Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/291
Plan to Rescue Johnson's Island Prisoners
in the event of adopting two lines of operations, I was to have one of them as my command.
As soon as it was definitely settled that the expedition was to go for the President said it was better to fail than not to make the attempt, as it had been vaguely talked of in Montreal), our preparations were made. Thirty-five thousand dollars in gold, or its equivalent, was placed at our disposal by the Navy Department, and a cargo of cotton, which was subsequently sold at Halifax for $76,000 (gold) by the War Department—in all some $111,000 in gold, as the sinews of the expedition. The officers selected John Wilkinson, lieutenant commanding;, Lieutenant B. P. Loyall, Lieutenant A. G. Hudgins, Lieutenant G. W. Gift, Lieutenant J. M. Gardner, Lieutenant B. P. (F. M.) Roby, Lieutenant M. P. Goodwyn, Lieutenant Otey Bradford, Acting-Master W. B. Ball (colonel of Fifteenth Virginia Cavalry), Acting-Master William Finney, Acting-Master (H.) W. Perrin, Lieutenant Patrick McCarrick, Acting-Master Henry Wilkinson, Chief-Engineer (J.) Charles Schroeder, First-Assistant-Engineer H. X. Wright, Second-Assistant-Engineer Tucker, Assistant-Pay master (P. M.) DeLeon, Assistant-Surgeon (William) Sheppardson, gunners Gormley and Waters, John Tabb, a man named Leggett, who subsequently left us at Halifax. Of course our plan was kept secret, only Wilkinson, Loyall, and myself knowing its objects, and we did not attempt to contradict the report that we were going to England, where many of the officers and our friends on shore supposed we were bound.
The party consisted of twenty-two, all told, and on the 7th of October we left Smithville, N. C., on the Cape Fear river, in the blockade steamer R. E. Lee, with Wilkinson in command; and, after successfully running the gauntlet of the blockading squadron of river vessels (not, however, without getting a shell in our starboard bulwarks, which exploded on board, set the cotton on fire, wounded three men, and broke a small hoisting engine into smithereens), we arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia, where our arrival was at once telegraphed all over the country as being en route for England. Dividing the party, we left Halifax as soon as possible, taking two routes for Canada—one via St. John, New Brunswick, and thence up through the province via Frederick and Grand Falls to Riviere du Loup, on the St. Lawrence, to Quebec and Montreal; and the other via Pictou, through the Northumberland Strait to Bay of Chaleurs, via Gaspe, up the St. Lawrence to Quebec, and thence by railroad to Montreal, where we all met under assumed names about the 21st of October.