Monday, March 6, 2017

Diary of 1st Sergeant John L. Ransom: January 28, 1864

No officers over from Libby for a few days past. Nearly all the clothing issued. A few days more will close up the clothing business, and then probably all the outsiders will be sent inside; and for fear such will be the case we have decided upon to-morrow night for the escape (which I have not said much about in my diary). The nights are dark and cloudy. Messrs. Mustard and Hendryx both sleep outside now, and I must manage to, both to-night and to-morrow night. I have been two weeks trying to get a map of Virginia, and have at last succeeded. A negro brought it to me from the city. It has cost over thirty dollars Confederate money — at the North would have cost twenty five cents, I would not take for it, unless I could get another one, one thousand dollars in gold. We are well rigged, have some food saved up to take along; in good health and determined to get away. Lieut. Bossieux suspects, and today took the pains to say in our hearing that he knew an escape among the outsiders was in view, and as sure as there was a God in heaven if we tried it and got caught, and we surely would be, he would first shoot all he could before catching us, and the balance would be tied up and whipped every day until he got tired, as long as we lived. We must expect trouble. It does not change us in the least; if anything, makes us the more determined to get away. To-night we are to start, and I will write down the plans we have, running the risk of the rebels getting hold of it. At a few moments past eleven and before midnight the guard will let us cross his beat and go to the water's edge. We all have rebel clothing which we are to wear, furnished partly by a negro, and partly by the guard who helps us off. We take the quarter-master's boat, which we unlock, and having been furnished the countersign give it to the picket who will pretend that he thinks we are rebel guards going over to the city, in case we are caught, which will screen him in a measure. Having passed him, we get into the boat and row across the river, give the countersign to the guards on the other side of the river, and talk with them a little, being ourselves posted on general information regarding the place. To quiet their suspicions if they have any, we then start up into the town and when out of sight of the guards take a turn to the left, and go straight to the Richmond jail; taking care to avoid patrols &C. We will then meet with a negro who will guide us ten miles up the river, and then leave us in charge of friendly blacks who will keep us through the next day and at night pilot us farther along toward our lives. If possible, I shall steal the rebel flag, which is kept nights in the lieutenant's tent, and a few other relics, to take along with me. The big bell in Richmond strikes six, and we close our diary, hoping never to look upon it again until we return to free our fellow prisoners, with the glorious army of the .North. Now we leave our diary to finish preparations for the flight for freedom. May God aid us in this land of tyranny, where we have met nothing but suffering. Good bye, Belle Isle and Prison. Hail! Freedom, Home, Friends, and the Grand Army of the Old Flag!. What is in store for us in the future?

SOURCE: John L. Ransom, Andersonville Diary, p. 28-30

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