Escape from Hellmira!

Confederate memorial in Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira, NY

One hundred and fifty years ago today, Confederate prisoners being held in Elmira Prison in upstate New York started construction on a tunnel that would allow ten men to burrow their way to freedom. It was the only one of several escape attempts that would be successful.

I’ve written before on “Hellmira,” but today’s tidbit comes from a neat little piece by Ray Finger, a reporter with the Elmira Star Gazette: “20 Facts about Elmira’s Civil War prison camp.”

You can find an account of the escape, written by escapee Washington D. Traweek, online. He was joined in his breakout by Berry Benson, J. W. Crawford, Hickory Jackson, C.S. “Cyclops” Malone, John Fox Maull, J. P. Putegnat, J. P. Scruggs, Glenn Shelton, William Templin, and a fellow identified only as “Shelton.”

3 Responses to Escape from Hellmira!

  1. My great-great-grandfather’s brother, James Warren, 51st N.C. Co. I, was imprisoned at “Hellmira.” He was captured June 1, 1864 at Cold Harbor and first confined at Point Lookout, then transferred to Elmira in July. He was paroled in March 1865 when the Northern powers-that-be finally relented to some prisoner exchanges. He was one of many ancestors who seemed to find their way across the gamut of Federal prison camps!

  2. My great-great-great grandfather had a similar term at Elmira; captured May 5 of ’64 at the Wilderness, sent to Point Lookout, then in August ’64 to Elmira until exchanged the following March. He was Alfred Young, Company C, 6th Louisiana.

    Joel Manuel
    Baton Rouge

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