Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/289

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Plan to Rescue Johnson's Island Prisoners.

[From the Richmond (Va.) Dispatch, December 15, 1895.]



Why the Daring Expedition Failed.

The following letter from Captain R. D. Minor, Confederate States navy, to Admiral Buchanan, giving the experience of the expedition for the rescue of the Confederate prisoners on Johnson's Island, is taken from advance sheets of "Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion," so called:

Naval-Ordnance Works,
Richmond, Va., February 2, 1864.

My Dear Sir,—Enclosed I send you the express company's receipt for a package of cloth, forwarded several days since to your address, at Mobile. Before leaving the Confederacy in October last I wrote to say good-by, and with the hope that before my return you would have heard of our success abroad, but the fortunes of war were against us, and all the consolation we have is the consciousness that we did our best, and that our efforts have been appreciated. You will pardon the prosy story I am about to tell you of our expedition, but, as it were one designed to do much good to our poor fellows at the North, and through their release to be of great benefit to our country, I have thought that it would be interesting to you to know something of its details.

Early in February of last year Lieutenant William H. Murdaugh, of the navy, conceived the plan of a raid on the northern lakes, based on the capture by surprise of the United States steamship Michigan, the only man-of-war on those waters, and, on mentioning his views to Lieutenant Robert R. Carter and myself, I need not tell you how cordially we entered into them, and endeavored by every means in our power to carry them into execution; but it was only after repeated efforts that the Government was induced to take any active part in promoting the expedition, though Mr. Mallory, the Secretary of Navy, was in favor of it from the inception of the plan; but