Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/295

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289
Plan to Rescue Johnson's Island Prisoners.

trated our plans, and did not care to complicate the matter or show his zeal for the Yankees in any other shape than the very decisive one of informing on us. And thus we came away, leaving our poor fellows to bear the increased hardships of their dreary prison life for months to come.


BETRAYED.


And now for the sickening part. It appears that McQuaig, whom I believed to have been earnestly with us, became alarmed at the last moment, when our success seemed so certain, and fearing the ultimate bearing of it upon his own individual fortunes, involving, perhaps, failure, exile, loss of position, and imprisonment, betrayed us to Mr. Holden, a member of the Provincial Cabinet, who at once communicated it to the Governor-General; and hence the discovery.

So, but for treachery, which no one can guard against, our enterprise would have been the feature of the war, and our little navy another laurel-wreath of glorious renown. Leaving Quebec, we travelled in open wagons and buggies through the wilds of Lower Canada and New Brunswick, often looking into the houses on the Maine side of the river, with a desire to do to them as their people do to ours; but, as our policy is different, and as we carry on the war more on principles of civilization, the feeling was a childish one, though the contempt one felt for the cowardly dogs who crossed the line to avoid the dreaded draft was only natural, and still more so when their daily papers poured such venom on our cause and all connected with it. Taking the steamer at the small village of Tobique, we came down the St. John river, and at St. John we went on board the steamer Emperor, in which we crossed the Bay of Fundy, to the village of Windsor, in Nova Scotia, and thence by railroad to Halifax, where I volunteered for and obtained command of the captured steamer Chesapeake, then supposed to be making her way to the port of St. Mary's, about seventy miles to the eastward of Halifax, but before I could get to her with my crew and officers, with the idea of making her a regular cruiser, she had been forced by stress of weather to put into a British port, where her arrival was telegraphed, and, as a great excitement had been made over her novel capture, both English and Yankees were endeavoring to get her; and as I had but a forlorn hope of ever reaching her in a dull, heavy-sailing collier, the attempt was abandoned, and thus I lost my chance of a command afloat, when I had invitingly open before me the prospect of so much damage to the enemy's coasting