From the National Tribune, 12/14/1893
Daring and Suffering in the Rebel Country by Two 4th Pa. Cav. Men.
[memoir, copied by W. C. Yard, Co. K, 4th Pa.
Cav., of Captain Hyndman, Co. A, 4th Pa. Cav. describes Hyndman’s
capture in Oct. 1863]
....“We arrived at Richmond on the 15th, and
were confined in Libby Prison. The bill of fare consisted of half a pound of
cornbread a day to each man, and very seldom any meat. Obliged to carry our own
rations (such as we received) every day to the prison, we got a breath of fresh
air. A detail of 40 or so were made from among the prisoners each day, who, with
pieces of old blankets, proceeded under a rebel escort to the bakehouse; the
rations were thrown into these and carried to the prison.
“The dead-house was adjacent to the commissary
department; thus we passed the ghastly charnel-house of the dead comrades every
day, and glanced at it with heavy hearts. We felt that our own emaciated bodies
would soon be numbered among its corpses.
“Having decided to make my own escape, and not caring to
have more than one companion in the perilous undertaking, I proposed my plan to
all the members of my own company separately, but none thought it would succeed.
I at last found my man in Corp’l Alex. Welton, of Co. K. He was eager to make
the attempt with me, and knowing him to be brave and prudent, I at once took him
into my confidence and we matured a plan.
“We each succeeded in securing a rebel cap, and as we
already had old tattered gray jackets, we now felt ready to make the attempt.
Taking our positions about the center of the column as it moved out of prison in
files of two, we each had a piece of blanket around our shoulders and our rebel
caps under our arms. The column was protected by one rebel guard in front, one
in the rear, and one Corporal a little forward of the center.
“We requested the comrades to immediately fill up the
gaps if we stepped out at any point, and also take our blankets. Just as the
center turned on Nineteenth street, so the rear-guard could not see us, we left
the ranks, donned our rebel caps, started down Main street again and passed the
rebel guard in the rear whistling ‘The Bonnie Blue Flag,’ and tried to
assume rebel airs. We quickened our pace in order to turn the next corner soon
as possible, and in a short time were at the river in the vicinity of the
“Remaining in this partially secure place for a short
time our nerves became more steady, which gave us renewed courage. Again we
started for the suburbs of the city. We walked boldly on until we found
ourselves in a ravine about five miles from the city limits. Here we seated
ourselves behind a pile of cord-wood, and then for the first time ventured to
open our hearts to each other and to congratulate ourselves upon our successes
so far. After a short rest we proceeded, not knowing, whither we were going.
“We soon met an old negro with a horse and cartload of
coal. After some hesitation we began to question him as to the roads, and found
we were on the direct route to Harrison’s Landing where the enemy’s outposts
were stationed. We told him we were escaping prisoners, when he at once took an
interest in our behalf and gave us all the information he could.
“He advised us to secrete ourselves until nightfall and
to keep clear of all white men, as the whole neighborhood were in league in
order to capture escaping prisoners. ‘But,’ said he, ‘you need not fear
the colored people; they are your friends.’ And such they proved to be.
[Remainder of narrative, describing their successful
escape to the Union lines near Williamsburg was not transcribed.]
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