Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/293
Plan to Rescue Johnson's Island Prisoners
mounted) bearing upon the prison; that there were but four hundred troops on the island, and no artillery save two small Howitzers, one of which was upon a ferry-boat plying between the island and the city.
Two small nine-pounders were quietly purchased, Colt furnished us with two navy revolvers, with an ample supply of pistol ammunition—of course, through several indirect channels; dumb-bells were substituted for cannon-balls, as it would have excited suspicion to have asked for such an article in Montreal; powder, bullets, slugs, butcher-knives, in lieu of cutlasses, and grapnels were obtained, and all preparations made to arm the escaped Confederate officers and soldiers who, to the number of 180, we were promised, could be induced to act with us in any way to benefit our cause; but when the time came for them to come forward, only thirty-two volunteered, and, with our party thus augmented to fifty-four, we determined to make the attempt on the Michigan on the following plan: From Ogdensburg, in New York, there is a line of screw steamers plying to Chicago, in the grain and provision trade, and as they return nearly empty to Chicago, and sometimes carry the Adams Express Company's safe, we decided to take deck-passage on board one of them, as mechanics and laborers bound to Chicago to work on the city water-works there, and with this view one of our clever privates, named Connelly, was sent over to Ogdensburg, who paid the passage-money for twenty-five of us in advance, to be taken on board at some point on the Welland canal, and, while doing so, he made an agreement to take as many more laborers as he could obtain, their passage being fixed at the same price, to which the New Yorker consented, and gave him the ticket to show to the captain of the boat. We were then to assemble at St. Catharines, on the canal, go on board the steamer (one of our men, apparently entirely unconnected with us, having charge of the guns, powder, pistols, etc., boxed up in casks, boxes, etc., and marked "Machinery, Chicago," going on board the same steamer with us), and when fairly out in Lake Erie, and well clear of British jurisdiction, we were to rise on the officers and crew, overpower them, seize the steamer, mount our two nine-pounders, arm the men, secure the prisoners, and push on for Sandusky, timing our arrival so as to reach the Michigan about daylight, collide with her as if by accident, board and carry her by the cutlass and pistol, and then,