Escaped Union Prisoners of War to the Provost Marshal General of the Department of the South

Hilton Head S.C.  December 7th 1864

Sir   Agreably to your request the undersigned have the honor to present to you the following brief summary of their observations in and escape from the Southern States

On the 5th October, the officers confined in Roper Hospital Charleston S.C. received orders to prepare for a removal,  we, together with Lieut Millward A.D.C to Genl Scammon, having provided ourselves with rebel uniforms (while in route to the dept, walked deliberately out of the ranks.  Knowing no one in the city we relied upon the negroes & the same day, we related to one Thos Brown (Col'd Barber) who we were, & asked assistance–  Said Brown, who seemed proud of speaking of his being a Black Republican–placed us in charge of his son who the same night procured for us a hiding place among some friends of his (colored) where we remained at least one month.  We, a short time after our escape, heard of one Mr. Riels (German) who was hiding away the other officers–  This gentleman provided us with money & used all endeavors to get us away.  Having procured 5 negroes and about on the 2[7]" Oct. we made the attempt to run out of the harbor, from the foot of Hazel St.  As we were about starting, a Lieut with 7 men–suddenly appeared and without speaking fired at the men collected on the wharf wounding the Lieut. in charge and capturing the negroes–  We, in the obscurity of the night, crawled away and hid in an empty building–  Being compelled to leave our quarters we got separated from Lt. Milward who we have since learned was recaptured on Sullivans Islan

Being introduced to a Mr. Christmen (German) we in conjunction with Capt. Telford & a private made an attempt together with a Mr O'Conner (Citizen) to leave by the route by which we subsequently escaped.

But Captn Telford whilst presenting his pass at the bridge in the Ashley river was recognized by the guard (who had previously guarded us) & he Mr O'Connor, & private Sweeney were lodged in Charleston jail after being stripped of watches & all money in their purses. Mr O'Connor though a British Subject being heavily ironed

Becoming acquainted with a Mr. N. Sherhumer, formerly a U.S. soldier who took us to his house gave us clothes, money &c. Here in the room of a Mr. Whittaker, we stayed till Nov. 29"   On that day passes being procured for us by Mr Whittaker & Mr. Riels, we under the guidance of Towles priv. 32nd Ga. arrived by the cars at his (Towles) house & with Mr. Whittaker & 5 deserters from Castle Pinckney arrived via Toogoods creek & the Edisto river in our lines landing on board the U.S. Sloop o War, the “St. Lewis”.  This route, leaving the cars at New Road, distant from Charleston 22 miles & marching easterly to Towles' house by the Toogoods Crk, has been open a long time.  Its known to the Union men in Charleston & to some officers & men of the 32nd Ga. who are paid by Towles for their connivance.  We stayed in Charleston two months, relying all that time on the negroes for safety–who we found remarkably intelligent, thoroughly comprehending their own Status in the Rebellion.  The Germans also rendered us every assistance.  Indeed without them we could not have escaped.  As a general rule the foreign born population (Chiefly Germans) are loyal.  They have a Union Association to which 1400 belong who, as a member told us, carry one of these–suiting the action to the word and showing a revolver.  They say they're ready at any time with security of protection to co-operate with our forces upon an attack.

They have about 5000, troops in & around Charleston–  The yellow fever carried off several officers & men whilst hid away in the City.  We both of us had it.

There's a general depression prevailing among the soldiers and civilians,  they move about like melancholy shadows, [&] there's no doubt that if the middle & poor classes dare express their sentiments, that they would declare themselves ready to return to their proper allegiance.  All that has been said about the sufferings of our prisoners, particularly enlisted men, does not, cannot depict their sufferings–  Let one fact suffice.  A negro told us that when they were on the race course–they actually allayed their thirst with urine   We have the honor to be sir, in haste Very Respectfully Your Obdt. Servant

(Signed)  Alured Larke
(Signed)  R. H. Day     

Capt. Alured Larke and Capt. R. H. Day to the Provost Marshal, 7 Dec. 1864, vol. 238 DS, pp. 103–6, Statements of Escaped Union Prisoners, Refugees, & Confederate Deserters, series 4294, Provost Marshal General, Department of the South, U.S. Army Continental Commands, Record Group 393 Pt. 1, National Archives.

Published in The Destruction of Slavery, pp. 809–10, and in Free at Last, pp. 161–64.