William Still records two escape incidents on steamboats that operated out of Baltimore and belonged to the Baltimore and Philadelphia Steamboat Company, also known as the Ericsson Line. The escape details in both narratives are reminiscent of Henry “Box” Brown’s escape from Richmond to Philadelphia in a freight box in 1849. In the summer of 1857, a free black woman from Philadelphia boarded an Ericsson steamboat in Baltimore. She brought a sea chest with her, her future daughter-in-law, Lear Green cramped inside. Green had a small quantity of food and a bottle of water, and a pillow and quilt for some comfort. The chest was secured with rope and stowed with other freight. Her future mother-in-law snuck into the compartment and lifted the lid once or twice to check on Green’s well-being and to give her a breath of fresh air. Escaping from James Noble, a Baltimore butter dealer, Green endured eighteen hours in the chest before the ship arrived in Philadelphia. Now free, she settled in Elmira, New York and married her fiancé, Henry Adams.
William Peel, alias William Peel Jones also escaped from Baltimore in a confined space on the Ericsson Line. He grew concerned that Robert H. Carr, a grocer and merchant, would sell him as he had done with other slaves. A friend boxed him up, adding straw for padding, and had him shipped as freight to Philadelphia in April, 1859. The friend then traveled on a train to arrive in Philadelphia in time to receive the shipment. Jones experienced a painful cramp, faintness, and a “cold chill,” during the voyage. The friend met the ship at the dock to show the papers for receipt and request delivery. But the arrival was on a Sunday and the ship’s officer informed him that deliveries were not made on Sundays. Sensing the man’s anxiety, the officer relented a little and let him look for the box. Jones’s friend found the box and the officer released it to him. But an hour and a half was lost during a search for an available driver with a vehicle large enough to carry the crate. After seventeen difficult hours, Jones emerged from the box. He headed to Canada, but stopped for a while in Albany to work in a store.
Still’s identification of the Ericsson Line and the hours of confinement are clear indicators that Green and Jones passed through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal on the way to Philadelphia. In 1844 the Baltimore and Philadelphia Steamboat Company was incorporated "to operate steamboats to Philadelphia through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.” The company was the first to provide “continuous waterway service between Philadelphia and Baltimore” for the purpose of carrying freight and a few passengers between the two cities. The company designed their ships to fit through the narrow locks to take advantage of the time and cost savings of using the canal between the two major ports. To fit through the twenty-six foot wide canal locks, the company kept the width of their ships within twenty-four feet, an appropriate design for travel through the canal and sheltered bays, but too unstable for the Atlantic Ocean. These narrow ships lacked the bulky side-wheeler design. Instead, they used screw propellers developed by John Ericsson, accounting for the alternate company name, Ericsson Line.
The time taken for the two escapes also reveals the canal route. A steamer out of Baltimore, going through the canal, and arriving in Philadelphia would have traveled 98 nautical miles. In the open bay, steamers in the 1850s could cover an average ten to twelve miles in one hour, slower if fully loaded with freight. Stops at ports along the route added to the time, plus delays in traversing the canal could add as much as three and one-half hours. Green was confined in the chest for eighteen hours. Subtract the hour and a half delay before his friend could free him from the box in Philadelphia, and Jones trip took about fifteen and a half hours. Using the longer eighteen hours for Lear Green, that steamer traveled about five to six nautical miles for each hour, a realistic figure for a 1850s freight steamer making stops along the way. Decades later, in 1882, the company maintained a schedule similar to the travel time for Jones. The Ericsson steamboats left Baltimore at three in the afternoon that year, made stops along the way, and arrived in Philadelphia fifteen hours later. On the other hand, if the steamboats out of Baltimore rounded Cape Charles to enter the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay to reach Philadelphia, the vessel would travel 392 nautical miles. For an eighteen hour non-stop trip by a fully laden 1850s bay steamer, that would require sustaining a physically impossible speed of nearly twenty-two nautical miles an hour. If the ship traveled at the average speed of twelve miles per hour, without stops, the trip would have taken more than thirty-two hours. The Ericsson Line designed its ships to take advantage of the faster, less expensive route to Philadelphia through the canal. If the company then decided to run those ships around Cape Charles instead, without stops along the way to make the trip more profitable, that decision would have been incomprehensible. Those planning the escapes from Baltimore intentionally chose the Ericsson Line, knowing its direct route and shorter time schedule. Spending fifteen to eighteen hours in a confined space was challenging enough; thirty-two hours would have unnecessarily increased the discomfort and the hazard.
 William Still, The Underground Railroad: A Record of Facts, Authentic Narrative, Letters …. [Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1872], 281-284; Reward ad, Baltimore Sun, June 1, 1857.
 William Still, The Underground Railroad, 46-47.
 Robert H. Burgess and H. Graham Wood, Steamboats out of Baltimore [Cambridge, MD: Tidewater Publishers, 1968], 33.
 Ralph D. Gray, The National Waterway: A History of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, 1769 – 1965. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1967, 106
 Gray, 106; Holly, David C. Chesapeake Steamboats: Vanished Fleet [Centreville, Maryland: Tidewater Publishers, 1994].
 US Department of Commerce, Distances between United States Ports, 12th Edition, 2012, http://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/nsd/distances-ports/distances.pdf.
 The Maryland Directory, 1882, [Baltimore: J. Frank Lewis & Co., 1882]. The cover of the directory showed a schedule and ports of call between Baltimore and Philadelphia for the Ericsson Line. The steamboats took fifteen hours between the cities and 16 stops along the way. This closely matches the transport time for Jones and Green decades earlier.