Now to warm my hands over the gas. Since my hands have become somewhat thawed I will tell you John escaped. He occupied a cell on the second range and I one on the lower range, which is on a level with the ground. Immediately under the lower range there is an arch of brick upon which the cells are built; the thickness from the floor of the cell to the arch is about two feet and a half. A hole was cut through the cell adjoining mine. When the arch was reached, large enough for a man to stand in, six officers were let into the secret and each performed their turn of duty each day, digging with knives in the direction of the main wall. Finding it too camper to cut through, it was determined to mine under it, which was done until they reached within six inches of the surface of the ground in an adjoining yard, which was surrounded by walls at least twenty feet high. They made a rope of the bed clothing, and the night they proposed escaping I exchanged cells with Joh. I forgot to mention that as soon as they had mined beyond the wall of this building holes were cut through the floor of seven cells into the arch.
Just after the night watch had gone the rounds (about half past 9 p. m.) they passed into the arch and removed this six inches of earth, which placed them in the adjoining yard, and on a shed two of the stoutest placed a third, who succeeded in reaching the top of the wall, where the rope was fastened. They then passed over this and found themselves still inside of the main wall surrounding the penitentiary, which they succeeded in scaling with the assistance of their rope and a gate. Their escape was not found out till next morning about 7 o'clock, when seeing the cell I occupied vacant, they thought I had gone, and were very much delighted when they went to John's cell, and, seeing me in there, supposed it was him; but how blank they looked a short time afterward when they as their mistake and that the bird had flown.
How they succeeded in doing all this work without is wonderful, for there is always some of the officials present, and not exceeding the fifth of us knew it until two days previous to their escape, although they had been at work for nearly a month. Many a sleepless hour did I spend, fearing detection, and I never spent time in such horrible suspense as the hour previous and the two hours succeeding their departure.
Captains Sheldon and Taylor, who escaped at the same time, were recaptured at or near Louisville and were brought back here to-day, and are in the penitentiary somewhere - [where] I can't say, but suppose in the black hole. Was ever such treatment heard of? Punishing a prisoner for attempting to make his escape when by all civilized nations it is considered legitimate for a prisoner to make his escape, if possible, even with the life of his guard, if he can effect it!
About six weeks since two of our officers were betrayed by a soldier at Camp Chase whom they had paid to assist them off. They were handcuffed, brought to Columbus, and placed in jail with negroes, thieves, and Yankee deserters, and afterward were marched through the street to this place, and on their way were hooted and thrown at by the rabble. What's your opinion now, dear Sallie, of the people composing that they call "the greatest country the sun ever shone on?"
John's not having been heard from leads me to believe he has made good his escape, and presume by the time your receive this he will have reached Richmond, where if our exchange cannot be effected he may succeed in having the same treatment meted out to our prisoners as they