Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/289

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Escaped from Fort Delaware.

So on the morning of the day mentioned we walked up to the gate and passed out, treating the guard with perfect contempt, and not deigning so much as to look at them. They were thus thrown off their guard, thinking, of course, no one would attempt such a thing without authority. Once out of the pen we met a good many, strolling around the island, some of them our own men who had taken the oath. So we attracted no attention while making a survey of the island. We could find no-boat to leave on that night, hence we selected a ladder made of: scantling about twelve feet long, at an officer's barn, and after making such other arrangements as were necessary we repasses the gate without any trouble, got a pot, boiled our clothes to get rid of the lice, for we knew we had a long tramp before us, and unless we got rid of the lice they would totally devour us before we reached our journey's end. So, after boiling and drying our clothes, we passed out the gate for the last time, one at a time. After getting out we hid in separate places till good dark. About 8 o'clock we met, as per agreement, at a little building being put up for a doctor's office. We then secured our ladder and tied to it our shoes and a piece of plank, to be used as a paddle. Then came the most dangerous part but it only required bluff and impudence, besides a little nerve, and we were tolerably well supplied with the two former. But to pass a good sentinel, continually walking his post, with his turning points not more than forty or fifty yards apart, laden with the old ladder, and approaching him at almost right angles on a bright star-lit night, in a perfectly open place—not even a shrub or bunch of grass to hide us—was the cleverest work I ever did.


But I should have before explained that there was, and perhaps is yet, a levee thrown up around the island, I guess for the purpose of keeping off tidewater. This was five or six feet high, and in getting the dirt to make the levee a canal about twelve feet wide and about three feet deep was formed. Thus, we had to cross this canal to pass the guard on the levee.

Having arranged everything, we selected our man to slip, and after carefully getting his turning points, or the ends of his