The following escapees from the North’s Fort Delaware, one of them being a Philadelphian who returned to that city, found willing “conductors” to aid their break for freedom and make good a return to their lines.
Underground Railroad to the South
“The Richmond Dispatch, August 28, 1863:
Yesterday afternoon five Confederate prisoners . . . arrived here from Fort Delaware, having escaped therefrom on the night of the 12th inst. The narrative of their escape is interesting.
Having formed the plan of escape, they improvised life preservers by tying four canteens, well corked, around the body of each man, and on the night of the 12th inst., preceded to leave the island. Three of them swam four miles and landed about two miles below Delaware City; the other two being swept down the river, floated down sixteen miles and landed on Christine Creek.
The three who landed at Delaware City laid in a cornfield all night, and next evening about dark made their way south, after first having made their condition known to a farmer, who gave them a good supper. They traveled at night twelve miles through Kent County, Maryland, where the citizens gave them new clothes and money. After this their detection was less probable, as they had been wearing their uniforms the two days previous. They took the cars on the Philadelphia and Baltimore railroad at Townsend, and rode to Dover, the capital of Delaware.
Sitting near them were a Yankee colonel and captain, and the provost guard passed them frequently. They were not discovered, though to escape detection seemed impossible. In [a] canoe they went [with five others who had escaped from Fort Delaware] to Tangier, Chesapeake, landed in Northumberland County below Point Lookout, a point at which the Yankees were building a fort for the confinement of prisoners.
They met with great kindness from the citizens of Heathville, who contributed a hundred and twenty dollars to aid them on their route. They soon met with our pickets, and came to this city on the York River Railroad. These escaped prisoners expressed in the liveliest terms their gratitude to the people of Maryland and Delaware who did everything they could to aid them.
There was no difficulty experienced in either State in finding generous people of Southern sympathies, who put themselves to trouble to help them on their journey.”
(Georgia Remembers Gettysburg: A Collection of First-Hand Accounts Written by Georgia Soldiers, J. Keith Jones, Ten Roads Publishing, 2013, excerpt, pp. 19-20)