and broke the oar at the same time. The blow
was immediately returned by Thomas Sipple, and one
of the white men was laid flat on the bottom of the
boat. The white men were instantly seized with
a panic, and retreated; after getting some yards off
they snapped their guns at the fugitives several times,
and one load of small shot was fired into them.
John received two shot in the forehead, but was not
dangerously hurt. George received some in the
arms, Hale Burton got one about his temple, and Thomas
got a few in one of his arms; but the shot being light,
none of the fugitives were seriously damaged.
Some of the shot will remain in them as long as life
lasts. The conflict lasted for several minutes,
but the victorious bondmen were only made all the
more courageous by seeing the foe retreat. They
rowed with a greater will than ever, and landed on
a small island. Where they were, or what to do
they could not tell. One whole night they passed
in gloom on this sad spot. Their hearts were greatly
cast down; the next morning they set out on foot to
see what they could see. The young women were
very sick, and the men were tried to the last extremity;
however, after walking about one mile, they came across
the captain of an oyster boat. They perceived
that he spoke in a friendly way, and they at once
asked directions with regard to Philadelphia.
He gave them the desired information, and even offered
to bring them to the city if they would pay him for
his services. They had about twenty-five dollars
in all. This they willingly gave him, and he brought
them according to agreement. When they found
the captain they were not far from Cape May light-house.
Taking into account the fact that it was night when
they started, that their little boat was weak, combined
with their lack of knowledge in relation to the imminent
danger surrounding them, any intelligent man would
have been justified in predicting for them a watery
grave, long before the bay was half crossed.
But they crossed safely. They greatly needed
food, clothing, rest, and money, which they freely
received, and were afterwards forwarded to John W.
Jones, Underground Rail Road agent, at Elmira.
The subjoined letter giving an account of their arrival
was duly received:
ELMIRA, June 6th, 1860.
FRIEND WM. STILL:—All six
came safe to this place. The two men came
last night, about twelve o’clock; the man and
woman stopped at the depot, and went east on the
next train, about eighteen miles, and did not
get back till to-night, so that the two men went
this morning, and the four went this evening.
O, old master
don’t cry for me,
For I am going
to Canada where colored men are free.
P.S. What is the news in the city?
Will you tell me how many you have sent over to
Canada? I would like to know. They all send
their love to you. I have nothing new to tell
you. We are all in good health. I see
there is a law passed in Maryland not to set any
slaves free. They had better get the consent of
the Underground Rail Road before they passed such
a thing. Good night from your friend,
JOHN W. JONES.