames with an exhilaration like that of wine ! After
five months of confinement, of constant and unavailing
chafing under the galling consciousness of restraint and of
helplessness, we could hardly realize that we were free ;
that we should not wake in the morning to find ourselves
within the narrow jail-limits, under the eyes and the orders
of our old sentries. To be again the masters of our own
acts was like being endowed with a new faculty. We
breathed deep and long. We could have shouted with the
excitement of each free step upon solid earth, each draught
of free air under the open sky. That first hour of liberty
would alone have paid for all the hardships we were to en-
counter. I shall have pleasant memory of it as long as I
live. Our path led us along the banks of Broad River,
the dash of whose waters was constantly in our ears, and
whose swift current we could often see in the clear star-
light, rushing down in rapids, or foaming around huge
rocks. Such sights and sounds we had not known since
we left our New-England homes ; and we enjoyed to the
full, not only these, but each bush that we passed, each
little stream that flowed across the way, each thicket of
-dark undergrowth, or hillside covered with forest, that lift-
ed itself beyond ; all was fresh to us.

" It was a cold night, just the temperature, however, for
walking; and upon a good path we should have made rapid
progress. But the ties were laid upon the surface of the
ground instead of being sunk, and were at the most incon-
venient distance possible from one another. This was not
the worst. Before we had gone two miles, we came to
what seemed to be a stream of some size, crossed by a tres-
tle-work bridge. We must pass it by stepping from tie
to tie. It was difficult to see in the darkness how far
beneath us the water flowed, but it was evidently at no in-
considerable depth ; and the light was none too strong to
enable us to plant our footsteps with a feeling of security.
We supposed, however, that a short distance would place
us again upon solid ground, and pushed on slowly and care-
fully. We were disappointed. Beyond the current of the
stream was a wide marsh, stretching as far as we could
see ; and across this lay our road : it was many minutes of
tedious traveling: before we again reached firm footing.
While we were congratulating ourselves that our trouble
was over, we were cut short by a second bridge, of similar
structure, but higher, if any thing, than the first, and cer-
tainly longer. Beneath us, we could scarcely see any thing
save a black gulf, — before us the track vanishing at a few
rods' distance into darkness. To add to the difficulty, many
of the ties were rotten to such a degree that we dared not
trust our weight upon the center of them, many displaced
so that it was not easy to pass the chasm created by their

I " We walked on and on, expecting every minute to see
the end ; but no end came in sight : the distance seemed in-
terminable. I might overstate if I should attempt to esti-
mate accurately the length and number of these bridges
over which we passed during the night, the nervousness of
the task being increased toward morning by a heavy white-
frost, which made the footing still more uncertain ; but I
am sure that I am within bounds in reckoning them by
miles. ... As morning drew near, we were, of course,
far more fatigued than by any ordinary eight hours of walk-
ing ; and had made much less progress than we hoped to
make before daylight should render it necessary to take
shelter in the woods. We were both thoroughly exhaust-
ed with long-unaccustomed exercise, and could scarcely
walk without stopping. We looked at one another, and
were astonished at the haggard faces and weary forms
which we saw."

After some difficulty in finding a sufficiently secluded
place for a rest, they at length reached a spot which seemed
to answer their purpose.

" The roots of an uptorn tree upon one side, the trunk
of a fallen one upon another, with a sheltering hillock and
surrounding undergrowth, furnished us with such protec-
tion, that a passer-by, even within a few paces, would not
have been likely to see us. We were too tired to eat. We
spread a rubber-blanket upon the ground, a woolen one
over us, and, with our haversacks for pillows, were speed-
ily sleeping as we had not done before since we left Morris
Island, and exchanged a life of hard work for a harder one
of inaction. How long we had slept when I awoke I
could not tell ; but I was too thoroughly chilled to rest
longer. I listened before I raised my head, lest there
might be some one near. What was that crackling of the
dry leaves at a little distance ? I closed my eyes again
and lay still. Surely those were cautious footsteps that
seemed to draw near and halt, and then retreat again.
Then all was quiet. I woke Captain Chamberlain, telling
him I feared we were discovered, and perhaps at that mo-
ment watched. Even if we were, however, it was of no use
to wait ; and we rose. No one in sight. We searched the
bushes in the direction of the sound. No sign of any one's
having been there ; and, after a few minutes, we convinced
ourselves that it was a false alarm. It was not the only
one which we raised for one another during the day, ner-
vously suspicious as we were of every cracking bough,
every moving object. Once Captain Chamberlain pointed
out to me a soldier in gray uniform behind some bushes
only a few rods distant, evidently watching us. But, before
I could make him out, he resolved himself into his harm-
less components of tree-trunk and branch.

"We rolled our blankets in convenient form to sling
across the shoulder, and, much refreshed, although with
joints somewhat stiff and lame, started again northward,
intending to halt for breakfast as soon as sunshine and ex-
ercise should warm our blood a little. It was not long
before circulation was brisk again ; and a sunny hillside
furnished us with a breakfast-room, which, to say the least
of it, compared favorably with that we had occupied the
morning before. Then we made the first trial of our pa-
tent provisions. The eggs, with salt for seasoning, were
capital ; but our stock was limited. We allowed ourselves
one each. Palatable enough we found it, albeit somewhat dry ; and it
proved exceedingly nutritious. A day or two later, after
it had been dampened and dried again, partially at least,
it was almost entirely tasteless, and had no more relish or
even food-flavor than so much sawdust. We could only tell
when we had eaten enough by estimating the quantity
which had vanished or the time consumed in the operation.
Still it supported our strength as hardly any thing else in
the same quantity could have done ; and we were ready to
indorse Captain Marcy's recommendation of it.

" Rest and food had made new men of us : we pushed
cheerily along through wood, over hill, and across field.
The traveling was neither very difficult, nor easy enough
to admit of rapid progress. The woods were quite open,
and we frequently crossed cultivated land. Houses fre--
quently interrupted us ; and much time was consumed in
the long circuit we had to make to pass them without dan-
ger of being observed. The country was altogether too
thickly settled for our convenience. About two, p.m., we
found ourselves fairly brought to a stand-still, — open coun-
try before us with houses in sight, and no way of getting
through under cover.

*' We found an excellent shelter, well protected, although
near a road ; lay down behind an old long-neglected
wood-pile and slept again, woke, dined, and waited for
dark. As soon as it was fairly dusk, we started once
more upon our course. We soon reached a road, upon
which, during the afternoon, we had observed a rider mov-
ing along at some distance, — the first man we had seen
since leaving jail. We hesitated whether to follow this
route, or attempt to push through the woods in the dark.
We had not intended to venture upon the roads after the
first night, but considering the chance that our escape was
still undiscovered, and the difficulty of making any prog-
ress otherwise, we concluded to run the risk, exercising
the utmost possible caution with reference to avoiding any
whom we might meet."

Having a narrow escape from detection by a passing
horseman, they pressed on, until, across a curve in the road,
they saw the lights of a house, and their quick ears caught
the sound of steps and voices from within or near it.

"Approaching this place, in addition to the voices so
distinctly heard through the quiet night air, we could see
near it the bright glare of a fire kindled out of doors, —
perhaps a tar-kiln or a coal-pit blazing up. This we must
avoid, and we turned aside accordingly into the woods. It
was a tedious circuit that we had to make before we could
leave them safely. We stumbled over rock and fallen
tree, in the darkness of the dense undergrowth ; plunged
into brook and swamp ; tore our way through a wilderness
of briers, from which we came out with bleeding bands and
tattered clothing, making so slow and so difficult progress,
that we were more than ever disposed, in the absence of
any positive evidence of danger, to keep the traveled route
whenever it was possible."

Thenceforward they followed the woods by day, and the
road by night. At the close of their second day's journey,
to their regret, it commenced to rain.

"At four, P.M., the first drops fell. Darkness came on
almost immediately, and we took an oblique direction
which we thought would bring us in a few minutes back
to the road which we had crossed shortly before dinner,
and parallel to which we had been traveling for several
hours. But either the road curved sharply from us, or
we had wandered further from it than we thought. We
reached a swamp, which certainly, from what we remem-
bered of the conformation of the land, ought not to lie be-
tween us and the line which we wished to strike. There
was no passage but to wade through. Dense thickets ob-
structed our way ; rain and darkness made each ob-
stacle more serious ; and we were additionally puzzled
by the possibility that a traveled path which we had
crossed some time before, thinking it from its appearance a
by-way, might have been the road itself, and that we were
now only plunging ourselves deeper and deeper into the
woods. Still we pushed on, unwilling to believe ourselves
lost, and were greatly relieved, after a tedious and discour-
aging tramp, in coming out at length upon what was unmis-
takably the track for which we had been so long searching.
" The rain had not yet injured the walking, and we made
for a while rapid progress. Just after descending a gentle
hill, while crossing a stretch of low ground, we heard what
seemed to be the rattle of a cart on the slope behind us,
and the loud and distinct voice of a man calling to his
oxen. We made all haste to shelter ourselves; and, hav-
ing done so by lying down behind some logs near the
roadside, waited for the passage of the team. All was
still : not a sound of life anywhere to be heard. We
were almost ready to rise, thinking, in spite of our ears,
that we must have been mistaken ; when the voice, full
and clear, came once more down the road apparently close
at hand. We lay quiet : there were no indications of its
owner's approach. We waited patiently : nothing broke
the silence of the night, except the patter of the rain, and
the sighing of a low wind which accompanied it. Con-
vinced, at length, that it was useless to remain longer con-
cealed, we rose, and went on our way. It would be hardly
more than a fair exercise of the privilege belonging to
every chronicler of his own travels, to give to this South-
ern Sleepy Hollow its spectral darkey and fractious yoke
of goblin two-year-olds, which it deserves, and for which
the time and circumstances were fitting. I certainly know
of no other way of accounting for the facts just set forth.

"The roads were well furnished with guide-posts ; but
they were tall, and the pirch darkness of the night made
it impossible to read their directions from the ground.
Half a dozen of these, with the assistance of a lift from
Captain Chamberlain's broad shoulders, I climbed during
the night, — awkward business enough, with their sharp
angles and smooth wet sides ; but the information they
gave us was invaluable."

Two or three times in the course of the evening or
night, they were seen by passers on the road, without
special notice being taken of them. After more than
twenty miles of travel since the morning, they stopped in
the rain for greatly needed rest.

"At the division of two plantations, near a gateway, we
found at length a fence-angle, where, by laying across it
two or three rails, and bending down a couple of saplings,
we made for ourselves a seat, and a support upon which
we could rest our heads. Wrapping the woolen blanket
about us, throwing one of the rubbers across our shoul-
ders, and drawing the other over our heads, we were toler-
ably protected from the rain, though not from the wind.
In this way, too, we could keep our provisions dry : had
we attempted to lie down, ourselves and our haversacks
would speedily have been drenched together.

" We dropped asleep, in spite of the cold, in a very few
minutes, and slept soundly for some time. Waking again
about two o'clock in the morning, we found ourselves
chilled to the bone, and suffering from a species of cramp
that made it impossible for us to remain longer in the posi-
tion where we were. There was no prospect, however, of
altering our situation for the better if we should move,
since it had been with difficulty that we had found even
our present resting-place. We opened our haversacks,
and food restored the blood in some degree to its circu-
lation. With this relief we contented ourselves as best we
could, and succeeded in falling asleep again. When we
woke once more, it was about four o'clock, still pitchy dark,
and still raining; but we determined to move on, — any
thing rather than remain where we were. We could hardly
rise from the rails on which we were sitting ; and, when
we attempted to walk, so cramped and numb was every
muscle, that it was with difficulty we could drag one foot
after the other. It was not my first experience of bivou-
acking under a winter's storm. Our North- Carolina cam-
paigns were in cold weather ; and some of the nights then
spent we thought at the time sufficiently hard : but none
of them compared with this. Exercise suppled our joints
somewhat ; but we had gained very little of strength or
rest during our halt, and we made our way slowly along
the road through mud deeper and more tenacious than it
had been at midnight. After a mile or two of this, we
were glad to find another resting-place, — a fence-corner,
much like that we had left ; and here we rested until it
began to grow light.

" Taking the path again, we came before long to a
large barn-yard, where one or two cows stood patiently
waiting for the morning milking. It seemed a pity that
they should be compelled to wait longer for the lazy farmer
whose duty it was to attend to them. The natural kind-
ness of our dispositions prompted us at once to relieve
them, and save him from the disagreeable task, which he
was doubtless postponing, this rainy morning, later than
usual. With these benevolent motives, we began to climb
the barn-yard fence. But alas for our hopes of warm
milk ! Just at that moment the farmer vindicated his
character for early rising by coming in sight, dimly visible
through the mist, from behind a neighboring building. We
did not wait to explain our intentions, or to apologize for
the injustice we had done him, but executed a prompt
movement to the rear."

Finding a comfortable resting-place on a vine-shaded
offset, half-way down the steep side of a dense wooded
ravine, above a small brook, they stopped, exhausted after
their wearisome night, to wait until the storm abated.
They built a fire, warmed their chilled limbs, partially
dried their blanket and clothing, and at the brook washed
their mire-coated stockings and shoes. Just before night,
the storm, which had slackened during the day, resumed
its force ; and soon the rain poured in such torrents as to
swell the brook to a sudden freshet. Again they were
drenched to the skin, and their haversack of provisions
was thoroughly soaked. Later, the violence of the storm
subsided ; and they laid themselves down for the sleep
which they must have, rain or no rain. They slept ten
hours ; and woke to find the sun shining in their faces
through the tree-tops, and a clear sky overhead. They
"were thoroughly rested and in good condition for travel."
The storm had cost them just one day, aside from the
delay growing out of the condition of the roads and

Pressing on, they were seen by two negro-boys, who
were apparently afraid of them, and hurried off. In the
afternoon, as they were concealed near a dwelling they
could not pass until night, a private coach was driven by,
then a country wagon ; and, later, a drover with cattle
went along the road near them.

At night they took in preference a by-road toward
Baton Rouge, to avoid the larger towns on the main route
northward ; but this involved the dispensing with bridges
across streams. One stream they bridged with delay and
difficulty ; a second was not to be crossed in this way.

" In vain we wearied ourselves tramping up and down
the half-liquid banks above and below ; it ran in a wide
turbid flood which it was useless to think of crossing.
It was a frosty December night ; the ground was begin-
ning to stiffen with the cold. We hesitated. Had there
been any available resting-place near by, I fear we should
have been found upon the wrong side of the stream when
morning dawned ; but we saw none, and that decided us.
Making the necessary preparations, with much shivering
we plunged in. After all, it was not so fearfully cold, nor
was the water deep, save in a couple of holes, one near
either bank. More than one trip was necessary to trans-
port clothing, blankets, and provisions ; but it was soon
over, and glad enough we were that we had not postponed
the ugly job as we were tempted to. We were pretty
thoroughly benumbed ; but a little brandy (the only time
during our journey we had occasion to use it) assisted ex-
ercise in restoring the circulation, and in half an hour we
were as warm as ever. We traveled briskly that night,
and had accomplished a good distance when we turned
aside into the pine-woods on the left, built for ourselves a
booth of pine and cedar boughs, quite a luxurious lodging-
place, and slept till morning."

Passing Baton Rouge, they took the Pinckneyville
Road, and later turned toward Yorkville. The following
night, they crossed Turkey Creek, and were disposed to
attempt the passage of Broad River near Pinckneyville,
but, becoming confused as to the route in the darkness,
waited until morning. The weather grew colder, and they
suffered from its severity.

"Our morning wakenings were the most cheerless
moments of a day's experience. We woke, without the
rest which came only after exercise had brought us
warmth, numb and shivering; so that we could hardly
roll our blankets or take the first few steps upon our
journey. There was not a night during our trip in which
we did not suffer from cold. This morning (sabbath) was
the coldest we had encountered."

They traveled until nearly noon, before finding just the
place for a safe rest. Then they slept several hours.
Resuming their journey soon after dark they hoped within
forty-eight hours to be beyond the limits of South Carolina,
and in a region of comparative safety.

" We had been walking an hour or two along an unfre-
quented road, when a negro rose apparently from a fence-
corner, and followed us at a distance of a few paces. We
slackened our gait to allow him to pass ; but he preserved
the same interval whether we moved fast or slow. While
we were still in doubt as to the meaning of these proceed-
ings, a horseman rode up in front, making his appearance
so suddenly, that even in the absence of our unwelcome
attendant we should hardly have had time to conceal our-
selves. He addressed us politely ; and, after a few embar-
rassing questions which indicated his suspicion of us, he
rode off at a gallop in the direction whence he had come.
We looked at one another in dismay. That he suspected
us and would soon return we had no doubt ; but there
were no woods at hand ; and, if there had been, it would
have been useless to enter them while dogged by our per-
severing follower. We were now opposite a graveyard
of some size ; and it was evident from surrounding indica-
tions that we bad come directly upon a village whose
existence we had not suspected.

" We had little time to consider : the sound of clattering
hoofs came down the road behind us, and our former friend
rode up with two companions. A few more questions
were asked, a footman coming up meantime to join the
party ; and the horsemen rode on, leaving their companion
to walk behind us. We knew that our journey was at an
end. They were waiting for us at the gate of a house a
few hundred yards beyond ; reaching which, we were politely
invited to walk in and exhibit our papers, with the assur-
ance that they had authority for the request they made.
* Did we know any thing of some Yankee officers who had
recently escaped from Columbia?' We told them they
need trouble themselves no further : we were the men for
whom they were looking."

The recaptured officers were taken into the house, and
given seats before the fire. They found that hounds were
out in pursuit of them, and that the roads in every direc-
tion beyond were closely watched and guarded.

' ' The report of the capture of Yankee officers spread
like wildfire, and men gathered in for a look at the strange
sight, until the room was nearly filled. It was amusing to
see the curiosity manifested, and we felt specially compli-
mented by a remark of Mr. McNeil's little girl, who had
evidently been on the lookout for horns and hoofs.
Finding us apparently harmless, she ventured timidly to
the other side of the fireplace, and finally, after some
coaxing, came across and stood shyly by my side, while
I told her of my little sister at home, and astonished her
with a small coin, the only specie, I will venture to say,
that had been seen for a long time in that part of- the
Confederacy. She talked, like most Southern children,
an unmitigated negro dialect. * What sort of men did you
think Yankees were?' asked I. * I didn't tink,' said she,
' dey was dat good-lookin' ! '

" The conversation turned upon politics; and the whole
question of the war was discussed with perfect freedom on
both sides. "We talked with the utmost plainness, and
were listened to courteously, though with a good deal of
surprise and some incredulity. In the graveyard of this
little hamlet, too small to occupy a place upon the map,
were the bodies of twenty-two Confederate soldiers ; and
there was hardly a man there but that either belonged to
the army or had a son or brother connected with it. Mr.
McNeil, our host, — for we were treated rather as guests
than as prisoners, — was an elder of the Methodist Church.
Few of those who talked with us took a sanguine view of
their prospects ; and there were even indications that not
all would consider failure the worst of calamities. Most,
however, were thoroughly in earnest for continued resist-
ance ; nor, believing as they believed, should I have felt
differently. They appreciated our desire for freedom, and
were by no means disposed to blame us for attempting
to escape. Even our captors, in their sympathy for us,
seemed almost to regret that their duty compelled them
to put an end to our hopes of regaining liberty,

"After about an hour of conversation came the welcome
invitation to walk out to supper. This was served in a
small room upon the opposite side of the entry, warmed
only — since there was neither stove nor fireplace — by
the heat of the smoking dishes which stood upon the table.
A most attractive sight it was to us after months of prison-
fare, and a week of sawdust. Beefsteak, ham and eggs,
griddle-cakes, hot biscuit and fresh butter, wheat-coffee,
&c., a clean white table-cloth, and a servant to wait
upon table, seemed more homelike than any thing we had
seen for many a day. We had hardly known how cold
and hungry we were until we came within reach of warm
fire and appetizing food. Mr. McNeil's table looked as
if it were spread for half a dozen men ; and it looked, when
we left it, as if the half dozen had been there.

" Among other visitors to the house was a woman, who,
surveying us with a severe countenance, sharply inquired
of Captain Chamberlain, ' what kind of weather he called
that for gathering broom-straws ? ' Captain Chamberlain,
to whom the drift of the question was not obvious, mildly
and with some wonderment replied, that it appeared to him
somewhat cold weather for any branch of out-door industry.
With a manner indicative of the utmost animosity, she pro-
ceeded to observe, that ' she would have us to know that
gathering broom-straw was something she never hail done,
and, what was more, never would do ; not if she lived to be
a hundred years old, she wouldn’t! ' Against an attack so
vigorous and so mysterious, we were incapable of defense ;
and, after one or two remarks equally indignant and equally
incomprehensible, our assailant retired, evidently much
relieved in mind. It turned out that a party of five, to
which we were supposed to belong, had met her servant
in the field gathering broom-straw, and had taken it into
their heads to send her home, with a message to her mis-
tress, that, if she wanted the article, she might come and
collect it herself. Their sins had been visited upon our

"We were assigned quarters for sleeping in the huge
feather-bed in the corner, while four men sat up through
the night as guard. Our couch was most luxurious, and
I was asleep before my head had been ten minutes on the
pillow. Captain Chamberlain, whose readiness and force
in argument had much impressed our listeners, and had
been repeatedly complimented during the evening, lay
awake long enough to hear some interesting remarks upon
the discussion, and their expression of wonder that men in
our circumstances could rest as quietly as we seemed to
be doing. For what reason I do not know, but it was not
for some time after our capture, even after our return to
Columbia, that the bitterness of disappointment came in
full force upon us.

" After an excellent breakfast, preparations were made
to take us to Chesterville, sixteen miles distant, the near-
est place upon the railroad. We were between sixty and
seventy miles from Columbia, though we had traveled,
probably, about one hundred to reach the place of our
capture. We were accompanied by a guard of four men ;
so that we made quite a little cavalcade, mounted, some
upon horses and some upon mules. For security, Captain
Chamberlain and myself were each lashed by one ankle to
the stirrup-leather, — a precaution which had nearly resulted
seriously. Captain Chamberlain's horse taking sudden
fright simultaneously with another, both riders were thrown.
I thought for a moment that it was all up with my friend ;
but, happily, his saddle-girth had been broken, and tied
up, in true Southern style, with a cotton string. This
gave way as he fell, and freed him, saddle and all, from
the plunging horse. Not caring to run any further risk,
I had my saddle-girth unbuckled, and met the mishap I
might have expected. We stopped at a stream for a drink
of water. I forgot the insecurity of my seat, and, leaning
forward to receive a cup of water, threw my weight too
far to one side. The saddle sipped ; once displaced, it
was in vain that I attempted to regain balance. Slowly, if
not gracefully, we slid off to the ground ; and the lashing
had to be unloosed before I could remount. Our route
led through a thickly settled region ; and we were objects
of no little curiosity to those who saw us as we passed, or
met us upon the road."

Reaching Chesterville, they were taken to the jail, fol-
lowed by a constantly increasing crowd of townspeople.
A cell was assigned them.

' ' It was exceedingly filthy and repulsive in its appear-
ance. Upon the floor lay a tumbled heap of rags, scraps
of carpeting, torn bagging, &c,, which had evidently formed
the bedding of the last inmate. An old pitcher stood in
one corner. Of furniture, there was none whatever. The
walls upon three sides were of heavy planking, well whit-
tled, and ornamented with every variety of illustrations
in charcoal, with now and then a long tally where some
wretched occupant had kept weary account of the days of
his imprisonment. The fourth side, opposite the door, was
composed entirely of iron grating ; so that every corner of
the room could be inspected from the passage which ran
around each tier of cells. We hoped that here we should
at least have refuge from the not uniformly courteous curi-
osity of the crowd which had gathered around us ; whose
persistent gaze, as they followed us up stairs, and peeped
through the small aperture in the door, we endeavored to
avoid by stepping out of the range of vision which it
afforded. But they were not to be balked in that way ;
and, in a moment more, were rushing into the passage-way,
outride the grating, with looks and words of exultation
that we could no longer evade them. We were fairly on
exhibition. There they stood, and gazed through the bars,
as at the wild animals in a menagerie ; while we paced up
and down our narrow limits with a restlessness which did
not impair the likeness. The unwillingness we had shown
to gratify them, no doubt, increased their natural good-
will toward Yankees ; and questions and comments were
by no means as few as the answers they received. At
length the jail was cleared, and we were left to our-
selves." . . .

A better room was assigned them.

" McDonnell the jailer, and one of his neighbors, a
physician, spent the evening with us. The former was
confident that, if he could have a few days' opportunity for
discussion, he could turn us from the error of our ways,
and convince us of the justice of the Confederate cause.
We expressed some doubt on the subject ; but he held
there was no question about it. Just let him explain the
cause to us, and we couldn't help seeing that we were all
wrong. He labored with us faithfully, albeit with a very
misty comprehension of the theories he was endeavoring
to establish, and a very slender knowledge of the facts at
their basis ; was in no whit discouraged by our flat denial
of his premises or disproval of his conclusions ; and we
left him, at our departure, in the full belief, that, if he
could only have had a little more time, he should infallibly
have mad> sound rebels of us.

' Blankets were sent to us in the course of the evening ;
and we slept very comfortably upon the floor before the
fire. We had seen during the afternoon and evening most
of the members of McDonnell's family. His eldest son,
just below conscript age, but expecting to be drafted as
soon as his birth-day came, was a very kind-hearted fellow.
He executed commissions in town for us ; lent us books ;
and, in every way, exerted himself to oblige us. He was
entirely free from the boisterous bluster so apt to charac-
terize those of his class and age, nor did we hear an oath
from his lips. In both respects, he was a marked contrast
to his little brother of six or seven years, who, hardly able
to speak plainly, lisped out torrents of profanity ; and was,
in every thing but size, a well-developed bully. The
mother, who had brought up the former, died in the latter's
infancy. Miss McDonnell, a young woman of seventeen
or eighteen, did not pay us the compliment of a call in
person, but sent up by a negro girl a piece of pine, with a
message, rather a command than a request, that she desired
some crosses, or other specimens of carving, — an art at
which she evidently supposed every Yankee an expert by
birth. Regretting to disappoint a lady, we sent back
word that we were not mechanics.

" There was a little girl of eight or nine years, who,
when she heard that we belonged to the Northern army,
came to our door to inquire, with touching anxiety, if
we knew any thing of her brother, — one of them missing
at the battle of Malvern Hill. He had been, it seemed,
among those whom Magruder sent to that desperate charge
upon the batteries manned by the First Connecticut Ar-
tillery, — repulsed with the most terrible slaughter of all
that bloody campaign. He was seen lying wounded upon
the ground ; beyond that, all inquiries as to his fate had
been in vain. . . .

" I called McDonnell good-natured, and so he showed
himself uniformly toward us ; but it was the good-nature
of a beast, needing only provocation to turn it into ferocity.
He was telling us of various attempts to escape from jail ;
among others, one of a negro, who, in so doing, broke or
otherwise injured some of the jail property. ' I gin that
nigger,' said he, 'rather a light floggin'. Cut him up
some ; but he didn't think as 'twas anyways different
from a common floggin'. But when I came to wash him
down, instead of brine, I washed him down with red pep-
per ; poured it right on to the raw, good and strong. Then
he knew what I meant. Pretty nigh killed the old
nigger ! ' This story he related without the slightest
apparent idea that it was otherwise than creditable to him.
We had been rather amused with the man hitherto ; but
this was enough for us.

" During the next day, we received a call from two or
three gentlemen, — one of them a graduate of Princeton ;
another, the editor of the ' Chesterville Standard.' They
were curious, they said, to see some Northerners who were
not tired of the *war ; and wished to learn something of
the state of public sentiment among us. A lively discus-
sion followed, conducted with the same freedom as those
in which we had engaged before. These, however, were
different antagonists from our country friends, familiar
with the North and its people, and well-informed upon the
questions at issue. Bitter almost to desperation in their
hostility to Government, men of influence and standing,
they were fair samples of the class which keeps South
Carolina in her present position. Our Princeton friend
became somewhat excited by the plainness with which we
laid down the programme of subjugation, and our confi-
dence in its success, though he did not allow himself to
be led into discourtesy, and finally left the room in advance
of his friends."

In the afternoon, Lieutenant Belcher of the Columbia
Post-Guard arrived with a guard to escort the prisoners
to their old place of confinement. He bound the elbows
of both, and then tied them together. Thus secured, they
journeyed by cars to Columbia, and were marched from
the depot through the streets of that city.

" Fifteen or twenty minutes' walk brought us to familiar
places. There was the market-house, at which we had so
often gazed from our barred windows ; the street through
which we had passed in going for water ; then the old jail,
upon which we had hoped never again to look. We en-
tered its door, and our journeyings were at an end. We
were ushered into a room which had been used for the
confinement of conscripts, adjoining that which we had
previously occupied. Here we were unbound for the first
time since leaving Chesterville, and left to ourselves.
Captain Senn soon called upon us. He was in a state of
considerable excitement. Our escape, he said, had nearly
ruined him; and he accused us of having abused the
privileges which had been granted us. We regretted
having caused him inconvenience ; but the charge we, of
course, most emphatically repelled. Calming down, he
expressed much curiosity, as Lieutenant Belcher had be-
fore, to know how we had contrived to escape. He had
counted us himself the evening before ; and how we could
have left the building between that time and the next
morning he could not imagine. The confidence with
which he spoke of our presence at the evening count, when
we were so snugly ensconced in the cook-room, was amusing
enough ; but we declined to enter into any explanations. . .
" We entered our new quarters upon the 23d of De-
cember, having been absent from Columbia a little more than
eight days. But one of us at a time was permitted to
pass the threshold ; and then under charge of an armed
guard, who was responsible for us until we were again
locked up. It was now that we began to realize the dis-
appointment of our failure. Time dragged heavily : release
seemed more distant than ever before. Yet there was
not that restless torture of impatience which had before
taken such complete possession of me. There was no
longer an untried possibility to mock me with hope. There
was a satisfaction in feeling that I had done my utmost ;
and I could bend my mind to the thought of patient en-
durance, as it was impossible for me to do while it seemed
that effort might yet accomplish something. ... On the
last day of the old year came an order for us to return to
our old quarters to make room for Lieutenant-Commander
Williams and Ensign Porter of the navy [the gallant
officer afterward killed in the assault on Fort Fisher],
consigned to close confinement in irons as hostages for the
treatment of certain Confederate prisoners in the hands of
the United-States authorities. We regretted to owe our
advantage to their misfortune ; but, fortunately for us,
this arrangement of rooms was the only one practicable ;
and, after eight days of seclusion, we rejoined our com-
panions, and entered upon the year 1864 in circumstances
almost precisely the same as those of the period preceding
our escape.

" The whole affair, though it resulted in failure, was
one which I by no means regret. So far from considering
the attempt rash or hopeless, I was, as you know, on the
point of repeating it a few days since, and with excellent
prospects, as I think, of success. It broke the monotony
of my imprisonment with a week of stirring excitement.
The exhilaration of freedom and activity amply repaid the
accompanying hardships ; and I have an experience upon
which I shall always look back with pleasure in its con-
trast with the dreary months which preceded and followed

It was not long after his return to confinement that Camp
received a large box of home-comforts, — clothing, books,
provisions, cooking utensils, &c., — sent to him imme-
diately after the chaplain's release. Besides all that was
apparent to the eye, the box contained letters, maps, a
compass, and other things desirable to a prisoner, so con-
cealed as to escape the rigid scrutiny of the Confederate
officials. The arrival of the box — the first from home,
and so long on its passage that it had been almost de-
spaired of — was quite an event to the lonely prisoner. His
words of grateful joy in acknowledging it indicate more
clearly by contract the gloom and sadness of ordinary
prison-life than any thing he wrote of his trials and discom-
forts. To his home-friends he said, "It has come! of
course I mean the box, — and what a box ! Like Blitz's
bottle, every thing that any one could ask for or think of
came out of it, and a thousand things beside of which I
never should have thought, — yet not one superfluous. If I
should take up the contents in detail, they would furnish
me with more really new subject-matter than all that I've
written about hitherto since last July : its arrival is the great
event of the season. Soberly, you can hardly imagine the
importance which such an affair assumes in such a life as this
we lead here, so utterly monotonous and destitute of inter-
est. And that box would have been no trifle anywhere to
any one away from home and friends. I fussed over it and
what it contained for two entire days, attending to hardly
any thing else, and only began yesterday to settle down
again into routine. Indeed, for a little while, thoroughly as I
enjoyed the surprises of each new and the associations of
each familiar article, I was perversely and ungratefully
blue, simply from disconnecting myself so entirely in
thought from prison-life, and then finding it forced back
upon me."

To the chaplain he added : —

" Oh ! this cramped page, this lifeless ink-talk ! You
know what I would say and what I would do if I were
with you. God grant that I soon may be ! Then the box,
so full of evidence of your thoughtful kindness ! — who but
you would ever have thought of one-half the little articles
which make no great figure in an invoice, but are the most
valuable of all, because they bring dear ones at the first
glance before one's very eyes ? Who but you could have
known precisely what I wanted, and anticipated requests
already made, but which you had never seen ? I wish we
could look over that box together. I want to talk over
each article of fifty with you, — and how much have I to say
besides ! The skill shown in the selection, the abundance
of every desirable thing, and the absence of every super-
fluous one, so as to make the whole a complete outfit for
prison house-keeping, astonished the rest, and surprised
even me who knew your ways, and expected to be surprised.
"If I could only write, — only speak! — but I never
could do either."