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Famous adventures and prison escapes of the Civil War online

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Copyright, 1885, 1888, 1889, 1890, 1891, 1893, by


The DeVinne Pbess.



War Diary of a Union Woman in the South 1

The Locomotive Chase in Georgia 83

Mosby's " Partizan Rangers" 102

A Romance of Morgan's Rough-riders 116

Colonel Rose's Tunnel at Libby Prison 184

A Hard Road to Travel out of Dixie 243

Escape of General Breckinridge 298



Questioning a Prisoner Frontispiece

The Locomotive Chase 85

General John H. Morgan 117

Map of the Morgan Raid 118

The Farmer from Calfkiller Creek 123

General Duke Tests the Pies 125

Hospitalities of the Farm 131

Looking for the Footprints of the Van 137

Corridor and Cells in the Ohio State Penitentiary —

Captain Hines's Cell 161

Exterior of the Prison — Exit from Tunnel 163

Within the Wooden Gate 167

Over the Prison Wall 171

''Hurry Up, Major!" 175

Captain Hines Objects 178

Colonel Thomas E. Rose 185

A Corner of Libby Prison 187

LiBBY Prison in 1865 189

Major A. G. Hamilton 191

Libby Prison in 1884 197

Liberty ! 223

Fighting the Rats 230

Section of Interior of Libby Prison and Tunnel 233



Ground-plan op Libby Prison and Surroundings 235

Lieutenants E. E. Sill and A. T, Lamson 255

We Arrive at Headen's 263

The Escape of Headen 271

Greenville Jail 277

Pink Bishop at the Still 283

Arrival Home op the Baptist Minister 285

Surprised at Mrs. Kitchen's 291

The Meeting with the Second Ohio Heavy Artillery. . . 295

Sand as a Defense against Mosquitos 307

Searching for Turtles' Eggs 310

Through a Shallow Lagoon 313

Exchanging the Boat for the Sloop 315

Over a Coral-reef 325

A Rough Night in the Gulp Stream 331

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The following diary was originally written in lead-
pencil and in a book the leaves of which were too soft
to take ink legibl5^ I have it direct from the hands of
its writer, a lady whom I have had the honor to know
for nearly thu-tj^ years. For good reasons the author's
name is omitted, and the initials of people and the
names of places are sometimes fictitiously given.
Many of the persons mentioned were my own acquain-
tances and friends. When, some twenty years after-
ward, she first resolved to publish it, she brought
me a clear, complete copy in ink. It had cost much
trouble, she said; for much of the pencil writing had
been made under such disadvantages and was so faint
that at times she could decipher it only under direct
sunlight. She had succeeded, however, in making a
copy, verhatim except for occasional improvement in
the gi'ammatical form of a sentence, or now and then
the omission, for brevity's sake, of something unessen-


tial. The narrative has since been severely abridged
to bring it within magazine limits.

In reading this diary one is much charmed with its
constant understatement of romantic and perilous in-
cidents and conditions. But the original penciled
pages show that, even in copying, the strong bent of
the writer to be brief has often led to the exclusion of
facts that enhance the interest of exciting situations,
and sometimes the omission robs her own heroism of
due emphasis. I have restored one example of this in
a foot-note following the perilous voyage down the
Mississippi. Gr. W. Cable.


Neiv Orleans, Bee. 1, 1860. — I understand it now.
Keeping journals is for those who cannot, or dare not,
speak out. So I shall set up a journal, being only a
rather lonely young girl in a very small and hated mi-
nority. On my return here in November, after a foreign
voyage and absence of many months, I found myself
behind in knowledge of the political conflict, but heard
the dread sounds of disunion and war muttered in
threatening tones. Surely no native-born woman loves
her country better than I love America. The blood of
one of its Revolutionary patriots flows in my veins,
and it is the Union for which he pledged his "life,
fortune, and sacred honor" that I love, not any divided
or special section of it. So I have been reading atten-


tively aud seeking light from foreigners and natives
on all questions at issue. Li^dng from birth in slave
countries, both foreign and American, and passing
through one slave insurrection in early childhood, the
saddest aud also the pleasantest features of slavery
have been familiar. If the South goes to war for
slavery, slavery is doomed in this country. To say so
is like opposing one drop to a roaring torrent.

Sunday, Bee. — , 1860. — In this season for peace I had
hoped for a lull in the excitement, yet this day has been
full of bitterness. " Come, G.," said Mrs. at break-
fast, " leave your church for to-day and come with us

to hear Dr. on the situation. He will convince

you." "It is good to be convinced," I said; "I will
go." The church was crowded to suffocation with the
elite of New Orleans. The preacher's text was, " Shall
we have fellowship with the stool of iniquity which
frameth mischief as a law ! " . . . The sermon was over
at last, and then followed a prayer. . . . Forever blessed
be the fathers of the Episcopal Church for giving us
a fixed liturgy ! When we met at dinner Mrs. F. ex-
claimed, "Now, G., you heard him prove from the
Bible that slavery is right and that therefore secession
is. Were you not convinced ? " I said, " I was so busy
thinking how completely it proved too that Brigham
Young is right about polygamy that it quite weakened
the force of the argument for me." This raised a laugh,
and covered my retreat.

Jan. 26, 1861. — The solemn boom of cannon to-day
announced that the convention have passed the ordi-
nance of secession. We must take a reef in our
patriotism and narrow it down to State limits. Mine


still Sticks out all around the borders of the State. It
will be bad if New Orleans should secede from Loui-
siana and set up for herself. Then indeed I would be
"cabined, cribbed, confined." The faces in the house
are jubilant to-day. Why is it so easy for them and
not for me to "ring out the old, ring in the new"? I
am out of place.

Jan. 28, Monday. — Sunday has now got to be a day
of special excitement. The gentlemen save all the
sensational papers to regale us with at the late Sunday
breakfast. Rob opened the battle yesterday morning
by saying to me in his most aggi-essive manner, " G., I
believe these are vour sentiments " : and then he read
aloud an article from the "Journal des Debats" ex-
pressing in rather contemptuous terms the fact that
France will follow the policy of non-intervention.
When I answered, " Well, what do you expect ? This
is not their quarrel," he raved at me, ending by a
declaration that he would willingly pay my passage to
foreign parts if I would like to go. "Rob," said his
father, "keep cool; don't let that threat excite you.
Cotton is king. Just wait till they feel the pinch a
little; their tone will change." I went to Trinity
Church. Some Union people who are not Episco-
palians go there now because the pastor has not so
much chance to rail at the Lord when things are not
going to suit. But yesterday was a marked Sunday.
The usual prayer for the President and Congress was
changed to the "governor and people of this com-
monwealth and their representatives in convention

The city was very lively and noisy this evening with

S yM t ft^ *^-


rockets aiid lights in houor of secession. Mrs. F., in
common with the neighbors, illuminated. We walked
out to see the houses of others gleaming amid the dark
shrubbery like a fairy scene. The perfect stillness
added to the effect, while the moon rose slowly with
calm splendor. We hastened home to dress for a
soiree, but on the stairs Edith said, "Gr., first come and
help me dress Phoebe and Chloe [the negi'o servants].
There is a ball to-night in aristocratic colored society.
This is Chloe's first introduction to New Orleans circles,
and Henry Judson, Phoebe's husband, gave five dollars
for a ticket for her." Chloe is a recent purchase from
Georgia. We superintended their very stylish toilets,
and Edith said, "G., run into your room, please, and
write a pass for Henry. Put Mr. D.'s name to it."
"Why, Henry is free," I said. "That makes no differ-
ence; all colored people must have a pass if out late.
They choose a master for protection, and always carry
his pass. Henry chose Mr. D., but he 's lost the pass
he had."



Feh. 24, 1861.— The toil of the week is ended. Nearly
a month has passed since I wrote here. Events have
crowded upon one another. On the 4th the cannon
boomed in honor of Jefferson Davis's election, and day
before yesterday Washington's birthday was made the
occasion of another grand display and illumination, in
honor of the birth of a new nation and the breaking


of that Union which he labored to cement. "We drove
to the race-course to see the review of troops. A flag
was presented to the Washington Artillery by ladies.
Senator Judah Benjamin made an impassioned speech.
The banner was orange satin on one side, crimson silk
on the other, the pelican and brood embroidered in
pale green and gold. Silver crossed cannon sunnounted
it, orange-colored fringe surrounded it, and crimson
tassels drooped from it. It was a brilliant, unreal
scene; with military bands clashing triumphant mu-
sic, elegant vehicles, high-stepping horses, and lovely
women richly appareled.

Wedding-cards have been pouring in till the conta-
gion has reached us ; Edith will be married next Thurs-
day. The wedding-dress is being fashioned, and the
bridesmaids and groomsmen have arrived. Edith has
requested me to be special mistress of ceremonies on
Thursday evening, and I have told this terrible little
rebel, who talks nothing but blood and thunder, yet
faints at the sight of a worm, that if I fill that office
no one shall mention war or politics during the whole
evening, on pain of expulsion.

March 10, 1861. — The excitement in this house has
risen to fever-heat during the past week. The four
gentlemen have each a different plan for saving the
country, and now that the bridal bouquets have faded,
the three ladies have again turned to public affairs;
Lincoln's inauguration and the story of the disguise
in which he traveled to Washington is a never-ending
source of gossip. The family board being the common
forum, each gentleman as he appears first unloads his
pockets of papers from all the Southern States, and


then his overflowing heart to his eager female listeners,
who in turn relate, inquire, sympathize, or cheer. If I
dare express a doubt that the path to victory will be
a flowery one, eyes flash, cheeks burn, and tongues
clatter, till all are checked up suddenly by a warning
rap for "Order, order!" from the amiable lady presid-
ing. Thus we swallow politics with every meal. We
take a mouthful and read a telegram, one eye on table,
the other on the paper. One must be made of cool
stuff to keep calm and collected, but I say but little.
This war fever has banished small talk. Through all
the black servants move about quietly, never seeming
to notice that this is all about them.

"How can you speak so plainl}" before them?" I say.

"Why, what matter? They know that we shall keep
the whip-handle."

Ajjril 13, 1861. — More than a month has passed since
the last date here. This afternoon I was seated on the
floor covered with loveliest flowers, arranging a floral
offering for the fair, when the gentlemen arrived and
with papers bearing news of the fall of Fort Sumter,
w^hich, at her request, I read to Mrs. F.

Ajyril 20. — The last few days have glided away in a
halo of beauty. But nobody has time or wiU to enjoy
it. War, war ! is the one idea. The children play only
with toy cannons and soldiers; the oldest inhabitant
goes by every day with his rifle to practice; the public
squares are full of companies drilling, and are now the
fashionable resorts. We have been told that it is best
for women to learn how to shoot too, so as to protect
themselves when the men have all gone to battle.
Every evening after dinner we adjourn to the back lot


and fire at a target with pistols. Yesterday I dined at
Uncle Ralph's. Some members of the bar vs^ere present,
and were jubilant about their brand-new Confederacy.
It would soon be the grandest government ever known.
Uncle Ralph said solemnly, " No, gentlemen ; the day
we seceded the star of our glory set." The words sunk
into my mind like a knell, and made me wonder at the
mind that could recognize that and yet adhere to the
doctrine of secession.

In the evening I attended a farewell gathering at
a friend's whose brothers are to leave this week for
Richmond. There was music. No minor .chord was



Ajyril 25. — Yesterday I went with Cousin E. to have
her picture taken. The picture-galleries are doing a
thriving business. Many companies are ordered off to
take possession of Fort Pickens (Florida), and all seem
to be leaving sweethearts behind them. The crowd
was in high spirits ; they don't dream that any destinies
will be spoiled. When I got home Edith was reading
from the daily paper of the dismissal of Miss Gr. from
her place as teacher for expressing abolition senti-
ments, and that she would be ordered to leave the city.
Soon a lady came with a paper setting forth that she
has established a "company" — we are nothing if not
military — for making lint and getting stores of linen
to supply the hospitals.


My name went down. If it had n't, my spirit would
have been wounded as with sharp spears before night.
Next came a little giri with a subscription paper to get
a flag for a certain company. The little girls, especially
the pretty ones, are kept busy trotting around with
subscription lists. Latest of all came little Guy, Mr.
F.'s youngest clerk, the pet of the firm as well as of his
home, a mere boy of sixteen. Such senseless sacrifices
seem a sin. He chattered brightly, but lingered about,
saying good-by. He got through it bravely until
Edith's husband incautiously said, " You did n't kiss
your little sweetheart," as he always called Ellie, who
had been allowed to sit up. He turned and suddenly
broke into agonizing sobs and then ran down the steps.

May 10. — I am tired and ashamed of myself. Last
week I attended a meeting of the lint society to hand
in the small contribution of linen I had been able to
gather. We scraped lint till it was dark. A paper was
shown, entitled the " Volunteer's Friend," started by the
girls of the high school, and I was asked to help the
girls with it. I positively declined. To-day I was
pressed into service to make red flannel cartridge-bags
for ten-inch columbiads. I basted while Mrs. S. sewed,
and I felt ashamed to think that I had not the moral
courage to say, " I don't approve of your war and won't
help you, particularly in the murderous part of it."

May "21. — This has been a scenic Sabbath. Various
companies about to depart for Virginia occupied the
prominent churches to have their flags consecrated.
The streets were resonant with the clangor of drums
and trumpets. E. and myself went to Christ Church
because the Washington Artillery were to be there.


June 13. — To-day has been appointed a Fast Day. I
spent the morning writing a letter on which I put my
first Confederate postage-stamp. It is of a brown
color and has a large 5 in the center. To-morrow must
be devoted to all my foreign correspondents before the
expected blockade cuts us off.

June 29. — I attended a fine luncheon yesterday at
one of the public schools. A lady remarked to a school
official that the cost of provisions in the Coufederaey
was getting very high, butter, especially, being scarce
and costly. "Never fear, my dear madam," he re-
plied. "Texas alone can furnish butter enough to
supply the whole Confederacy ; we '11 soon be getting
it from there." It 's just as well to have this sublime

July 15. — The quiet of midsummer reigns, but ripples
of excitement break around us as the papers tell of
skirmishes and attacks here and there in Virginia.
"Rich Mountain" and " Carrick's Ford" were the last.
"You see," said Mrs. D. at breakfast to-day, "my
prophecy is coming true that Virginia will be the seat
of war." " Indeed," I burst out, forgetting my resolu-
tion not to argue, " you may think yourselves lucky if
this war turns out to have any seat in particular."

So far, no one especially connected with me has gone
to fight. How glad I am for his mother's sake that
Rob's lameness will keep him at home. Mr. F., Mr. S.,
and Uncle Ralph are beyond the age for active service,
and Edith says Mr. D. can't go now. She is very
enthusiastic about other people's husbands being en-
rolled, and regrets that her Alex is not strong enough
to defend his country and his rights.


JhUj 22. — What a day ! I feel like one who has been
out in a high wind, and cannot get my breath. The
newsboys are still shouting with their extras, " Battle
of Bull's Run ! List of the killed ! Battle of Manassas !
List of the wounded ! " Tender-hearted Mrs. F. was
sobbing so she could not serve the tea; but nobody
cared for tea. " O G. ! " she said, " three thousand of
our own, dear Southern boys are lying out there."
"My dear Fannie," spoke Mr. F., " they are heroes now.
They died in a glorious cause, and it is not in vain.
This will end it. The sacrifice had to be made, but
those killed have gained immortal names." Then Rob
rushed in with a new extra, reading of the spoils cap-
tured, and grief was forgotten. Words cannot paint
the excitement. Rob capered about and cheered;
Edith danced around ringing the dinner-bell and
shouting, "Victory!" Mrs. F. waved a small Con-
federate flag, while she wiped her eyes, and Mi*. D.
hastened to the piano and in his most brilliant style
struck up " Dixie," followed by " My Maryland " and
the " Bonnie Blue Flag."

" Do not look so gloomy, Gr.," whispered Mr. S. "You
should be happy to-night ; for, as Mr. F. says, now we
shall have peace."

" And is that the way you think of the men of your
own blood and race?" I replied. But an utter scorn
came over me and choked me, and I walked out of the
room. " What proof is there in this dark hour that they
are not right! Only the emphatic answer of my own
soul. To-morrow I will pack my trunk and accept the
invitation to visit at Uncle Ralph's country house.

Sept. 25. — When I opened the door of Mrs. F.'s room


on my return, the rattle of two sewing-machines and a
blaze of color met me.

"All, Gr., you are just in time to help us; these are
coats for Jeff Thompson's men. All the cloth in the
city is exhausted; these flannel-lined oil-cloth table-
covers are all we could obtain to make overcoats for
Thompson's poor boys. They will be very warm and

" Serviceable — yes ! The Federal army will fly when
they see those coats ! I only wish I could be with the
regiment when these are shared around." Yet I helped
make them.

Seriously, I wonder if any soldiers will ever wear
these remarkable coats — the most bewildering com-
bination of brilliant, intense reds, greens, yellows, and
blues in big flowers meandering over as vivid grounds ;
and as no table-cover was large enough to make a coat,
the sleeves of each were of a different color and pat-
tern. However, the coats were duly finished. Then
we set to work on gray pantaloons, and I have just
carried a bundle to an ardent young lady who wishes
to assist. A slight gloom is settling down, and the
inmates here are not quite so cheerfully confident as
in July.



Oct. 22. — When I came to breakfast this morning
Rob was capering over another victory — Ball's Bluff.
He would read me, " We pitched the Yankees over the


bluff," and ask me in the next breath to go to the
theater this evening. I turned on the poor fellow.
"Don't tell me about your victories. You vowed by
all your idols that the blockade w^ould be raised by
October 1, and I notice the ships are still serenely
anchored below the city."

"Gr., you are just as pertinacious yourself in cham-
pioning your opinions. What sustains you when
nobody agrees with you?"

Oct. 28. — When I dropped in at Uncle Ralph's last
evening to welcome them back, the whole family were
busy at a great center-table copying sequestration acts
for the Confederate Grovernment. The property of all
Northerners and Unionists is to be sequestrated, and
Uncle Ralph can hardly get the work done fast enough.
My aunt apologized for the rooms looking chilly ; she
feared to put the carpets down, as the city might be
taken and burned by the Federals. "We are living as
much packed up as possible. A signal has been agreed
upon, and the instant the army approaches we shall be
off to the country again."

Great preparations are being made for defense. At
several other places where I called the women were al-
most hysterical. They seemed to look forward to being
blown up with shot and shell, finished with cold steel,
or whisked off to some Northern prison. When I got
home Edith and Mr. D. had just returned also.

" Alex," said Edith, " I was up at your orange-lots
to-day, and the sour oranges are dropping to the
ground, while they cannot get lemons for our sick

" That 's my kind, considerate wife," replied Mr. D.


*'Why did n't I think of that before? Jim shall fill
some barrels to-morrow and take them to the hospitals
as a present from you."

Nov. 10. — Surely this year will ever be memorable
to me for its perfection of natural beauty. Never was
sunshine such pure gold, or moonlight such transparent
silver. The beautiful custom prevalent here of deck-
ing the graves with flowers on All Saints' day was well
fulfilled, so profuse and rich were the blossoms. On
All-hallow eve Mrs. S. and myself visited a large ceme-
tery. The chrysanthemums lay like great masses of
snow and flame and gold in every garden we passed,
and were piled on every costly tomb and lowly grave.
The battle of Manassas robed many of our women in
mourning, and some of those who had no graves to
deck were weeping silently as they walked through the
scented avenues.

A few days ago Mrs. E. arrived here. She is a widow,
of Natchez, a friend of Mrs. F.'s, and is traveling home
with the dead body of her eldest son, killed at Manas-
sas. She stopped two days waiting for a boat, and
begged me to share her room and read her to sleep,
saying she could n't be alone since he was killed ; she
feared her mind would give way. So I read all the
comforting chapters to be found till she dropped into
forgetfulness, but the recollection of those weeping
mothers in the cemetery banished sleep for me.

Nov. 26. — The lingering summer is passing into those
misty autumn days I love so well, when there is gold
and fire above and around us. But the glory of the
natural and the gloom of the moral world agi'ee not
well together. This morning Mrs. F. came to my room


in dire distress. "You see," she said, "cold weather is
coming on fast, and our poor fellows are lying out at
night with nothing to cover them. There is a wail for
blankets, but there is not a blanket in town. I have
gathered up all the spare bed-clothing, and now want
every available rug or table-cover in the house. Can't
I have yours, G. ! We must make these small sacrifices
of comfort and elegance, you know, to secure indepen-

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Online LibraryGeorge Washington CableFamous adventures and prison escapes of the Civil War → online text (page 1 of 22)