Another hard luck prisoner was Col. D.R. Hundley who was commander of the 31st. Alabama Infantry. On January 2, 1865, Hundley, dressed as one of the guards who called the role of the prisoners each day, slipped out of the stockade gate. The guards were distracted by friends of Hundley’s who started a fight just as he reached the gate. The morning was extremely cold, and Hundley pulled the cape of his outer coat around his head so that the guard at the gate could not recognize him. Once out of the stockade, he made his way to the ice and crossed Sandusky Bay to the city of Sandusky. At the railroad terminal, he had second thoughts about taking a train to Detroit because of the number of Union soldiers at the terminal. Instead he started to walk in the direction of Detroit, through a blinding snowstorm, following the railroad tracks. To his disappointment, after walking for four days, he came to the city of Fremont which was only about 25 miles southwest of Sandusky. He was able to convince a hotel night clerk that he had fought at the front, and the clerk gave him a room. However after seeing a wanted poster for another prisoner, the clerk alerted the local authorities about Hundley. After some sleep and two good meals, Hundley was arrested and returned to Johnson’s Island. Hundley remained on the island until he was released on July 25, 1865.(quote and overview of Johnson's Island here) Another intricate escape attempt was spearheaded by Charles H. Colt, which involved him posing as an oil tycoon, making friends with a Northern battleship crew, and hijacking it with a steamer trunk full of hatchets. Details here.
So a lot of times we don't hear about...for instance, nobody's ever written a description of the inside of a latrine for me, you know? So I've got to come up with what I think that is based on the archaeological record of how that latrine was structured and why the deposits are the way they are. And not that that's some great historical question that needs to be answered, but it is one of those things we need to deal with when we're trying to figure out how the stuff got in the ground in the first place, right? They talk about tunneling, but they never talk about tunneling from the latrines—and we've found many tunnels from the latrines.... We had about a dozen that escaped, but really none of them through tunnels that we can prove. We know a guy got shot coming out of a tunnel and we know a lot of them got captured in the tunnels as they were trying to escape, but we don't know of anybody that actually got out through tunneling. They usually had to dress up like a Union soldier or a workman and go out with work parties—try to sneak out that way. But in terms of the archaeological record, there's a whole lot there to work with.He goes on to discuss the excitement of finding an "exquisite" ring on one of his digs. While they seem to find the details of the ring-making vague, a diary from one of the officers imprisoned there discusses one of the prisoner's favorite hobbies:
Having undergone so many privations and severities, and being so long cooped up on a boat, I now began to feel the deleterious effects, nor was I by any means alone in being under the weather. My ailment seemed to be nothing more than general debility, a loss of appetite, attended with a languid feeling. The day after that was rainy and gloomy, such as are complete bores indoor, unless one has some employment. Making rings of gutta percha buttons was a favorite occupation with the prisoners to wear away the time. Those who had friends north of Dixie could send them specimens of thier workmanship, some of which was really exquisitely nice. An ingenious fellow would take a gutta perclia rule and some buttons, and a few bits of shell, silver or gold, and, with no implements but a knife and file, in a little while be able to show rings and other trinkets not to be scorned even in comparison with a jeweler's stock. He would cut the shell and precious metals into squares, diamonds, hearts, triangles and other shapes, which, neatly fitted and imbedded into the face of the polished black surface, added to the beauty of both by the contrast. My room had almost been turned into a ring manufactory, our little shelf being piled fall of rude, homemade tools and material, and my companions were filing and gouging away right earnestly, as though they were convicts, with a task before them. As I never had any mechanical genius, I contented myself with looking on and making suggestions. Some of the prisoners who had been there for a long time, and expected to remain till Gabriel sounds his trump, had managed to procure complete sets of tools, and made it pay by disposing of their trinkets at fair prices, the Yankee boys buying many of them as curiosities for their friends and sweethearts.Another one of the things he briefly mentions is a woman prisoner who was pretending to be a man: this was Loreta Janeta Velazquez, a bisexual confederate officer, spy, dispatch runner, bond broker/scam artist, miner, and Mormon. A biography of Velazquez can be found here.
Mr. Johnson, the sutler and island owner, had sold some prisoners a coal oil lamp, was or soon would be declared contraband. When he refused to take the lamp back, it was thrown at his head. There were no injuries. The culprit was never caught.Joe Barbiere entitled his memoir Scraps from the prison table, at Camp Chase and Johnson's Island. The official prison records can be found here.
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