Escape from Libey Prison


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, March 5, 1864

This site features Harper's Weekly Civil War newspapers. These papers allow you to read important information on the war not available elsewhere. They contain incredible illustrations created by eye-witnesses to the historic events depicted. This is a valuable resource for serious students and researchers.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to the page of interest)


Libey Prison

Libey Prison Escape

1864 Election Editorial

Florida Campaign


Libey Prison Escape

Libey Prison Escape

Schleswig Map

Schleswig Map

Sanitary Commission

Sanitary Commission

Brooklyn Fair





Napoleon Cartoon






MARCH 5, 1864.]



maker, the bootmaker, the stay-maker, the hair-dresser, could do no more for him than they had done. They had exhausted their faculties in adorning him. Another lappel to the coat, an-other curl to the coiffure, another whiff of per-fume about him, and the dandy would have been spoiled. As it was he was as perfect as a man could be with three under-waistcoats, a very high-shouldered, high-collared coat with velvet collar and cuffs, lavender pantaloons very tightly strapped over his boots, a hat with a turned-up brim, a voluminous shirt-frill with diamond studs down the breast, white kid gloves, and a gold-headed cane with a long silk tassel. Stay, the pocket-handkerchief with which he had flicked the dust from his chaussure was of crimson silk. From time to time he tapped the lid of an enameled snuff-box, and refreshed himself with a pinch of Maccoboy.

Dress makes up so much of the dandiacal entity that the description of this ineffable person's countenance has been temporarily overlooked. It was worth looking at, however. A dandy face, but not a monkeyfied, not a simpering one. His age seemed to be between thirty and forty; but it was evident that at no very remote period he had been an eminently handsome man. His teeth were beautiful. His hands and feet you could see (his gloves and boots notwithstanding) were Byronically small and symmetrical. He had a charming red and white complexion. His hair was black and glossy, and admirably adjusted. So, too, with his mathematically-cut whiskers and chin-tuft. Mustaches he had none. When he smiled he showed the beautiful teeth a good deal ; when his glove was off he made a liberal display of the emerald and diamond rings on his dainty white hand. There was no finding any fault with the man's outward appearance ; for albeit expensively dressed, and with a great gold chain meandering over his cut velvet waistcoat, and a double diamond pin in his cravat, he looked from head to foot a gentleman. It should finally be mentioned that there were two trifling drawbacks to his good looks. Across his left cheek, almost from the corner of the month to the eye, there ran a scar, which when he talked turned red. His eyes, too, were very colorless and sunken, and there were brownish rings beneath them. But for these the dandy would have been an Adonis, and rivaled D'Orsay on his own ground..

He was evidently very well known. He stopped to speak to ladies belonging to the very elite. He was asked whether he had been to the duchess's ball; whether he was going to the marchioness's rout. His replies were affirmative. He was tapped on the arm with pretty parasols and scent-bottles, and scolded prettily for not having executed some commission, accepted some invitation, joined some fashionable junketing then or recently afoot. The dazzling teeth had work enough to do; the supple body was hinged and rehinged in urbane apology. Clearly our dandy was very popular among the sex. Nor did the men treat him with less favor. He was of every chattering group, of every sniXXering conversation where wickedness was made a merry jest of, and reputations joked away. He went to and fro and up and down, and scanned prize flowers through his eye-glass with calmly-complacent criticism, He was charming.

There came up my Lord Carlton, a wild rake of the time, and deep player, with little Harry Jermyn, his admirer. crony, toady, on his arm.

"How do, Griffin?" was hie lordship's salutation. "Monsous haw stopping here. Con-founded military baud blows roof of one's head off. Come away, Griffin, and have a hand at picquet at my rooms in town."

"I would with pleasure, viscount," the dandy addressed as Griffin answered, "but I've a little business to transact in this neighborhood before I return."

"Business!" echoed his lordship. "Business at a flower-show ! Dooced queer place for business, Griffin. You haven't turned market-gardener, have you ?"

"Il y a des fleurs animees," quoth little Mr. Jermyn. "All the Chiswick roses don't grow on bushes. Our friend may have a private bower somewhere close by."

"Not at all, not at all," smiled the dandy, lifting his hat for the hundredth time to a passing party of ladies. "You wrong me, I assure you. I am not en bonne fortune, upon my word."

"Then what are you going to stop here for when it's time to go back to town?" Lord Carl-ton pursued, elevating his eyebrows in pardonable amazement. " Going to look at a horse?"

"No, my lord.''

"Going to dine at Richmond ?"—his lordship said "Wichmond," but it would be both tedious and indecorous to give typographical expression to his defective linguals.

"Not at all. I lunched very late, just before coming down ; and if I dine at all it will not he till night."

"Never mind, my hoc; you'll get plenty of supper at Crocky's," here cut in Mr. Jermyn.

A slight cloud passed across the white fore-head of the dandy, but he chased it away with an airy toss of the head.

" Of which club," he blandly retorted, "Mr. Jermyn is not, I believe, a member."

"Got nothing but black balls," his lordship added by way of confirmation, and with a loud chuckle. " Poor fellow ! his proposer staid away, and his seconder came from Scotland on purpose to pill him. Stop, there was one white ball, and that was from a fellow who was short-sighted, and popped his pill into the wrong side."

"Mr. Jermyn will have, I trust, better luck next time," the dandy remarked, with a conciliatory bow to Jermyn. Had I not been in Paris—"

" At Frascati's," interposed his noble friend, "In Paris," he continued, taking no notice

of the interruption, "Mr. Jermyn might have reckoned on my humble support. I should have been delighted to find him one of us."

' Yes, I dare say you would," acquiesced Lord Carlton. Harry's a very good fellow, and has got plenty of feathers ready to be plucked before he is fit to be made into a compote de pigeons. You'd have given him two white balls, I'm sure you would, Griffin."

"Oh yes, I'm sure you would," repeated Mr. Jermyn. The assurance was double-barreled--susceptible of two meanings. Mr. Henry Jermyn , hated the dandy for belonging to a club to which he had himself failed to procure admittance, although he well knew that the honorary co-membership might prove in the long-run costly if not ruinous. Yet he would have jumped for joy had the exquisite addressed as Griffin offered to propose him.

"Never mind, Harry," his good-natured lord-ship observed. " Safe to get in next time. Can't keep you out. Besides," he added, turning to the dandy, " the fellows made a dooced mistake after ally They took Harry for big Jack Jermyn —you know, the racing man who was in the Eighth, and levanted after Newmarket the year before last. They thought it was all up with Jack, and didn't care about having a rook in the dove-cot. By Jove ! if they knew that Harry was to have all his grandmother's money—how old is she, Harry ? —he'd have been elected unanimously, and received with a salute of twenty-one guns."

" Mr. Crock Ford must have shed tears when informed of the sad truth," remarked the dandy, with sardonic politeness. "However, fortune will make amends. I hope to meet Mr. Jermyn as a fellow-member at supper in St. James's Street as soon after his grandmamma's decease as possible. By-by, viscount ; Mr. Jermyn, I have the honor." And, with unmoved urbanity and a graduated scale of politeness, as though his leave-taking to the person next in rank might have been, "Fellow, get out of the way!" the dandy, lifting his hat for the hundred and tenth time that afternoon, strolled away.

Monsous well-preserved man, Griffin Blunt," Lord Carlton said, looking with careless admiration after his retreating friend, " wears very well. Must be forty, if he's a day."

"He looks very queer about the eyes," Mr. Jermyn ventured to observe, in mild disparagement.

"Late hours," explained his lordship, who generally went to bed about four in the morning and rose about three in the afternoon. " Griffin is a shocking night-crow."

"What do they call him Griffin for, and who is he ?"

"How amazingly raw you are!" exclaimed his lordship, elevating his eyebrows in some surprise. " Don't you know that Frank Blunt goes by the name of Griffin, because he used to wear a scaly green silk coat when he drove his curricle at the time of the Regency ? Dooced queer time it mist have been, too, and dooced queer fellows. Should have liked to belong to that set, only they drank so dooced hard."

" Has he got any money ? How does he get his living ?"

" How should I know ? P'raps he's his grand-mother's heir, if he hasn't sold the reversion. You'd better ask him. He's apt to turn crusty sometimes. He got that scar on his cheek in '15 in a duel with a French dragoon officer in Paris. Griffin Blunt was in garrison at Versailles, and came up to dine in the Palais Royal, and the dragoon picked a quarrel with him about the battle of Waterloo—they were always picking quarrels, those French fellows, at that time —and Griffin knocked him down; and then they fought with sabres in the Bois de Vincennes, and Griffin had his pretty face laid open ; but, by Jove ! he killed the dragoon."

" And what does he do now ?"

"What a dooced lot of questions you ask, Harry. I'm not his godfathers and his god-mothers. I believe he sold out after the peace, and went to India to grow indigo, or buy opium, or shake the pagoda-tree, or something of that sort. Well, he came hack, and he's been on town these ten years ; at least, I've known him ever since I came up from Oxford. He knows every body, and belongs to the very best set in town, and the women adore him, for he plays the harp, and the piano, and the guitar, and sings little French songs, and, I ant told, can do Berlin wool and Poonah painting. Ha ! ha!"

"Est il mauvais sujet?" Mr. Jermyn asked.

"I believe he's about as bad as bad can be," coolly replied Lord Carlton. "He's worse than I am, and that's saying a good deal. He takes more trouble. He beats for game alone, and likes his birds wild. .That's a bore. I prefer a battue, and fellows to beat for me."

"And his money?"

"Don't know any thing about it. He lives high, and must spend two or three thousand a year. Charming little house, you know, in Curzon Street. He goes in for deep play, and bets, and so forth ; but I'm sure I don't know whether he's worth twopence in the world or not."

"Is he married?"

"Married! By Jove ! one would think you wanted me to say my catechism. What do I know about it? Griffin Blunt never said any thing about his being married, and there's no-body in Mayfair who owns to the name of Mrs. Blunt. Come along; I want some hock and soda-water, and then I'Il take you back in my cask"—which was Lord Carlton's humorous designation for his cabriolet—" and we'll have some cards before dinner. Isn't there a game called cribbage ? I should like to learn it. It must be a jolly game. I'm sick of all the French ones. I wish Griff'd come, and we'd make it loo, He plays admirably."

Mr. Blunt was otherwise engaged. He was a

squire of dames. Group after group of ladies took him up, and did not drop him after brief parley, as it is the elegant but rather embarrassing custom of the ladies of the great world to do. They were sorry to part with him, for it was agreed on all sides that Mr: Blunt was most amusing and agreeable. In feminine society he was not called Griffin Blunt. His sobriquet was known, but. it was ascribed less to his dueling adventure than to his delightfully wicked character. Five or six-and-twenty years ago the Roue had not become in polite society the object of thorough terror, detestation, and contempt he now (of course) is. It was thought that, to be very dissolute, or, at least, to have a name for dissoluteness, was to be like the late Lord Byron ; for many an assumed libertine brags of the vices he does not possess, as they said of Jean Jacques, and is fundamentally as innocent as M. Hendrik Conscience's Coq du village. There were some prudent mammas who looked upon Blunt as a dangerous man, and warned their daughters to beware of him ; hut then it was impossible to be very severe with a gentleman who went into the very best houses, who was undeniably accomplished, faultlessly dressed, exquisitely well-bred, and who. could always procure a voucher for Almack's. Be-sides, Blunt had the rare art, or rather the rarer tact, of paying court before the world to old and middle-aged ladies. He never despised his dowagers; et elles lui en savaient gre, avec toute la reconnaissance de quarante cinq ans. He cast himself, morally, at their feet, and overwhelmed them with attentions, as though they were in all the bloom and freshness of youth. it was only when the world was not looking that Mr. Blunt occupied himself with young people ; and it was on the staircase and in the conservatory that the sleek Griffin put forth his claws. " There are always young people growing up for one," he would say, in his airy manner ; "but the dowagers who have places to give and money to leave pass away. Let us cultivate the dowager. If a man wants to get on in life, he can't do better than study the History of the Middle Ages." To which Moyen Age culture Mr. Blunt owed much of his success.

Thus, floating through the sunny crowd, went on the dandy, admired, caressed, envied by struggling parvenus, who would have given their ears for a nod or a half-civil word from half the people he was laughing and flirting with. When a man comes to propounding conundrums to duchesses, and promising to draw caricatures in the albums of embassadors, it is palpable that he must be bien pose in society. "My humble proficiency in the fine arts," Blunt would say, " is worth fifty dinners, a hundred balls, and a week in each of the best country houses a year to me. Of what use should I be in Dorset or Russell Square? What do they know about the fine arts beyond the ' Beauties of England and Wales,' the portrait of the late Princess Charlotte, and the view of the Temple of Concord in Hyde Park ? To assiduous study in the Vatican Museum and the Pitti Gallery I owe my introduction to Plesiosaurus House. Her Grace's appui is invaluable. Je suis de Marly. I go to her water-parties at Kew. My little musical accomplishments would be worth an heiress or an Indian widow to me if I were—well, a marrying man. If I could only play the violoncello, I should be invited to his Royal Highness's Wednesdays. I must learn the violoncello at all hazards. Tell me where Dragonetti lives, and I will give him a guinea a lesson."

" You're an ambitious fellow, Griffin," would that shrewd novelist and newspaper writer, Whipstaff, to whom Blunt sometimes imparted these demi-confidences, remark. "You sail well before the wind, and in a short heat I'll back you to distance the best ; but you've no ballast, my boy, and you 11 founder. I suppose your estates are all in Ayrshire, or the Isle of Skye—nay, and that your balance in the Joint Stock Doggerbank is pretty well dipped into. Take my advice, and, if you haven't laid by for a rainy day, borrow somebody else's umbrella, and don't give it back again."

"You are an excellent moralist," thus Mr. Blunt, with a pleasant sneer. "Are you, too, ready for the wrath of Jupiter Pluvius?"

"Never mind," retorted Whipstaff, who was notoriously not worth a penny, and in dire difficulties. "Let me alone, and I shall turn up trumps yet. Every bird feathers his nest in a different manner. The wisest one, after all, is, perhaps, he who never troubles himself with making a nest of his own, but pops into some-body else's. There are still a few sinecures left, that confounded Reform Bill"—Whipstaff was a stanch Conservative—" notwithstanding. The wind is tempered to the shorn lamb, and the old ravens of the Treasury Bench will provide for the barrister of seven -years' standing." Such was the worldly wisdom of Mr. Whipstaff, who had eaten his terms some years before at his own expense, with the firm and fixed resolve of eating a great many more terms, some day or another, at the expense of the country.

Whipstaff was at the Flower-show, and re. marked to several acquaintances that he never saw Griffin Blunt looking better. "However he manages it," he continued, "I can't imagine. Lucky fellow, he never does any work, whereas I can't mingle in fashionable society under a net loss of two guineas an hour. I wish he'd give me his recipe for living at the rate of two thousand a year upon nothing."

" Shakes his elbow," suggested purple-faced Captain Hanger, who hated Blunt.

"Perhaps," acquiesced Whipstaff, with a sigh, " and is lucky. With me that species of paralysis has always proved the costliest of diseases."

And so the Whirligig went on. Now Scandal's sirocco seized a spiteful anecdote, and twirled, and twisted, and sent it spinning from one

end of the gardens to the other. Now it caught up a. woman's reputation, and eddied it in wild hide and seek through the summer leaves. It was the merriest kind of word-waltzing imaginable ; and never a sneer, an innuendo, a wicked bon mot, but found a partner.. And in the midst of it all the hand of the Royal Horse Guards Blue brayed forth Suoni la Tromba with tremendous and sonorous emphasis. What did it all matter to them—scandal, repartee, innuendoes, sneers? It was their business to blow, and they blew as though they would have blown forever. So the huntsman winds a find, a, check, a mort. So the drummer beats the charge or the chamade, the advance or the retreat. So while Cleopatra reclines in her gorgeous galley, on her poop of beaten gold, beneath her canopy of tissue, with Iras and Charmian—those "gentlewomen like the Nereides"—the honest musicians who play the flute and the hautboy have quite enough to do at the prow, blowing and tootling while the silver oars keep stroke to their music, and without troubling their heads about the "Serpent of old Nile," or Mark Antony or Octavius Caesar either. Their business is to blow, and they do blow. This is a good state of life : to sit in the orchestra blasting your required quota of sound, and enjoying your forty bars rest without belonging either to the actors before or the audience behind you. Was there not an old fiddler once, at the French Opera, who so minded his crotchets and quavers, listening to countless overtures for fifty years, scraping through innumerable ballets, and who could yet declare on his honor that he had never seen a dancing girl's ankles? I think the band of the Royal Horse Guards Blue, at the Chiswick Flower-show, had the best of it. When their labor was over they had gratuitous cold meats and beer, and the band-master shared between them a handsome donative.


THE popular novelist, whose portrait we print for the benefit of our readers on page 149, was born in 1828. His father was an Italian, and his mother, a favorite singer, was a West Indian. Early in life Mr. SALA devoted his energies to painting. When the Gore House was fitted up as a grand Symposium by ALEXIS SOYER, the latter availed himself of the taste and skill of Mr. SALA in its paraphernalia and scenic arrangements. From his own account of this Symposium it appears to have been an institution of unrivaled magnificence—with its beautiful gardens, terraces, its tasteful library, and its rooms fitted up in every conceivable style —as Chinese pagodas, or Italian cottages over-looking lakes. At length the grand Symposium vanished, and SALA reappeared before the world as a contributor to Mr. DICKENS'S " Household Words." Some of his productions were translated into French, as works of Mr. DICKENS himself. Such papers as " Miss Tattyboy's Rents," " The Secrets of Gas," etc., attracted consider-able attention from their novelty. In 1858 Mr. SALA went to Russia, and wrote a series of articles on his tour for the "Household Words." GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA is not a profound writer, but his papers are always entertaining and original. His new story, " QUITE ALONE," commences in Harper's Weekly for this week, as a serial, from advanced sheets.


THE escape of a large number of Union officers from THE LIBEY PRISON AT RICHMOND, on February 9th, abounds in details of thrilling interest. We publish this week, on page 145, a sketch representing the meeting of some of' these refugees--weary and worn-out by the fatigues of flight, added to the severities of their long imprisonment—with the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, who were scouting the country for their rescue. The plan of escape had been conceived two months previous to its execution. The only possible way of escape was through a subterranean tunnel reaching from the cellar of the prison to some convenient point of exit on the outside. At first it was proposed to dig the tunnel in the direction of the sewer, and escape through that; but after several days' hard work the entrance to the sewer was found to be impracticable, and it was determined to change the direction of the tunnel, so as to lead under the street to an out-house across the way, which was a depository for parcels sent to the prisoners front the North. The officers were let down into the cellar through the chimney. For fifty-one days they worked away at the tunnel, small parties often or twelve being engaged at a time. The work was carried on at night, and for instruments they used their fingers, knives, chisels, or any thing at hand—the dirt being hid under the refuse and straw in the cellar. When it was impossible any longer to throw the dirt out by hand a spittoon was used as a dirt-cart, being attached to a string on either side, and drawn to and from the cellar. After patiently working in this manner for a number of days they came to a point under the out-house, and began to dig upward, until finally the work was done. The prisoners started out on the evening of the 9th. in small squads, each taking a different route. At two o'clock the lights of the city were put out, and escape was more feasible. In their efforts to reach the Union lines some were recaptured; but out of the one hundred and nine who attempted this adventure, the greater number succeeded. They were aided by negroes, by Union citizens, and by cavalry detachments, which were sent out by General Butler for that purpose as soon as he heard of the escape. We can hardly imagine what were the feelings of some of these refugees when, hotly pursued by the enemy and almost exhausted, they beheld the old flag which had come to find and protect its soldiers.




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