Wealthy Burgess

(Camden County)

Featured Character – Divided Allegiances

Peter T. Burgess

Courtesy of Brian Forehand

Although a sister to the Buffalo leader Peter T. Burgess, Camden County resident Wealthy Burgess supported the Confederacy. When toward the end of the war a small group of Confederate officers were to be taken by boat to a northern prison, the officers deployed a tactical mutiny on the ship, allowing them to escape to the North River Swamp. Here they were forced to hide and Confederate supporters, under penalty of death, were forbidden to provide food, shelter or guidance to freedom. Arrangements were made for the officers to escape by way of a sailboat waiting on the river, but the officers, unfamiliar with the area, needed a guide to show them the way. According to oral tradition, Wealthy Burgess volunteered as this guide, assuming that a woman would be least suspected. She left the home of a friend living on the Pasquotank River and travelled eight miles through forest and swamp, where she found and led the officers to the vessel and safety.