By Sarah M. Taylor
(Lt. William Caldwell, grandfather of Sarah Elizabeth Caldwell Campbell)
The soft evening breeze rustled the tall pines' needles, ruffled the long streamers of Spanish moss like a mother's caressing hand on her child's curly hair, then carried its whispered message of far-away news to the lower level of swamp growth and turbid, dark waters. It began to absorb the beads of sweat from the face and upper body of the burly black man seated at the base of a big pine. Lazily the man raised a hand, broad in its spread, to dislodge the persistent mosquitoes from his wet forehead, at the same time stretching his massive legs and thighs along the needle covered ground, curling the bare toes in relaxation. Myriads of mosquitoes buzzed their nightly chorus and he slapped at these lighting and sucking on his hard muscled shoulders and arms. It had been a long day.
Now as he watched the moon send its spreading paths through the dense trees he could, in this aloneness, bring his mind once more to focus on his constant problem---how, could he, black Cudjo, rescue his beloved Marse William from his imprisonment? A plan was forming in his thoughts, each day a small progress was made, but could he, a lonely slave, bring it to fulfillment?
In his mind he relived the many past months since his master, Lieutenant William Caldwell, had been taken prisoner at the fall to the British of Fort McIntosh. This was a small Continental stockade, one hundred feet square, with a bastion at each corner and a blockhouse at the center, garrisoned by sixty Continentals, and located on the Santilla River about halfway between the present town of Waycross and Jesup, Georgia. Only when provisions and ammunition were near exhaustion, and no hope of reinforcements could be expected, had Captain Winn, the commanding officer in charge, acceded to the English demand for surrender. Under the terms of the capitulation Lieutenant Caldwell of the Carolina Regiment and a fellow lieutenant were taken as hostages, and the other prisoners were paroled, not to bear arms again until an exchange could be effected. Caldwell's faithful body servant, Cudjo, was permitted to accompany him.