Lafayette’s Escape from Prison by Eli Spears
Saturday, November 6th, 1794
Day… Day I can’t seem to remember anymore. I’ve filled this journal with as many events as I can muster and yet my memory still fails me. Counting the days of my suffering in this never-ending prison seems nearly as dull and depressing as this prison cell itself, but my days of lost tally marks and insufferable counting are soon to be over. The plan for my escape is in place and I entrust Bollman will follow through properly. I’ve left the decisions to him when it comes to matters of this escape, for my wit has left me. Stripping a man of his freedom because he strives only for the freedom of his people is an ironic and cruel way to punish his mind (Baker).
The plan, though, is the ray of hope I have. The plan to reunite me with freedom and with my people. Although I know very little of the plan, Bollman has assured me he has more than enough wits to secure my freedom. He intends to go through with it all two days from today as I know from his signal. While the plan was not completely revealed to me, I know I am to strip the cowardly corporal of his sword and fight my way from the guards. I see it will be a simple feat, but these events are yet to conspire, and my fate is still left up to chance (Baker).
Sunday, November 9th, 1794
I have only thus mustered up the strength to sit in front of my journal once again and behold my quill. The plan for my escape did not go as we had thought, for I had misjudged the character of the corporal. Once I attempted to grab his sword and pulled it from his belt, he wrapped his hands around his own blade and stood stagnant as a bloody stone, giving no leeway for me to strip his weapon from him. This was a complication of course, but not something from which I could not easily recover. After seizing the corporal’s neck, we began a proper round of a battle between the two of us, and with aid from Bollman and his accomplice Huger, we quickly brought down corporal and escaped with our heads, but not with Huger, who was seized and imprisoned, or so I am told. While I may still have my head, my strength has long left me, and I now find myself in unknown territory as well. I have never been more than three miles outside the confines of the prison, and Bollman has now brought me twenty-five miles out into a city he calls “Hoff.” My only hope is that no bystander or humble resident of this town recognizes me as a criminal and once again puts me at the mercy of Olmütz Prison (Baker).
Baker, James Wesley. “The Imprisonment of Lafayette.” AMERICAN HERITAGE, 1 Apr. 2021, www.americanheritage.com/imprisonment-lafayette.
Journal of the Marquis de Lafayette by Nancy Caldwell
Morale has become low ever since the British took Philadelphia. Philadelphia holds quite the importance as it is the capital of the United States, as well as the chance of giving the British control over the supply and communication routes. Washington has expressed to me in his letters the paradox that he is having over there with his troops; he needs to choose between either keeping his men safe or protecting the city. Knowing General Washington, I am sure that he will choose the safety of his men to take precedence. Washington knows that if his army were to be destroyed, the morale would then become so low it would be close to non-existent (“Captivity”).
The British are starting to lose control over Philadelphia. What did they think would happen? That the residents of Philadelphia could be glad that they took over their land and would rally to the King’s side? I, as well as the rest of the forces, think that the British will leave the city soon (“Captivity”).
18 May 1778
Washington has instructed me to gather information between the Schuylkill rivers and Delaware, interrupt the British communication to Philadelphia, and protect Valley Forge. He advised that I should not take a stationary position as it is necessary for the detachment, but I think I should station my troops at Barren Hill as it could be beneficial to the tasks at hand (“Captivity”).
20 May 1778
I have received information that early in the morning, around six thousand British forces came from behind at Barren Hill. I believe that the British tried to circle us in order to capture us. Thankfully, General Washington was able to receive information about these intentions so that my army could get out soon enough. By the time that they arrived at Barren Hill, we were already past Schuylkill River and at Matson Ford. I was also told that many Oneida Indians helped in allowing us to escape by ambushing the British Forces. To them I owe gratitude. Had this not gone as well as it did today, the British might have been able to take over crucial points all over the region instead of going back to Philadelphia empty-handed. The casualties of our retreat have not been counted yet, but I can say that if there were any, there were very few (“Captivity”).
“The Captivity of the Marquis De Lafayette in Prussia and Austria, 1792-97.” NextGEN Gallery RSS, https://sites.lafayette.edu/olmutz/.
Lafayette Escapes Olmütz Prison by Chase Whitlow
Dear General Washington,
I’m not sure if you will ever receive this letter because I am not allowed to be writing in this prison. If these letters ever reach you, this is my story. On August 19, 1792, I was forced to flee from France in order to prevent being beheaded. After fleeing, I found myself in Austrian territory and was confronted soon after my arrival (George). I was then arrested and transported to different prisons, before I was finally taken to Olmütz prison. I have heard that the American people are very upset about my arrest from a man named Erich Bollman, who is communicating with me through the local doctor of the prison (Baker). Bollman has communicated to me that they are planning an escape to get me out of this prison. Another man, Francis Huger, is also assisting with the planned escape. The plan is for Bollman and Huger to be prepared with two horses on the side of the road as my guards take me on a carriage ride (Baker).
On November 8, 1794, we planned to overpower my guards and I would escape on horseback into Prussia (Baker). The plan was for me to grab the corporal’s sword and overpower them that way. However, I underestimated the corporal’s abilities. He grabbed the sword by the blade in order not to allow me to gain control of the situation (Baker). This threw me off tremendously because I never contemplated someone being crazy enough to grab the sword by the blade, cutting his hands badly. This struggle gave the corporal enough time for other guards to arrive and get Bollman and me off him. I then fled on horseback, leaving Huger and Bollman behind. From my knowledge, they were both eventually captured and taken back to Olmütz and placed into solitary confinement. I fled on horseback, but I had no idea where I was going. I found myself in a village, where I was suspicious due to my battle wounds. After I was questioned, I finally admitted to being Marquis de Lafayette, and I was escorted back to Olmütz prison, where I am currently being held. My wife and children were eventually transported to this prison, and the only reason they weren’t killed is that the French were afraid of the American outrage if my wife had died (George). If I can get this letter out of the prison, I want you to know I’ll be out in the coming years, and as soon as I am, I will come back to America to visit you and your beautiful country.
Marquis de Lafayette
Baker, James Wesley. “The Imprisonment Of Lafayette.” AMERICAN HERITAGE, 1 Apr. 2021, www.americanheritage.com/imprisonment-lafayette#3.
George, Emelie. “The Captivity of the Marquis De Lafayette in Prussia and Austria, in 1792-97.” NextGEN Gallery RSS, 2021, sites.lafayette.edu/olmutz/.