By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
How a Civil War prisoner became the 'Sylvania Spy'
Bulloch History

Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at places and events of interest in Bulloch County history.

 Part One

In his book, "The Capture, the Prison Pen, and the Escape," Brevet Capt. Willard W. Glazier of the Union Army’s 3rd New York Volunteers told the story of how he became "The Sylvania Spy."

After his unit proceeded to the Bull Run Bridge for another engagement in October 1863, he wrote “my horse was shot from under me.” Knocked out, he awoke to find himself a prisoner.

He wrote, “My arms had been stripped from me, my, pockets rifled, and watch taken." Later that evening they were marched to Warrenton and placed in the county jail.

The next morning, he began his 14-month saga of imprisonments and escapes. Sent to the dreaded "Libby Prison" in Richmond, then the prison at Danville, Virginia, he finally arrived at "Camp Oglethorpe" in Macon.

Here he discovered that Maj. Thomas P. Turner, the "fiend incarnate" of Libby Prison, had taken charge of the Macon camp. Here, the phrase "being exchanged" soon came to mean that the prisoner had succumbed to disease.

Glazier and many of his fellow Union soldiers were shipped to Camp Davidson in the eastern part of Savannah nearby the Marine Hospital.

Glazier and his fellow prisoners were shipped to Charleston, where they were marched down Coming Street to Charleston's Jail Yard, within plain sight of Morris Island where the Union siege batteries stood.

The citizenry stood along the street, calling them "northern blue-bellies," baboons and "Lincoln's monkeys." According to Glazier, this site was the filthiest prison in which he was confined.

Glazier and his fellow prisoners were next transferred to “Camp Sorghum" in Columbia, South Carolina, where they were taken to an open field on Bridge Street, where they found no shelter from the driving rain.

Here, Glazier was finally able to escape. He and his accomplice, Lt. M.W. Lemon of the 14th New York Heavy Artillery, brazenly walked out of the camp.

The two prisoners walked by "a stupid-looking fellow" who accosted them and said "Where are you going, Yanks?" Glazier glared at the guard and said, "Do you halt paroled prisoners here?"

Shocked, the guard meekly said "No, sir." Ordering him to "let the gentleman in the rear follow me," the two men quickly headed out of town.

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter