Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 30.djvu/269
Johnson's Island 261
from the quarter deck was to notify the prisoners at Johnson's Island that the moment had come, and they were to rise immediately in insurrection. Their escape was to be covered by the captured Michigan, which was to shell the fort and Federal quarters. It was expected that at this same hour the blows would be struck at Camps Douglas, Chase, and Morton. All points failed.
Sure of his prize, Cole played with it as a cat tantalizes a mouse. He delayed one second too long. He was pledging his last good health when an officer from Johnson's Island entered the ward-room. Tapping Cole on the shoulder, the officer said:
" Major, I arrest you as a Confederate spy."
Cole laughed lightly, but his heart sank within him. He knew that the whole plot was frustrated. Upon being searched, papers were found on his person that proved his guilt beyond a doubt. With remarkable presence of mind he implicated a dozen or more innocent citizens of Sandusky, and during the excitement occasioned by the adroit move his friends and accomplices made good their es- cape. Beall scuttled the Island Queen in sight of the Michigan, and running the Philo Parsons over the Canadian shore, sank her also. Beall was shortly after captured, and, despite the persistent efforts of his friends, was executed on Governor's Island, February 24, 1865. In his farewell letter to his brother, he wrote:
" Remember me kindly to my friends. Say to them that I am not aware of committing any crime against society. I die for my country. No thirst for blood nor lucre animated me in my course. 1 Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay.' Therefore, show no unkindness to the prisoners; they are helpless."
Cole was betrayed by a Colonel Johnson, of Kentucky, who after- ward so suffered from remorse that he cut his throat in the barracks at Cincinnati while being held as a Federal witness. After being tried and convicted of the charge of piracy and of being a spy, Cole was sentenced to be hanged on Johnson's Island, February 16, 1865. He was subsequently moved to Fort Lafayette, and in the mean time public feeling had greatly softened toward him. General M. D. Leggett, afterward Commissioner of Patents, two of the ladies who were on the Island Queen when Cole captured her, and many other sympathizers petitioned successfully for a commutation of life sentence to life imprisonment. In 1866 he was released on a writ of habeas corpus, at the instance of Jake Thompson, escaped to Canada, and thence to Mexico, where he served under Maximilian.