Lake County History Chapter 87: Helped by a Slave

 “That night, the same man came and took me to his cabin. He kept me there seven days before I could walk again. After I could walk, he told me, ‘I know three-quarters of the way to the Union Lines. I will go with you.’

“We started that night. We traveled all night until it began to get daylight when my legs gave out again, and I could not walk a step. The Negro said, ‘I know where I am. You lay down, and I will see if all is clear.’ He came back and said, ‘Come along, everything is all right.’

“He took me to a house that I think was Secretary of War, Seddon’s, of the Southern Confederacy. The house servants took care of me for three days. They washed my legs in vinegar and red pepper and wrapped me in red flannel. We started out and traveled all night when my legs gave out again. My Negro friend told me, ‘This as far as I know.’ I told him, ‘All right. I will pilot the rest of the way now.’

“Just about daylight, it began raining hard. We saw a barn, and we thought we should go there and stay during the day. When we got to the barn, we found all the doors locked. I found a shed on one side that was filled with straw. We buried ourselves by working foremost into the straw until we were completely covered.”

“All that day, we lay there without anything to eat or drink. About a half-hour, after we were hiding in the straw, we heard a dog barking furiously and also a voice calling him to come home. I could not tell if it was a White man or a Negro, but I thought it was a Negro.”

“About halfway into the morning, about ten o’clock, a lot of children came upon the straw to play. A voice that sounded much the same voice I heard before, called to the children, ‘Keep off the straw. I do not want it to be all tramped down.’  By his keeping such a particular watch on that straw pile, I was made to think he had seen us going into the shed. He might know I was a Union prisoner making an escape. Nothing more happened, and that night and we got out. I did not feel any more lameness until we came to the west side of Nashville.”

“As we walked, I picked up a paper off the ground that I could read by moonlight. The paper told me that we were right in the middle of the Rebel lines. I had gone through the outskirts of General Davis’ brigade.”

Next Episode: Saved by a Slave

For more on Civil War History, read Paleno’s ‘The Porter Conspiracy’

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Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

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