Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/294

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

with her guns, loaded with grape and canister, trained on the prison headquarters, send a boat on shore to demand an unconditional surrender of the island, with its prisoners, garrison, material of war, etc., upon penalty of being fired into and the prisoners being released without restraint upon their actions. Major (W. S.) Pierson, the commanding officer, is said to be a humane man, and seeing the disadvantage at which we would have him, with the prisoners by this time clamorous for their release, he would have been compelled to surrender, and, with the half-dozen steamers at the wharf in Sandusky, we could have speedily landed the whole 2,000 prisoners on the Canada shore, distant only some forty miles; and then, with the Michigan under our command, and she the only man-of-war on the lakes, with a crew composed of our fifty-four and some fifty others of such men as the Berkeleys, Randolphs, Paynes, and others among the prisoners, we would have had the lake shore from Sandusky to Buffalo at our mercy, with all the vast commerce of Lake Erie as our just and lawful prey. So confident were we of success and so admirable were our arrangements, that we had all assembled at St. Catharines, on the canal, waiting in hourly anticipation the arrival of the steamer, when the storm burst upon us in the shape of Mr. Stanton's telegram to the mayors of the lake cities to be on their guard against a Confederate raid, which he had been notified by the Governor-General of Canada (Lord Monck) had been organized in Canada for operations on Lake Erie. Thus, my dear admiral, with victory, and such a victory, within our grasp, we were foiled; and so anxious were the British authorities to keep on good terms with their detested neighbors (for they do detest them) that the troops who were about to be removed from Port Colborne, the Lake Erie terminus of the canal, were ordered to remain at that place, with instructions to arrest any vessel passing through the canal with a suspicious number of passengers on board. With our plan thus foiled, and with the lake cities in a fever of fear and excitement, and with the rapid advance of re-inforcements, both naval and military, to re-inforce the garrison at Johnson's Island against our compact little band of fifty-two Confederates, we had, as a matter of course, to abandon the design, and leave Canada as soon as possible, but to do so in a dignified and proper manner. Wilkinson, Loyall, and I (Coleman, Kelly, and Brest) remained in Montreal from five to ten days, giving to the Canadian authorities every opportunity to arrest us, if it was thought proper to do so; but Lord Monck was satisfied with having frus-