A Little Prison History of Local Interest From one of a series of articles on “Prison Life in Libby” by Capt. W.S.B. Randall, which are now running in the “Buckeye Volunteer,” we clip the following scrap of history of one of our townsmen, who was a prisoner in that famous pen. The abbreviated section here looses much of interest by being separated from the article itself, but we believe it possesses enough local merit to justify its publication. With an apology to the gentleman in question for lessening the honors that the writer of the article has justly devoted more space than we have room to accommodate, we append:
“Our private soldiers were confined in the “Smith and Pemberton” building, some seventy-five yards to the northeast of our prison and on the north side of Carey Street. The rebels would make a detail every evening of the Union prisoners, of about forty or fifty with buckets to carry the soup, or slop, to the prison. I watched the detail every day, hoping, if possible to see some of my company boys. One evening, quite late, as the detail filed silently by our south window, with pale, emaciated and upturned faces, for we were one story above them—who should I recognize but my Orderly Sergeant. My heart just leaped within me; he looked so poor and ragged and distressed. I had an old Cincinnati Commercial in my pocket that I had long since received in a box from home. In my anxiety I forgot that I was a prisoner. I ran to the window, I felt as though I must jump right out to him, but it was too far to the ground. I called out to him and said: “Gad, have you heard from home?” He looked up and saw me, his countenance lighted up and with a smile he said, “No, Captain; have you?” “Yes,” I said; “here’s a paper,” and threw it to him. The guard then called out, “Git back, thar; you ____ ____” and raised his gun to shoot. I dodged back, and he ran back further into the street to get a shot at me, but I had got out of sight. By this time the Sergeant was picking up the paper, and the guard made a dash at him with the bayonet and ran it through his arm.
It is useless for me to describe my feelings. To say that I was mad puts it entirely too mildly. I ran to the window, and my expression was not the most gentlemanly, for at that time some soldiers did swear a little. I know they did, for I heard them. Well, the guard tried again to shoot me, but I got out of his range. He then called his Corporal to report me. The Corporal came and I heard what they wee going to do. They were coming in to put me down in the dungeon cell. Of course I didn’t want to go there, so I ran to Lieutenant Thomas, who at that time had on a dress coat with a First Lieutenant’s straps on. I hurriedly exchanged my blouse for his coat and then put on his cap. It so changed my appearance that no one could have known that I was the same man. The Corporal and guards soon came in inquiring for me. They described me, but no man could be found that would exactly fill the bill. After searching for some time, during which time I talked with them, they gave it up as a hopeless case and left the prison.
The Orderly Sergeant was soon removed with other prisoners to Danville, Va., and he afterwards made his escape through a tunnel at Danville, and came West over the mountains and reached the Union lines in safety, and was at our old home about four weeks after my return. We returned to our old regiment and fought on together until the expiration of our term of service and returned home together, and he is now living, broken in health in consequence of his prison life, and a partial sunstroke while in the service. He is unpensioned, which is a shame and a disgrace to our country. His address is L. G. Frybarger, Clay Center, Clay County, Kansas.