A soldier in the 13th Wisconsin Infantry describes how a 10-year-old Missouri slave and his friend outwitted their master and escaped to Leavenworth, Kansas, in March 1862.
There was a bright looking little negro boy who used to bring wood into my room, and once or twice for amusement I engaged him in conversation. He told me that he was ten years old, and related how he came to be in Leavenworth.
His master, residing near Platte City, Mo, had joined [Confederate General Sterling] Price, and let him out for his board and clothes to a party in the secession hot bed mentioned. While his master was gone he lived with two families both of which maltreated him, and was living with a third when his master returned and at the time of his own absconding. One Sunday his new master whipped him because he could not find and chop up old rails enough to keep the fires going. This was in the afternoon. In the evening the little fellow, after having formed a determination to seek liberty, went to the house of a neighbor and got another black boy, a year or two older, to engage in his plan also.
Taking a couple of pails, they started for the well as if for water; but instead of getting water they set the pails down, told them to stay there till they came back, and started for the bridge over Platte River, which was guarded by a Union sentinel, and which they had an idea they must pass, though they knew not the way to Leavenworth any more than that it lay west of them. They walked up to the sentinel, and asked him if they might pass over the bridge. He told them they might, which having accomplished, in the language of the boy himself, they "got up and dusted." They got lost in the woods two or three times, and finally laid down covering themselves with leaves. When lying down they heard horses' feet, but they "never said a word, but just lay still." The night was very cold, but their hopes kept them from freezing. In the morning they found themselves within sight of Leavenworth, which they reached in safety.
Source: E.B. Quiner Scrapbooks: "Correspondence of the Wisconsin Volunteers, 1861-1865," Volume 5, page 89.
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