From the National Tribune, 12/14/1893

THE ESCAPE
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 Navy-yard.

“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.]

 

Page last updated on 07/24/2009