Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/292

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Southern Historical Society Papers.


OF VITAL IMPORTANCE.


As it was of vital importance that the utmost secrecy should be observed, the officers were directed to take lodging in quiet boarding-houses, to avoid the hotels, not to recognize each other on the street, and not to be absent from their rooms for more than half an hour at a time. Finding Marshal (J.P.?) Kane and some of our friends in Montreal, we set to work to prepare and perfect our arrangements, the first object of the plan being to communicate with the prisoners on Johnson's Island, informing them that an attempt would be made to release them. This was effected through a lady from Baltimore, a Mrs. P. C. Martin, then residing with her husband and family in Montreal, and whose husband did all in his power to aid us in every way. She brought a letter from Baltimore, which General (J. J.) Archer, who with Major-General (I. R.) Trimble, was a prisoner at Johnson's Island, had sent there to Beverly Saunders, Esq., telling us to communicate with him through the personal columns of the New York Herald, which Wilkinson very promptly did, telling A. J. L. W. that his solicitude was fully appreciated, and that a few nights after the 4th of November a carriage would be at the door, when all seeming obstacles would be removed, and to be ready. The obstacles alluded to were the United States steamship Michigan and the prison guard. Our original plan was to go aboard one of the lake steamers at Windsor, opposite Detroit, as passengers, and when fairly out on the lake to play the old St. Nicholas game, and, by rising on the officers and crew, take possession and run her to Johnson's Island, trusting to the prisoners to overpower the guard, while we would be ready to receive them on board for transportation to the Canada shore; but, finding that the steamers seldom and at irregular interval stopped at Windsor, or at any point on the Canada side, we changed the plan at the suggestion of a Canadian named McQuaig, who was introduced to Kane by Mr. Hale, of Tennessee, as a good and reliable Southern sympathizer, engaged in running the blockade, and occupying a high commercial position in Canada. He entered into our views with enthusiasm, and we believe that up to the last moment he was heart and soul with us; but more of him directly. A reliable man was sent to Sandusky to ascertain the strength of the garrison, position of the guns, etc., and on his return we were delighted to hear that the United States steamship Michigan, under Jack Carter, was lying at anchor about two hundred yards from the island, with her guns (having six reported as