E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Scudding under Bare Poles.
In seamans language to scud means to drive before a gale with no sails, or only just enough to keep the vessel ahead of the sea; scudding under bare poles is being driven by the wind so violently that no sail at all is set. Figuratively it means to cut and run so precipitately as to leave no trace behind.