Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

from their hiding-places only at night. Yet they were hunted with unwearying persistence, and by the end of a week all but two had been captured. These two had so successfully eluded pursuit that they fancied themselves out of danger, and became somewhat careless in consequence. As a result, in a few days more they, too, fell into the hands of their foes.

A court-martial was convened. The attempt had been so daring, and so nearly successful, the injury intended so great, and the whole affair so threatening, that the Confederate military authorities could not think of leniency. Andrews and seven of his companions were condemned to death and hung. Their graves may be seen to-day in the Soldiers' Cemetery at Chattanooga, monuments to one of the most daring and reckless enterprises in the history of the Civil War. The others were imprisoned. From all that we are told of Confederate military prisons, the executed men were the fortunate mem bers of the party.

AN ESCAPE FROM LIBBY PRISON.

DURING the winter of 1864 certain highly interesting operations were going on in the underground region of the noted Libby Prison, at Richmond, Virginia, at that time the by no means luxurious or agreeable home of some eleven hundred officers of the United States army. These operations, by means of which numerous captives were to make their way to fresh air and freedom, are abundantly worthy of being told, as an evidence of the ingenuity of man and the amount of labor and hardship he is willing to give in exchange for liberty.

Libby Prison was certainly not of palatial dimensions or accommodations. Before the war it had been a tobacco warehouse, situated close by the Lynchburg Canal, and a short distance from James River, whose waters ran by in full view of the longing eyes which gazed upon them from the closebarred prison windows. For the story which we have to tell some description of the make-up of this place of detention is a necessary preliminary. The building was three stories high in front, and four in the rear, its dimensions being one hundred and sixtyfive byone hundred and five feet. It was strongly built, of brick and stone, while very thick partition walls

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]

THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

ASTOR, LENOX TILDEN FOUNDATIONS

of brick divided it internally into three sections. Each section had its cellar, one of them, with which we are particularly concerned, being unoccupied. The others were occasionally used. The first floor had three apartments, one used by the prison authorities, one as a hospital, while the middle one served the prisoners as a cooking- and dining-room. The second and third stories were the quarters of the prisoners, where, in seven rooms, more than eleven hundred United States officers ate, slept, and did all the duties of life for many months. It may even be said that they enjoyed some of the pleasures of life, for though the discipline was harsh and the food scanty and poor, man's love of enjoyment is not easily to be repressed, and what with occasional minstrel and theatrical entertainments among themselves, fencing exercises with wooden swords, games of cards, checkers and chess, study of languages, military tactics, etc., and other entertainments and pastimes, they managed somewhat to overcome the monotony of prison life and the hardship of prison discipline.

As regards chances of escape, they were very poor. A strong guard constantly surrounded the prison, and such attempts at escape as were made were rarely successful. The only one that had measurable success is that which we have to describe, in which a body of prisoners played the role of rats or beavers, and got out of Libby by an underground route.

The tunnel enterprise was the project of choice spirits only. It was too perilous to confide to many. The disused cellar was chosen as the avenue

« AnteriorContinuar »