The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Catalpa Expedition, by Zeph. W. (Zephaniah Walter) Pease

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Title: The Catalpa Expedition

Author: Zeph. W. (Zephaniah Walter) Pease

Release Date: July 13, 2020 [eBook #62633]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1



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Commander of the Catalpa









Copyright, 1897,


All rights reserved.


One hundred years after the Declaration of Independence, an American whaling captain, George S. Anthony, commemorated the event by enforcing another declaration of independence which set free the Irish political prisoners who were sentenced to a lifetime of servitude in the English penal colony in Australia.

The story of the rescue of these prisoners in 1876 is a brave incident of history which has hitherto been told too briefly. When Captain Anthony, commanding the bark Catalpa, landed the men for whose relief the expedition was planned, at New York, public interest in the romantic voyage was very intense. The boldness of the raid upon the English colony and the remarkable features of the conspiracy, excited universal curiosity concerning the details of the affair.

At that time international complications seemed certain, and there were many reasons why those concerned in the rescue furnished only meagre information of the inception of the plan and its progress during the two years which were spent in bringing it to a successful consummation.

Brief newspaper accounts appeared at the time, and this material has been worked over into magazine sketches. The frequency with which the original newspaper story has been revived during the years which have elapsed suggested that the interest was still alive and led to the writing of the story which follows. The facts were contributed by Captain Anthony, who placed his log-book and personal records at the disposition of the writer, and the present version is authorized by the man who was most prominent in it.

Some of the incidents of history which led up to the Fenian conspiracy in 1867 are compiled from familiar sources. The records of the court-martial are from transcripts of the proceedings made in Dublin expressly for this book, and have never previously been published.

No attempt has been made to embellish the narrative. It has been the effort of the writer to tell it simply, as he knows the gallant commander would best like to have it told.

New Bedford, Mass., 1897.


I. Sailing of the Catalpa 1
II. Fenian History 4
III. The Irish Political Prisoners 9
IV. The Court-Martial 16
V. The Court-Martial continued 35
VI. Banishment to Australia 51
VII. O'Reilly's Escape 54
VIII. Other Escapes and Rescues 58
IX. Appeals from Australia 66
X. The Plot 70
XI. The Vessel and the Start 75
XII. Whaling 82
XIII. A Hurried Departure 91
XIV. An Awkward Meeting 96
XV. A Strange Episode 103
XVI. Arrival at Australia 107
XVII. The Land End of the Conspiracy 110
XVIII. Meeting of Anthony and Breslin 116
XIX. Arranging the Details 122
XX. A Critical Situation 127
XXI. Leaving the Ship 132
XXII. The Escape 135
XXIII. In The Open Boat 142
XXIV. An Awful Night 148
XXV. A Race with the Guard-Boat 152
XXVI. Overhauled by the Georgette 157
XXVII. Bound Home 162
XXVIII. A Cordial Reception 167
XXIX. Settlement of the Voyage 183
Appendix 186


Portrait of Capt. George S. Anthony

Portrait of John Devoy

The Jail at Freemantle where the Prisoners were confined

The Catalpa Outward Bound

Portrait of Samuel P. Smith

Portrait of John J. Breslin

The Town of Freemantle, Australia

The Rescued Prisoners

The Race for the Catalpa

The Catalpa Homeward Bound

Portrait of James Reynolds

A Cartoon from the Irish World

[Pg 1]




On an April morning in 1875, the whaleship Catalpa lay at anchor in the harbor at New Bedford, ready for sea. Although the whaling industry was waning on the ebb tide, there were yet over a hundred whaleships sailing out of the port of New Bedford, and the departure seemed to call for no unusual notice.

It was a pretty spectacle, to be sure. The still waters, the green pastures running down to the shore of the lower harbor, and the ship, trim and taut. For, while a whaleship suggests to many a greasy, clumsy hulk, the outgoing whaler is actually as ship-shape and clean as a man-of-war.

The yellow sun shone on the yellow hull of the Catalpa. Her rigging was aglow with fresh tar, and her gaudy colors and signal flags gave her a holiday appearance alow and aloft.

Presently the sailors are on the yards, shaking out the sails. The captain, with his papers under his arm, the very picture of a captain, by the way,[Pg 2] strong and athletic in figure, with ruddy cheeks and life and fire in his bright eyes, goes aboard with the agent and a few friends, who are to accompany him down the bay.

The pilot instructs the mate to get under way, the anchors are soon on the bow and the chains stowed. The vessel sails out of the harbor, for in these days tugs are a luxury which the sailor despises, and soon the Catalpa is sailing briskly under fore and main topsail, main topgallant-sail, spanker, gafftopsail and staysail and flying jib.

Late in the afternoon the captain says good-by to his friends. The wind is blowing freshly from the southwest.

"Stand on the port tack two hours longer, then tack out and you will be clear of land," said the pilot, and, with the prosaic wishes of "good luck," departs.

Later the wind hauls to the southward. Before midnight the captain has the vessel under short sail and is working off shore.

And this seemingly commonplace commencement of a whaling voyage is, in truth, the story of the departure of one of the most boldly conceived and audacious expeditions against the English government which was ever planned,—the only important Fenian conspiracy which was ever entirely successful.

Standing upon one of the wharves on the waterfront, a man in a dark frieze ulster watched the inci[Pg 3]dents of the morning with absorbing interest. His eyes said a fond good-by to the captain as he rowed out to the vessel, for he dared not risk an appearance in the group which had assembled about the captain for a handshake. He was one of the few men who knew that greater perils than those which usually await the men who go down to the sea in ships must be met by the captain if he was true to a great trust, and that the vessel was going out in response to the cry of men who were outcast and in chains because they loved their country.

[Pg 4]



"This is serious business now," said a clever English literary man when he heard of the Fenian organization. "The Irish have got hold of a good name this time; the Fenians will last."

The Fenians were the ancient Irish militia organized in the third century by Fionn or Finn, who is said to be the Fingal of Ossian. In Scott's "Antiquary," Hector M'Intyre, jealous for the honor and the genuineness of Ossian's songs of Selma, recites a part of one in which Ossian asks St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, whether he ventures to compare his psalms "to the tales of the bare-armed Fenians."

"There can be no doubt," writes Justin McCarthy, "that the tales of the bare-armed Fenians were passed from mouth to mouth of the Celts in Ireland and the highlands of Scotland, from a time long before that at which any soothsayer or second-sighted sage could have dreamed of the landing of Strong-bow and the perfidy of the wife of Breffni. There was an air of Celtic antiquity and of mystery about the name of Fenian which merited the artistic approval given to it."

[Pg 5]

The Fenian agitation commenced in 1858, following the Phœnix clubs in the sequence of the secret associations which have been so prominent in Irish history. Had it not been for the American civil war, it is quite likely that it would have lacked the fame which it subsequently won, but the strained relations between England and America inspired the hope that war between the two great nations might follow, and that this would afford an auspicious opportunity for the uprising for Ireland's independence, which has ever been uppermost in the minds of the Irish patriots. Then the war had created the Irish-American soldiers, who were inclined to consecrate their energies to a new purpose in behalf of their native land.

The movement was more promising than any which had preceded it. In the first place, as Mr. McCarthy points out, "It arose and grew into strength without the patronage or the help of any of those who might be called the natural leaders of the people. In 1798 and in 1848, the rebellion bore unmistakably what may be called the 'follow-my-leader character.' Some men of great ability, or strength of purpose, or high position, or all attributes combined, made themselves leaders, and the others followed. But Fenianism seemed to have sprung out of the very soil of Ireland itself. Its leaders were not men of high position, or distinguished name, or proved ability. They were not of aristocratic birth; they were not orators; they were not powerful writers. It was ingeniously arranged[Pg 6] on a system by which all authority converged towards one centre, and those farthest away from the seat of direction knew proportionately less and less about the nature of the plans. They had to obey instructions only, and it was hoped that by this means weak or doubtful men would not have it in their power prematurely to reveal, to betray, or to thwart the purposes of their leaders."

The organization flourished in America, where the provisional government was established, and it soon had its ramifications all over Great Britain as well as Ireland. England's secret agents began to report the visitation of mysterious strangers to Ireland, strangers with Celtic features but with the bearing of American soldiers. This did not fail to attract the attention of the English government and the English newspapers. In "Saunders' News" I find an impolite reference to "the imitation Yankee rowdies who infest the streets of Dublin." The spy system flourished, and when James Stephens, the head centre of Fenianism, arrived in Ireland, he was arrested in company with James Kickham, the poet. Stephens was committed to Richmond Prison, Dublin, early in 1865, but before he had been many days in confinement he was released. Of the man who accomplished the liberation of Stephens there will be much said in ensuing chapters. The escape produced a prodigious sensation and had the effect of convincing the Irish peasantry that Stephens was the type of leader who would be adequate to the great task which had been aspired to,—the raising of the flag of an Irish republic.

[Pg 7]

Meanwhile the Fenians in America were divided on the policy of invading Canada, which was urged by some, while others pressed for operations in Ireland. A small body of men finally crossed the Niagara River on the night of May 31, 1866, and drove back the Canadian volunteers, but the United States government enforced the neutrality of the frontier line, unexpectedly to the Fenians, arresting several of the leaders on the American side. The Canadians hurried up reinforcements. Several Fenians were captured and shot, and the ill-advised invasion scheme resulted in a miserable fiasco.

Once more Stephens, who had returned to New York, declared his purpose of resuming operations in Ireland, and many Irish-Americans went across the Atlantic to await his appearance at the head of an army of insurgents. It was their presence alone which led to the poor attempt at rebellion which was finally made, for not only were the peasantry unarmed and unprepared for a war, but most of the people of the country were opposed to the wild scheme, and the Catholic clergymen were everywhere attempting to avert the certain disaster by discouraging the secret organization and the proposed insurrection.

Stephens, who was looked for to lead the men who sought deliverance from the English government, never appeared. Those who were true desperately resolved to give some sign of their sincerity. There were many wild plots, a few conflicts with the police. The government was informed of them[Pg 8] in advance, and none were successful. The habeas corpus act was suspended, and this action was promptly followed up by arrests, court-martials, imprisonments, and banishments to the penal colony at Australia.

"In March, 1867," writes McCarthy, "an attempt at a general rising was made in Ireland. It was a total failure; the one thing on which the country had to be congratulated was that it failed so completely and so quickly as to cause little bloodshed. Every influence combined to minimize the waste of life. The snow fell that spring as it had scarcely ever fallen before in the soft, mild climate of Ireland. Silently, unceasingly it came down all day long and all night long; it covered the roads and fields; it made the gorges of the mountains untenable, and the gorges of the mountains were to be the encampments and the retreats of the Fenian insurgents. The snow fell for many days and nights, and when it ceased falling the insurrectionary movement was over. The insurrection was literally buried in that unlooked-for snow."

[Pg 9]



The man who watched the ship to the line where the sea and the sky met was John Devoy.

Some time before there had come to him a voice, crying from the prisons of Western Australia, the land of slaves and bondmen, the penal colony of Great Britain. In the penal gangs were six of the comrades of John Boyle O'Reilly. Forlorn but not quite forgotten, they worked on the roads, "the weary work that has no wages, no promotion, no incitement, no variation for good or bad, except stripes for the laggard." O'Reilly had escaped from it, but he remembered the men who still toiled in the convict's garb on the government road.

"They were cutting their patient way into a forest only traversed before by the aborigine and the absconder," quoting from O'Reilly's "Moondyne." "Before them in the bush, as in their lives, all was dark and unknown,—tangled underbrush, gloomy shadows, and noxious things. Behind them, clear and open, lay the straight road they had made—leading to and from the prison."

These men had been soldiers like O'Reilly, and like him had joined the Fenian conspiracy of 1866[Pg 10] and 1867, when revolution was plotted in Ireland. Devoy had been the indefatigable agent of the revolutionary party, having been appointed chief organizer for the British army by James Stephens, who had been selected as chief executive of the new republic which was the dream of the Irish in 1865, as it is to-day. In a few months Devoy, quoting his own words, "laid up sufficient evidence to procure himself a sentence of fifteen years' penal servitude." Among the men were Thomas Darragh, Martin J. Hogan, James Wilson, Thomas Hassett, Michael Harrington, and Robert Cranston.

They were brave, reckless fellows who were readily converted to the doctrine of Fenianism. They attended the gatherings at the public houses, joined in the singing of Moore's melodies in the congenial company at Hoey's, and made the chorus of "We'll drive the Sassenach from our soil" inspiring to hear. Then came the arrests and the convictions for mutiny in her Majesty's forces in Ireland.

Mr. Darragh was born in 1834 in Broomhall, County Wicklow, his father being a farmer there. He was a Protestant and when he entered the army was an Orangeman, but he was subsequently converted through Fenian agencies to the national faith. He enlisted in the 2d Queen's and saw active service in China and Africa, receiving the distinction medal for gallantry displayed. Mr. Darragh had attained the rank of sergeant-major and was on the list for promotion. He became a member of the[Pg 11] Brotherhood early in its organization and was arrested for mutiny in September, 1865, at the School of Musketry, Fleetwood, England. He was taken to Cork, where he was tried and sentenced to be shot. The sentence was afterwards commuted to imprisonment for life. He was described in the prison "Hue and Cry" as being stout, five feet six and one half inches in height, with red hair, gray eyes, round visage, and a fresh complexion.

Mr. Hogan was born in Limerick in 1839, and was a carriage painter by trade. He enlisted in the English artillery, but his discharge therefrom was secured and in 1857 he joined the 5th Dragoon Guards. He was sworn into the organization in 1864 and deserted the army early in 1865, in order to be ready to take part in the contemplated rising. He was soon after arrested, tried, and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was a finely-built man, with "the gait and appearance of a cavalry soldier," according to the official prison description.

James Wilson had lived an eventful life. His real name was McNally, but it was a common thing for Irishmen to enlist in the British army under assumed names. He was born in Newry, County Down, in 1836. He served for seven years in the Bombay, India, artillery, which he left at the time of the white mutiny, when the East India Company was abolished. He had lived in Syria and America. In 1860 or 1861 he enlisted in the 5th Dragoon Guards and was sworn into the Fenian organization in 1864. He was continually propagating Fenianism,[Pg 12] and in 1865 deserted with Hogan. The fact that they remained in Dublin awaiting the uprising, although gazetted as deserters, is a fine tribute to their devotion. They worked under the direction of John Devoy until they were arrested in 1866. They were asleep in bed when the police came upon them, or a desperate resistance might have been looked for. Wilson is described at this time as of medium stoutness, five feet eight and one fourth inches in height, with a fresh complexion, brown hair, gray eyes, and oval visage.

Thomas Hassett was born in Cork in 1846, and was a carpenter by trade. He joined the Phœnix organization in 1859 and afterwards went out with the Papal Brigade to Italy, serving through the brief campaign. In 1861 he enlisted in the 24th Foot, and in 1864 was sworn into the Fenian Brotherhood. He, in turn, swore in 270 members of his regiment. It was his suggestion that the contemplated fight begin in Dublin by seizing the Pigeon House, which contained twenty-five thousand stand of arms. When it was considered to be in danger a guard of ninety men was placed upon it, of which number sixty were Fenians. Hassett proposed a plan of capture to his superiors in the organization, but it was rejected on the ground that they were not ready for a general fight. In January, 1865, Mr. Hassett was informed while on sentry that he would be arrested for Fenianism as soon as he came from his post. He concluded to leave at once, and, marching into the Fenian rendezvous in full uniform with[Pg 13] his gun on his shoulder, presented himself to John Devoy.

"Most of the fellows who desert for Ireland's sake," said he, "come to you empty-handed, but here am I, ready for work."

O'Reilly presents a dramatic picture of Hassett's appearance at the meeting of organizers, whither he marched from the sentry post. He says,—

"Private Hassett walked off his post and, shouldering his rifle, proceeded confidently through the streets of Dublin, in which a soldier with arms is never questioned. It was ten o'clock at night, and it so happened that Hassett knew of a certain meeting of organizers, and other 'boys on their keepin',' which was being held that evening. Thither he bent his steps, reached the house, and, knowing how it was done, gained admission. The rebels sat in council upstairs; faces grew dark, teeth were set close, and revolvers grasped when they heard the steady stamp on the stairs and the 'ground arms' at their door."

"A moment after, the door opened and the man in scarlet walked into the room; all there knew him well. With full equipments, knapsack, rifle and bayonet, and sixty rounds of ammunition, Hassett had deserted from his post and walked straight into the ranks of rebellion. He was quickly divested of his military accoutrements; scouts went out to a neighboring clothing-store, and soon returned with every requisite for a full-fledged civilian. The red coat was voted to the fire, and the belt and arms[Pg 14] were stored away with a religious hope in the coming fight for an Irish republic.

"The next evening one more was added to the group of strangely dressed men who smoked and drank their pots-o'-porter in a certain house in Thames Street. The newcomer was closely shaven and had the appearance of a muscular Methodist minister. The men were all deserters, and the last arrival was Hassett. Vainly watching for the coming fight, the poor fellows lived in a mysterious misery for several weeks. It is hard to realize here now the feeling that was rife in Dublin then. At last one of the deserters was recognized in the streets by the military informer,—Private Foley, of the 5th Dragoons,—tracked to the rendezvous, surrounded by the police, and every one captured."

In 1873 he escaped from prison in Western Australia, and lived on an Irish farm for a time; but it was a bad season and he could not get together an outfit. After two months he made a dash for the coast and stowed himself away on an outgoing vessel, but he was captured by the water police and brought back to the convict establishment. For two years afterward he was kept in irons with the chain gang.

Michael Harrington was forty-eight years old at this time. He was born in Cork, where his father was a merchant, and he was given the advantage of a liberal education. His tastes were for the army, and in 1844 he enlisted in the 61st Foot. He served through the Punjab war, and also through the Sikh[Pg 15] war under Sir Hugh Gough, who made the now famous exclamation, "Magnificent Tipperary!" Mr. Harrington also took part in the Sepoy war, and then returned home with his regiment. He joined the Fenian organization in 1864 and was very active in enlarging its membership. In January, 1866, being in danger of arrest and desirous of freedom to take a more active part in the projected uprising, he deserted. Yet he remained in Dublin, was arrested on suspicion after the suspension of the habeas corpus act, identified as a deserter, tried and sentenced for life. He was described on the prison records as fairly stout, with brown hair, gray eyes, and a sallow complexion.

Robert Cranston was born in Stewartstown, County Tyrone, in March, 1844, and assisted his father on the farm previous to enlisting in the 61st Foot at the age of twenty. He joined his fortunes with the Fenian conspiracy and industriously assisted in "propagating the faith." Of his regiment at least six hundred were sworn members of the Fenian organization.

[Pg 16]



The court-martials of the men with whom this story deals are of interest in so far as they exhibit the extraordinary efforts which were made to convict the conspirators. This is particularly striking in the case of Sergeant Darragh, who was court-martialed at Cork, February 21, 1866. In this case an informer went so far as to receive the sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church in carrying out a deception which was to result in the betrayal of those who accepted him as a friend. The notorious informer, Talbot, testified in all, or nearly all, of the cases, of the existence of the conspiracy.

The court-martial of Darragh throws light upon the details of the conspiracy as well as the methods of the spies of the English government, and inasmuch as it is an episode which has never been printed, liberal extracts from the proceedings will be given. The charges against Darragh were:—

First: "For mutinous conduct at Cork on or about the month of April, 1865, in that coming to the knowledge of an intended mutiny in her Majesty's forces quartered in Cork barracks, he did not give information thereof to his commanding officer."

[Pg 17]

Second charge: "For conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline in having at Cork, on or about the month of April, 1865, joined a treasonable and seditious society, called the Fenian Brotherhood, having for its object the levying of war against the Queen, and the subverting of the government of the country."

When the prisoner was brought forward he handed to the President (Colonel Shute) a memorandum, stating that he had failed in procuring the means of employing counsel for his defense, and praying the Court to permit his solicitor, M.J. Collins, to aid him in the conduct of the case. The President said that the Court granted the application.

Colonel Addison was then examined, and swore that the prisoner had never at any time informed him of any intended meeting of soldiers in Cork barracks.

John Warner, the informer, was then produced, and, in answer to questions put through the deputy judge-advocate (Colonel Nugent), deposed: I was discharged from her Majesty's service in 1857, after coming from the Crimea.

Did you receive a pension?—Yes, sixpence a day, for the period of eighteen months.

Were you wounded at the Crimea?—Yes, in front of Sebastopol, in the month of August, 1855.

Did you join the Fenian Society?—Yes.

When did you first become acquainted with J.J. Geary?—In 1864, in the latter end of 1864, after[Pg 18] being discharged from the militia in Kinsale—the City of Cork Artillery.

Are you aware whether he had any connection with the Fenian conspiracy? If so, what was that connection?—He was connected with the Fenian Society as a centre, which means a colonel of it.

After you were enrolled as a Fenian, did Geary give you any particular instructions for your guidance after you were enrolled?—Yes.

State what they were.

Prisoner. I object to that.

The Prosecutor (Col. Lane Fox) contended that the instructions the witness received for the carrying out of the conspiracy were not hearsay, and quoted an authority in support of that view.

Deputy Judge-Advocate. This is a statement of a third party in the absence of the prisoner.

Prisoner. I object to any instructions given by Geary. The witness can state what he did in consequence of any such instructions; but any instructions given behind my back, without my knowledge, I object to.

The court was cleared, and on being reopened it was announced the question was not to be put.

Examination by the prosecutor. You say you received particular instructions for your guidance from Geary. State what you did in consequence.—I got instructions from Geary regarding the oath. I was warned three weeks before I came up to the barracks to enroll men. I was called before the meeting for not going up to the barracks.

[Pg 19]

President. State what you did.

Witness. I came up to the barracks and met Darragh outside the gate. I asked him to go down to the North Main Street with me. He went with me to the North Main Street, to Geary's. We had some drink in the inside tap-room, and during the time there I asked would he become a member of the Fenian Society, and he said yes. Then we both went out in the back yard, and I repeated the oath to him, and he did so after me. I then gave him a Catholic prayer-book. He swore on that book to be a member of the Fenian Society. Then we came in and I introduced him to Geary as a member of the society. Geary shook hands with him. He said he was very glad to have one like him enrolled. That was all at that time.

Repeat as nearly as you can the oath which you administered to Darragh?—"I (John or James, whichever the case may be), do swear allegiance to the present republic now virtually established in Ireland; that I will maintain its independence and integrity at every risk, and I will obey the command of my superior officers. I take this oath in the true spirit of an Irish soldier at liberty to free my country. So help me God."

Did you know Darragh before that?—I did, in the regiment of the depot of the 2d Queen's.

Were you ever in the 2d Regiment?—I was. I volunteered from them.

Had you any facilities for enrolling men in the barracks?—Yes. I was told off for that special[Pg 20] purpose, and a good many of the men knew me and would not stop me going in and out of the gate.

Were Geary and the prisoner previously acquainted when you introduced them?—I could not say they were.

Did they shake hands as if they knew each other?—They shook hands as a member should be introduced, in a manner.

Did you hear Geary give any instructions to the prisoner for his guidance?—Yes. He gave Darragh instructions in my presence to go about the barracks, and find out any men that would join the society and bring men down to Geary's house, but not to deliver the oath,—to bring them to me or to himself. If I was not there he would swear him in. Accordingly he did, and the first man he brought was Butler to Geary's house.

How long was that after you swore Darragh in?—To the best of my belief from a fortnight to three weeks.

Did the prisoner say anything about any particular corps that he would work in?—Yes, he said he would wish to work in no other regiment but his own.

Did the prisoner bring any other soldier to you or to Geary to be sworn?—He took none to me but Butler. I cannot speak as to Geary.

Did you hear Geary give Darragh any instructions relative to taking the barracks?—Darragh told him the different parts, in my presence, which were weakest and the easiest to get in. He said if there were[Pg 21] one or two men in every passage—enrolled men—they would be sufficient with a thousand outside to take it. I heard him say that much in my presence to Geary.

Did you hear Geary say anything about what was to be done to the commanders when the signal for a rising was given?

Prisoner. I object to that.

Prosecutor. When a conspiracy is proved, the act of any one applies to the whole. I am asking the witness now what was the intention of the Fenian Society. We have already received documents which do not relate exactly to the prisoner, but to the aims and objects of the society. I withdraw the question for the present.

Prosecutor (to witness). Did you hear Geary, as a member of the Fenian Society, say anything about what was to be done to the commanders when the signal for a rising was given?—The commanders, he said, were to be destroyed if they did not take the oath of allegiance to the society. Every man that did not take the oath of allegiance would be destroyed. I heard Geary say that.

Who was it said to?—It was said to Darragh, and to different other members in my presence.

Did you keep a list of the members enrolled?—Yes, sir. (A book was produced, which the witness identified as that in which he had the names of new members enrolled.)

The court adjourned.

[Pg 22]

Cork, Thursday, February 22d.

The president (Colonel Shute) and the other officers of the court took their seats at eleven o'clock, when the trial of Sergeant Darrah, of the 2d (Queen's Own) Regiment, was resumed.

John Warner, the informer, who was under examination at the rising of the court yesterday, was again produced and gave the following further testimony:—

Are you certain that the prisoner was present when Geary said that the commanding officers were to be destroyed?—He was.

Are you quite certain?—I am.

When he said the commanders were to be killed, and all in the barracks who did not take the oath, are you quite certain that he said all the commanders who did not take the oath?

The prisoner objected to the question.

Prosecutor. Was it that the commanders especially were to be destroyed that did not take the oath of allegiance, or that every one was to be destroyed, the commanders included?—Every one, the commanders included, who did not take the oath of allegiance to the Fenian Brotherhood.

Are you able to read and write?—I can read and write a little. I can write my name.

President. Can you read print and writing?—I can read print, but not writing.

Prosecutor. Have you ever seen the prisoner at Geary's since he was sworn in, and if so, how often?—About three or four times.

[Pg 23]

Where did he generally go to when in Geary's?—Upstairs in a front room over the shop.

Is there a small room at the end of the shop on the ground floor?—There's a small room on the left hand side before you go into the shop, and two inside that.

Did you see the prisoner go into either of these rooms, and if so, how often?—Once he went to the inside one with me, before he was sworn, the inside tap-room.

Were you ever in the prisoner's room in the barracks?—I was.

How often?—Three or four times. I took tea with him there one evening.

Who was present on those occasions besides the prisoner and yourself?—Two color sergeants of the 2d Queen's and their wives.

Their names?—I don't know their names.

Did you speak of the Fenian Society in the presence of these sergeants, and of the prisoner?—No, not in the room.

President. Did you do so in the presence of those other sergeants?—No, not at all.

Prosecutor. Can you state, of your own knowledge, what rank the prisoner held in the Fenian Society?—Geary told him he would be a B, which was a captain.

Do you know if Geary and the prisoner are relations?—I could not say.

Were you acquainted with Bryan Dillon?—I was.

[Pg 24]

Had he any connection with the Fenian Society, and if so, what was his rank?—He was a centre or an A, which means colonel in the Fenian Society.

Have you seen him in the company of the prisoner?—I never did.

Do you know if Bryan Dillon was tried at the Commission for being a member of the Fenian Society?—Yes.

The prosecutor then handed in a certificate of the conviction of Bryan Dillon, at the special commission, held in Cork, when he was sentenced to ten years penal servitude.

Examination continued. Do you know a man named Thompson?—Yes.

What was his Christian name?—I can't say, but he lodged at Geary's.

Was he connected with the Fenian Society, and what was his connection?—He was a B in the society, which made him a captain.

Did you ever see him in company with the prisoner?—Once in Geary's, in the front room over the shop.

Give a description of what took place at Geary's house?—A man named Donovan, from Dublin, lectured on the rifle, showing how to make cartridges, and military and field engineering.

Did you see a rifle raffled for there?—Yes.

Was it the headquarters of the Fenian Society in Cork?—It was the principal part of the city for the Fenian Society to meet in.


Organizer of the Rescue Expedition

[Pg 25]

Do you recognize this book (book produced), and if so, state what you used it for?—This is the book on which I swore in Darragh and different other members besides.

Did you make any communication to Sub-Inspector Hamilton as to how your being in the barracks could be proved?

Prisoner. I object to that question.

Prosecutor contended that the question was legal.

The court was cleared.

When it reopened, the deputy judge-advocate announced that the Court ruled the question might be recorded, but not answered.

Examination resumed. Had you any communication with Mr. Hamilton in reference to your being in the barracks with the prisoner?—Yes.

Did the members of the Fenian Society carry on drill in the neighborhood of the barracks?—In a place called the Lawneys, about a mile from the barracks.

Prosecutor. I close.

Cross-examined by the prisoner. Did you know I was in Cork until the time you say you met me outside the barrack gate?—No, I did not know you were there until then.

Did you swear, in answer to the prosecutor, that you came up to the barracks for me, which is true?—I did not come up for you in particular.

Were you in the habit of coming to the Cork barracks previous to the day you say you met me at the gate? If so, for how long?—No, I was not.

[Pg 26]

Did you come to the barracks before, and if so, how often?—I have come in before, when doing Sir John Arnott's business,—conducting it.

Were you in barracks when the last detachment of the 2d (Queen's) Regiment arrived here from England?—I could not tell; I was not aware what time they came, or what place they came from.

Did you see Corporal McKillop with me marching into Cork barracks?—I did not.

Do you know McKillop?—I do not. The first time I spoke to you since I left the depot was outside the gate.

Did you not speak to me when I marched in with my detachment?—No.

Did you not go to the canteen to drink with me?—Not when you marched in, but I came in one evening to the barrack and had drink with you.

Prisoner. I wish to have Corporal McKillop produced for identification.

President. Was the meeting in the canteen before the time you spoke to him at the barrack gate?—It was a week or two after I met him outside the gate that we drank in the canteen.

Deputy Judge-Advocate. McKillop is on furlough in England.

President. You say McKillop is in the barracks; how do you know?

Prisoner. I can't know, for I have been in close custody for six months.

President. If he be a material witness, he shall be recalled by telegram.

[Pg 27]

Cross-examined. Was that the first time you drank with me at the canteen?—It was not. Geary and Butler and two more drank with us at the canteen. Geary paid for the drink.

When was the first time; how soon after you swore me in?—In some time after.

Why did you not mention that before, in answer to the Court?—I did not think of it. It is hard to think of everything at once.

You say you swore in Butler, and did you swear in any other soldier between the time you swore in Darragh and Butler?—I am not sure whether I swore in Farrell between them or not. Butler brought me a corporal and a private. I think their names are in the book.

Did you swear any and how many soldiers between swearing in Darragh and Butler?—I do not think I swore any between you and Butler except Farrell; but I don't know whether he was or not.

What was the time between swearing me in and swearing in Butler?—It may be a fortnight or three weeks.

During that time did you swear in civilians?—Yes.

State the number?—It may be two or three.

Did you swear in any soldier previous to the time you say you swore me in?—Not a regular soldier; there were militia.

You say I directly went to Geary and took a treasonable oath without the smallest reluctance. What month was that in?—It may be in the latter end of March or beginning of April.

[Pg 28]

When you joined the Fenian Society did you do so for the purpose of betraying them?—I took the oath for the purpose of betraying them, and I could not get their intentions without taking the oath.

When did you join the society?—In December, 1864.

When did you first give information?—In July, 1865. I tried before to go to Captain Tooker but was followed. Captain Tooker is a magistrate of the city of Cork.

Did you go of your own free will to give him information?—I did.

Were you from May, 1864, to September, 1865, most actively engaged in endeavoring to induce parties to become members of the Fenian Society—swearing them in and enrolling them?—I was. I should do so by orders of Geary.

How many members did you enroll?—I can't be exact; they are in the book; but about fifty altogether.

The prosecutor said that the witness was not bound to answer any question affecting his credibility.

The president said the main point was credibility.

Prisoner. It was the prosecutor who first asked the question.

The Court decided the question could be put.

Cross-examination continued. Did you not know all the secrets of the society immediately after you were admitted?—I did not until January, 1865, when I was introduced to Geary.

[Pg 29]

Did you swear information against the members of the Fenian Society in September, 1865?—Yes.

Did you mention one word about me in that?—No, I did not, but I told it to Sub-Inspector Hamilton.

Prisoner. I object to that answer.

At two o'clock the court adjourned for an hour.

On the reassembling of the court, at three P.M., the president (Colonel Shute) said that the Court had decided that the witness on cross-examination had a right to explain his answer.

The Deputy Judge-Advocate. The question was, Did you make any mention of the prisoner in your information?

Witness (Warner). I did not. On account of mentioning it to Sub-Inspector Hamilton I did not think that there was any occasion to state it in the informations.

Prisoner. Do you know that I am a Protestant and an Orangeman and a member of an Orange lodge at Delgany?—No.

Are you a Protestant and did you state to me that you were an Orangeman?—I am a Protestant and on my oath I don't think I told you anything about my being an Orangeman, because the society would come on me if I spoke of anything of the sort at all.

Were you always a Protestant, or did you cease to be one? If so, when did you cease to be one?—I was always a Protestant, but I went to Mass a few times, as I thought I would get into their graces by being a Roman Catholic and get some of their secrets.

[Pg 30]

Was the going to Mass the only thing you did about becoming a Roman Catholic?—That is all.

Did you not go to a Roman Catholic clergyman in Cork and state to him that you wished to become a Roman Catholic?—I did. One of the Fenians came with me and said I wished to become a Roman Catholic.

Did you not receive some religious books and religious instructions?—I did. He went with me to the monk, and he (the monk) gave me some religious books to read.

Did you go afterwards by yourself to the clergyman or the monk?—I went afterwards by myself to receive some instructions from the monk according to the order I received from him.

Then your answer is not true that your going to Mass is the only thing you did towards being a Roman Catholic?—There was not time, for it requires an explanation. The answer could not be given well at once.

Were you sincere in your intention of becoming a Roman Catholic, or were you only deceiving the clergyman or monk?—I was deceiving him for the purpose of getting the information I wanted to get from the society.

When you were in the depot at Templemore did you know Sergeant-Major McKinmon?—I did.

Did you desert from the depot there?—I did. He gave me money to desert, but I think it would be dishonorable to speak of that here, as he is a captain now.

[Pg 31]

Prisoner. I wish Captain McKinmon to be brought here.

President. You can summon any witness you wish, and the sooner you do so the better.

Cross-examination continued. Were you tried by court-martial for that desertion?—I was tried for being absent without leave, but not for desertion.

Were you punished for it?—Yes, I got forty-two days for it by regimental court-martial.

When were you discharged from the 42d Regiment?—Some time in 1857.

Was not the portion of the discharge which generally contains the character cut off?—No, it was not. The books of the garrison can state it. I drew my pension in this garrison.

Where is your discharge?—I lost it; but you can refer for the form to the local garrison.

What character did you get in your discharge?—The character was very good.

Were you examined at the special commission at Cork, on the trial of Colonel O'Reardon, who was charged with being a member of the Fenian Society?—Yes.

Did you not swear that he was a member of the Fenian Society?—I did.

And that he came to Ireland to inspect the forces?—He gave instructions according as he got them from John O'Mahony.

And that you put the men through their drill before him?—One night for him; but generally for a man named Captain Kelly.

[Pg 32]

Did you not further swear that he was four or five months here, and gave instructions to the Fenians in rifle practice?—I swear I saw him on several occasions in Geary's giving instructions to Fenians.

Did not the jury disbelieve you, and was he not acquitted?—He was acquitted at all events. I could not swear whether I was believed or not.

At what time did your son write the names in the book produced?—Always when I enrolled the men my little boy would put them down as I would tell him.

The witness was then examined at some length by prisoner and prosecutor as to the entering of the names.

Prosecutor. How long is it since you saw the book?—Not since I gave it to Mr. Hamilton in September last, until to-day.

Prisoner. You have stated that all you have stated is true?—I have forgotten a great many things; but all I have stated is true.

The court adjourned at four o'clock.

John Warner was recalled and questioned by the prisoner.

Prisoner. Did you at any time meet in Cork the man whom you say swore you in?—I did.

How soon after he swore you in?—I could not be exact as to the time; it was in 1865, at any rate, in Mr. O'Connor's timber yard.

How soon did you come to Cork after you were sworn in?—After the regiment was disembodied in Kinsale in June, 1864.

[Pg 33]

When were you sworn in?—In May, 1864.

Did you bring the letter from Crowley with you in June when you came to Cork?—I did not.

Did you see Crowley from the time you left Kinsale until you saw him in 1865 in Cork?—No.

When did you get the letter from Crowley, and where?—I did not get it at all.

Were you acting for the Fenian Society in Cork in 1864?—Yes. At the latter end of 1864 I attended a meeting at Geary's, the first meeting I did attend. That was in the latter part of December.

Was Geary at that meeting?—He was; I was speaking to him.

Was that the first time you spoke to him?—I don't think it was. About a week before he sent Mr. Bryan to me, and Geary then told me to attend a meeting on that night week. I was speaking to Geary in the beginning of December, or at the end of November, 1864.

Did you not swear yesterday that you never saw Geary till 1865,—which is true?—I don't think I swore that on yesterday.

Prisoner. I would ask to have the witness's evidence of yesterday read.

President. This particular portion.

The evidence of the witness on this point was referred to, and it appeared from it that Warner had stated that he did not see Geary in 1864 for the first time.

The prisoner then said he had no other question to ask Warner.

[Pg 34]

The following letter was then put in by the prosecutor and read by the president:—

My dear James,—Please add to the list of contributors to the Keane Fund the following inclosed names, for J.J., Cork. Of course you think it awkward to have the names instead of the cash, but the following reason, which is not fit for publicity, will be enough for you. Since Keane's imprisonment, on 7th Dec., I have paid for his grub about £4 10s., so instead of having anything on hand, I'm only waiting for the balance, which I hope will soon come to hand. It is so very long since I heard from you that I don't know whether you are dead or alive. Will you let me have some news, and say how is Mr. Johnson.

Yours faithfully, J.J. Geary.

The court-martial of Darragh did not conclude until March 2. The testimony against Darragh was mainly that of soldiers who testified that the prisoner introduced them to Warner, who administered the oath of the Fenians to them.

Private Michael Harrington was convicted on the evidence of a private to whom he confessed he was a Fenian, drinking to the health of the "'M.C.'s' or the 'M.B.'s,' or something like that." There was evidence that Harrington solicited men to take the Fenian oath. Another private testified to meeting Harrington at Fenian meetings when "Erin my country" and "My heart beats for thee" were sung.

[Pg 35]



An incident in the trial of Private Martin Hogan is not without interest, illustrating the arbitrary manner of the Court toward the prisoners.

Private Foley was under examination, and testified to meeting Hogan at various public houses in Dublin, where the prisoner's conversation was of a treasonable and seditious character.

At one meeting an American guerrilla officer, who had served under Confederate General Morgan, discussed plans with them for mounting the men on colts, arming them with rifles, and as to the best means of carrying off their horses out of the barracks. Plans of action for the Fenian soldiers were also discussed, the prisoner being present and occasionally taking part in them.

Mr. McMechan cross-examined the witness, and the examination was proceeding, when the counsel requested that the witness be required to speak in a louder and more distinct tone, and placed nearer to the prisoner in order that his remarks might be taken down.

The president ordered the witness to move to within two or three yards of the table at which[Pg 36] counsel and prisoner were sitting, and to speak as loud as he could.

This was done, but with no more satisfactory result to counsel for the prisoner, and a request to move nearer and speak louder was repeated.

The president said the witness had spoken loud enough for any man with even ordinary faculties to hear, and if these were not possessed by counsel, some one who possessed them ought to be procured.

Counsel then handed in a statement to the effect that he did not hear the witness, nor had he heard anything distinctly that day. He was not deaf, and was possessed of ordinary faculties. He had no wish to obstruct or delay the Court, and, that he might not do so, he had asked that the witness be directed to stand nearer. The observations made by the president tended to unfit him for the discharge of his duties, and he requested that they would be withdrawn.

Subsequently Mr. McMechan sent in the following and stood waiting a reply.

"Sir,—Having remonstrated with you for what you said, and you not noticing it, I now beg to withdraw."

The president read the first communication and said, "I am sorry that my remarks should tend to unfit counsel from attending to his duty, but I refuse to withdraw them."

Mr. McMechan immediately left the court.

The president directed Mr. Lawless, the prisoner's solicitor, to be sent for.

[Pg 37]

On Mr. Lawless entering the court, the president said that Mr. McMechan had withdrawn from the case, and he wished to tell him that he would give half an hour, or any reasonable time, to provide another counsel if he thought proper.

Mr. Lawless said he was very sorry for what had occurred between Mr. McMechan and the Court, but as he was senior counsel in all the court-martial cases, he could not, according to the etiquette of the profession, withdraw the case from him, nor was he at all inclined to do so, as he had full confidence in whatever course he (Mr. McMechan) thought right to adopt.

The President. Have you any application to make on behalf of the prisoner?

Mr. Lawless said he had no application to make.

The President. Under these circumstances the trial must proceed without counsel.

Colonel, the Hon. S.J.G. Calthorpe, 5th Dragoon Guards, was examined to prove that the prisoner had not given him notice of an intended mutiny in her Majesty's forces in Ireland.

Sergeant Alsopp and Sergeant Miller of the 5th Dragoon Guards were examined to prove the desertion of the prisoner, and the making away with regimental necessaries.

The prisoner was placed on his defense, and stated that his counsel having left him, he did not know what to do; he could get no other counsel now, and felt inclined to throw himself on the mercy of the Court.

[Pg 38]

The president said he would receive his defense in the morning, and adjourned the further hearing of the case in order to give the prisoner time to prepare it.

The trial of Martin Hogan was resumed.

Mr. Lawless was present, and handed in a written statement to the president.

The President. Before reading this, I am anxious to say, that I most emphatically disclaim any intention whatever of having said anything disrespectful, or that I intended annoying the prisoner's counsel; and I wish to say that if I should at any time—

Mr. Lawless. The prisoner's counsel is outside sir. Will you allow him to be present?

President. Certainly.

Mr. McMechan then entered the room, when the president said, "I will repeat the words I have just said, which were these: That I desire most emphatically to disclaim any intention whatever of saying anything disrespectful to the prisoner's counsel, or any other person engaged in this court. If at any time I imagined I did so, I should be very sorry for it. I would be the last to offend any one."

Mr. McMechan. I am perfectly satisfied, sir.

Mr. Lawless. We will withdraw that statement, sir.

The statement was handed back, and Mr. McMechan, instructed by Mr. Lawless, remained to defend the prisoner.

The prosecution was then closed.

[Pg 39]

The trial of Private Robert Cranston was one of the longest. It was held in the Victoria Library, Colonel Brett presiding. Cranston was arraigned on the following charges, First: For mutinous conduct in having at Dublin, on the 18th February, 1866, come to the knowledge of an intended mutiny in her Majesty's troops then quartered in Richmond barracks, Dublin, and not giving information of the said intended mutiny to his commanding officer.

Second charge: For conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the following instances,—First instance: For having at Dublin, in the month of December, 1865, endeavored to induce Private Foley, 64th Regiment, to join the illegal society called the Fenian Brotherhood, having for its object the overthrow by force and violence of her Majesty's government in Ireland. Second instance: For having at Dublin, in the month of January, 1866, endeavored to induce Private Thomas Morrison, 61st, to join an illegal society called the Fenian Brotherhood, having for its object the overthrow by force and violence of her Majesty's government in Ireland. Third instance: For having at Dublin, on the 17th February, 1866, used the following language to Private Abraham, 61st Regiment: "An outbreak will take place in a few days. I am to get a sworn member of the Fenian Society in each of the barrack rooms in Richmond barracks to put a bit of sponge into the nipples of all the rifles belonging to the men who are not Fenians, and thereby render them useless. When the regiment[Pg 40] is called out to meet the Fenians, the Fenians will advance close up to it; the men of the 61st who belong to the Fenians will not fire on them, and the others who are loyal will not be able; and the Fenians amongst the 61st will then go over to their party and at once fire on those who refuse to join the society."

Third charge: For having in December, 1865, and in January and February, 1866, at Dublin, knowingly received and entertained Thomas Chambers, 61st Regiment, a deserter from the said regiment, and not giving notice to his commanding officer.

The assistant adjutant-general, the Hon. Col. Fielding, prosecuted, assisted by Dr. Townsend.

Mr. McMechan, with Mr. Lawless as attorney, appeared for the prisoner.

Deputy Judge-Advocate. Have you any objection to be tried by the president, or by any other member of this court?

Prisoner. None, sir.

The charges having been read by the deputy judge-advocate, the prisoner pleaded not guilty.

The prosecutor having stated the case for the prosecution, witnesses were called and examined.

Head Constable Talbot was examined, and deposed that he was present at Fenian meetings in December, 1865, and January and February, 1866.

Did the soldiers take part in the proceedings of those meetings?

Prisoner objected.

[Pg 41]

Deputy Judge-Advocate. The particular part taken by soldiers cannot be specified; only the fact that they took part, if they did so.

Were they present when the objects were discussed?—Yes.

Private James Meara examined by the prosecutor: I have belonged to the 1st Battalion of the King's Regiment (8th) for five years. I have known the prisoner since August 1865; in December, after Christmas, I met him in Hoey's public house in Bridgefoot Street. On that occasion there were also present several civilians, Fenian centres, and some soldiers. I was a member of the Fenian Society. There was to have been a rising of the Irish Fenians in the army. I was at several Fenian meetings in the month of December, 1865, at Hoey's; and in January, 1866, at Barclay's public house in James's Street; and in March, 1866, at Shaughnessy's public house at Newbridge, and also at Tunny's public house, Barrack Street, in August, 1865. At Tunny's, in August, 1865, I met William Francis Roantree, the prisoner Cranston, and several others, Baines and Rynd. At Shaughnessy's I met Baines, Doyle of the 61st, and some of the 4th Dragoon Guards. At Hoey's I met Chambers of the 61st, Wilson, Hogan, and Keatinge of the 5th Dragoons, a few of the 87th, Devoy, Williams, Rynd, and Baines. At the meeting in Hoey's in December, a rising in the army was discussed. Several men of the 61st were brought down to be sworn by Devoy and Chambers, and I saw the prisoner take an[Pg 42] active part in the meeting. I was never arrested on a charge of being connected with the Fenian Society.

Cross-examined by the prisoner. I was last examined as a witness at Green Street. I don't know whether I was believed or not. Kearney was not tried for firing a shot at me. He was not acquitted. I was sworn a Fenian by Thomas Baines. The oath I took, as I remember, was as follows: "I, in the presence of the Almighty God, do solemnly swear allegiance to defend the Irish republic, now virtually established, to take up arms in its defense at a moment's warning, to defend its integrity and independence; and further to exterminate the Saxon out of the land, to keep all secrets and truths commended to me, and to obey my superior officers and those placed over me." I swore to defend the Queen against all enemies.

Did you swear to fight against her?—I decline to answer that question.

The deputy judge-advocate told the witness that unless he apprehended that what he should say in reply would subject him to a criminal prosecution he should answer the question.

Witness. I understand you, sir. According to the Fenian oath I was sworn to fight against her, although in the heart I did not mean it.

After swearing to defend her, and afterwards swearing to fight against her, say candidly whether anything you swear is deserving of credit or belief?

Deputy Judge-Advocate. I think that is for the Court to infer.

[Pg 43]

Witness. I decline to answer the question.

The prisoner having pressed for a reply, the court was cleared, and, on reopening, the deputy judge-advocate announced the opinion of the Court to be that the question was as to a matter of inference, and not to be answered by the witness.

Cross-examination continued. I was at the Curragh in March. I was sworn a Fenian in March, 1865.

When did you first give information of an intended mutiny to your commanding officer?—I decline to answer that question.

Deputy Judge-Advocate. You must answer it.

Prosecutor. Answer the question.

Witness. I gave information in March or April, I am not sure which, this year.

Cross-examination continued. I decline for the safety of the officers to say to whom I first gave information.

State under what circumstances, without mentioning names.—For the purpose of injuring the Fenians, and the leaders, and so forth, to the utmost of my power, I came forward from the motives of loyalty and love of justice.

Reëxamined by the prosecutor. I was, in fact, fired at, as I stated in my cross-examination.

By the Court. The intentions to mutiny existed in the months of January and March, 1866, and the prisoner was aware of them. I was fired at and wounded, and the persons who did it were Fenians.

Private John Abraham examined by the prose[Pg 44]cutor. The witness being a little deaf, the questions were, by direction of the Court, read out near to him by Major Gordon. He deposed that he had been twenty-three years in the 61st Regiment. Some time since the 17th or 18th of January he met the prisoner, whom he had known close upon two years, at Hoey's public house. On that occasion there were present Private Harrington, Foley, Kenny, Priestly, Cranston, the prisoner, and Chambers, the deserter, all of the 61st, and a lot of cavalry of the 5th Dragoon Guards, and a good number of civilians, including one that he had enlisted in the 60th Rifles. Chambers shook witness by the hand and asked him how he was getting on, and he said very well, and asked Chambers how was he getting on, and he said very well, that he had drawn £10 6s. to-day, which was better pay than he had had when he was in the 61st. The prisoner and Chambers went out to the top of the stairs, and witness did not hear what passed between them.

Had you ever any conversation on the parade-ground at Richmond barracks with the prisoner in February last.—Yes, I was on the parade-ground when the prisoner, Cranston, came up to me and said, "How are you getting on, countryman?" "Very well," said I: "Cranston, how are you getting on?" "First-rate," he said. I said, "I think things are very slow, or rather dull, this weather." "No," he said, "they are not; I think things are getting on very well, for there is going to be an outbreak in the course of two or three[Pg 45] days, and I can destroy every rifle that is in the regiment." "Oh," said I, "that is easily enough done." Said he, "I will have a sworn Fenian to go into each room and to stuff the chambers of the nipples of the arms belonging to the soldiers who are not Fenians with fine sponge." He said that when we should be called out, we should get the word to load and the soldiers who were Fenians would fire over the heads of the civilian Fenians, and that the arms belonging to the soldiers not Fenians would then be all stopped. Of course he thought I was a Fenian at the time. At that time the sergeant-major gave the word to take up the covering, and interrupted the conversation. No other person was present at it, which to the best of my recollection took place about the 17th February. On the same evening I saw and spoke to Sergeant-Major Young of the 61st.

A few other questions having been asked the witness, the court was adjourned to this morning at half past ten o'clock.

The trial of Private Cranston was resumed yesterday morning by the court-martial sitting in the Victoria Library, shortly before eleven o'clock.

Private Abraham cross-examined by the prisoner. The last time I saw Doyle was this morning in the square of this barrack. There were five or six men present. I was enlisted in Lisburn.

Were you in the habit of going to houses frequented by Fenians?—I was after Cranston spoke to me; I don't remember when I first went to any[Pg 46] such house. I might have been in such houses before Christmas last, but I knew nothing of their character. I saw you at the Curragh, but I can't state in whose company, as I did not look after you to see in whose company you were. It was after the depot joined headquarters. I might have conversed and drank with you there, but I don't remember if I did. I have drank with hundreds, and I don't remember every man I drank with. To the best of my belief the conversation in the canteen at the Curragh took place more than a year ago. I understood that in case of a rising the Fenians of the 61st were to fight against the Queen, when Cranston told me so. I did not when in the canteen at the Curragh understand that the object of the Fenians was to put down the Queen's government and establish a republic.

What did you then understand its object to be?—Well, I did not take any notice what it was to be then or understand anything about it. I used to hear several talking about Fenianism. I did not take any notice of it then. I was asked to become a Fenian and refused.

Why?—Why, because I thought they were no good. I thought there was harm in them. When asked to join, I had no curiosity to learn their objects. After the conversation in the canteen at the Curragh, I thought they were not loyal subjects; but when they were all talking about Fenianism, and I did not know that it might not be a humbug, I think I gave information about the conversation[Pg 47] in the canteen at the Curragh, but I cannot answer when. My commanding officer was Colonel Redmond, and I gave him information of everything that I knew, after Cranston spoke to me about the outbreak. I reported to him in Richmond barracks, and Cranston was there then. I think that was in January. I never made any report while I was at the Currag myself. I had always plenty of conversation that I forgot. I reported all that I remembered.

Will you swear that you ever mentioned to your commanding officer anything whatever about the conversation in the canteen at the Curragh?—No, I will not. I can swear that I reported to some officer. I cannot say whether it was the commanding officer or not.

Do not you know you never did?—No, I do not. I think I made a statement to Captain Whelan. I made no statement in writing, because I can neither read nor write.

The remainder of the testimony was largely by informers whom Cranston had induced to take the Fenian oath, and charged him with treasonable language.

Private Meara, 8th Regiment, was the principal witness against Private James Wilson, whose court-martial came in August. Meara was one of the witnesses who betrayed O'Reilly. He testified in the case of Wilson that he was a sworn member of the Fenian Brotherhood, and attended meetings at various places.

[Pg 48]

He knew the prisoner and met him about Christmas, 1865, at Hoey's public house, in Bridgefoot Street; also met a man named Williams there. The prisoner went up to Williams and said there was a body of deserters in Dublin who were kicking up a row for their pay, and Williams told him that he had paid them. Williams said that he had told the deserters to kick up a row. Corporal Chambers of the 61st was present, and Devoy. Williams and Devoy were Fenian agents, the former being occupied swearing in soldiers. He was an officer of the Fenians besides. Devoy held the same rank as Williams, and higher if anything. He heard the prisoner on one occasion speak to a man in his regiment about making prisoners of Sir Hugh Rose and the Lord Lieutenant. Civilians were present at the time. The prisoner said that Sir Hugh Rose was a more important man to make a prisoner of than the Lord Lieutenant, and that it would be easily done. A man named Hogan was there, and was dressed in civilian's clothes. Corporal Chambers was also dressed in civilian's clothes. At another public house in the month of January witness said to prisoner that his regiment would soon leave Dublin, and the latter replied that it would not leave until the green flag would be flying. I have seen a man named Barrett of the 5th Dragoon Guards, at Hoey's, and other men, whose names I don't know.

Private Goggins, 5th Dragoon Guards, deposed that he was quartered in Dublin on the 17th of January, 1866. He was in a public house in Clare Lane, kept by a man named Cullen. The prisoner was there, and a [Pg 49] man named Devoy, and another civilian who was represented as the man who was to command the Fenian cavalry when it broke out. He asked the men how they could get their horses and accoutrements out of barracks, and Wilson said by making a dash at the gate. The man said he was in command of cavalry guerrillas under General Morgan. He said that the men he commanded used to dismount and fight on foot when their swords were broken, and he asked the men in the public house if they could do so, too. Witness was in a public house in Longford, kept by a man named Hughes, in April or May, 1865. Went into the house with, the prisoner; prisoner handed witness a book, and asked him "to swear to take up arms when called upon." Witness took the oath, thinking there was no harm in it. "It's all right, now," he said, "you are a Fenian, and for your own sake, as well as mine, keep it."

Witness said: "Jim, you know I have prize money to draw, and you should not have taken me in that way."

In November, 1865, the prisoner told him to meet him at Hoey's public house in Bridgefoot Street. There were two civilians in the room who spoke of expected arrivals of Americans. There was plenty of beer there, but witness paid for none of it, and saw no soldiers pay for it. The prisoner was dressed in civilian's clothes in the public house in Clare Lane.

[Pg 50]

To the Court. I did not consider myself a sworn Fenian after taking the oath I have mentioned.

Patrick Foley, late 5th Dragoon Guards, deposed that he was in Hoey's public house on the 17th of January last, and met the prisoner there. He was a deserter from the regiment. The American captain asked how many Fenians there were in the 5th Dragoon Guards, and Devoy said about one hundred. Hogan, who was a deserter, said he could give a list of the names. The American spoke of getting horses out of the barracks, and how they should manœuvre in cavalry fighting.

Wilson declined to offer any defense. As for Private Thomas Hassett, he defiantly pleaded guilty to treason.

All the men were sentenced to death, but the penalty was subsequently commuted to life imprisonment, and was finally further commuted to penal servitude.

[Pg 51]



After being convicted of mutiny in her Majesty's forces in Ireland, the men spent weary months in hideous English prisons. One day the keys rattled in the dungeon doors; they were marched out in double irons, chained together with a bright, strong chain. They were taken aboard the convict ship Hougoumont, where the chains were knocked off and they were ordered below.

There were sixty-three political prisoners on the Hougoumont, and they were the first sent out to Australia since the Irish uprising in 1848. They were likewise the last ever sent to the colony. Of these prisoners fifteen had been soldiers, and they were placed with the criminals in the fore part of the ship at night, although they were permitted to spend the days with the political prisoners.

Of the horrors of a convict ship experience it is unnecessary to say more than to quote O'Reilly, who was one of the unfortunate company on the Hougoumont.

"Only those who have stood within the bars," says he, "and heard the din of devils and the appalling sounds of despair, blended in a diapason[Pg 52] that made every hatch-mouth a vent of hell, can imagine the horrors of the hold of a convict ship."

Strapped to the foremast was the black gaff with its horrid apparatus for tricing unruly men up for flogging, and above, tied around the foremast, ever before their eyes, was a new hempen halter, "which swung mutineers and murderers out over the hissing sea to eternity."

Every night the exiles, Catholic and Protestant, joined in a prayer which ran as follows:—

"O God, who art the arbiter of the destiny of nations and who rulest the world in thy great wisdom, look down, we beseech thee, from thy holy place on the sufferings of our poor country. Scatter her enemies, O Lord, and confound their evil projects. Hear us, O God, hear the earnest cry of our people, and give them strength and fortitude to dare and suffer in their holy cause. Send her help, O Lord, from thy holy place. And from Zion protect her. Amen."

The Hougoumont reached Freemantle, after a dreary voyage, at three o'clock on the morning of January 10, 1868. "Her passengers could see," writes James Jeffrey Roche in his "Life of O'Reilly," "high above the little town and the woodland about it, the great white stone prison which represents Freemantle's reason for existence. It was 'The Establishment;' that is to say the government; that is to say, the advanced guard of Christian civilization in the wild bush. The native beauty of the place is marred by the straggling irreg[Pg 53]ularity of the town, as it is blighted by the sight and defiled by the touch of the great criminal establishment."



Then the convicts heard the appalling code of rules, with the penalty for violation, which was usually death; and then they were assigned to the road parties, and from daylight to dark, in the heat which made the cockatoos in the trees motionless and the parrots silent, they blazed their way through the Australian bush and forest.

The present was made horrid by the companionship of desperate and degraded men, "the poison flower of civilization's corruption," and the future seemed hopeless.

Meanwhile James Wilson sent out an appeal for rescue. He sent it to John Devoy in America.

[Pg 54]



The men to whom reference has been made in the preceding chapter were not the only Irish political prisoners. In 1876 there were seventeen still in prison for the attempted revolution of 1866 and 1867. The leaders had been pardoned, but this fact only emphasized the injustice to the men who had been swayed by love for Ireland to follow, and who were still paying the penalty of their devotion.

Some of them, and the number included Michael Davitt, were in prison in England. Some had been pardoned, some had been released by death. John Boyle O'Reilly had escaped. He had been in the convict settlement rather more than a year, and had been granted a few poor privileges on account of his ability and good conduct. He assisted one of the officers in his clerical work, and was appointed a "constable," with the duty of carrying dispatches from station to station and conducting refractory convicts in the road-gang to the prison.

But there was no promise of escape in this liberty, for there were but two avenues open, the trackless bush and the ocean. Suicide was better than flight to the bush; for if the convict could hide from the[Pg 55] trained "trackers," natives with a keener intelligence and skill in tracking men than the blood-hounds of the South, the only alternative was death from hunger and thirst.

Yet O'Reilly reached a point of desperation where death seemed almost preferable to the awful associations and weary routine which made the life a horror to the poet. But when he told his plans to Rev. Father McCabe, whose parish was the bush country, and whose life work among the prisoners is a precious memory of good influence, the thoughtful man said, "It is an excellent way to commit suicide. Don't think of that again. Let me think out a plan for you."

After dreary months the good priest sent a man named Maguire, who promised to arrange with one of the New Bedford whaling captains who were expected with their vessels at Bunbury in February—it was then December—to secrete him aboard. Two months went by, and O'Reilly had now become so impatient that, hearing that three whaleships had put into Bunbury, he had determined to venture alone. That day Maguire came to him again with the information that Captain Baker of the whaling bark Vigilant of New Bedford had agreed to take him on board if he fell in with him outside Australian waters.

On an evening in February O'Reilly started for a hiding-place in the woods, and lay down beneath a great gum-tree at the woodside to await Maguire and another friend. At about midnight he heard "St. Patrick's Day" whistled.

[Pg 56]

It was the sweetest music he ever heard, for it was the signal of the men who had come to release him from a horrid captivity.

They rode for hours until they reached a dry swamp near the sea. Then they waited until a boat was brought. At daylight sturdy oarsmen had carried him almost out of sight of land, and in the afternoon they had reached the farther shore of Geographe Bay, near the place where they had arranged to await the Vigilant.

They had no water, and suffered horribly from thirst. Through the hot day which followed, O'Reilly lay on the sand, tortured with blistering pains and hunger. Maguire brought him food and water at last, and that night he slept on the boughs. In the afternoon the white sails of the whaleships were seen and the company put out, but to their amazement the Vigilant sailed away, never heeding their signals.

O'Reilly's heart was bitter. The men returned to the shore and resolved to leave O'Reilly in hiding while they returned home and arranged for his escape by one of the other whaleships. They left him in the secluded sand valley, promising to return in a week.

But O'Reilly could not wait. The next morning he put to sea alone in a dory, and at night he was on an unknown sea. The next noon he sighted the Vigilant again, and once more she sailed away. It should be said that Captain Baker did not see his boat on either of these occasions.

[Pg 57]

O'Reilly rowed all night, and in the morning reached the sand hills on the headland of Geographe Bay once more. Exhausted with fatigue and anxiety, he cared for nothing but sleep, and this he could have without stint in the secluded valley. Five days later his friends returned, having arranged with Captain Gifford of the whaling bark Gazelle of New Bedford to pick him up. In order to insure the fulfillment of this agreement, good Father McCabe had paid the captain ten pounds.

The next morning O'Reilly and his friends once more rowed out toward the headland. He was leaving Australia forever. Toward noon he was picked up by bark Clarice and subsequently was transferred aboard the Gazelle.

This is only the chief incident, briefly told, of the escape of O'Reilly. It suggested some years later a means to a more brilliant accomplishment, for the bravery and ingenuity of the officers of the New Bedford whaleship in a subsequent event, when an attempt to secure possession of the escaping prisoner at Roderique made a strong impression upon O'Reilly.

[Pg 58]



The rescue of the young Irish revolutionist, John Mitchell, was the first of the series of escapes participated in by Irish patriots. Mitchell was a talented and brave young man, whose life and history have been an inspiration to the devotees of Irish freedom. He was originally a writer upon the "Nation," but its policy was too conservative for his tastes, and in 1847 he founded a new journal called "The United Irishman." Mitchell belonged to that section of "young Ireland" which advocated immediate war with England. He believed the time was now ripe, and he set about making his paper as obnoxious to the English government as possible. He was a brilliant writer and an enthusiast for the revolution. His plan was to force the hand, first of the English government, then of the Irish people. He deliberately challenged the government to arrest the leaders of his party. Then he calculated that the Irish people would rise to defend or rescue their heroes, and rebellion would be effected.

For three years he continued his taunting tactics. He wrote in a strain of fiery sedition, urging the[Pg 59] people to prepare for warlike effort, while he described how to make pikes and use them; how to cast bullets; and how to make the streets as dangerous for cavalry horses as Bruce made the field of Bannockburn. Some of the agencies which were suggested for the use of the people, when they should take up arms, were almost devilish in their ferocity, such as the employment of vitriol. At length the government was forced to recognize the violence of young Mitchell's newspaper attacks, and a measure was framed by the government to meet the case, enabling it to suppress newspapers like "United Irishman" and imprison the publishers. Mitchell was defiant still, and he was arrested. Greatly to his chagrin, no attempt was made to rescue him. "Had there been another Mitchell out of doors, as fearless and reckless as the Mitchell in the prison," writes a historian, "a sanguinary outbreak would probably have taken place." He was sentenced to expatriation for fourteen years, and was deported first to Bermuda and then to Australia. Smith O'Brien, Meagher, and other of the confederate leaders were likewise sent there.

In 1853 P.J. Smyth, who was known as "Nicaragua," a correspondent of the "New York Tribune," was commissioned by the Irish Directory of New York to proceed to Australia and procure the escape of Mitchell and his political associates. Mitchell was under parole, and his sense of honor would not permit him to leave without surrendering it. On June 8, 1853, in company with Smyth, he[Pg 60] presented himself to the police magistrate in Bothwell and surrendered his parole.

"You see the purport of that note, sir," said he. "It is short and plain. It resigns the thing called 'ticket of leave' and revokes my promise, which bound me so long as I held the thing."

Then they left the magistrate, who was either stupid or afraid to make an attempt to detain them, and, mounting horses, rode through the Australian woods until Hobart Town was reached, when they sailed on the passenger brig Emma to Sydney, and in due time reached the United States. Meagher soon followed. O'Brien declined to have anything to do with any plot for escape while he was on parole, and his honorable conduct was rewarded by a pardon.

After reaching this country, Mitchell founded a paper advocating slavery, and championing the Southern cause in the Rebellion. One of his last acts here was a lecture, the proceeds of which went to swell the fund which was being raised for the Catalpa expedition. Later he returned to Ireland, where, owing to some defect in the criminal law, he could not be arrested, his time of penal servitude having expired, although he had not served it. He was elected to Parliament for Tipperary, was disqualified for a seat, and then reëlected. Some turmoil was expected, when Mitchell was withdrawn from the controversy by death.

"Weep for him, Ireland, mother lonely;
[Pg 61]Weep for the son who died for thee.
Wayward he was, but he loved thee only,
Loyal and fearless as son could be.
Weep for him, Ireland, sorrowing nation,
Faithful to all who are true to thee;
Never a son in thy desolation
Had holier love for thy cause than he."

The rescue of Kelly and Deasy at Manchester was daring and successful, but it was only accomplished by the killing of one man, and three were subsequently hanged for complicity in the affair. Colonel Kelly and Captain Deasy, Fenian agents in England, were captured by the Manchester police on September 11, 1867, and a week afterward were arraigned at the Manchester police office. Being identified as Fenian leaders, they were again remanded and placed in the prison van to be conveyed to the borough jail. They were in charge of Police Sergeant Charles Brett. When half way to the prison, and just as the van passed under the railway arch over Hyde Road at Bellevue, a man jumped into the middle of the road, pointed a pistol at the head of the van-driver and ordered him to stop. Immediately thirty armed men swarmed over the wall which lined the road. A shot was fired, and the driver was so frightened that he fell from his seat. One horse was shot, and the gallant police escorts scattered and ran for their lives.

An endeavor was then made to break in the door of the van. It was locked on the inside, and the key was in the possession of a police officer named Brett, who sat within. A shot was fired at the key-hole to blow off the lock, and the unfortunate police[Pg 62] officer received a wound from which he died soon after. The doors were then opened, a woman prisoner in the van handing out the keys, which she found in the pocket of the officer. "Kelly, I'll die for you," said one of the Fenian rescuers.

He kept his word.

The prisoners were freed, and were seen to enter a cottage near the Hyde Road. They left it unfettered, and were never seen after by English officials. Several men were put on trial for the murder of Brett, and five were found guilty,—Allen, Larkin, O'Brien, Condon or Shore, and Maguire. The defense was that the prisoners only meditated a rescue, and that the death of the policeman was an accident. The five were sentenced to death, but the newspaper reporters were so certain that Maguire was not concerned in the affair that they joined in a memorial to the government, expressing their conviction that the verdict was a mistake. The government made an investigation, and found that he was not near the spot on the day of the rescue,—that he was a loyal private in the Marines, and not a Fenian. He was pardoned, but not unnaturally the circumstances caused a grave doubt with relation to the soundness of the verdict in the other cases.

Strenuous attempts were made to secure a commutation of the sentence. Mr. Bright was foremost with his exertions, and Mr. Swinburne, the poet, wrote an appeal for mercy, from which a few verses are quoted:—

[Pg 65]

"Art thou indeed among these,
Thou of the tyrannous crew,
The kingdoms fed upon blood,
O queen from of old of the seas,
England, art thou of them, too,
That drink of the poisonous flood,
That hide under poisonous trees?

"Nay, thy name from of old,
Mother, was pure, or we dreamed;
Purer we held thee than this,
Purer fain would we hold;
So goodly a glory it seemed,
A fame so bounteous of bliss,
So more precious than gold.

"Strangers came gladly to thee,
Exiles, chosen of men,
Safe for thy sake in thy shade,
Sat down at thy feet and were free.
So men spake of thee then;
Now shall their speaking be stayed?
Ah, so let it not be!

"Not for revenge or affright,
Pride or a tyrannous lust,
Cast from thee the crown of thy praise.
Mercy was thine in thy might,
Strong when thou wert, thou wert just;
Now, in the wrong-doing days,
Cleave thou, thou at least, to the right.

"Freeman he is not, but slave,
Whoso in fear for the State
Cries for surety of blood,
Help of gibbet and grave;
Neither is any land great
Whom, in her fear-stricken mood,
These things only can save.

"Lo, how fair from afar,
Taintless of tyranny, stands
Thy mighty daughter, for years
[Pg 64]Who trod the winepress of war;
Shines with immaculate hands;
Slays not a foe, neither fears;
Stains not peace with a scar!

"Be not as tyrant or slave,
England; be not as these,
Thou that wert other than they.
Stretch out thine hand, but to save;
Put forth thy strength, and release;
Lest there arise, if thou slay,
Thy shame as a ghost from the grave."

The government refused to listen to the appeals, and Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien were hanged at Manchester on November 23, 1867, meeting death with courage and composure, we are told. Shore escaped, since he was proven to be an American citizen, and the English spared him lest the protection of the American government might have been invoked in his behalf.

One more incident may be added to the chapter of Fenian rescues. This was the attempt to blow up the House of Detention at Clerkenwell in December, 1867, where two Fenian prisoners were confined. This affair was farcical in conception, but its results were cruelly tragic.

"At the very time that this horrible crime and blunder was perpetrated," writes a historian, "one of the London theatres was nightly crowded by spectators eager to see an Irish melodrama, among the incidents of which was the discussion of a plan for the rescue of a prisoner from a castle cell. The audience was immensely amused by the proposal of one confederate to blow up the castle altogether, and the manner in which it occurred to the simple plotters, just in time, that if they carried out this plan, they must send the prisoner himself flying into the air. The Clerkenwell conspirators had either not seen the popular drama or had missed the point of its broadest joke."

A barrel of gunpowder was exploded close to the wall. Sixty yards of the prison wall were blown in, and many small dwellings in the vicinity were shattered. A dozen persons were killed, one hundred and twenty were wounded, and there were other serious consequences. Had the prisoners been near the wall, they would have been killed. Five men and a woman were put on trial for the crime, but only one man was convicted. He was found guilty on the evidence of an informer and executed. It was agreed that the persons who were concerned in this plot were "of that irresponsible crew who hang on to the skirts of all secret political associations, and whose adhesion is only one other reason for regarding such associations as deplorable and baneful. Such men are of the class who bring a curse, who bring many curses, on even the best cause that strives to work in secret. They prowl after the heels of organized conspiracy, and what it will not do they are ready in some fatal moment to attempt."

And this brings us back to the last and most important of Irish national rescue projects.

[Pg 66]



In 1870 the British government had granted conditional pardon to such political convicts in Australia as had been civilians at the time of their offense, but the military prisoners were exempted. Still the latter were not without hope, as the letter of one of them to O'Reilly, who had amnestied himself, shows. "It is my birthday as I write this," ran the letter, "and I know I am turning it to the best account by writing to such a dear old friend. Who knows? perhaps I may be able to spend the next one with you. If not, then we will hope for the following one. At all events, we must not despair."

The men were not always so calmly hopeful. Sometimes—

"There spake in their hearts a hidden voice
Of the blinding joy of a freeman's burst
Through the great dim woods. Then the toil accurst,
The scorching days and the nights in tears,
The riveted rings for years and years,
They weighed them all—they looked before
At the one and other, and spoke them o'er,
And they saw what the heart of man must see,
That the uttermost blessing is liberty."

And so it happened that Hassett, who was a man[Pg 67] of remarkable daring, "with his eyes on the doom and danger," made his escape from the road party in April, 1869. He penetrated the bush to the sea, like O'Reilly; and after eleven months of privation he took refuge on board a ship at Bunbury. But he had "grasped the flower but to clutch the sting." As he reached the threshold of freedom he was snatched back. Discovered and recaptured, he was sentenced to three years of hard labor in the chain gang at Swan River, with six months' solitary confinement. The first part of the sentence is not without humor, since Hassett was serving a life sentence at hard labor when he made his escape, and there was no terror in the additional three years of servitude.

Upon the occasion of the Queen's accession to the title of Empress of India, one hundred and forty members of Parliament, including Mr. Bright, Mr. Plimsoll, Mr. Mundella, Mr. Fawcett, and many others of the ablest men of the House, presented a petition for the pardon of the political prisoners, but it was rejected.

And so perished the last hope of the friends of the prisoners of clemency from the government. "Delayed, but nothing altered, more straining on for plucking back," the friends of the prisoners, with an audacity which must be admired, determined then that they should be freed in spite of the government.

From time to time appeals had been sent forth from the prisoners in Australia to their friends at[Pg 68] home and in America. Martin Hogan had written to Peter Curran in 1872, having seen Curran's name in a letter written by O'Donovan Rossa to the Dublin "Irishman." A copy of this paper had been smuggled into the prison, and suggested the appeal to America.

Then James Wilson wrote to John Devoy in New York, sketching a plan of action, and his appeal stirred the devoted man to a final gigantic effort. Devoy sent back the cheering response that steps were being taken for the execution of the plan.

After a conference with John Kenneally and James McCarthy Finnell, prisoners who had been released, Mr. Devoy presented the matter to the Clan-na-Gael convention at Baltimore in 1874, and John Devoy and John W. Goff, the latter of whom is now the recorder of the New York courts, James Reynolds of New Haven, and Patrick Mahon and John C. Talbot were appointed a committee to carry out the project.

Devoy, Reynolds, and Goff were the most active, and, without definitely revealing their plans, such was the confidence of the Irish people in them that they were not long in securing a fund of $20,000. This was not accomplished, however, without the sacrifice of business, health, and money, on the part of the men most active. Sympathizing miners in New Zealand were stirred by John King, an ex-prisoner, to contribute $4,000, and two agents of the revolutionary party in Ireland, Denis F. Mc[Pg 69]Carthy of Cork and John Walsh of Durham, England, brought $5,000 and their personal aid.

John J. Breslin, a brave man who assisted James Stephens, the head centre of the Fenian movement, to escape from the jaws of death in 1865, and of whom I shall have much more to say presently, was assigned the dangerous rôle of active agent, with Thomas Desmond of San Francisco as an associate. They were to go to Australia and place themselves in communication with the prisoners.

Finally a vessel was to be fitted out for Australia, manned by men fearless of consequences, to rescue the life prisoners from their captivity.

It was here that Mr. O'Reilly made a valuable suggestion to Devoy, that a whaling vessel should be sent. Such a vessel might sail on an ostensible whaling voyage and avert the suspicion with which another ship cruising in the waters of Western Australia might be received. The suggestion was at once accepted as an inspiration.

[Pg 74]



While the fact that O'Reilly was rescued by a whaleship was the direct cause of the determination to send a vessel representative of New Bedford's victorious industry, there were other reasons which commended the selection.

Men who engaged in this perilous mode of hardy enterprise must necessarily be persevering and brave. Perhaps the originators of the enterprise remembered that it was a whaleship bearing the name of Bedford which was the first vessel to display the flag of the United States in British waters, and that in 1783, when the countries were at war.

Barnard's "History of England," a rare book, recites that "the ship Bedford, Captain Moores, belonging to the Massachusetts, arrived in the Downs on the 3rd of February, passed Gravesend on the 3rd, and was reported at the Custom House on the 6th instant. She was not allowed regular entry until some consultation had taken place between the commissioners of the customs and the lords of council, on account of the many acts of parliament in force against the rebels of America. She is[Pg 71] loaded with 487 butts of whale oil, is American built, manned wholly by American seamen, and wears the rebel colors. This is the first vessel which has displayed the thirteen rebellious stripes of America in any British port. The vessel is at Horseledour, a little below the Tower, and is intended to return immediately to New England."

The New Bedford whaleman has ever been a type of enterprise and daring, but the commission which these Irish patriots proposed, of challenging the British navy with a whaleship and snatching a half dozen men from the jaws of the British lion, was a supreme test of pluck.

When it was decided to fit out a whaleship, O'Reilly directed Devoy and his friends to consult with Captain Henry C. Hathaway in New Bedford. At the time of his rescue, Captain Hathaway was the third mate of the Gazelle, and O'Reilly occupied a stateroom with him. A strong attachment had grown up between them, which was strengthened when Hathaway saved O'Reilly from drowning during a fight with an ugly whale, in which O'Reilly's love of excitement had led him to participate.

Captain Hathaway was at this time captain of the night police force in New Bedford. He entered into the plans with interest, and told Devoy that the commander whom he needed to carry the expedition to success was Captain George S. Anthony. John T. Richardson, the father-in-law of Captain Anthony, was a whaling agent, and the proposition was first[Pg 72] broached to him, and he agreed to arrange an interview for the Clan-na-Gael committee with Anthony.

Captain Anthony was a New Bedford boy, and pledged his life to the sea at the age of fifteen. He had been a successful whaleman, and his faithfulness had been demonstrated in a service of ten years in one ship, of which Jonathan Bourne was the agent.

But the captain had recently married, and had concluded to abandon the longboat forever. He was given a position at the Morse Twist Drill Works, where he was employed in February, 1875, when Devoy and his friends first went to New Bedford.

But a sailor is never long contented ashore, and Anthony was growing restless. Mr. Bourne was inclined to make light of his resolution to become a mechanic, and constantly dropped in upon him at the shop with tempting offers to return to his service, until the foreman suggested to Mr. Bourne that he should "let Anthony alone." Then Mr. Bourne slapped the stout sailor on the back and said, "Well, Anthony, I'll let you alone. But remember and let me know when you are ready to go whaling again."

Mr. Bourne's experience had taught him something. He had detected the restlessness of Anthony, who acknowledged that he was out of place in a machine-shop, and he knew that one day he would come to his office, prepared to sign shipping papers.

A few days later Anthony met Mr. Richardson[Pg 73] and said to him: "I'm tired of this. Go down and see Mr. Bourne and ask him if he will let me have a ship."

"Wait a few days; I have something better for you," said Mr. Richardson. Two days before he had met Devoy and his comrades, and he was then carrying their secret about with him.

The next morning Mr. Richardson again met the captain: "Come to the store this evening," said he; "there will be two or three men there whom I wish you to meet."

At about eight o'clock Anthony presented himself at Richardson's. The store of the latter was at 18 South Water Street. It was an outfitters' establishment, with a stock of such clothing as is to be found in the slop chest of the sailor in the front of the store, while there was an open space at the rear filled with chairs.

About a big stove sat a number of men, several of whom were strangers to Anthony. He remembered that he had seen them about Richardson's place for several days, and had once been on the point of inquiring who they were. Captain Hathaway was one of the men in the group whom he knew, and it may be said that Mr. Devoy, Mr. Goff, and Mr. Reynolds were also present.

"It's just as well to sit in the dark," said one, and the lights were at once put out, which seemed to Anthony a rather singular proceeding.

Then he was introduced to the men, but their names were unfamiliar to him at that time. Captain[Pg 74] Anthony was less a stranger to the men whom he met. They had made a study of him for several days before they decided to intrust him with the secret and the enterprise which was nearest their hearts, and they had now decided that he would do.

The man who stood in the lamplight for a minute before the flame was extinguished was of athletic build, with black hair, and eyes which were so black, bright, and alert that they were the conspicuous feature of the face. The brilliant color in the captain's cheek indicated vigorous good health.

Then John Devoy, whom Captain Anthony had carelessly noticed was a short man with full black whiskers, unfolded the plan of the proposed rescue of the Fenian prisoners to the astonished captain.

[Pg 75]



It was an ideal conspiracy, you see, the plans being made under the cover of darkness. Mr. Devoy was a brilliant talker, and he knew his subject well. He hurried over the story of the revolution in which the men were engaged, making prominent the fact that his friends who had been transported to Western Australia were not criminals.

Then he sketched the plan of rescue. In his enthusiasm it probably seemed the easy task to Devoy which he represented it to be. His friends would provide a whaleship, fitted for sea. Captain Anthony was to sail as soon as possible, and beyond keeping up a pretense of whaling, his part would merely be to show his vessel off the coast of Australia on a certain date. There he would be hailed by a company of men in a boat. He would take them aboard and sail for home. The shore end of the escape would be managed by others.

Captain Anthony asked for time in which to consider the proposition, and he was given one day. Meanwhile he was pledged never to speak of the plan, not even to Mrs. Anthony, whether or not he accepted the commission. The captain did some hard thinking that night, and the next evening,[Pg 76] when he again met the committee at Richardson's, he told them he would go. They expressed their gratification, gave authority to Mr. Richardson and Captain Anthony to select a suitable vessel, and left the city, well satisfied with their selection of a commander.

I have always suspected that Devoy and his friends must have aroused the sympathy of Captain Anthony and awakened within him a personal interest in the men whose zeal for patriotism had placed them in an unfortunate position. A promise that he would be well paid was certainly inadequate to the weary voyage, the risk, and the sacrifice he must make in leaving his family. Captain Anthony had been married but a year, and there was a baby daughter but a few months old. His mother was ill, and had not the spirit which dominated Devoy appealed to him, there can be no satisfactory explanation of his assumption of the trust.

Mr. Richardson and Captain Anthony now commenced their search for a vessel. They looked at the Jeannette, a New Bedford whaler, the Sea Gull, a Boston clipper and fast, but in need of expensive repairs, and the Addison, formerly a whaleship, but at that time a packet running on the route between Boston and Fayal. None were regarded as entirely suitable.

At last they heard of the Catalpa. She was formerly a whaleship sailing out of New Bedford, but had been placed in the merchant service. She had just returned with a cargo of logwood from the West[Pg 77] Indies and was for sale. Captain Anthony and Mr. Richardson went to East Boston, where she lay. They were satisfied with her, and, finding she could be bought cheaply, communicated with the committee, which authorized her purchase. She was bought on March 13, 1875, and the price paid was $5,500.

The Catalpa was a vessel of 202.05 tons net, 90 feet in length, 25 feet in breadth, with a depth of 12.2 feet. She was rigged as a merchant bark, with double topsails, a poop deck, and cabin half above decks. Her main deck was roomy and she had an open hold, there being nothing between decks excepting her beams. The house and galley were on deck, merchant fashion; altogether she seemed a stanch vessel. The bark was brought around to New Bedford and the fitting commenced at City Wharf under Captain Anthony's direction.

Davits and whaleboat gear were rigged, a forecastle was built for the sailors, a half deck put in, sail and rigging pens built on one side and a steerage on the other. Then it was discovered that the riding keelson was rotten, and John W. Howland, who was in charge of the repairs, performed a mechanical feat never before attempted. The foot of the mainmast rests upon this part of the vessel, yet a new piece was put in with such skill that the rigging did not settle throughout the voyage.

The bark was provided with a forward and after cabin. Two rooms on the starboard side were knocked into one for the use of the captain, the mate's room was on the port side, opposite, and the[Pg 78] second and third mates were furnished accommodations in the forward cabin.

The vessel was fitted ostensibly for a whaling voyage of eighteen months or two years in the North and South Atlantic. Captain Anthony was given supreme authority in the arrangement of the vessel and in securing the fittings, and gave his personal attention to the stowing of the ship.

On the day of sailing, the vessel and outfit had cost the Clan-na-Gael committee $18,000. The vessel stood in the name of James Reynolds of New Haven, a fact which aroused considerable curiosity among the New Bedford whaling agents, since he was a newcomer in the field which they had regarded as a monopoly.

The conspirators made but one request with relation to the crew. They wished to have one of their number accompany the vessel, and Dennis Duggan was selected. He was shipped as carpenter. Otherwise the responsibility was placed with Captain Anthony, and it was a difficult task, requiring no little discretion and knowledge of the character of men.

He made a wise choice, it will be seen later, in the selection of Samuel P. Smith of Edgartown as first mate. The crew was purposely made up largely of Kanakas, Malays, and Africans, since they were likely to be less suspicious than other sailors and could better endure the climate of the southern seas.

The shipping articles described the crew as finally made up as follows. The names of some of the men were invented and bestowed upon them by the shipping agents.

[Pg 79]

Name. Place of Birth. Place of
Of what Country
Citizen, or
Age. Height. Complexion. Hair. Eyes.
Samuel P. Smith. Edgartown. Edgartown. United States. 29 5.11 Sandy. Brown. Gray.
Antone Farnham. Brava. New Bedford. Brava. 43 5.11 Dark. Black. Black.
George H. Bolles. New Bedford. New Bedford. United States. 24 5.6 Sandy. Brown. Black.
Caleb Cushing. Harwich. New Bedford. United States. 23 5.1 Sandy. Brown. Black.
Mopsy Roso. Malay. New Bedford. Malay. 21 5.5 Dark. Black. Black.
John Roso. Malay. New Bedford. Malay. 30 5.4 Dark. Black. Black.
Walter E. Sanford. N. Bridgewater. Raynham. United States. 19 6.0 Light. Light. Blue.
Cyrus S. Hill. N. Woodstock, N.H. Exeter, N.H. United States. 21 5.10 Dark. Black. Brown.
Antone Ferris. Cape de Verde Is. New Bedford. Cape de Verde. 50 5.8 Dark. Gray. Black.
Henry D. Paine. Woodstock, Vt. Woodstock. United States. 17 5.9 Light. Light. Blue.
John Coeking. New Britain, Conn. New Britain. United States. 27 5.3 Light. Light. Blue.
Edmund F. Gleason. Candia. United States. 30 5.2 Dark. Black. Black.
Robert Kanaka. Hope Island. New Bedford. Hope Island. 22 5.7 Black. Black. Black.
Mike Malay. Malay. New Bedford. Malay. 21 5.3 Black. Black. Black.
Zempa Malay. Malay. New Bedford. Malay. 21 5.2 Black. Black. Black.
Lumbard Malay. Malay. New Bedford. Malay. 21 5.3 Black. Black. Black.
Gingy Malay. Malay. New Bedford. Malay. 21 5.4 Black. Black. Black.
Henry Parrott. St. Helena. New Bedford. St. Helena. 22 5.6 Black. Black. Black.
Thomas F. Knipe. St. Helena. New Bedford. St. Helena. 22 5.9 Black. Black. Black.
Thomas Kanaka. Hope Island. New Bedford. Hope Island. 28 5.7 Black. Black. Black.
Robert Ceil. St. Helena. New Bedford. St. Helena. 18 5.6 Dark. Black. Gray.
Joseph Rosmond. St. Lucia, W.I. New Bedford. St. Lucia. 21 5.8 Black. Black. Black.
Dennis Duggan. New York. 30 5.9 Light. Light. Blue.

New Bedford, April 29, 1875.

[Pg 80]

Although the suspicions of nobody had been aroused in any quarter which would lead to anxiety, the shipping agents were very persistent in their inquiries about the destination of the ship.

"Captain Anthony is going where he has a mind and will stay as long as he pleases," was Mr. Richardson's invariable reply to those who questioned him.

The bark was now ready for sea, and Devoy, who was at this time night editor of the "New York Herald," went to New Bedford to give Captain Anthony his final instructions.

"You will cruise until fall, about six months, in the North Atlantic," were Devoy's orders. "Then you are to put in at Fayal, ship home any oil which you may have taken, and sail at once for Australia, where we expect you to arrive early in the spring of 1876. You are to go to Bunbury, on the west coast, and there communications will be opened up with you from our Australian agent."

The serious illness of Captain Anthony's mother delayed his departure for two days. Devoy remained over, and at nine o'clock on Thursday morning, April 29, 1875, he waved his handkerchief in farewell to Captain Anthony as he rowed away from the dock to board the Catalpa.

Although a large company of his friends had made up a party to accompany the captain down the bay, he could not trust himself to bring his wife. He had said good-by to his wife and baby at home.



This was the first anniversary of Captain An[Pg 81]thony's wedding, and among those who were on the bark was Rev. O.A. Roberts, the clergyman who had officiated at the marriage. Mr. Roberts was curious to see a chronometer, and after the vessel was under way he examined it and asked about its winding. Captain Anthony's attention thus being called to it, he learned that he was bound to sea without a key for his chronometer. Fortunately a mechanic named Arnett was on the vessel, and he bored and filed an old clock key to fit the chronometer, and it was wound. This was only the commencement of trouble with the chronometer, which continued throughout the voyage.

Late in the afternoon, off Cuttyhunk, the friends on shore left the Catalpa. During the remainder of that day Captain Anthony was in the depths of despondency. While in the companionship of Devoy and the conspirators he had imbibed the enthusiasm and spirit of the affair. But now he was alone with the responsibility. There was not an officer with whom he could share his secret. With a hulk of a whaleship he was defying the mightiest naval power on earth.

In the evening half a gale was blowing and the bark was plunging drearily in heavy seas, under short sail. The captain thought of his wife, his child, and his mother sick at home, and he thought of the task he had assumed to accomplish in the convict land of Australia. There was gloom within the little cabin that evening, as well as without.

[Pg 82]



But the heart-heaviness did not last long. If Captain Anthony had not been a man of exceptional pluck, he would not have been bound to Australia in the Catalpa. The first days of a voyage are busy. The crew is called aft, watches are told off, and boats' crews selected. The regulations to be observed on shipboard are read, and the master gives general instructions to be obeyed during the voyage. Then, if the weather permits, the boats are lowered and the green hands are taught their places and the handling of their oars.

Perhaps the reader will be interested in the first entry in the log-book of the voyage which was to become famous. It is prosaic enough:—

Remarks on Board Bark Catalpa, Captain Anthony,
Outward Bound, Thursday, Apr. 29th, 1875.

This day commences with light breezes from the S.E. and clear weather. At 9 A.M. took our anchors and stood to sea. At 11.30 the captain came on board with officers. Crew all on board.

For several days thereafter all hands were busily employed in getting the vessel ready for whaling.[Pg 83] Captain Anthony did not enter into the preparations with the spirit which might have been expected under different circumstances, possibly, but the work afforded relief from the routine.

The chronometer once more intruded itself upon the captain's troubled mind. After taking a number of sights and making a computation by it, the result showed the vessel to be in the interior of New York State. The hammering and pounding which the instrument had undergone in the process of fitting the key had changed the rate. The captain and the mate corrected it, but when three days out a German bark was signaled and it was found that there was a difference of forty miles in longitude between the navigators. The chronometer was never reliable thereafter, and the captain was never certain of his position.

Violent, rugged weather was now encountered. The first whale was raised on the afternoon of May 3, but it was going quickly to windward and there was no chance to lower the boats. The next day at five P.M., when on the southern edge of the Gulf, a school of whales was sighted and the vessel was luffed to the wind; but again the whales were going so fast that it was useless to lower. On May 5 another school of whales was sighted on the lee quarter and the captain wore ship to head them off. A heavy squall arose, with rain, and under two lower topsails the bark dashed along, but the whales were elusive. All the next day the chase continued, and one small whale was taken.

[Pg 84]

The whale was taken alongside. At 5.30 the work of cutting commenced and it was finished at eight in the evening. The great pieces of blubber are hauled over the main hatch and minced into fine pieces, called "horse pieces." Then the boiling commences. Water is turned into caboose pens, or jogs along the deck, to prevent the woodwork catching fire from the try works. The casks containing provisions, towlines, and sails are emptied, cleansed, and swabbed clean. The hot oil is then poured in and the casks are lashed to the rail on the ship's side to cool before being stored below.

This whale was a very small one and made but about twenty barrels of oil. It may not be uninteresting to give the reader some idea of the size of the right whale, which is the largest of whales. Captain Davis, a veteran whaleman, has made a comparison of the various parts with familiar objects, which is here quoted: "The blubber, or blanket, of a large right whale would carpet a room twenty-two yards long and nine yards wide, averaging half a yard in thickness. Set up a saw-log two feet in diameter and twenty feet in length for the ridgepole of the room we propose to build; then raise it in the air fifteen feet, and support it with pieces of timber seventeen feet long, spread, say, nine feet. This will make a room nine feet wide at the bottom, two feet wide at the peak, and twenty feet long, and will convey an idea of the upper jaw, the saw-log and slanting supports representing the bone. These walls of bone are clasped by the white blubbery[Pg 85] lips, which at the bottom are four feet thick, tapering to a blunt edge, where they fit into a rebate sunk in the upper jaw. The throat is four feet, and is mainly blubber, interpenetrated by fibrous, muscular flesh. The lips and throat of a two-hundred-and-fifty-barrel whale should yield sixty barrels of oil, and, with the supporting jaw-bones, will weigh as much as twenty-five oxen of one thousand pounds each. Attached to the throat by a broad base is the enormous tongue, the size of which can be better conceived by the fact that twenty-five barrels of oil have been taken from one. Such a tongue would equal in weight ten oxen. The tail of such a whale is about twenty-five feet broad and six feet deep, and is considerably more forked than that of the spermaceti. The point of juncture with the body is about four feet in diameter, the vertebra about fifteen inches, the remainder of the small being packed with rope-like tendons from the size of a finger to that of a man's leg. The great rounded joint at the base of the skull gleams like an ivory sphere, nearly as large round as a carriage wheel. Through the greatest blood-vessels, more than a foot in diameter, surges, at each pulsation of a heart as large as a hogshead, a torrent of barrels of blood heated to one hundred and four degrees. The respiratory canal is over twelve inches in diameter, through which the rush of air is as noisy as the exhaust-pipe of a thousand-horse-power steam engine; and when the fatal wound is given, torrents of clotted blood are spattered into the air over the nauseated hunters. In[Pg 86] conclusion, the right whale has an eye scarcely larger than a cow's, and an ear that would scarcely admit a knitting-needle."

On May 12 the Catalpa had reached the "Western Ground," and two whales were killed. It was nearly midnight before they were taken alongside.

On May 30, in lat. 37° 3´ north, long. 57° 50´ west, a brig in distress was raised to leeward, dismasted and flying signals. She proved to be the brig Florence Annapolis, forty-nine days from Liverpool, bound to Nova Scotia with a cargo of salt. Water and provisions were gone and the crew was on the verge of starvation. When the mast went by the board, one of the crew had his leg broken and two others were injured. Captain Anthony supplied the vessel with water and small stores, and his crew assisted in rigging up two sails, with which the brig ultimately reached port in safety.

Late on the afternoon of June 13 the first whale seen for a month was sighted. It was a smoky day, with a fresh breeze from the south. Mr. Smith, the mate, was in charge of one of the boats, which was lowered. The boatsteerer had thrown the iron, and Mr. Smith had taken his position at the head of the boat with the lance for the fatal stroke, when he was knocked overboard by the whale and severely cut about the head. He was pulled in by the crew, and crawled on his hands and knees to the head of the boat once more, where he killed the whale and fell back in a faint. Smith[Pg 87] was brought aboard the bark, badly injured, and the whale was alongside at one A.M. The next morning Mr. Smith insisted upon attending to his duties and assisted in directing the cutting-in, although he was very weak from the loss of blood from the cuts on his head and neck. This little incident indicated to Captain Anthony that he had made no mistake in selecting Mr. Smith, and he felt sure that when the supreme test came he would have at least one man behind him upon whom he could rely to the uttermost.

From that date until August nothing of particular interest occurred. Icebergs were seen in July, and the Kanaka boatsteerer died and was buried at sea, the service being read by Captain Anthony.

Late in August the Catalpa fell in with the bark General Scott, Captain Bobbins, and "gammed," with her. The word "gammed" is the whaling vernacular for keeping company. On the morning of the 27th a flat calm prevailed, when a large sperm whale was raised close to the ship. Three boats were lowered and this attracted the attention of the captain of the General Scott, who ordered his men to the boats. The fact that the whale spouted seventy times each time it came up indicated that it was of good size. Then the whale sounded and was down forty minutes. The boats from both ships were now in ardent chase, but when the whale came up he was nearer the Scott's boats. So the officers shouted and agreed to "mate," or divide the whale. Mr. Smith of the Catalpa struck the[Pg 88] whale, and all joined in the killing. Then, as the General Scott was so much larger than the Catalpa, the whale was taken alongside that vessel for boiling. It is a rule among whalemen that when two ships are mated, if either takes a whale before the first has been boiled, the ships again divide. So while the General Scott was trying out, the Catalpa cruised away, captured another whale, and at six o'clock the same night had it alongside. This latter whale was small, making about forty-five barrels, which was divided. The larger whale "stowed down" 130 barrels.

On September 5 the Catalpa gammed with the bark Draco, Captain Peakes. Captain Anthony had sailed in the Draco for ten years of his life, and Captain Peakes was an old friend. On the 19th the Catalpa raised sperm whales and secured two. On October 14 Flores was sighted, and the captain now learned that through the fault of his chronometer he was 120 miles out of his "reckoning."

Captain Peakes suggested to Captain Anthony that before going in he should catch up a deckload of albicores, which abounded, and as they are a choice edible he could trade them off in the town for potatoes. The albicores follow ships in this locality, and were all about the vessel, breaching for flying-fish and squid. So with white rag for bait, the crew caught half a hundred fish weighing forty or fifty pounds each.

Captain Anthony landed in his small boat and was at once placed under arrest by the custom-[Pg 89]house authorities for smuggling. The fish, it seems, were regarded as a product of the American fisheries, and could not be landed without paying a duty. Moreover, Captain Anthony was informed that they were worthless. So he gave them away to a man on the dock, but this made no difference to the customs authorities, who insisted that they must be returned to the vessel or pay the duty. The captain ordered a native to take them back to the ship or do anything he liked with the fish. He rowed around a point and landed the fish, but the island officials, having demonstrated their authority, released Captain Anthony from arrest.

The potatoes were placed aboard the vessel, when a heavy gale sprang up. Captain Anthony was ready to sail, but he had left his bill of health ashore, and he was forced to lay off and on in terrible weather before he could get back once more.

On October 20 the Catalpa left the island for Fayal, and several days later, in a gale of wind, the vessel was worked up between Pico and Fayal and anchored off the town. The vessel had 210 barrels of sperm oil aboard, and for several days the crew was employed in breaking out the cargo and landing it to be shipped home. Then the casks of bread and flour were recoopered and the watches were given liberty on shore. Here the captain was rejoiced at getting letters from, his family and a photograph of his daughter.

Most of the crew, including third mate Bolles, one of the boatsteerers, and nearly all of the foremast[Pg 90] hands, deserted, and three sailors who were sick were discharged. A runner agreed to furnish men, but it was necessary for them to be smuggled aboard the ship, since they had no passports. They were picked up by the Catalpa's boats under shadow of the fort, and, although hailed by the guard-boat, they were successful in reaching the vessel. One or two of the men who ran away were captured, and a crew was once more patched up.

The chronometer again claimed attention. Although the captain had had it adjusted at Flores, in the short run to Fayal he found himself sixty miles out of the way in his reckoning. Here he met Captain Crapo of the bark Ospray, who had three chronometers, including one which had been in the bark Cornelia, condemned on the Pacific coast. Captain Anthony bought this for $110 and experienced much satisfaction in the belief that he now had an instrument which he could trust.

These were busy days for the captain, for aside from the trouble with the crew, the fierce weather on the Western Ground had used up rigging and canvas, and he was compelled to buy a new outfit.

On the sixth of November Captain Anthony made a hurried departure from Fayal.

[Pg 91]



The cause of the haste in leaving the island was a letter which Dennis Duggan, the ship's carpenter, received from Thomas Brennan.

Duggan, it will be remembered, was the only Irishman on the Catalpa, since the leaders had agreed that the presence of a number might arouse the suspicion of the British authorities when Australia was reached. Brennan had been very urgent in his appeals to accompany the expedition when it left America, but permission was refused. He declined to accept the rebuff, however, and he determined to stow away on the vessel before she sailed, but arrived at New Bedford a day too late.

Nothing daunted, he shipped on a little schooner sailing for St. Michael's, planning to join the Catalpa at Fayal. The letter which Duggan received announced that Brennan had taken passage on a steamer from St. Michael's which was due to arrive the following day.

Captain Anthony and Duggan had agreed never to converse on the subject, lest the suspicions of the officers might be excited; but the carpenter promptly carried the letter to the captain.

[Pg 92]

"I think we have all the crew we need at present," remarked Captain Anthony. "Mr. Brennan may get left."

He hastened to the custom-house, cleared his vessel for Teneriffe in the Canary Islands, and at 5.30 o'clock in the afternoon, in a drizzle of rain and a fresh breeze from the southwest, the moorings were slipped and the Catalpa was working out to windward between Pico and Fayal.

As the vessel was heading out through the islands the next morning, the steamer on which Brennan was a passenger was seen at a distance, going in to Fayal and the captain bestowed a grim smile upon Duggan. Brennan saw the ship likewise, but it will be seen that he did not falter in his purpose to join the Catalpa.

And now a crisis had come in the affairs of the expedition. Captain Anthony knew that the deception could not be kept much longer from his chief mate, Mr. Smith, and had planned for many months to make a confidant of him on the voyage from Fayal to Teneriffe.

Thus far the vessel had proceeded according to the plans announced before starting. During the period which had elapsed, the Catalpa had pursued whaling with good success, but, as the reader knows, this avocation was only a cloak to the true purpose of the voyage.

During the hard labor of the months which had passed, Captain Anthony had never forgotten for an instant the desperate work which was before him.[Pg 93] He thought of it by day and dreamed of it by night, yet he must continually be on the guard to keep his plans from his comrades in the cabin.

He had explained as a reason for going to Teneriffe, that he contemplated whaling about the river Platte, and proposed to stop there for water. The water at Fayal was taken from wells near the shore and was brackish, while that at Teneriffe is much sought after by whalers.

So far there was nothing to arouse a question upon the part of the chief officer. But after Teneriffe there was to be the long and dreary voyage around the Cape of Good Hope and across the Indian Ocean, with no pretense of whaling. The officer must be admitted into the secret before Teneriffe was reached. If he refused to assist the enterprise he must be landed there. He might very properly be indignant at being inveigled into such a voyage and give away the plan.

Captain Anthony had decided that of all men Smith the mate was an officer among a thousand for such work. He was bold and adventure-loving. But his very impetuosity was dreaded by the captain in the interview which was to come; for whereas he might accept a part in the programme with enthusiasm, he was perhaps as likely to be enraged at the deception practiced upon him.

It was therefore with many misgivings that Captain Anthony asked him into the cabin one pleasant evening, when the vessel was a few days out from Fayal. Mr. Smith seemed to be in excep[Pg 94]tionally good spirits, and it was an opportunity which the captain had awaited for some time. The doors were closed, and at Anthony's invitation Smith sat down.

It is not the fashion of sailors to make long stories, and Captain Anthony was as blunt and brief as if he were instructing his mate to put more sail on the ship.

"Mr. Smith, you shipped to go whaling," commenced the captain. "I want to say to you now, before we get to Teneriffe, that the Catalpa has done about all the whaling she will do this fall. We're bound to the western coast of Australia to try and liberate six Fenian prisoners who are serving a life sentence in Great Britain's penal colony. This ship was bought for that purpose and fitted for that purpose, and you have been utterly deceived in the object of this voyage. You have a right to be indignant and leave the vessel at Teneriffe. You will have the opportunity when we arrive there, and if you go I can't blame you.

"But this ship is going to Australia, if I live, and I hope you will stay by me and go with me. God knows I need you, and I give you my word I will stand by you as never one man stood by another, if you will say you will remain in the ship and assist me in carrying out the plans."


First Mate of the Catalpa

Mr. Smith's face, at this announcement, was a picture of surprise which the captain will never forget. After a moment, the mate asked a few questions about the prisoners to be rescued, the plan,[Pg 95] and the men behind it, and Captain Anthony assured him that if any trouble came he would exonerate him completely from the conspiracy and would proclaim that he shipped to go whaling. Then Mr. Smith sat silent for a few minutes.

The reply which came is not the polite language of the parlor, but it was very satisfactory to Captain Anthony, and was couched in language which could not have been made more expressive of Mr. Smith's purpose. He arose and took the captain by the hand.

"Captain Anthony," said he, "I'll stick by you in this ship if she goes to hell and burns off her jibboom."

This undoubtedly struck the captain at that moment as the quintessence of eloquence, and you may be sure the hand of Mr. Smith, which was placed in his, was shaken with a heartiness which told the story of his joy.

The two men talked long together. Smith had wondered at the interest of the strange men, Devoy and Reynolds, who had visited the ship during her fitting, and he never had been able to understand how it was expected the vessel could go to the River Platte and return in eighteen months; but otherwise his curiosity had never led him to suspect that he was not in the entire confidence of the captain. Captain Anthony was in a happier frame of mind when he went to his stateroom than he had experienced for many months.

[Pg 96]



The peak of Teneriffe, 12,182 feet high, can be seen ninety miles on a clear day. Captain Anthony had seen it as far by accurate observation. Trusting in the correctness of his new chronometer, he expected to raise the land dead ahead. He was therefore surprised, one afternoon, when he raised the peak sixty or seventy miles on his weather quarter. Captain Anthony ordered the vessel hauled sharp by the wind, and by a fortunate change was able to head up so that he arrived off the port the following evening, November 20. The new chronometer was no longer to be implicitly trusted.

The bark was at once boarded by the custom-house officials, who wished to see the bill of health. Captain Anthony passed out the health papers certified to by the Spanish consul. There had been so many changes in the crew at Fayal and the start was made so hurriedly that the number of men was erroneously given as twenty-five. The officials ordered the captain to call all hands to the rail, which was done, and only twenty-two men were mustered. Then the captain was asked to account for the other three men, but was unable to do so,[Pg 97] and he was asked if he had not made way with them, which he, of course, strenuously denied.

Then the officer demanded the log-book, ship's papers, crew lists, and certificates of discharges and desertions, and, failing to find any accounting for the three men, announced that he should detain the vessel until an explanation was forthcoming. But after profuse apologies and explanations on the part of the captain, the officer finally agreed to permit the vessel to enter.

Captain Anthony went ashore, saw the consul, and made arrangements for taking water aboard. He dared not give the crew shore liberty, lest they might run away. The consul advised him to ship the men taken aboard at Fayal regularly, but as the men might refuse to return if they landed at Teneriffe, on the ground that they did not belong to the vessel, he consented to go aboard the Catalpa, and the men were accordingly shipped aboard the bark.

An American schooner from New Haven was in port, and Captain Anthony took his chronometer aboard. For three days he was engaged in taking sights and fixing the rate, which had been given incorrectly, he found. Captain Anthony was now bound across the Indian Ocean, and as he knew that this was the last land he would see for many weeks or months, he was very particular about the work.

A quantity of lumber, boards and joist, were taken aboard here, to build quarters for the guests whom the captain expected to take aboard at Australia. The explanation was vouchsafed to the crew[Pg 98] that the big spruce boards and joist were for mending the boats; but notwithstanding the absurdity, it was perfectly satisfactory to the men. The captain had drawn $1,000 on the owners at Fayal for refitting, and he spent $300 additional at Teneriffe.

On November 25 the Catalpa sailed from Teneriffe, clearing for "River La Platte and other places." The vessel was now in ship-shape order, and was bound for Australia as straight as she could be sent.

Still the deception of whaling must be kept up with the crew, and a man was always kept on the lookout at masthead. For several weeks light breezes prevailed, and nothing occurred to break the monotony. On December 19 three small whales were taken, making about forty barrels of oil. Then there was a short season of baffling winds and squally weather, but about the 24th the trade winds struck on. The Catalpa crossed the equator in longitude 27° on Christmas night. The prevailing winds had been to the southward, and the vessel had sailed on the port tack for so long a time that she must have been close in upon Cape St. Rourke. No land was sighted, however, and it must have been passed in the night.

Then for a period of two months the voyage was monotonous enough. Light breezes prevailed and considerable of the time was spent in repairing sails. Finback whales were sighted and occasionally the boats were lowered, but the pursuit was without success.

On the night of Friday, February 11, the vessel[Pg 99] was in lat. 41° 11´, long. 17° 58´, when a heavy gale from the S.S.W. commenced. At daylight the bark was under two lower topsails and foresail, steering S.E. by E. The cross sea on this occasion was the most treacherous and menacing which Captain Anthony had ever experienced. The combers, coming in opposite directions, came together with reports like a clap of thunder, and the danger of a sea striking the deck was looked upon with no little apprehension. As the gale and sea increased the Catalpa hove to under the two lower topsails and mizzen staysail. Suddenly, to Captain Anthony's consternation, the lower foretopsail split and tore in shreds. Now, before leaving port the captain had been warned never to take in the topsails in heavy weather lest the vessel should thrash herself in pieces. The vessel was flat-bottomed and shallow and required sail to prevent her from rolling to windward and shipping seas, which might be her destruction, he was told, and in corroboration of this he knew that when the topsails were taken in in a hurricane off Cape Horn, on a previous voyage, a sea boarded the Catalpa, sweeping everything from the deck, breaking the mate's leg, and doing serious damage to the vessel.

"Now look out for trouble!" shouted Captain Anthony to Mr. Smith, as the very catastrophe which was dreaded happened. But to the captain's surprise the Catalpa came up into the wind and sea and lay like a duck, rising and settling in the surges with a graceful, buoyant swell.

[Pg 100]

At three o'clock on the afternoon of the storm a vessel was sighted on the other tack with nothing set but the main spencer and foretopmast staysail. She rolled until her keel was almost in sight, and Captain Anthony not only recognized her as a whaleship, but from the brightness of the copper on the vessel's bottom, which was exposed as she reeled in the great seas, he knew that she had left home but recently. But Captain Anthony realized that his presence in this locality would be difficult to explain to a whaling captain who knew that he had sailed ostensibly on a short voyage in the Atlantic, and he heroically determined to forego his inclination to hear the latest news from home. The little bark wore around and came on the same tack with the Catalpa, but she was soon left far astern.

At midnight, however, the wind died out, and the next day the little bark was in sight. The weather was genial, the sun glowing, and to all appearances there never blew a gale over so placid a sea. Captain Anthony decided to speak the vessel. So he hauled aback, and when the stranger came up, lowered a boat and boarded her. She proved to be the Platina of New Bedford. Captain Walter Howland, who commanded her, was an intimate friend, but Captain Anthony was not so well pleased at the meeting as he might have been under other circumstances. The Platina was four months out from home and had fifty barrels of oil.

"What under heavens are you doing here, Anthony," said Captain Howland. "You're the last[Pg 101] man I expected to see out here. I thought you intended to make a short voyage in the North Atlantic."

Captain Anthony said he had concluded to go farther, and inquired of Captain Howland where he proposed to go. The latter said he was bound for the Seychelles Islands and through the Mozambique Channel. Captain Anthony evinced much interest in this plan, and the Platina's master got out his charts and gave the captain considerable information about the locality, Captain Anthony taking copious notes the while. Captain Anthony told Captain Howland that he might bring up on the whaling ground which was his destination.

Then Captain Howland gave his old friend the news from home, but it was quite evident that he was suspicious of Captain Anthony's presence in this part of the world, for several times he stopped short, and repeated, "Say now, honest, what are you doing here?"

"Where are you going to refit?" he asked at another time. Captain Anthony evaded answering this question by asking Captain Howland where he proposed to refit, and entered the information he received in his notebook.

Meanwhile Mr. Farnham, the second mate, and the boat's crew from the Catalpa were mingling with the Platina's crew, and learned for the first time that the vessel was not off the coast of Patagonia, bound for the River La Platte, but nearer the Cape of Good Hope and headed for the Indian Ocean.

[Pg 102]

"I tot we long time getting that River Platte," Captain Anthony heard the Portuguese mate saying to the men. "I tink maybe old man go to New Zealand catch whales. I there once. I tink nice place."

Late in the day Captain Anthony said good-by to Captain Howland and returned to the Catalpa. The wind breezed up, main royals were set, and onward the vessel bowled. The Platina was in sight for three days, when she disappeared from the Catalpa's horizon.

[Pg 103]



Nothing stranger ever happened on land or sea than the circumstance whereby Captain Anthony came into possession of the charts used on the convict ship Hougoumont, which were subsequently employed to frustrate the plans of the government which first provided them.

A large English bark was signalized on the 16th of February in lat. 39° 46´ S., long. 31° 54´ E. It was a beautiful morning, and Captain Anthony concluded to board her and see if he could procure a detailed chart of the Australian coast, which he was now rapidly approaching.

The vessel proved to be the Ocean Beauty, seventy days from Liverpool and bound for New Zealand. The captain was a big, convivial Englishman, full of jolly stories which he loved to tell. Captain Anthony spent a pleasant hour in his cabin and finally asked him if he had made many voyages in this direction.

"Been making them out here all my life," he said. "Why, I was master of a convict ship, the Hougoumont, and carried a shipful of prisoners to Australia in 1868."

[Pg 104]

The name "Hougoumont" seemed familiar to Captain Anthony. Suddenly it flashed upon his mind that this was the vessel which Devoy had named as taking the Fenian prisoners whom he was bound to rescue out to the colony. The meeting at this time, and the reminder, unnerved the captain for a moment and if the Englishman had been observant he might have suspected from his conduct that the mention of the name of the vessel created an unexpected sensation.

But the suggestion started the captain of the Ocean Beauty to relate reminiscences of life on the convict ship. He told Captain Anthony of John Boyle O'Reilly. "You may have heard of him," he said, "for he escaped in one of your whaleships." He recalled the publication of a paper by O'Reilly on the Hougoumont called "The Wild Goose," so named because the soldiers of Sarsfield, who entered the service in foreign armies upon the failure of their effort for liberty, were called "The Wild Geese." It was published weekly, Father Delaney, the ship's chaplain, furnishing O'Reilly with the paper and writing materials. John Flood, Dennis B. Cashman, and J. Edward O'Kelly were editors, with O'Reilly, and Cashman wrote an ornamental heading entwined with shamrocks, and the sub-heads as well. It was published on Saturdays, and O'Reilly read it to the company between decks on Sundays. In this publication his narrative poem "The Flying Dutchman," written off the Cape of Good Hope, first appeared.

[Pg 105]

"We published seven weekly numbers of it," O'Reilly has written. "Amid the dim glare of the lamp the men, at night, would group strangely on extemporized seats, the yellow light full on the pale faces of the men as they listened with blazing eyes to Davis's 'Fontenoy,' or the 'Clansmen's Wild Address to Shane's Head!' Ah, that is another of the grand picture memories that come only to those who deal with life's stern realities!"

The Englishman's reference to Australia opened the way for Captain Anthony to inquire the possibilities of the place for refitting and taking aboard fresh provisions. The Englishman advised it, saying that it was a cheap place to recruit ship.

"Have you a sheet chart of the coast you could spare me?" asked Captain Anthony finally.

"Lots of them. Here's the roll I used when I was master of the Hougoumont. Help yourself. You're welcome to any you want."

The Englishman handed out a bulky roll, and Captain Anthony selected a chart of the western coast of Australia on a large scale, showing the survey about Swan River, Freemantle, Bunbury, Rottnest Island and lighthouse.

Then, as the wind was strengthening, Captain Anthony arose to go. The Englishman bid him "God speed," and the men parted.

Upon reaching the Catalpa, Captain Anthony went down into the cabin, chuckling in great glee.

"What's happened?" asked Mr. Smith.

"Why," said the captain, "would you believe[Pg 106] it? I've just been given the very chart which was used by the captain of the Hougoumont to land the prisoners we're after, at Freemantle. The captain little thought it was to be used in taking a ship there to rescue the same men."

The hilarity over this circumstance kept the two men in good humor for a long time.

[Pg 107]



For eleven days, from February 29 to March 10, the vessel lay to most of the time under lower topsails and staysails, in a heavy and prolonged gale from the S.S.E., dead ahead. It rained, and the days were anxious and dreary to the captain. When an observation was finally taken it was found that in this period the vessel had made only 60 miles progress south and 120 miles east. Such a storm from the east is very unusual in this latitude.

But at last strong, fair winds from the west and southwest set in and the Catalpa sailed like a racehorse. On March 15 the island of St. Paul in lat. 38° 25´ S. and long. 78° 28´ E. was raised. Whalemen always like to stop at St. Paul for the fishing. Captain Anthony had been there a number of times, and with a crude apparatus had often taken a boatload of crawfish in a few hours. A large iron hoop is used, interwoven with spun yarn, and baited. Other varieties of fish can be caught with hook, line, and pork bait.

Sail was shortened and lines were prepared for fishing. Small boats were lowered and, upon rowing in near the shore, the kelp, which abounded, was[Pg 108] hauled over the bow of the boat and served as an anchor. The Catalpa ran around under the lee of the island, which by the way has a peak 820 feet in height, when a westerly gale came on, commencing with heavy squalls.

The sea was ugly and the fishing expedition was abandoned. With all sail set, the Catalpa made fine progress that day. Great seas struck her stern and followed over the leading boards, but the vessel was already due at Australia and Captain Anthony determined to crowd her henceforth.

After leaving St. Paul the crew was satisfied that the bark was going to New Zealand, and of course they were not enlightened. Fair wind in plenty favored the vessel and she was driven hard, some days making 200 miles, until on March 27 the high land of Cape Naturaliste on the Australian coast was sighted. The crew was now certain that this was New Zealand, and Mr. Farnham, the second mate, said he recognized the promontory.

The chains were soon bent on the anchors, and at night the vessel was anchored in the shoal water of Geographe Bay. At five o'clock the next morning the Catalpa was once more under way, and at ten o'clock reached anchorage off Bunbury harbor, at the head of the bay.

So after nearly a year at sea, a year of worry and hard work, the rendezvous was reached. It brought little exaltation to Captain Anthony, for he knew that the crisis was at hand which would be the supreme test of his courage.

[Pg 109]

During these closing days he had said but little to his only confidant, Mr. Smith, but his mind had been busy with disconcerting thoughts. Whom would he meet? Might not the conspirators have failed in carrying out the land end of the plot? Possibly the plan had been discovered and the authorities were awaiting his arrival on shore to take him in custody and seize the vessel. The long delay had been a long torture for a man of Captain Anthony's activity, and he welcomed the developments which awaited him on shore.

[Pg 110]



For many weary months the reader has followed the fortunes of the expedition by sea. It was at this point that Captain Anthony's solicitude concerning the success of the conspiracy on land became intense; so here seems a proper place to commence the recitation of another part of the story.

And here we meet a man of whom it has been said that there is no more romantic figure in the stormy history of modern Ireland. John J. Breslin was selected to go to Australia and manage the land end of the rescue.

Mr. Breslin was already a famous hero, and his burning love of country, his chivalry and his bravery, were written in the hearts of Erin's sons and daughters. He is described by one writer as "a tall, courtly man, whose classical features, flowing white beard, and military bearing, made him a striking personage wherever he went.

"His history reads like a chapter from the days of good King Arthur. His name will, in time to come, start wonderful echoes among the thousand hills of Ireland."

His bold and adroit rescue of James Stephens, the[Pg 111] head centre of the Fenian movement in Ireland, while the government was gloating over his capture, startled the nations in 1865. Mr. Breslin was born in Drogheda in 1835. His father was a County Tyrone man and subsequently removed to Leinster. John received a good national school education and was always studious and an undefatigable reader. Although he ever upheld the views of the Nationalists, he had no connection with any organization until 1865, when Stephens's reply to the magistrates after his arrest confirmed him in the national faith.

Stephens had been engaged with the Irish patriots, Smith and O'Brien, in 1848, and escaped to Paris after the miserable failure of the insurrection at Ballingarry. For five years he plotted by correspondence, and then the little coterie of exiles drew lots to see which should return to Ireland to organize the new conspiracy. Stephens was selected, and he made a house-to-house canvass of the Emerald Isle, walking over 3,500 miles, reconnoitring the strongholds of Ireland, sometimes disguised as a priest, sometimes as a beggar, and associating with the people in their cabins and farmhouses.

Meanwhile tireless and faithful friends of Ireland in America were working with similar purpose, and the result was the organization known as "The Irish Republican Brotherhood," or "Fenians." More than a million Irishmen in America, and half that number in Ireland, were enrolled. At the head of the vast conspiracy was James Stephens.[Pg 112] The aim of the Fenian organization was the formation of an army to cope with the army of England.

When the organization grew formidable, England determined to suppress the brotherhood in Ireland, and through treachery and the employment of spies the British government at length learned that Stephens was the "head centre;" but so manifold were his disguises that the police were baffled for a long time.

During his wanderings Stephens had married a beautiful Tipperary girl. She was identified as Mrs. Stephens while at the head of the household of a gentleman living in the suburbs of Dublin, whose name was presumed to be Herbert. The house was surrounded one night and "Herbert," who proved to be Stephens, was captured as he slept.

There was much rejoicing in England at the capture, and Stephens was consigned to the Richmond bridewell, one of the strongest prisons in Ireland. The ponderous iron door of his cell was secured with bars, and it was on a corridor which was guarded by a second iron door, double locked. There he was shut in and extraordinary precautions taken to prevent his escape.

Mr. Breslin was at that time superintendent of the prison hospital. One night he opened the door of Stephens's cell with a false key, placed a loaded revolver in the fallen leader's hand, and led him forth to freedom. Guards, heavily armed, were everywhere, but they were eluded, and Stephens once more escaped to France.


Who managed the land end of the Rescue

[Pg 113]
[Pg 123]

The escape amazed England. It was long before suspicion fastened upon Breslin. Then he came to America, and was for a while a railway freight agent in Boston. Here he worked for a time, making few acquaintances. "Few knew him," said O'Reilly, "and to few were shown the culture and refinement behind the modest exterior. In thought and appearance eminently a gentleman; in demeanor dignified and reserved; in observance, rather distrustful, as if disappointed in his ideal man; somewhat cynical, perhaps, and often stubbornly prejudiced and unjust; a lover of and a successful worker in literature,—such is an outline of a character that may indeed be called extraordinary."

In America Mr. Breslin soon became a powerful spirit in the Clan-na-Gael, and the proposed expedition to rescue the political prisoners in Australia was work for which his bold spirit hungered and thirsted. His selection as the manager of the land end of the rescue was equally as fortunate as that of his co-worker, Captain Anthony.

His associate was Captain Thomas Desmond, a Nationalist from the time he could stand alone. Captain Desmond was born in Queenstown, but came to this country in early childhood and was living in Los Angeles, California, at this time.

Messrs. Breslin and Desmond sailed from San Francisco for Australia in September, 1875. There they were to meet John King, a Dublin man, who had lived in New South Wales for several years, and who had collected about $3,500 for the rescue project.

[Pg 114]

Upon their arrival at Freemantle, Australia, in November, the men separated and became ostensible strangers. Mr. Breslin assumed the name of J. Collins, and posed as a man of wealth seeking investments. His dignity and grace of manner enabled him to carry out the rôle with success, and it was not long before he became a universal favorite. The governor was attracted by the charm of his manner, and frequently entertained him.

After visiting Perth, Mr. Breslin concluded that he would make Freemantle his headquarters, and established himself at the Emerald Isle Hotel. Desmond went on to Perth and found employment at his trade of carriage-making.

Presently Mr. Breslin made the acquaintance of William Foley, a Fenian who had once been a prisoner, and through him notified James Wilson of his arrival and arranged for further communications. On one occasion Mr. Breslin was invited to inspect the prison, "The Establishment," as they call it in the colony, and he was conducted through it by the superintendent, Mr. Donan.

The Fenian prisoners were working on the roads by day, and after much difficulty Mr. Breslin succeeded in talking over his plans with Wilson. Then, inasmuch as the Catalpa was not expected before the last of January, to avoid suspicion he took a trip inland, visiting Perth, Guildford, York, Northam, Newcastle, and various smaller villages.

Then followed dull weeks of anxious waiting. About $4,000 in money was brought by King, who[Pg 115] passed as a gold miner, contributed by New Zealand sympathizers, which proved timely at this crisis. Two other agents of the revolutionary organization in Ireland, Denis F. McCarthy of Cork, and John Durham, also appeared on the scene and volunteered their assistance. They assumed the duty of cutting the telegraph wires after the escape should be effected.

The prisoners were frequently shifted around, communication with them was often difficult, and Mr. Breslin was as nearly distracted as a cool-headed man could be. In March, the whaling bark Canton was reported at Bunbury, and Mr. Breslin telegraphed the master to know if he had any news of the Catalpa of New Bedford. He replied that he knew nothing of her.

Mr. Breslin determined to go to Bunbury, and on the 6th of March left for the town. There was no news, and he returned to Freemantle in a small coasting vessel called the May.

At length, on the 29th of March, at 6.30 in the morning, there was posted on the bulletin board at the telegraph office at Freemantle the announcement of the arrival of the Catalpa at Bunbury.

[Pg 116]



The morning after the arrival of the Catalpa at Bunbury was bright and beautiful. Captain Anthony ordered a crew of picked men into one of the boats, for he dared not trust some of his sailors ashore, fearing they would desert the ship, and landed on the jetty. Then the boat returned, and the captain walked toward the town.

He was on the alert for recognition, and wandered about the old town all day, momentarily expecting and hoping that some fellow-conspirator would reveal himself. He returned to the ship at night, disappointed and anxious. Captain Anthony and Mr. Smith had a serious consultation, and agreed that there was nothing to do but to wait.

The next morning Captain Anthony again went ashore. At the head of the jetty a boy approached and asked if he was Captain Anthony. Upon receiving an affirmative reply, the lad handed the captain a telegram. It read as follows:—

Electric Telegraph, Western Australia,
Bunbury, 29th March, 1876.

Time, 10.40 A.M.
By B.W.

The following telegram received here from Freemantle Station. Subject to the regulations and conditions printed on the other side:—

[Pg 117]

To Captain Anthony:—

Have you any news from New Bedford? When can you come to Freemantle?

J. Collins.

The captain was straightway relieved of a ton of care. Now he knew that there were friends in this remote land who were to share the great responsibility. He went to the telegraph office and wired to Collins:—

No news from New Bedford. Shall not come to Freemantle.

G.S. Anthony.

Captain Anthony engaged rooms at the local hotel and prepared to await developments. He had bought fresh meat for the ship of a marketman named David Hay, who told him much of an American gentleman of great wealth who was prospecting in the locality. Suspecting he might be the confederate who was to meet him, Captain Anthony looked up Hay, who presently alluded once more to the American, declaring he was the finest man he ever met.

"What is his name?" asked Anthony.

"Mr. Collins," replied Hay.

At four o'clock the next afternoon, when the mail-coach from Freemantle rolled into Bunbury, Captain Anthony was at Hay's store.

"Why, there's the very man I was telling you about!" ejaculated Hay, as he looked up. "Come up to Spencer's Hotel and I'll introduce you."

The men walked up to the hotel and asked for[Pg 118] Collins. He came down from his room in a few minutes, and the introduction followed. The meeting had taken place in the most natural manner possible, and without giving cause for suspicion that the men were meeting by appointment.

Collins wore a light suit. He was a magnificent fellow, and he charmed Captain Anthony, as he charmed all men with whom he came in contact. The captain remained to supper with his new friend, but not a word of the rescue was uttered at this time. After supper, Collins ordered cigars and invited Captain Anthony to take a walk. It was now after sundown, and the men walked out on the jetty in the darkness. The jetty was a long pile wharf, with a sentry house at the head, where an officer is constantly on guard to prevent smuggling. When they had walked a safe distance down the jetty, Breslin turned, grasped the captain's hands with a hearty "How are you?"

Then he told the captain of his fears, consequent upon the tardiness of the vessel in arriving, and then quickly outlined the plan. The prisoners, he said, were working on the road under a strong guard all day, and were locked in prison cells at night. Plans were to be devised by which the men were to escape and reach the coast at a place called Rockingham, about twenty miles south of Freemantle. There Captain Anthony was to meet them with a whaleboat and take them aboard his ship, which was to lie a dozen miles off the coast, where it would attract no attention. In order that Captain Anthony[Pg 119] might become thoroughly acquainted with the locality, Breslin proposed that he should return to Freemantle with him on the colonial mail steamer Georgette, which was to leave Bunbury the next day, April 1. Then the captain might study the coast and see the spot where the men were to be embarked, if the plans worked well. The rescue was to be attempted on Thursday, April 6.

Then the men walked back to the hotel and retired. The following morning Captain Anthony took Mr. Breslin aboard the Catalpa and introduced him to Mr. Smith. Then they went ashore to go aboard the Georgette.

As they walked up the jetty their surprise was overwhelming when they saw Thomas Brennan coming toward them.

Brennan's indefatigable determination to join the expedition had at length succeeded. When he arrived at St. Michael's as the Catalpa sailed out, he was by no means disconcerted. He then resolved to go to London and take a steamer for Australia.

Brennan offered the captain of the Selbourne, a fruit steamer, fifty pounds to take him to Liverpool; but the proposition was rejected, and he stowed himself away with several other men. When the ship was at sea, the men presented themselves to the captain, who made them prisoners, believing they were criminals fleeing from punishment for crimes committed on the island. He declared he would deliver them to the Liverpool authorities.

This was serious for Brennan. He had a large[Pg 120] sum of money about him which would render him liable to suspicion, and he could not afford to be delayed. When Liverpool was reached the captain signaled for the police, whereupon Brennan jumped overboard and started for the shore. When nearly exhausted he was picked up by a rowboat and landed. Then he proceeded to London and took a steamer for Australia.

Ill-luck pursued him, for when the steamer reached King George's Sound she was quarantined on account of smallpox, which was raging. And the next day the Georgette was to sail for Bunbury, where he suspected the Catalpa might be. If he missed her, he would be detained another month. He made his escape and secured passage on the Georgette.

It must be admitted that neither Breslin nor Anthony were overjoyed at the meeting. They already had all the assistance they needed, and each addition to the party only increased the chances of arousing suspicion. But Brennan was here, and there was nothing to do but take him along to Freemantle.

It was agreed that Captain Anthony was to be introduced as the guest of "Mr. Collins" on the steamer. Brennan was to be a stranger. Captain Anthony at once commenced to cultivate the friendship of Captain O'Grady of the Georgette. The latter had sailed out of New York and was interested in the American. Captain Anthony was with him in the pilot-house throughout the trip, and secured an acquaintance with the coast, the courses,[Pg 121] and bearings. He gave particular attention to the coast outside Rockingham and the positions of Rottnest and Garden islands.

At noon the next day Freemantle was reached. High over the town the stone prison in which the prisoners were confined at night stood like a sentinel, and reminded Captain Anthony that his task was no trifling one. But there was a suggestion more grim in the discovery of one of Her Britannic Majesty's gunboats, the Conflict, anchored in the harbor. She was a schooner-rigged vessel, carrying two guns and thirty men, and the captain saw by her lines that she must be a fast sailer.

The appearance of the gunboat was unexpected, and Captain Anthony and Mr. Breslin exchanged significant glances as they saw her. It was Sunday morning when they landed, and they went to the Emerald Isle Hotel, where Captain Anthony was introduced to his fellow-conspirators, John King and Captain Desmond. The latter was working as a wheelwright at Perth and posed as a Yankee. He kept up his assumed identity by a liberal use of the vernacular of the Vermont farmer. From the latter it was learned that the gunboat had come to Freemantle on an annual visit, and might remain for a week or ten days, then proceeding to Adelaide and Sidney; also, that another gunboat was expected to call at Freemantle and take Governor Robinson to visit the northwest coast.

[Pg 122]



In the afternoon Mr. Breslin brought around a trap to drive over the road to Rockingham, where the men were to embark in the whaleboat for the ship, if the escape was successful. For ten miles the drive was over the hard macadamized road built by the prisoners and called the Fenian road. With a pair of horses and four men in the trap, this distance was accomplished in forty minutes, and the test was very satisfactory. Then a sandy, heavy road was encountered for a distance of seven miles, which merged into a mere track winding through the "black boys," as the trees are called, the bush, and the sand to Rockingham Hotel. The latter stretch was about four miles, and the total distance was made in two hours and twenty minutes.

Here a hard, sandy beach was discovered. Garden Island, a long, low stretch of land covered with tall grass and bush, makes out from a point and extends nearly to Freemantle, forming Cockburn's Sound, a sheltered inlet. At the north end of the island is a narrow passage between the island and Cape Peron, a point on the mainland. Here the men alighted.

"Now, this is the place," said Mr. Breslin, "where we propose to bring the men, and where we expect you to meet us with a boat."

Captain Anthony stuck up an old piece of joist or rail in the sand above high-water mark.

"Let it be understood that this is the place where I will meet you with my boat if God spares my life," said the captain.

The four men then drove back to the hotel at Rockingham, where they rested, for the day had been intensely hot, and men and horses were thoroughly fatigued. That evening they arranged a code of cipher for telegraphing. Breslin was to notify Captain Anthony at Bunbury when the gunboat left Freemantle, and the captain was to telegraph back the hour of sailing. Forty-eight hours from the time when the telegram was sent, Captain Anthony was to have the Catalpa off the coast at Rockingham and his boat on the beach.

This was leaving much to chance, of course. Rockingham was a hundred miles from Bunbury, and head winds, bad weather, or calms might prevent the Catalpa from covering the distance within that time. But it was indeed a desperate undertaking; the men had resolved to take desperate chances and trust the luck which had thus far attended the expedition.

The telegraphic code was arranged as follows: When the gunboat sailed, Breslin was to send the message, "Your friend (N. or S. meaning north or south) has gone home. When do you sail?" This[Pg 124] meant, "The gunboat has sailed north or south. All right. Start from Bunbury." In case the gunboat arrived to take the governor to the northwest coast, Breslin was to wire "Jones is going overland to Champion Bay. When do you clear out of Bunbury?" And when the coast was again clear, "Jones has gone to Champion Bay; did not receive a letter from you," meaning, "All right again."



On Monday, Captain Anthony was invited to go with his friends and a party of merchants in the colony to Perth, the residence of the governor. The company assembled at one of the hotels, and previous to the dinner were entertained by the songs of a Western Australian shepherd. A copy of the verses of one of the selections, describing one of the unique sports of the colony, was given the captain at his request. These are the lines:—

"I'm an odd thinking man,
And will get on if I can,—
I'm only a shepherd, 'tis true;
I find sport with my gun
Whilst out on the run,
In hunting the kangaroo!

"Some folks talk of the fox,
Ride through heather and box,
Hounds, steeds, and their hunting crew;
That is all very well,
But no sport can excel
The chase of the kangaroo.

"If I put up a doe,
Oft her offspring she'll throw
From the pouch in her breast, 'tis true;
[Pg 125]And now for the fun,—
For I don't use my gun,—
But run down the young kangaroo.

"Whilst my dogs on the scent
Of killing intent,
Swiftly o'er the plain they flew:
They ne'er lose a trail,
Nor to kill ever fail,
Or show the dead kangaroo.

"When a booma's at bay
You've the devil to pay,
He'll fight like a boxer,'tis true:
He's a terrible foe,
As the dogs often know,
In encounters with kangaroo.

"I've kept you too long,
So an end to my song;
I hope 'twill amuse not a few.
When we meet again
We'll go out on the plain,
For a hunt of the kangaroo."

When the gentlemen were about to be seated at the dinner-table, Captain Anthony was filled with consternation as a government official placed his hand on his arm and said, "Excuse me, sir, but what is your name and business, and what are you doing here?"

Captain Anthony naturally thought the plot had been betrayed, when Breslin stepped up to explain that this was a custom of the country. The captain received such a shock that he failed to thoroughly enjoy the dinner. He found another illustration of the suspicion which is always abroad in the penal colony, later in the day. Going into the hydrographic office to buy a chart of the coast, he was[Pg 126] compelled to reply to a long series of questions before he was permitted to purchase it.

On Thursday, April 6, Captain Anthony started back to the ship in the Bunbury mail coach, carrying $250 in gold which Mr. Breslin had given him to square up his bills. This was a thirty-two hours' journey over sandy roads, and as the weather was hot and Captain Anthony was the only passenger, he was utterly wearied when he arrived at Bunbury at four P.M. the following day.

[Pg 127]



And now followed a period of waiting, and the captain was worn with anxiety. The possible suspicion of the people ashore at the delay in departure must be anticipated, and the captain busied himself in getting potatoes and onions, wood and water aboard, and opened up negotiations for a quantity of kangaroo skins.

The crew had become uneasy at the long delay, and were almost mutinous at their restricted shore liberty, for Captain Anthony did not dare to trust them with shore leave, excepting in charge of an officer. Their own theory of the proceeding was that the vessel was fitting for a cruise to New Zealand. They were humored in this belief, and were kept busy in painting and refitting.

One forenoon, when the captain was ashore with Mr. Smith, they noticed the colors at half-mast, and saw that four of the crew had stolen a boat and were rowing ashore, with another boat's crew in pursuit. The runaways reached shore and started for the beach. The police were notified, and soon overtook and captured them. The ringleader, Joseph McCarty, struck an officer and was detained.[Pg 128] The other three were delivered aboard the vessel and were placed in irons in the steerage. The man who was arrested was a desperate fellow, and Captain Anthony was glad to have him go. He was sentenced for seven days for the assault. The captain hoped to get to sea before he was released, but the man served his time and went down on the jetty and sought to go aboard the ship. Captain Anthony did not dare to trust the man, in view of his delicate mission, and refused to receive him. He was one of the men who was shipped at Teneriffe, and had a bad record.

Two days had passed since the captain's return to the vessel, and no word had been received from Breslin. Meanwhile, the vessel was in readiness for a prompt departure. At noon, on Tuesday, April 11, a telegram was delivered to Captain Anthony, which read as follows:—

Your friend S. has gone home. When do you sail?

J. Collins.

Captain Anthony at once cleared his vessel at the custom-house, and later in the day, as he was about to telegraph that he would start, word was brought to him at the hotel that the Catalpa had been seized by the custom-house officials and that an officer was in charge. The distracted captain hastened to the custom-house, and found his offense had been a violation of the law in landing a barrel of pork after he had cleared. After a long consultation the[Pg 129] officers released the vessel, but it was then too late to sail.

On Wednesday, Captain Anthony telegraphed:—

I'll sail to-day. Good-by. Answer, if received.

G.S. Anthony.

Back came the reply:—

Your telegram received. Friday being Good Friday, I shall remain in Freemantle, and leave for York on Saturday morning. I wish you may strike oil. Answer, if received.

J. Collins.


Captain Anthony at once appreciated the situation. He knew that the prisoners were detained in their cells on Sundays and holidays, and that his plan would have placed him at Rockingham on Friday. He replied to Breslin's telegram:—

Yours received. Did not leave to-day. Wind ahead and raining. Sail in the morning. Good-by.

G.S. Anthony.

That evening the captain discovered that his crew had been doing a rescue on its own account, and had stowed a ticket-of-leave man in the mizzen-topmast staysail. While he pitied the fellow, he was fearful that the authorities might discover the man hidden on his vessel, and make trouble which would interfere with the great object ahead. So he notified the police, and they came aboard and took the man ashore.

[Pg 130]

Still misfortune crowded in upon the conspirators. A heavy storm came on, extra anchors were necessary; but with the whole length of chain out the Catalpa dragged, and destruction on the bar was threatened.

It was impossible to sail, and Captain Anthony knew that Breslin's plans must be upset once more. He went to the telegraph office to send a message, and found it closed on account of the holiday. He hunted up the operator, a woman. She declined to go to the office, saying it would be useless, since the Freemantle office was closed. The captain pleaded, for he knew that everything depended upon it. At length the woman opened the office and sat down to the instrument.

She called for several minutes. There was no reply.

"I told you it would be of no use," she replied.

Just then came an answering click. The operator sat down at the instrument once more. After a moment, she said:—

"They are taking the message. An operator happened in."

Captain Anthony nearly shouted with joy. This is the message which he sent:—

J. Collins, Esq.:—

It has blown heavy. Ship dragged both anchors. Can you advance money, if needed? Will telegraph again in the morning.

G.S. Anthony.

[Pg 131]

Once more the element of good luck had manifested itself, this time at a most critical point.

On Saturday morning, April 15, Captain Anthony finally telegraphed:—

"I shall certainly sail to-day. Suppose you will leave for York Sunday morning. Good-by."

Straightway the answer came back:—

Your telegram received. All right. Glad you got off without damage. Au revoir.

J. Collins.

Captain Anthony reported at the custom-house that he was ready for sea, and the officers came off and prodded the hold and every dark space with spears, according to custom, to see if any prisoners were stowed away. At two o'clock in the afternoon a moderate favoring breeze from the S.S.W. was blowing. Anchor was hoisted, and with all sail set the Catalpa slipped up the coast bound for Rockingham.

[Pg 132]



At sundown the vessel was well outside the harbor and sail was shortened. In the evening the captain went below for a nap, telling the officers in charge of the deck not to go over three miles an hour, to keep the land well in sight, and call him at midnight if all was well, but sooner if there was any change in the weather. At twelve o'clock Captain Anthony was on deck again. The weather continued favorable, for which he was exceedingly grateful. The inverted season corresponded to fall at home, and it was the time when storms were looked for. A delay now would certainly be disastrous, and the weather was a source of the most constant anxiety.

The captain remained on deck throughout the night. At noon on Sunday the vessel had proceeded up the coast until it was about twenty miles south of Rottnest lighthouse, off Freemantle harbor. Now he called Mr. Smith into the cabin, spread out the chart, and explained to him that the lighthouse was twelve miles offshore from the Freemantle jetty and one hundred and ninety-seven feet above the level of the sea, with a signal station on top from which the approach of vessels was sig[Pg 133]naled to the town. He cautioned the mate to keep the ship out of near range, and told Mr. Smith that the crisis had come and he was about to start in the small boat. He was to lay off and on the land and keep a sharp lookout for his return.

"If I do not come back," he said, "you must use your best judgment. Go whaling or go home, as you like."

Then the men clasped hands, and Captain Anthony once more thanked fortune that he could leave his vessel in the hands of a brave man who could be trusted, whatever the emergency.

The captain then went on deck, threw a coat into one of the whaleboats, stowed away a bag of hard-bread, two kegs of water, and half a boiled ham, and ordered the boat lowered. A crew which the captain had selected after much thought was then stationed at the oars: Mr. Sylvia the third mate, Tobey the boatsteerer, Lewis a Portuguese, and Mopsy and Lombard, two Malays. Each man was told to take his coat, and the proceeding doubtless caused amazement among the men; but good sailors obey orders in silence and no word was spoken among them.

It was one o'clock in the afternoon when the boat left the ship. Captain Anthony was due at Rockingham at noon the next day. A small sail was put on the boat, and she made good progress. Just before dark, when the boat was well in under Garden Island, the sail was taken in and oars were shipped, for the captain did not wish to make a landing before nightfall. When the boat was off[Pg 134] the south end of the island the captain was startled at a roaring like thunder, and an instant later saw blind breakers, ten feet in height, making directly for the boat. He shouted orders to the men to look out for their oars and trim the boat. They let the oars come alongside and succeeded in keeping the little craft steady. She was lifted high in air on three of the rollers. Then all was quiet, for the boat had reached the smooth waters of Cockburn Sound. Oars were shipped once more, and the boat jogged on in the darkness. The captain knew by the ranges he had taken as he came through the passage that he must be near the spot selected as a meeting place.

A landing was made on the beach. Captain Anthony stepped ashore and had not walked more than three hundred feet when his foot struck the stake which had been set up as a mark on his previous visit.

It was now about 8.30 o'clock in the evening. The boat was hauled up on the beach and the men were told to lie down in the grass and sleep. It was clear and warm, and, unquestioning, they did as the captain told them.

Captain Anthony walked the beach all the night through, filled with disquieting thoughts and longing for the day.

[Pg 135]



Meanwhile, how had it fared with Breslin, whom we have seen must have been forced to change his plans several times at brief notice? Mr. Breslin had arranged a signal with Wilson which meant, "Get ready; we start to-morrow morning," but he could not give it on Friday. He succeeded, however, in sending a letter of instructions, concluding: "We have money, arms, and clothes; let no man's heart fail him, for this chance can never occur again."

Desmond went from Perth to Freemantle and joined Breslin, with a pair of fine horses and a four-wheeled wagon. He reached there Friday evening. Mr. Breslin had a similar conveyance and the best pair of horses he could get in Freemantle engaged for Friday and Saturday. On Friday afternoon he took the horses out for a trial trip, to see that they went well together and were in good condition.

Everything was in readiness for the attempt, when Mr. Breslin received Captain Anthony's telegram announcing that the Catalpa could not start on account of the storm. By a fortunate chance Cranston had been sent from the prison into the town that[Pg 136] evening, and he was informed of the change in the programme. Mr. Breslin thought that inasmuch as the vessel had dragged both anchors, she must have gone on the bar, and that a delay of weeks might follow before she was again ready for sea. So Desmond returned to Perth and prepared for another wait. But on Saturday came the telegram from Captain Anthony announcing that he would sail that day.

The escape must therefore be accomplished on Monday. Mr. Breslin engaged the same horses for Sunday and sent King to Perth on horseback to notify Desmond to return to Freemantle with his horses on Sunday evening. Saturday evening he walked to the jetty and gave to Wilson the signal which meant, "We start to-morrow morning." Fortunately he noticed Wilson's puzzled look, for an escape on Sunday, when the men were locked in the prison, was, of course, impossible. Then he realized the error. Walking leisurely across, he said to Wilson as he passed, "Monday morning," without being observed by the warden or the other prisoners.

Desmond arrived in Freemantle at about two o'clock Sunday afternoon with an inferior pair of horses, and when Mr. Breslin went to get the horses he had engaged, he found that Albert, the owner, had given the best horse to Mr. Stone, the superintendent of the water police, to go to Perth, his brother-in-law, the sheriff, having been injured by being thrown from his horse. Moreover, Albert told him he could not have the other horse, since he had[Pg 137] promised it to a man to go to the Perth regatta on Easter Monday. So he engaged another pair, but the expedition was much more poorly equipped in this respect than on the date first selected.

And now came Monday. There were many anxious hearts in Australia that night, and Captain Anthony, who paced the lonely beach, was not alone in his sleepless vigil. At 5.30 o'clock in the morning Breslin had the hostler called. Brennan started at six for Rockingham with arms and luggage. At seven Mr. Breslin went to Albert's stable and found his horses harnessed to a light trap, waiting for him. He told the hostler to let them stand a few minutes and then found Desmond and directed him to have his horses harnessed and ready to leave in half an hour.

It was arranged that Desmond should leave by a side street which, after a few turns, took him up on the Rockingham Road, while Breslin was to drive up High Street, as if he were going to Perth, then turn around by the prison and on to the same road. King, who was well mounted, was to remain for a reasonable time after the start, then follow with information whether the alarm had been given.

At half past seven Breslin drove slowly up the principal street, turned to the right, walked his horses slowly by the warden's quarters and pensioners' barracks. The men were beginning to assemble for parade. He had arranged with the prisoners that he would have the traps waiting at the road at a quarter before eight, the nearest to be stationed[Pg 138] about five minutes' run from the prison, and that they would remain until nine o'clock.

Being ahead of time, Breslin drove slowly along the Rockingham Road, met Desmond, and they stopped under a tree and divided the hats and coats they had brought to cover the convict garb, each taking three long linen coats and three hats. Then Breslin drove back toward Freemantle, Desmond following.

Time, 7.55 o'clock.

A few minutes later, three men in prison dress were seen coming down the Rockingham Road. They proved to be Wilson, Cranston, and Harrington. Breslin told them to pass on and get into Desmond's trap, which they did. Desmond wheeled his horses around and they were seated and ready to start when the other three came in sight. Breslin drove toward them and found they were Darragh, Hogan, and Hassett. One carried a spade and another a large kerosene can. When the men recognized their rescuers, the man with the spade threw it with exultant vigor into the bush and the prisoner with the can bestowed a kick upon it in good football fashion.

At this critical juncture, Breslin's horses rebelled and refused to wheel around. Darragh caught one by the head, but he plunged so that Breslin was afraid the animal would break the harness, and shouted to Darragh to let go. He did so and the horses started fairly well together. Driving to a wider part of the road, they wheeled nicely. Bres[Pg 139]lin picked up his men, and the horses were off at dashing speed. Desmond, meanwhile, was out of sight, and King had come up, reporting everything quiet when he left.


(From the Irish World, September 2, 1876)

It must here be explained how the prisoners were able to get away so successfully. Their good conduct and length of imprisonment had entitled them to the rank of constable, which afforded the opportunity for communication with each other. Wilson and Harrington worked in the same party at the construction of harbor works in Freemantle. Hogan was a painter by trade, and on this morning was employed in painting the house of Mr. Fauntleroy, outside the prison walls. Cranston was employed in the stores, and as messenger occasionally. Darragh was clerk and attendant to the Church of England chaplain, and enjoyed facilities for communication with the other prisoners. This morning he took Hassett with him to plant potatoes in the garden of Mr. Broomhole, clerk of works in the convict department.

It fortunately happened that on the morning of April 17 all the political prisoners were at work outside the prison wall. Cranston walked out as if going to deliver a message. He overtook the working party and told the warden he had been sent to take Wilson and Harrington to move some furniture in the governor's house, which was the nearest point to the meeting place. He exhibited a key, and the warden directed the two men to go with Cranston.

Darragh and Hassett started as if for work in the[Pg 140] same direction, and Hogan made an excuse to the warden to leave his work for a moment, and joined them.

"There was one incident of this daring enterprise which completed its dramatic intensity," writes James Jeffrey Roche. "The soldier convicts in Freemantle numbered one more than those who were rescued. That one was purposely left behind because of an act of treachery which he had attempted against his fellows ten long years before. He was tried with the others, by court-martial, and found guilty of treason; but before his sentence received the approval of the commander-in-chief he had offered to divulge the names of certain of his comrades not yet arrested, though implicated in the Fenian conspiracy. His offer was not accepted. The government punished him for his treason, and his comrades, half a score of years afterward, punished him more cruelly for the treason which he had contemplated against them."

The two traps, followed by King, made a quick journey to Rockingham. Mr. Somers, the proprietor of the hotel, stood in the door as the traps passed, but suspected nothing, inasmuch as he knew Breslin and Desmond, and the prison garb of the other men was concealed by their long coats. As the men drove up, he shouted:—

"What time will the Georgette be at the timber jetty?"

"Is the Georgette coming here?" shouted Breslin.

[Pg 141]

"Yes. She's due now."

Here was alarming news. The presence of the Georgette would ruin all. The horses were driven to a gallop. At half past ten the party approached the beach and saw Brennan making signals to them to hasten.

[Pg 142]



Captain Anthony walked up and down the beach throughout the long night, while his crew slept in the warm sand. He knew that the fate of the expedition, disastrous or successful, depended upon the developments of the ensuing day, and he was impatient to know the fate which awaited him. Twice during the night he roused the men to haul the boat farther up the beach, as the tide was rising. They responded sleepily and then dropped asleep again in careless sailor fashion.

As daylight approached, the captain was surprised and alarmed to find he was near a timber station. It had been unnoticed on the previous visit. Soon after sunrise, a gang of men put in an appearance and commenced carting lumber to a jetty not more than half a mile away.

He knew his presence must be discovered, and it was not long before one of the men from the jetty was seen approaching.

"What's going on?" asked the man, as he came up.

Captain Anthony told him he was bound to Freemantle for an anchor, to replace one which was lost. The man grinned at this.

[Pg 143]

"Lad," said he, "you've hooked it (ran away) from some ship, and I advise you to get out. This is no place to lay."

Then Anthony told him he was master of a ship, but the man was not to be convinced.

"I believe you're after Kenneth Brown," he said.

Brown was a man who was at that time under arrest for the murder of his wife.

Captain Anthony concluded it was useless to attempt a further explanation, and asked the man if he would tell him the best way to get out with his boat.

"I'm an ex-prisoner myself," said the man, "and I knew you were after somebody." He seemed disposed to assist the captain, to the relief of the latter, for if he had started to join his companions, Anthony would have been alarmed to an extent which might have made it necessary to resort to desperate means for his detention.

The visitor then told the captain that he must be very sure and keep close to Garden Island. There was a dangerous reef farther out, and it would be sure destruction to the boat to attempt to go out that way.

"But that's the way I came," said the captain. As he looked out, he saw the breakers making white water on the coral reef. He must have been carried completely over it by the blind rollers the previous night. He now realized that his escape had been providential.

Then the man said, in reply to questions, that[Pg 144] he was getting a cargo of timber ready for the Georgette.

"When is the Georgette coming?" asked the captain with eagerness.

"Why, she's coming now," he replied. "You can see her smoke."

There in the offing the captain saw the smoke of the steamer, and he began to realize that the situation was growing critically perilous.

At this moment there was a rattle of wheels, and Captain Anthony saw a two-wheeled trap, drawn by a horse on the gallop, coming up the beach toward him.

Brennan was driving, and he had the luggage of the party. He had lost his way, and had led his horse through the brush until he reached the beach. There he saw the men and the boat and drove his horse on the run toward them.

"Who is that man?" asked Brennan, as he came up and saw the stranger.

"He's a prisoner here and working on that jetty," replied the captain.

"We must shoot him," said Brennan.

"There will be no shooting yet," said the captain. "Where are the others?"

"Close behind," said Brennan, and he commenced unloading valises and bags belonging to Breslin, King, and Desmond.

Next King came up on horseback. The situation was explained to him, and he rode back to urge his comrades on.

[Pg 145]

Meanwhile the boat's crew sat huddled in the sand, apprehensive at the proceedings. The captain ordered them to push the boat into the water, each man to stand by the side of the boat, abreast his thwart. When he gave the order, he instructed them to shove the boat off as quickly as possible, to take the oars and pull. He cautioned them not to be afraid, whatever happened, at which the poor fellows looked at each other in consternation.

After an interval of fifteen minutes, which seemed much longer, a rattling of wheels and clatter of hoofs was heard, and Desmond and Breslin drove up with the prisoners, their horses quite exhausted.

As the prisoners jumped from the traps, their long linen coats blew open, showing their convict suits, with the unusual accompaniments of English belts, each containing two six-shooters. They seized rifles from the carriages, and with their arms full of cartridges made a rush for the boat.

At this the crew stood paralyzed, for they thought they were about to be attacked. One Malay drew a sheath knife and the others seized buckets, raised oars, and prepared to resist the men who were closing in upon them. This move was so unexpected that it was fortunate that an attack was averted, but a loud order from the captain in various languages at his command quieted the men. It was subsequently learned that the theory of the crew was that Captain Anthony had been smuggling and that the arrivals were government officials. The crew had determined to fight if necessary, to prevent the arrest of the captain.

[Pg 146]

At length the boat was afloat. The prisoners had been ordered to stow themselves as closely as possible in the bottom of the boat. Breslin, King, and Desmond sat in the stern and Captain Anthony took a position on top of the stern sheet, with the steering oar.

After some splashing the men began to pull with enthusiasm to the accompaniment of a running stream of rallying cries from the captain of "Pull as if you were pulling for a whale," "Come down, Mopsy," "Pull, Tobey, pull," "Come down, you big Lewis," "Pull, Tobey, pull," "Give them the stroke, Mr. Sylvia," "What do you say, men," "Come down altogether," "Pull away, my men, pull away."

Now the wind was beginning to breeze up from the west, blowing straight on shore. On the beach stood the timber-worker from the jetty, dumfounded at the spectacle, with the six horses, wandering about the shore. The boat was no more than a half mile from the beach when a squad of eight mounted policemen drove up. The flight had been discovered.

With the police were a number of "trackers," aboriginal bushmen who play the rôle of human blood-hounds. They wore short bokas, or cloaks of kangaroo skin, with belts of twisted fur around their naked bodies. These natives are attached to the prisons to follow the trail of absconding convicts, and they are wonderfully adept in running down a prisoner.

The police were armed with carbines and might[Pg 147] have shot some of the men in the boat, but fortunately they did not fire. They watched the boat a while and then took the horses and led them toward the timber station.

Breslin had prepared a note to the governor which he fastened to a float and posted by the ocean mail. As the wind and tide were setting ashore, it undoubtedly reached its destination. The letter was as follows—

Rockingham, April 17, 1876.

To His Excellency the British Governor of Western Australia.

This is to certify that I have this day released from the clemency of Her Most Gracious Majesty Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, etc., etc., six Irishmen, condemned to imprisonment for life by the enlightened and magnanimous government of Great Britain for having been guilty of the atrocious and unpardonable crimes known to the unenlightened portion of mankind as "love of country" and "hatred of tyranny;" for this act of "Irish assurance" my birth and blood being my full and sufficient warrant. Allow me to add that

In taking my leave now, I've only to say
A few cells I've emptied (a sell in its way);
I've the honor and pleasure to bid you good-day,
From all future acquaintance, excuse me, I pray.

In the service of my country,
John J. Breslin.

[Pg 148]



It was five o'clock in the afternoon when the rowboat went through the passage, and as Captain Anthony saw the menacing reef upon which the water was foaming and breaking, it seemed impossible that he had gone over it the night before.

Now the little boat was riding on lengthened seas which were rolling in from the ocean with increasing violence. The wind was blasty, but hauled a little in the boat's favor, so that Captain Anthony ordered the little sail set and told his companions if he could head in the way he was now going, the ship should be raised in an hour.

The fury of the wind and sea now poured upon the boat, and darkness was coming on, when the Catalpa was raised ahead. Captain Anthony knew that the little boat would not be visible to the ship and that the latter would stand off shore as soon as it became thick.

The sky grew blacker and the sea grew steadily heavier. The boat began to jump and jar until it seemed that she might lose her spar or mast step. The seas commenced to comb and break across the stern, or, running the length of the boat, would[Pg 149] tumble in, soaking the men and threatening to swamp the little craft. Captain Anthony felt that his salvation lay in reaching the ship that night.

The sixteen men were directed to take a place on the weather gunwale, and the man in charge of the sheet was ordered to take a turn about the thwart and not to slacken an inch. A crisis had arrived, and any risk was preferable to a night on the ocean in such a storm as was imminent. The boat leaped forward at a spanking rate, and the spray flew like feathers; and the water rose in mimic mountains, crowned with white foam which the wind blew in mist from summit to summit. Miles away the Catalpa was seen, barely discernible at moments when she rose on the crest of a larger wave than common, thrusting her bows into the air, surrounded by foam, and apparently ready to take flight from the sea.

Then, with a crash, the mast went over the side, breaking close to the thwart. The boat nearly capsized to windward, but the captain threw her head to the wind and the magnificent efforts of the crew kept her afloat. Monstrous seas now rolled into her, threatening to overwhelm the craft. She was almost water-logged, and shipped water over bow and stern alternately, as she rose and fell. The crew bailed vehemently and desperately. The rescued men were very sick, and lay in the bottom of the boat, a wretched heap of miserable humanity.

The boat was relieved of some of the water, and the wreck hauled in. Oars were shipped, but row[Pg 150]ing accomplished nothing more than holding the boat on her course, and almost in despair the men saw the Catalpa tack offshore.

The gale increased in violence as night wore on, and the men were completely worn out. The seas dashed over them, and their strength was taxed to exhaustion in bailing quickly lest the next sea might tumble in and wreck the boat. After the mast went, Captain Anthony took the midship oar, lashed on the jib, and stuck it up. The sheet was hauled aft, and the centreboard lowered, which steadied the boat and kept steerageway on her. The phosphorescence afforded a spectacle which Captain Anthony had never witnessed in equal degree, but it only made the wild scene more terrifying and awful.

For hours the seas continued to hurl themselves across the boat, while the men cast out the sea with bailers improvised from water kegs, the heads of which were knocked out.

Little was said, but occasionally one of the rescued men would ask "Captain, do you think we will float through the night?" The captain would cheerily reply, "Oh, yes, I've been out on many a worse night;" but he has since confessed that he would not have given a cent for the lives of the entire company. Under other circumstances the danger would have been much less. But the boat was overloaded, the gunwales being within two inches of the water, and she was nearly unmanageable. To run back to Garden Island meant capture.

[Pg 151]

The crew had eaten nothing but a little dry hard-bread since the noon of the day previous, and were painfully athirst. The provisions and water in the boat had been washed overboard. Captain Anthony was on his knees on top of the stern sheets steering, and often the seas rose to his armpits. The men were groaning, and it was so dark that the captain could not see his crew. No word was spoken excepting repeated orders to bail.

Late in the night, when the captain had decided that the boat must swamp before long, the gale subsided somewhat. Daylight was welcome after the awful night. The sea had now gone down, and there was prospect of a fair day. The seas came aboard less frequently, and courage and hope returned.

At sunrise every one was overjoyed to see the ship standing in toward the land. Oars were once more shipped, and with the sail drawing good progress was made.

[Pg 152]



About an hour after sunrise the Georgette was seen coming out of Freemantle. The men knew she was searching for them, and she seemed to be heading directly for the little boat. The sail was taken down, oars shipped, and the men lay down, one on top of the other, so that nothing showed above the rail. The steamer passed within a half mile of the boat and Captain Anthony could plainly see an officer on the bridge with glasses, scanning the shore. The boat must have appeared like a log and been mistaken for a piece of floating timber, if it was seen by the men on the Georgette, for she steamed by and went out to the Catalpa.

The anxious men in the boat feared she would remain by the Catalpa and prevent them from going aboard, but the Georgette steamed up the coast after a while and swung in toward Garden Island, passing the whaleboat once more, but at a safe distance.

Oars were once more manned. Mr. Smith on the Catalpa had not sighted the boat yet, for the background of high land interfered. The men pulled for two hours, when it was seen that there was a lighter alongside the ship, and it was at first surmised that it was a fishing vessel. Captain Desmond looked intently and then exclaimed:—

"My God! There's the guard-boat, filled with police. Pass out those rifles."

The guard-boat was large, with two mutton-leg sails, and there were thirty or forty men aboard. Affairs in the whaleboat assumed a belligerent aspect. Rifles were distributed, wet cartridges drawn from revolvers and replaced with fresh, and the prisoners swore they would fight until the last man was killed.

At Desmond's cry the appearance of exhaustion vanished. Every man was alert. The crew put new vigor into the stroke of the oars. When about two and a half miles from the Catalpa, the lookout at the masthead evidently raised the whaleboat, for the Catalpa suddenly bore down with all sail set. The police evidently suspected something, for the officers ran up the sail-hoops on the mast and started after the ship, with three or four men at the sweeps to hasten her progress.

Now it was a question whether the guard-boat would intercept the small boat before the ship was reached. If this was done, there would be a fatal conflict. The rescued men tried to help at the oars, but their efforts were a detriment, and they were ordered to lie in the bottom of the boat, that they might not hamper the crew. There they lay, and hugged their rifles grimly.

There were moments of suspense, but at length it was seen that the whaleboat would reach the[Pg 154] Catalpa. As soon as he was within hailing distance Captain Anthony shouted to Mr. Smith:—

"Hoist the ensign!"

The ensign was already bent, and one of the men jumped to the halyards and ran it to the peak.

Mr. Smith had men at the braces and managed the vessel superbly. As the boat slammed alongside, everything was thrown hard aback. The men grabbed the boat tackle and swung the forward tackle to Mr. Sylvia and the after to Captain Anthony.

The captain secured it, and, turning to order the men aboard ship, found he was alone in the boat. The prisoners had gone up the sideboards by the grip rope, with rifles and revolvers in their hands. The boat was hoisted on the davits, and as the captain stepped over the rail the guard-boat swept across the bow.

The rescued men knew the officers, and they crowded to the rail in great glee, waving their rifles and shouting salutations and farewells, calling the officers by name. The guard knew that it was useless for them to attempt to board the vessel. The officer in command accepted the result gracefully, and, giving a military salute, said "Good-morning, captain." "Good-morning," replied Captain Anthony, and the guard-boat kept off toward the shore.


The guard-boat      The whaleboat with escaping prisoners      The Georgette

There were wild scenes on board the whaleship in the next hour. The rescued men were in a state of exaltation, and cheered the captain, the crew, and everybody connected with the enterprise. If Captain Anthony, Mr. Breslin, and the others had been[Pg 155] reprieved from a death sentence they would have felt no greater joy and contentment. Captain Anthony and Breslin complimented Mate Smith, and the former called the steward.

"Get up the best dinner the ship can afford," he said. "We're hungry."

The steward succeeded admirably. There were canned chickens and lobsters, boiled potatoes, canned fruits, tea and coffee, and it was the most memorable dinner in the lifetime of the men who assembled. Messrs. Breslin, Desmond, and King dined with the captain, and the rescued men ate in the steerage.

Mr. Smith related that when the Georgette came alongside that morning, the captain of the English steamer asked where the boat was which was missing from the cranes. The mate replied that the captain had gone ashore. "What for?" was asked. "I don't know anything about it," said Mr. Smith. "Can I come aboard?" asked the officer. "Not by a damned sight," was Mr. Smith's reply. It was the theory of the Georgette's officers that the gale had been so violent that the small boat must have returned to land, so, leaving the guard-boat alongside, she ran in under the shore to cut off the whaleboat if possible.

After dinner Captain Anthony directed Mr. Smith to let the boat's crew go below and stay as long as the men wished.

That night the wind died out, and the topsails hung supinely from the yards, the air which breathed[Pg 156] occasionally from the land being unable to shake the heavy canvas. The captain gave up his room to Mr. Breslin, and Desmond and King were assigned to rooms in the forward cabin.

Captain Anthony lay down on a four-foot lounge, instructing Mr. Smith to work off shore if possible, but the ship did not move her own length during the entire night.

[Pg 157]



At daybreak Captain Anthony was called by Mr. Smith, who announced that the Georgette was approaching. Breslin was summoned, and the men hastened on deck.

As the steamer came nearer, it was seen that she had a regiment of soldiers aboard. The Georgette was a four hundred ton vessel, twice as big as the Catalpa. On her upper deck a big gun was mounted, and the soldiery were assembled on the main deck, a forest of bayonets glistening in the morning sun.

It was a show which was calculated to intimidate the men on the little whaleship, but no one on the Catalpa faltered. The captain ordered the ensign hoisted to the masthead, and mounted the poop deck.

It was seen that Colonel Harvest, heavy laden in the gorgeous trappings of a British army officer, was in charge of the deck. At one moment, when the colonel's attention was elsewhere, Captain O'Grady waved his hat at his whilom companion on a recent trip, and Captain Anthony waved his hand in response.

The next salutation was a solid shot fired across[Pg 158] the bow of the Catalpa. As it ricocheted along, the water flew as high as the masthead. Meanwhile the ship was rolling helplessly, for there was no wind. As the yards bowed to meet the water, her sails flapped and yards creaked. But now a faint breeze filled the sails, and the Catalpa began to make some headway. When she was abeam the Georgette, Colonel Harvest shouted:—

"Heave to!"

"What for?" screamed Captain Anthony in reply.

"You have escaped prisoners aboard that ship."

"You're mistaken," said Captain Anthony. "There are no prisoners aboard this ship. They're all free men."

The Georgette had a whaleboat on the davits, and the men on the whaleship assumed it was for boarding purposes. Breslin collected the rescued men together, and they determined to resist. While the above colloquy was in progress, Mr. Smith had fitted out the company with cutting spades, whaling guns, and heavy pieces of iron and logs of wood with which to sink the boat if it came alongside.

"I see the men aboard the ship now," yelled Colonel Harvest.

"You're mistaken, sir," returned Captain Anthony. "Get up, men, and show yourselves."

The men walked to the rail. "You can see for yourself they are my crew," said the captain.

"I have telegraphed the American government, and have orders to seize you," was the colonel's next announcement.

[Pg 159]

Captain Anthony knew this was impossible and made no reply.

"Are you going to heave to?" asked the colonel.

"No, sir," replied Captain Anthony firmly.

The Georgette was on the lee of the Catalpa. The wind was freshening and the Georgette was steaming to keep up.

"Don't you know you have violated the colonial laws?" asked Colonel Harvest.

"No, sir," answered Captain Anthony; at which the colonel seemed greatly enraged.

"I'll give you fifteen minutes in which to heave to," said he, "and I'll blow your masts out unless you do so. I have the means to do it."

He pointed to the gun, which the soldiers were swabbing, preparatory to reloading.

"This ship is sailing under the American flag and she is on the high seas. If you fire on me, I warn you that you are firing on the American flag." This was Captain Anthony's reply.

The vessels were now about eighteen miles offshore. On the tack upon which she was sailing the Catalpa was running inshore. Captain Anthony feared it was the trick to decoy him into Australian waters, and decided to go about on the other tack. He consulted with Mr. Smith whether it was advisable to tack or wear ship, his fear of the former course being that the vessel might get "in irons" and lose her headway, and in the confusion the Georgette might shoot alongside.

So it was decided to wear. When the Catalpa's[Pg 160] crew hauled up the clews of the mainsail, hauled down the head of the spanker, and let the gafftopsail run down, the officers on the Georgette evidently thought the Catalpa proposed to haul back, and the steamer was stopped.

Then Captain Anthony put the wheel up, and the vessel swung off quickly and headed straight for the Georgette, going before the wind. The captain of the steamer construed this as an attempt to run him down. He rang the jingle-bell and went ahead at full speed, but when the Catalpa swung by him, her flying jibboom just cleared the steamer's rigging. The ship's sails filled on the other tack and the Catalpa headed offshore.

The Georgette again steamed under the bark's lee. Colonel Harvest once more asked the captain if he proposed to "heave to," and the captain once more replied that he did not. The steamer followed for an hour, Colonel Harvest walking the bridge. Then the Georgette stopped. It was now four o'clock in the afternoon. The wind was fair and fresh, and constantly increasing.

When the Catalpa was some distance away, Captain Anthony called to the rescued men, "Boys, take a good look at her. Probably you'll never see her again." When the vessels were a few miles apart, the Georgette steamed back towards Freemantle, leaving a grateful and thankful party behind.

"When the English commander gave the order to his stokers to slack down the fires, a veritable feu d'enfer, the battle ended," said the "Kilkenny[Pg 161] Journal," in describing the incident. "But it was a terrible affray, and while the firing lasted there was a tremendous expenditure of coals. Every credit is due the Georgette. She steered off in magnificent style. As it turned a stern lookout upon its foe, the banner of Britain displayed its folds, and the blazoned lion, shimmering in the sun, seemed to make a gesture of defiance with his tail, by curving it between his heels."

And the Catalpa sailed serenely on, and the star-spangled banner floated bravely in the breeze.

[Pg 162]



That night the Catalpa took a squall from the eastward which developed into a gale, and the bark ran before it under two lower topsails and a foresail. In forty-eight hours the vessel was four hundred miles off the coast.

This led the leaders of the rescue to appreciate their extreme good fortune, for if the gale had arisen the night the Catalpa left Bunbury, Captain Anthony and his crew would not have been waiting on the beach at Rockingham to receive the fleeing prisoners. The police, closely following, would have rearrested the men, Breslin and his followers would have been arrested, and disaster would have been the result of the year of anxiety and the expenditure of a fortune contributed largely by men who gave at considerable sacrifice. England would have been exultant at having captured the man who released Stephens, and the Clan-na-Gael would have suffered bitterly from the ignominy.

The day after the storm, April 19, Captain Anthony had two casks of clothing hoisted on deck. They were the best "slops" (the whaleman's vernacular for clothes and supplies) ever put aboard a[Pg 163] whaling vessel. The casks' heads were taken out, and Captain Anthony said to the men, "Go in and help yourselves. Take all you care for, and you'll need the thickest, for you'll see some cold weather before you reach America." Each man selected at least two suits of clothing, as well as a large supply of underclothes.

The rigging-pen between decks was knocked down and two tiers of berths were built, one for each of the rescued men, from the lumber bought at Teneriffe. They were amply supplied with bedding, seats and tables were built, and a boy from the forecastle was assigned to attend the men.

The vessel was kept well to the northward, to take advantage of the southeast trade-winds, which were taken in lat. 24°. Then fresh and fair winds wafted the vessel across the Indian Ocean. At times the old Catalpa logged two hundred miles a day, although she was not regarded as a fast sailor.

The men were given the freedom of the ship and thoroughly enjoyed the liberty which had been restored to them. Mr. Breslin wrote a song which the men were wont to sing as they lay on the decks on warm evenings. These were the words:—

"Right across the Indian Ocean, while the trade-wind follows fast,
Speeds our ship with gentle motion; fear and chains behind us cast.
Rolling home! rolling home! rolling home across the sea;
Rolling home to bright Columbia; home to friends and liberty.

"Through the waters blue and bright, through dark wave and hissing foam,
[Pg 164]Ever onward, with delight, we are sailing still for home.
O'er our pathway, in the sunshine, flies the wide-winged albatross,
O'er our topmast, in the moonlight, hangs the starry Southern Cross.

"By the stormy cape now flying, with a full and flowing sail,
See the daylight round us dying on the black breast of the gale!
See the lightning flash above us and the dark surge roll below!
Here's a health to those who love us! Here's defiance to the foe!

"Now the wide Atlantic clearing with our good ship speeding free,
The dull 'Cape of Storms' we're leaving far to eastward on our lee.
And as homeward through the waters the old Catalpa goes,
Ho! you fellows at the masthead, let us hear once more, "She blows."

"Next by lonely St. Helena, with a steady wind we glide
By the rock-built, sea-girt prison, where the gallant Frenchman died,
With the flying fish and porpoise sporting 'round us in the wave,
With the starry flag of freedom floating o'er us bright and brave.

"Past 'The Line,' and now the dipper hangs glittering in the sky.
Onward still! In the blue water, see, the gulf weed passing by.
Homeward! Homeward to Columbia, blow you, steady breezes, blow,
'Till we hear it, from the masthead, the joyful cry, "Land ho!"

Mr. Farnham, the second mate, died suddenly of heart disease on the 8th of May, and was buried at sea the following day. He had been a faithful man, and there was sincere sorrow throughout the ship's company.


Running before a Gale

Captain Anthony made his course for the south end of Madagascar, and stood well inshore in rounding the cape, across the Agulhas Banks, to receive the advantage of the current which sets into the Atlantic Ocean. Here severe winter weather was[Pg 165] encountered. Then the "trades" were welcomed once more, and the Catalpa sailed on with a fleet of twenty-one merchant vessels, all following the same course.

Naturally the bark gave St. Helena a wide berth, since the neighborhood of a British possession was to be avoided. Subsequently it was learned that an English warship awaited the Catalpa at this point. There is an English naval station at Ascension, and Captain Anthony was likewise shy of a near approach to the island.

On July 10 the Catalpa crossed the equator into the North Atlantic on long. 31° west. "You're almost American citizens now," remarked the captain to the men on this day.

Sperm whales were seen occasionally, and the boats were twice lowered, but the men were impatient to proceed, and little loitering was indulged.

After running out of the northeast trades, Captain Anthony proposed to Mr. Breslin that the vessel should make a business of cruising for whale for a while. "Now is just the season," said he, "for whaling on the Western Grounds. We are well enough fitted, excepting that we lack small stores, and we have plenty of money to buy from other vessels. I know the whaling grounds, and by hauling up to the northward we are almost certain to pick up a few hundred barrels of oil, and the voyage can be made as successful financially as it has been in other respects." Mr. Breslin agreed to this, and the course was made north by east. The men no[Pg 166]ticed the change in direction, and pleaded that they might be put ashore without any delay, and after a day or two it was decided to yield to their wishes; orders were given to keep her off, and the bark was once more homeward bound.

In the height of a savage gale the Catalpa passed Bermuda, and a few days later the lead showed that the vessel was approaching the coast. Then a pilot came aboard, and he was greatly surprised to find the destination to be New York, inasmuch as the vessel was a whaleship. But Captain Anthony and Mr. Breslin had agreed that this was the best place to land the men. Sandy Hook was eighty miles away. At six P.M. an ocean tug was spoken, which offered to tow the vessel into New York harbor for $250, but after considerable dickering the price was reduced to $90, and it was accepted.

[Pg 167]



Meanwhile the story of the rescue had been telegraphed to New York, and reporters swarmed aboard at quarantine, which was reached at midnight. Captain Anthony did not know what the situation might be or how much it would be wise for him to tell, and the reception of the newspaper men was one of the most arduous experiences of the voyage. But their editions were waiting, and they could not delay long. At two o'clock on the morning of August 19, 1876, the Catalpa anchored off Castle Garden.

Captain Anthony and Mr. Breslin went ashore at sunrise in one of the boats and first went to the hotel of O'Donovan Rossa, which was a headquarters for men affiliating with the Clan-na-Gael. The first person whom they met in the office, singularly enough, was a man who was a prisoner in Australia at the time of the rescue, but who was subsequently released and arrived in this country by steamer. He received the rescuers with enthusiasm. Various leaders were summoned, and the captain and Mr. Breslin were warmly welcomed.

Later in the morning Captain Anthony went to[Pg 168] the barge office and secured a permit to land his passengers. When he returned to the Catalpa she was surrounded by small boats, for the morning newspapers had told of her presence in port, and there was much curiosity to see her.

"Men," said Captain Anthony, as he stepped on the deck, "I have a permit for you to go ashore, and you are at liberty to go when you please."

"God bless you, captain, you've saved our lives," said Darragh, and in a few minutes the company left in the shore boat, in high spirits.

Meanwhile Captain Anthony had communicated with Mr. Richardson, and he was instructed to leave the vessel in New York and return home, for his friends were anxious to see him. The local branch of the Clan-na-Gael, with representatives of other Irish societies, had been meeting nightly, arranging a reception to the gallant rescuer, and he was received at the train by thousands of people on the Sunday morning of his return.

They were shocked at the changed appearance of the captain. When he left New Bedford, sixteen months before, he weighed 160 pounds and his hair was black as coal. The months of worry and intense excitement had worn upon him to such an extent that his weight was now reduced to 123 pounds and his hair was sprinkled with gray.

A few days after Captain Anthony arrived home, the following circular reached the office of the chief of police in New Bedford:—

[Pg 169]


Chief Office, Perth, Western Australia,

April 18, 1876.

James Darragh, 9707, life sentence, 2d March, 1866, aged 42, Fenian, absconded from Freemantle, 8.30 A.M., April 17, 1876.

Martin Hogan, 9767, sentence, life, August 21, 1866, aged 37, Fenian, absconded as above.

Michael Harrington, 9757, life sentence, July 7, 1866, 48 years, Fenian, absconded as above.

Thomas Hassett, 9758, life sentence, June 26, 1866, Fenian, absconded, etc.

Robert Cranston, 9702, life sentence, June 26, 1866, Fenian, absconded, etc.

James Wilson, 9915, life sentence, Aug. 20, 1866, age 40, absconded, etc.

N.B.—Martin Hogan's marks include the letter D on his left side; so do those of Michael Harrington, Thomas Hassett, and James Wilson.

Sir,—I beg to inform you that on the 17th instant the imperial convicts named in the margin absconded from the convict settlement at Freemantle, in this colony, and escaped from the colony in the American whaling bark Catalpa, G. Anthony master. This bark is from New Bedford, Massachusetts, U.S.A. The convicts were taken from the shore in a whaleboat belonging to the Catalpa, manned by Captain Anthony and six of the crew. The abettors were Collins, Jones, and Johnson.

I attach the description of each of the absconders, and have to request that you will be good enough to furnish me with any particulars you may be able to gather concerning them.

I have the honor to be, sir,

Your obedient servant,

M.A. Smith, Supt. of Police.

To the Officer in charge of the Police Department, }
New Bedford, Massachusetts, U.S.A. }

It was addressed to "The Officer in charge of Police Department, New Bedford, Massachusetts, United States, America."

[Pg 170]

Now Captain Henry C. Hathaway was at this time chief of police, and in view of the fact that he had been rather intimately connected with the enterprise, it may be believed that he was not unduly zealous in assisting the Australian authorities.

The Catalpa, in charge of a pilot, sailed to New Bedford. The scene on her return was very different from that at her departure. She arrived at the old whaling port on the afternoon of August 24th. She was sighted as she came into the bay, and the news of her approach attracted thousands of people to the wharves. A salute of seventy guns was fired as the bark sailed up the river, and when she was made fast to the dock, men and women swarmed aboard and carried away everything which was not too large for souvenirs.

On the following evening a reception was tendered Captain Anthony at Liberty Hall, and the auditorium was crowded with cheering, enthusiastic people. The stage was decorated with the American flag and the flag of Ireland. John McCullough called the meeting to order, and the officers were as follows:—

President.—Dr. Stephen W. Hayes.

Vice-Presidents.—John McCullough, Michael F. Kennedy, Hugh J. McDonald, Neil Gallagher, John F. Edgerton, James Carroll, Jeremiah Donohue, Michael Murphy, John Sweeney, William Morrissey, Edmund Fogarty, James Clary, Michael F. McCullough, Antone L. Sylvia, Patrick Cannavan, James Sherry, John Agnew, John Welch.

[Pg 171]

Secretaries.—Patrick Haley, Peter O'Connell, and John Green.

John Boyle O'Reilly was present, and Captain Anthony was the guest of honor. Mr. Smith, the Catalpa's mate, and Thomas Hassett, one of the rescued men, were also present.

Dr. Hayes expressed his gratitude that the political prisoners were now in the land of the free, where the flag which protected them on the Catalpa would continue to protect them as long as it waved.

O'Reilly's address on this occasion was one of his most eloquent efforts, and it is to be regretted that it is not preserved in its entirety. The summaries which were printed in the newspapers do him very inadequate justice.

He said that it was with no ordinary feelings that he had come. He owed to New Bedford no ordinary debt, and he would gladly have come a thousand miles to do honor to New Bedford whalemen. Seven years of liberty, wife, children, and a happy home in a free country were his debt of gratitude, and when the close of his sentence came, in 1886, his debt to New Bedford might be grown too heavy to bear.

They were there, he said, to do honor to Captain Anthony, to show their gratitude to the man who had done a brave and wonderful deed. The self-sacrifice and unfailing devotion of him who had taken his life in his hand and beached his whaleboat on the penal colony, defying its fearful laws, defying the gallows and the chain-gang, in order to keep[Pg 172] faith with the men who had placed their trust in him,—this is almost beyond belief in our selfish and commonplace time.

There were sides to this question worth looking at, he continued. To Irishmen it was significant in manifold ways, one of which was that these men, being soldiers, could not be left in prison without demoralizing the Irishmen in the English army, who would not forget that their comrades had been forsaken and left to die in confinement, when the civilian leaders of the movement had been set free. But the spirit that prompted their release was larger and nobler than this, and its beauty could be appreciated by all men, partaking as it did of the universal instinct of humanity to love their race and their native land.

England said that the rescue was a lawless and disgraceful filibustering raid. Not so, said Mr. O'Reilly. If these men were criminals, the rescue would be criminal. But they were political offenders against England, not against law, or order, or religion. They had lain in prison for ten years, with millions of their countrymen asking their release, imploring England, against their will to beg, to set these men at liberty. Had England done so it would have partially disarmed Ireland. A generous act by England would be reciprocated instantly by millions of the warmest hearts in the world. But she was blind, as of old; blind and arrogant and cruel. She would not release the men; she scorned to give Ireland an answer. She called the prisoners cowardly criminals, not political offenders.

[Pg 173]

After the ship sailed and there was a long time when no tidings came, O'Reilly said that doubts and fears came, as they were sure to do; but Captain Hathaway said once and always of Captain Anthony: "The man who engaged to do this will keep that engagement, or he won't come out of the penal colony."

After describing some of his own experiences in Australia, Mr. O'Reilly pointed to the bronzed and worn face of Mr. Hassett, one of the rescued prisoners, and said: "Look at that man sitting there. Six years ago he escaped from his prison in the penal colony and fled into the bush, living there like a wild beast for a whole year, hunted from district to district, in a blind but manful attempt to win his liberty. When England said the rescue was illegal, America could answer, as the anti-slavery men answered when they attacked the Constitution, as England herself answered in the cause of Poland: 'We have acted from a higher law than your written constitution and treatise,—the law of God and humanity.' It was in obedience to this supreme law that Captain Anthony rescued the prisoners, and pointed his finger at the Stars and Stripes, when the English commander threatened to fire on his ship.

"The Irishman," concluded Mr. O'Reilly, "who could forget what the Stars and Stripes have done for his countrymen deserves that in time of need that flag shall forget him."

Then Mr. Hassett described the bravery of Captain Anthony, and pictured him as he held the steer[Pg 174]ing oar on the night of the gale, risking his life for the men. He could never amply express his gratitude to Captain Anthony, he said, and he was sure that New Bedford never produced a braver sailor.

Meanwhile there were similar demonstrations throughout the country. At San Francisco a mass meeting of Irish citizens passed resolutions of sympathy for the prisoners and took steps for increasing the relief fund which had been started.

The Robert Emmet Association of Troy, N.Y., fired a salute in honor of the safe arrival of the Catalpan six. At Woonsocket the wildest enthusiasm prevailed; meetings were held and salutes fired. The Emmet Skirmishing Club of Sillery Cove, Quebec, held a congratulatory meeting, and the Shamrock Benevolent Society of St. Louis, one of the largest Irish Catholic societies in the West, adopted resolutions of honor to Captain Anthony.

The news of the rescue had been slow in reaching England, and as late as May 22 a debate was in progress in Parliament on the release of the political prisoners in Australia. Disraeli was the first lord of the Treasury, and he had been asked to advise her Majesty to extend her royal mercy to the prisoners who were suffering punishment from offenses in breach of their allegiance.

In a speech Disraeli said the men sent to Australia were "at this moment enjoying a state of existence which their friends in this house are quite prepared to accept." The Irish members shouted "No." But Mr. Disraeli was right and the Irish[Pg 175] members were wrong, for the men were on the deck of an American vessel as he spoke, free from English authority.

On the morning after Disraeli's speech Boucicault wrote a letter to the "London Telegraph" which was read with much interest. He wrote:—

The reply made by Mr. Disraeli last night to the 134 members who pleaded for the amnesty of the Irish prisoners should not be regarded as wholly unsatisfactory. His speech was in the gentle spirit of an apology, formed of excuses for the delay of the Government in acceding to the wishes of the people of Ireland. But the manner of this fluent and eloquent speaker was exceedingly hopeful. He hesitated, wandered, halted, lost his way, and turned about in distress. A leading member observed in my hearing that he had never seen him so confused. He said there were only fifteen prisoners; that two of them could not be regarded as political offenders, because in the act of rebellion they had shed blood, and therefore were ordinary murderers. (He did not add they were no more entitled to consideration than Oliver Cromwell, whose statue graces the House.) Then turning to the thirteen prisoners—of these six were imprisoned in England and seven in Western Australia—these men, he assured the House, were so comfortable where they were, so happy, so well off, that really their liberation would be a misfortune to them, rather than a boon.

It is a rule in literary composition that, when a[Pg 176] substantive expresses vigorously the full scope and meaning of an idea, we weaken its effect by the addition of an adjective. So would any remark, or even a note of admiration detract from the rule of this astounding proposition. It should be left alone in a space of silence. The lameness and impotency of the speaker made an eloquent impression on the House, for the lameness seemed that of one who declined to trample on the prostrate, and the impotency was that of a kind and just man who could not find words to frame a cruel sentence.

Your obedient servant,
Dion Boucicault.

London, May 23.

The rescue was the subject of very savage comment in the English newspapers, and some of the editorials are reprinted in the Appendix.

Invitations to attend various functions in honor of the rescue poured in upon Captain Anthony, and he found himself a hero with the Irish people throughout the world, a position in which he stands to-day, for the debt has never been forgotten. That the valiant deed still lives in the memory, it may be said that ten thousand people in Philadelphia greeted the captain last summer, on the occasion of the presentation to the Clan-na-Gael societies of the flag which flew over the Catalpa on the day when the British were defied. Here is the story printed in the "Philadelphia Times" on the date of August 6, 1895:—

[Pg 177]

The green flag of Ireland, entwined with the Stars and Stripes, floated proudly over the main entrance to the Rising Sun Park yesterday and gave greeting to ten thousand people who joined in the annual Clan-na-Gael celebration. The multitude came from all sections of the city, and all the suburban towns and the adjoining counties sent large contingents of Clan-na-Gael sympathizers. The management made every possible provision for the entertainment of those present, and spared neither expense nor time in making the celebration a success, giving big prizes to the field and track athletes from many sections of the Union and from Canada who took part in the sporting events.

The grounds were decorated possibly on a more elaborate scale than on any former occasion. Exclusive of what the track and field provided in the way of amusement, there were pastimes for the younger and older folks, such as tenpin alleys, merry-go-rounds, baseball, and swings. There were several bands of music, one for those who occupied seats on the pavilion from which the track and field sports could be seen, and two others on the dancing platform.

The great feature of the day's exercises, and that which attracted the most attention, were the introduction of Captain George S. Anthony and the presentation by him to the Clan-na-Gaels of the flag which floated from the masthead of the whaling bark Catalpa, which had on board the political prisoners rescued from the penal settlement of Western[Pg 178] Australia, when it was overtaken by a British gunboat. Captain Anthony presented the flag from a temporary platform erected on the tracks, and after it had been accepted in behalf of the Clan-na-Gael the scene was one of great enthusiasm. Luke Dillon, president of the Irish American Club, introduced Captain Anthony, and almost simultaneously the old Stars and Stripes were unfurled to the breeze and the band seated on the grand stand played the "Star-Spangled Banner." About four thousand people joined in singing the anthem, and the Clan-na-Gael Guards fired two volleys as a salute.

On the platform were seated State Senator James C. Vaughn, of Scranton; Michael J. Breslin, a brother of John J. Breslin, who had charge of the land part of the Catalpa expedition; Martin Hogan, of New York, Thomas Darragh, and Robert Cranston, three of the rescued prisoners; Dr. William Carroll, William Francis Roantree, John Devoy, J.J. Thompson, Major Fitzpatrick, of Trenton, N.J.; Michael Gribbel, of Jersey City; Bernard Masterson, Eugene Buckley, and Michael J. Gribble, of Pittsburgh.

Captain Anthony, in presenting the flag, said:—

"Twenty years ago you came to me with a request to aid you in restoring to freedom some soldiers of liberty confined in England's penal colony of Western Australia. Your story of their sufferings touched my heart, and I pledged my word as an American sailor to aid in the good work to the best of my ability.

[Pg 179]

"You intrusted me with the command of the bark Catalpa. I took her to the West Australia coast, and when the gallant Breslin and his trusty men had effected the rescue of their friends I brought the party safely in the ship's boat to the Catalpa and placed them on board under the shelter of the American flag. When on the high seas the commander of an armed British steamer fired a solid shot across the Catalpa's bows, demanded the surrender of the rescued men, and threatened to blow out the masts of my vessel, if I failed to comply with his demands, I refused, and told the British commander that if he fired on the American flag on the high seas he must take the consequences. He then withdrew, and I took your friends to New York, where I landed them in safety.

"The flag which floated over the Catalpa on that April day in 1876—the Stars and Stripes which protected the liberated men and their rescuers—I have preserved and cherished for twenty years as a sacred relic. I would fain keep it and hand it down to my children as a family heirloom, but I am confident it will be safe in the keeping of those who were associated with me in an enterprise of which we have all reason to be proud. Your countrymen have ever been loyal to the flag of the United States and ever ready to shed their blood in its defense. I, therefore, present you with this flag of the Catalpa as a memento of our common share in a good work well done and a token of the sympathy of all true Americans with the cause of lib[Pg 180]erty in Ireland. I know you will cherish it as I do, and that if the interests of that flag should ever again demand it your countrymen will be among the first to rally to its defense?"

When Captain Anthony finished his address he was the recipient of many beautiful bouquets.

John Devoy, who had been delegated by the Clan-na-Gael to accept the colors, was unable to do so because of sickness, and Michael J. Ryan, who acted in his place, read the speech which Mr. Devoy had prepared:—

"Captain Anthony, old friend and comrade, I accept this flag on behalf of the organization which fitted out the Catalpa, selected you as her commander, and which shared with you the credit for the work of humanity which she was the chief instrument in accomplishing. I accept it with pride as a memento of a noble deed, and I promise you it shall be cherished by us while life is left us, and handed down to future generations, who will love and cherish it as well. It is the flag of our adopted country, under which Irishmen have fought side by side with native Americans on every battlefield where the interests and the honor of that flag were at stake, from Bunker Hill to Appomattox. It is the flag which symbolizes the highest development of human liberty on this earth, and in the future, as in the past, the race to which we, to whom you present this flag, belong, will stand shoulder to shoulder with yours in its defense and in the maintenance of its proud and glorious record.

[Pg 181]

"You recall to our minds to-day memories of events in which native Americans and Irishmen were closely associated; in which Irish enthusiasm and Yankee coolness, grit, and skill in seamanship effected a combination that won a decisive victory for humanity over the forces of oppression. The battle of human freedom has not yet been won, and the combination of which you formed such an important part may serve as an example worthy of imitation and enlargement in the future.

"Your part in that work was noble and disinterested throughout. I went to New Bedford twenty years ago, knowing not a soul in the city, bearing a letter of introduction from John Boyle O'Reilly to Henry C. Hathaway, who has done noble work in aiding the poet-patriot to escape from the Western Australian prison to the land of the free. He entered heartily into the project with which the Clan-na-Gael had intrusted me, and introduced me to you and your father-in-law, Mr. Richardson. Without any promise of reward for your services, or compensation for the risks you would run, you undertook to carry out the work of liberation. You sailed away to the southern seas, you carried out the work you pledged yourself to accomplish, you incurred new risks which had not been asked of you, you defied the British commander who threatened to fire on the Stars and Stripes, and brought the six Irishmen rescued from a British prison in safety to America. In all this you bore yourself proudly and gallantly, like a true American sailor, and you[Pg 182] placed the Irish people under heavy obligations to you.

"Our chief regret to-day is that the man most closely associated with you in the rescue, John J. Breslin, the man who commanded the land force of the expedition, and to whose skill and courage its success was wholly due, is not here to receive this flag from your hands. As he has gone to his last account, the honor of taking his place has been assigned to me, although I was only concerned in the management of the American end of the enterprise. Many of those who took part in the rescue and two of the men to whom you helped to give liberty are here to do you honor and to thank you in the name of the Irish race for the gallant feat you accomplished nineteen years ago and for your generous gift of this historic flag. Others still are in their graves, while some live too far away to participate in this day's proceedings, which recall an event of which we are all proud.

"Captain Anthony, in the name of the Clan-na-Gael, I thank you for the Catalpa's flag, and wish you a long and happy life."

[Pg 183]



In February, 1877, Mr. Devoy, with James Reynolds, went to New Bedford and made a liberal settlement with the crew. An average was taken of the catch of oil by the vessels which sailed the same season with the Catalpa, several of which had made "big cuts." The settlement with the men was on this basis.

The Catalpa was presented to Captain Anthony, Mr. Richardson, and Henry C. Hathaway, but her value was not great. She was eventually sold and altered into a coal barge, coming to an ignominious end at Belize, British Honduras, where she was condemned.

Captain Anthony's occupation was now gone, since it would be unsafe for him to enter an English port. He was for a while an officer of the New Bedford police force, but was appointed an inspector in the New Bedford custom-house in President Cleveland's first term, a position which he has since held.

Gallant John Breslin died in New York on November 18, 1888, with the name of his country upon his lips. To the last he believed that revolution was the only remedy for Ireland's wrongs. The an[Pg 184]nouncement of his death drew tears from Irish eyes the world over, for his burning love of country, his chivalry and unparalleled bravery had touched the hearts of Erin's sons and daughters. Clan-na-Gael societies telegraphed their sorrow, and John Devoy and all the Catalpan leaders hastened to New York to be present at the funeral exercises.

"Out of all the incidents of the so-called 'Fenian movement,'" said the "Pilot," "the most brilliantly daring have been two rescues of prisoners, namely, that of the chief organizer, James Stephens, from Richmond Prison, Dublin, in 1865, and of the six military prisoners from Western Australia last April. These two rescues are in many ways remarkable. Unlike almost every other enterprise of Fenianism, they have been completely successful; and when completed have been commented on in the same way, as 'well done.' Every other attempt or proposal has fallen through or ended with loss. The rescue of Kelley and Deasy from the police van in Manchester was successful so far as the release of the prisoners went; but it was bought with the lives of Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien, and the nine years' misery of Condon. The proposed attack on Chester Castle was discovered and prevented by the English government. The seizure of Pigeon House Fort, with its armory, at Dublin, never emerged from the stage of dreamland. The attempt to blow up Clerkenwell Prison, London, to release Richard Burke, was a disastrous failure, by which nothing was accomplished, by which many suffered, the lives of sev[Pg 185]eral poor working people were sacrificed, and the wretched lodging-house homes of others destroyed.


Treasurer of the Rescue Committee

"But the rescue of James Stephens, even while the government was gloating over his capture, was as unexpected and thorough as if the man had vanished in smoke. No one suffered from it,—at least from English law,—no one was arrested; neither the government nor the public ever knew how or by whom it was accomplished. The man or men who did the work claimed no recompense either of money or notoriety. Two thousand pounds reward failed to elicit the slightest clew. The thing was cleverly, cleanly, bravely done, and those who knew of it knew how to keep the secret.

"The rescue of the six military prisoners from the penal colony of West Australia was performed in a similar manner as to daring, silence, and complete success. Looking back on it, no one can say that aught was forgotten or left to chance. With admirable deliberation every inch of the train was laid, every sporadic interest was attended to, and the eventful rescue was carried out to the prearranged letter with scientific precision. As in the escape of Stephens, no trail remained; no one left in the trap; no price paid in human life or suffering. It was a clean thing from beginning to end; it was 'well done.'"

The total expense of the expedition was about $30,000, and a fund was raised in addition to give the rescued men a start in the new life which had been vouchsafed to them.

[Pg 186]


[London Telegraph.]

Closely following upon the recent debate in the House of Commons on the Fenian prisoners, still held most justly in durance, come particulars from Western Australia of the escape of the half dozen jail-birds who, while they were in captivity, excited so much sympathy among Irish rebels and their abettors. Every Englishman knew that this sympathy was misplaced, and, as a matter of fact, it turns out that it was the very mildness of the captivity of the Hibernians in an Australian penal settlement which made their escape so easy.

[After telling how the rescue was effected, the "Telegraph" continued:]

So the English cruiser had to return to Freemantle as empty as it left, and the skipper of the Catalpa, who was evidently, like most Yankee mariners, an accomplished sea lawyer, sailed off in triumph, laughing at our scrupulous obedience to international law. This is a humiliating result, and it is not easy to see who most deserves blame,—the sleepy warder who allowed all the men to give him the slip and sounded no alarm in time to overtake them on their long carriage drive, or the authorities at Rockingham, who permitted the Catalpa to get outside the territorial limit before stopping her. Nor is it clear what is the next step to be taken. If the American vessel took on board the convicts in Australia, that is in British waters, we presume that we can insist on their rendition and on redress in some shape for a violation of our sovereignty. We can readily conceive what would have happened if an English vessel in the harbor of say Norfolk,[Pg 187] Va., had received Confederate prisoners on board, and had sailed off, daring pursuit or arrest. Thus our government may be excused for being firm and peremptory in calling attention to whatever violation of law the Yankee whaler may have committed. On the other hand, there is the consideration that the enterprising skipper of the Catalpa has, without meaning it, done us a good turn; he has rid us of an expensive nuisance. The United States are welcome to any number of disloyal, turbulent, plotting conspirators, to all their silly machinations. If these are transferred to British soil, we shall know how to deal with them,—as we have shown already.

[Melbourne Argus.]

The news from Western Australia confirms the suspicion that a grave international outrage was committed in the escape of the Fenian prisoners from Freemantle. They were actually taken away while wearing the convict garb by the master of an American ship, who dispatched a boat ashore for that purpose. It is impossible to suppose that a man did not know very well what he was doing, and his proceedings are precisely as if a French boat were to run to the hill of Portland and take away as many convicts from there as could crowd into her. The imperial authorities are bound to take cognizance of the episode, and to demand a substantial redress. We shall be told, no doubt, that the escaped convicts are political refugees, and attention may be called to the fact that Communist convicts frequently arrive in Australia without the permission of their gaolers. But the attempt at a parallel will deceive no one. The Communists arrive here without any aid on our part. They build boats and take their chance, and if the Fenians had found their way to America, their case would be very different from what it is. Rochefort and his companions came over, it is true, in a British bark; but, though the complicity of the captain was suspected, it was never proved. But with the[Pg 188] Catalpa there is evidence of a plot; there is testimony that the American master took his boat to an unsuspected spot, and that he made special exertions to ship the men. The ship was on the high seas, it is true, and outside of British jurisdiction, but the master and his boat went to the shore, and for a felonious purpose, and that constitutes the breach of the law of nations. The offense is too serious, too glaring, to be overlooked, and we presume that important communications will speedily pass between the governments of Westminster and Washington.

[Melbourne Advocate.]

The correspondence will be voluminous, but very courteous on both sides, and, after being long drawn out, it will terminate in friendly assurances; for it would never do that first cousins, bound together by common interests, and in whose hands the great destinies of the English-speaking race rest, should seriously quarrel over the fate of a half dozen unfortunate Irishmen. The Slidell and Mason business was a little more serious, and there was no quarrel over it. The cabinet of Westminster will have a strong case for Washington in this Fenian business, but Washington is not without a case against Westminster; for its demand for the unconditional extradition of an American criminal has been refused by the English government. Washington, besides, will be apt to say that these escaped Fenians were political prisoners, and though Great Britain may maintain the contrary, European opinion will be decidedly against her view of the case. Something will also be said about Communist convicts being sheltered on British soil, and after all that can be urged on each side has been said, the whole affair will taper down to an indivisible and invisible point, or, to use a more homely phrase, it will end in smoke.

[Pg 189]


On the 12th inst., William Foley, one of the Irish political prisoners recently confined in Western Australia, arrived in New York from Queenstown, on the steamship Wisconsin. When the news of the escape of the prisoners came last week, it was thought that Foley was among the number, but it now appears that his sentence expired last January, and he sailed from Perth, Western Australia, on the 16th of that month for London. From London he proceeded to Dublin, and after spending a fortnight there went to his home in Tipperary, but finding none of his friends there except one uncle, a very old man, he went to Cork, where he remained about ten days, when he started for New York. The following is the substance of Foley's story, given to a "New York Herald" reporter by the gentleman who received it:—

Toward the end of last November two gentlemen arrived in Western Australia, and, knowing the means, at once placed themselves in communication with the prisoners, and commenced to thoroughly survey the ground on which they were to work. Foley, being on ticket-of-leave at the time, and having just got out of the hospital, where he had been suffering from heart disease, was introduced to one of them by a friend, and on the stranger giving certain information which showed what his mission was, an understanding was arrived at. A great deal of delicate work had to be done, and every precaution taken to avoid attracting the attention of the authorities, but up to the last moment of Foley's stay in the colony not the least suspicion was aroused. The two agents each followed a legitimate occupation, and acted in every way as if going to make their home in Western Australia, or bent solely on making lasting business connections with the colony, and so discreet were their movements and conduct that no one dreamed that they were anything but[Pg 190] what they appeared to be. "I asked no questions," said Foley, "and they told me nothing which I had not a right to know."

Toward the close of the spring of last year all the prisoners not on ticket-of-leave, and two of the men who had tickets-of-leave, were sent in from the various gangs in which they had been working through the bush and lodged in the principal convict station at Freemantle. Their names were James Wilson, Martin Hogan, Thomas Hassett, Thomas Darragh, Michael Harrington, Robert Cranston, and James Kelley, life-sentenced men, and Thomas Delaney and James McCoy, whose tickets-of-leave were revoked. These were all, with the exception of Wilson, engaged in constructing a reservoir within the prison of Freemantle, which is situated on the hill, intended to supply water to the shipping in the harbor. Wilson was training a horse for the doctor of the prison, and this employment enabled him to go out of the prison several times each day, and gave him many facilities for perfecting the plan of escape. Many disappointments occurred, however, owing to unforeseen accidents, and one golden opportunity was lost through failing to connect with a certain ship. The ability of the agents was tested to the utmost and the patience of the expectant prisoners was sorely tried. Still nothing occurred to arouse the suspicion of the prison officials and no one connected with the attempt lost heart. Two days before Foley took his departure he had an interview with Wilson, and on the former asking him how he should correspond with him, Wilson said, "Don't write to us any more; I am confident we shall all follow you soon." When taking his leave two days later neither could speak, but could only exchange a silent but hearty shake of the hand. This was on January 16. Foley took his passage on a sailing vessel for London, and after a voyage of ninety-four days arrived in that city.

Though he could not feel sure that all had escaped,[Pg 191] Foley expressed the greatest confidence in the safety of those who had got on board the American ship. The Georgette, which was sent in pursuit of the Catalpa, according to the statements of the Sydney papers, telegraphed here from San Francisco, is only a small screw steamer, built on the Clyde, about two hundred tons burthen, which is employed in carrying the mails from Champion Bay, the most northern settlement in West Australia, to King George's Sound, which is the most southerly point at which vessels call in the same colony, and she is manned by only ten men at the most,—ordinary sailors who never saw any service. In Perth and Freemantle there are not more than thirty policemen at any time, and if all of these went on board the Georgette the released soldiers and their friends could make short work of them in a hand-to-hand fight. The only artillery in the colony is in Perth—four old nine-pounders belonging to a company of volunteers, the members of which live scattered through the surrounding country and could not be got together at a short notice. There are about forty retired soldiers living in the neighborhood of Perth, but they are all old men, and could not be collected at any shorter notice than the volunteers.

It would take some time to unlimber the guns, get the Georgette ready and prepare for a pursuit, and the point on the coast selected for a rendezvous, according to arrangements made previous to Foley's departure, is about twenty-five miles from Freemantle. Everything considered, it would take several days to enable the Georgette to start in pursuit, and by that time the Catalpa, or any other vessel on which they might be, would be beyond her reach. Then the Georgette could not be provisioned for a long cruise, nor could the police force nor the pensioners be spared from the colony for any length of time, and there was no ship of war at all in the neighborhood. Altogether the chances of the recapture of the prisoners by the Georgette appear to be very remote, even if she[Pg 192] would risk boarding an American ship on the high seas. Boats had been already secured when Foley left, to accommodate all the prisoners and convey them out to sea so that they might not get on board any ship in British waters. "The news," said Foley, "seems too good to be true; it is so short a time since I saw them within the prison walls, and all I can say is, God speed them on their way, and may God bless the Yankee captain who took them aboard."

Foley is thirty-eight years of age, and enlisted in 1853 in the Bombay Horse Artillery, under the East India Company, and served all through the Sepoy rebellion. In 1859 he returned to England, and soon after reënlisted in the Fifth Dragoon Guards, in which regiment he remained until his arrest for Fenianism in February, 1866. He is a simple, quiet man, but known by his comrades to be a man of indomitable courage. Before his imprisonment he was a man of magnificent physique, being six feet in height and splendidly proportioned. At present he is reduced considerably, through the terrible ordeal through which he has passed, and very little of that soldier's strut so characteristic of British cavalrymen can be noticed in him.—Pilot, June 24, 1876.


The remarkable story printed in this week's "Pilot," from the pen of the chief agent in the rescue of the prisoners, makes it clear that the captain of the whaling bark Catalpa is a man of extraordinary nerve and integrity. Captain George S. Anthony is a young man, scarcely thirty years of age; a silent, unassuming sailor. There is nothing in his appearance, except, perhaps, the steadiness of the deeply-sunken dark eye, to tell that in a moment of pending danger that would frighten brave men this one would take his life in his hand, and, with[Pg 193] his usual quiet air, steer into the very jaws of destruction.

When the Catalpa lay off the coast of the penal colony, at the appointed place for the rescue, Captain Anthony did not, as he might have done, send one of his officers in command of the boat that was to land on the dangerous coast. With a picked crew of his whalemen, the captain took the steering-oar himself. When he had reached the shore, a man who had been watching the incoming boat informed him that he had passed over a terrible danger; that right in the line he had crossed lay a fatal reef, over which no boat had ever before sailed in safety. Had this information not been given, it is almost certain that the entire boat's crew, with the rescued prisoners, would have been lost, for Captain Anthony would certainly have sailed out as he had entered, and in that event the bones of the brave fellows would now be whitening on the ledges of the reef. When the escaped prisoners arrived, and the frail boat again put to sea, the firm hand of the captain still held the steering-oar. The night came down, the wind rose, and the water lashed over the deep-laden boat. They could not see the ship's lights, but steered blindly into the darkness. There was no choice of roads. Behind them was the chain-gang for the rescuers and the gallows for the absconders. The morning came, and the drenched and weary men, instead of a bark, saw a gunboat in pursuit. They were grateful then for the rising waves, in the troughs of which their little boat escaped the watchful eyes of the pursuit. The trained skill of the seaman was here invaluable. He knew that a boat might escape being seen from the deck of a ship, though only a short distance away. He lowered his sail, and got into the wake of the gunboat, the point where they would be least likely to look. And when the gunboat steamed away, and the smaller police-cutter hove in sight and bore straight down on the whaleboat, trying to cut them off from the ship, Captain Anthony shouted encouragement[Pg 194] to his tired men, calling them by name, using all the whaleman's arts to urge his hands in the last spurt before the whale is struck—till he saw that they had distanced the cutter by a few terrible yards, and were safe alongside the Catalpa. For thirty hours Captain Anthony had held the steering-oar of his whaleboat.

It is a splendid story of endurance and devotion to duty. The brave man had undertaken to rescue these prisoners, and he held to his engagement with a manly faith that neither danger nor death could appall. To the rescued he was not bound by ties of race or nationality; but he knew they were political prisoners, cruelly held in bondage; and the seaman's heart, made generous by intercourse with foreign lands, felt deeply the bond of humanity, regardless of Celtic or Anglo-Saxon promptings.

It must not be forgotten that by this achievement Captain Anthony has destroyed his career as a whaleman. He has placed himself beyond the pale of every British harbor in the world. He can no more follow his profession in the South Sea or in the Indian Ocean, for nearly every port at which the whaleships get supplies are possessions of the British Crown. By this one act, done for Irishmen, Captain Anthony has literally thrown away the years and experience that have made him one of the best whalemen in New Bedford.

The Irish people of America should not forget this, nor allow such a debt to remain against their name. Captain Anthony should get such a testimonial as will put him beyond the necessity of ever going to sea again. Unless this be done, the brave man has ruined his future in the interests of a selfish and ungrateful people. If the masses of our people would contribute each a mite—ten cents apiece—enough would be done. At the meetings of Irish societies throughout the country, subscriptions of this kind might be raised; and local treasurers could be appointed to receive contributions. All subscriptions sent to "The Pilot" will be acknow[Pg 195]ledged. There is not an Irish man or woman in America who could not give something, no matter how small, to such an object; and we trust that no time will be lost in setting the movement in practical operation.—Pilot, September 2, 1876.


... Business was almost entirely suspended, and the imposing Masonic ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the new Freemasons' Hall, which was to take place at four o'clock, was almost forgotten, and attracted but little if any attention. In the course of the afternoon, His Excellency, accompanied by the Colonial Secretary, drove down, and after consultation with the Superintendent of Water Police, the Comptroller-General, and other officials, and the agent for the Georgette, it was decided to dispatch the Georgette again to the Catalpa, with a view to intercept the boat, or to demand the surrender of the prisoners from the captain, if they were on board. The pensioners and police were again embarked, a twelve-pounder field-piece was shipped and fixed in the gangway; provisions were put on board, and a fatigue-party of pensioners were engaged in coaling—thirty tons being put on board in a short time. By eleven o'clock arrangements were completed, and the Georgette steamed away from the jetty. Not a few, both on board and on shore, but gave way to gloomy forebodings as to the result of this second visit to the ship. Certainly, the arrangements made by the authorities warranted those who were not acquainted with international law, or aware of his excellency's instructions, in concluding that the governor had determined upon resorting to force, if necessary, to capture the fugitives. By early morning the Georgette was outside of Rottnest, and at daylight sighted the ship bearing S.S.E. under full sail. The[Pg 196] Georgette hereupon hoisted her pennant and the ensign, and all hands were put under arms. As the Georgette did not gain upon the ship, and the wind was freshening, a gun was fired under the vessel's stern,—and she then run up the American flag. She took no further notice of the signal, and the Georgette, under full steam and all sail, gave chase. As the ship did not attempt to shorten sail or take any notice of the signal, when the Georgette had steamed to within a quarter of a mile of her a gun was fired across her bow, and the captain of the ship then got into the quarter-boat....


The comments of the Western Australian papers will be interesting to the readers of "The Pilot." "The Perth Inquirer" of the 26th of April says: "It seems humiliating that a Yankee with a half dozen colored men should be able to come into our waters and carry off six of the most determined of the Fenian convicts,—all of them military prisoners,—and then to laugh at us for allowing them to be taken away without an effort to secure them. But international law must be observed, and, doubtless, the Home Government will seek and obtain redress for this outrage. It is evident that Collins came to this colony with ample means as the agent of the American Fenian Brotherhood, and that Jones, Johnson, and Taylor were co-workers in furthering the escape of the prisoners. Immediately the Catalpa arrived in Bunbury, Collins proceeded there, and doubtless interviewed Captain Anthony, who shortly afterwards came to Freemantle under the plea of securing fresh charts, but in reality to reconnoitre the coast. The Catalpa appears to have cleared out of Bunbury on the 28th of March, when a ticket-of-leave man named Smith was found stowed away and taken by the police. She must have returned to Bunbury, and again cleared out finally on the 15th instant. It would appear that there was a desire to obtain[Pg 197] correct legal information on international law, for about the time of Captain Anthony's visit to Freemantle, Johnson called upon Mr. Howell, the solicitor in Perth, and asked several questions as to the limit of neutral waters, from which we infer that the captain knew what he was about when he told Mr. Stone that his flag protected him where he then was."


The "Freemantle Herald," of April 22, said:—

"The early return of the steamer gave rise to every kind of conjecture, and as her approach was watched from the shore, wagers were freely made as to the cause of her early return. Many declared that the Catalpa, warned of the steps the governor was taking by the previous visit of the Georgette, had attacked her and beaten her off. Others laid bets that, overawed by the determination of force on board the Georgette, the captain of the Catalpa had quietly surrendered the runaways. As is usual in such cases, the sequel showed that neither was right. When the true condition of affairs became known, there were some manifestations of indignation at the colony having been fooled by a Yankee skipper. The pensioners and police felt that they had been taking part in a very silly farce, and had been laughed at by the Yankees at sea and the public on shore, and sincerely hoped that instructions would be given to go out again and take the prisoners by force. The governor, however, who throughout had acted with most commendable energy and prudence, was not to be led into committing a breach of international law to gratify a feeling of resentment at the cool effrontery of the Yankee, directed that the armed parties on board the Georgette should be dismissed, and the vessel returned to the agent, with his excellency's thanks for the readiness with which the vessel had been placed at his disposal, and for the hearty manner in which both the agent, Mr. McCleery, the captain, Mr. M.[Pg 198] O'Grady, and all concerned, had coöperated with him in the matter; at the same time expressing his approbation of the conduct of Mr. Stone. These instructions were carried out, and in a short time the crowds dispersed, and the town elapsed into its normal condition of quietude, having suffered three days of the most intense excitement ever experienced in its history."—Pilot, August 12, 1876.


The following letter has been received by Mrs. O'Reilly, John Street, Kilkenny, from her son, Rev. John O'Reilly, who is at present in Freemantle, Western Australia. Father O'Reilly, following in the footsteps of many ardent young missionaries, left home and friends to pursue his sacred calling in the region of the Southern Cross. We can easily understand what his feelings were when the mail steamer returned to her moorings after her fruitless pursuit of the whaler bearing away the escaped prisoners:—

Freemantle, W.A., April 18, 1876.

My dear Mother,—You owe to the accidental detention of the mail steamer the letter which I am now writing. The cause of the delay is an event which will probably excite so much attention in the Old Country and America, that it will form the principal if not the sole topic of my note.

You are aware before now that Western Australia is a convict colony. Hither were sent some seven or eight years ago a number of the prisoners sentenced to penal servitude on the occasion of the Fenian disturbances a little before that date. These were gradually released, and at the beginning of the present month only eight remained in confinement in Western Australia. All eight had been soldiers. The prisoners of the establishment work in various gangs throughout the town, and the[Pg 199] Fenians were distributed at different points with the rest. Amongst the prisoners some are chosen to fill offices of trust in connection with the prison arrangements, and are called constables. One of the Fenians was a constable, and by delivering pretended orders to the warders in charge of the working parties, he was enabled to get six of the Fenians together when occasion required.

The occasion came yesterday. At nine o'clock he withdrew these whom he required from under the warders in charge. The six prisoners assembled at a spot just outside Freemantle. Two carriages, with two horses each, were in readiness. They got in, and away they go.

I must retrace my steps a little. Towards the end of last year a gentleman represented as from one of the neighboring colonies arrived here. He put up at the best hotel at the port, and has since mixed with the best society. He went by the name of Mr. Collins. His business here was always an enigma to the residents, but it was supposed by some that he had come here with a view of seeing his way to the opening of some business. Another person lately arrived here too, named Jones, a Yankee; but as he worked at a trade no one noticed him. Now it appears these two persons were the chief actors in the plot. They arranged the details of the flight, and awaited the fugitives with carriages at the place of rendezvous yesterday.

The party drove to a spot sixteen miles or so from Freemantle, where they were seen to enter a boat evidently belonging to a whaler in the offing.

Yesterday, port and metropolis were in a state of intense excitement. The government chartered an only steamer, a peaceful mail boat, put on board a guard of pensioners and police,—we have no soldiers in the colony,—and sent it in pursuit. A little before the steamer an open boat manned with water police had started on the trail of the runaways.

To-day, at four, the steamer returned. A crowd had[Pg 200] assembled on the jetty to see her come in; I was amongst the number; she did not bring the prisoners; she reported having been alongside the whaler. The captain and one boat's crew were absent. The authorities in the steamer requested to go on board, but were refused permission. As the vessel lay in neutral waters, they could not use force to attain their desires.

The water police boat is still in chase of the missing ship's boat, but I doubt if they will come up with her. Under cover of the darkness of the night—and it threatens to be dark indeed—the absent crew, with the fugitives, will make the ship; and even if the police crew found them, and there was a fight, as there would be pretty sure to be, if a forced capture were attempted, it is very doubtful who would be the victors. Against the fifteen water police, there would be the six prisoners, their two accomplices, and the boat's crew.

The whistle is sounding its warning, and my letter must hurry to the post. With kindest love to all, believe me,

Your affectionate son, J. O'Reilly.

Pilot, June 24, 1876.


"There was a torchlight procession in Dublin on Saturday night, June 10, in celebration of the escape of the political convicts from West Australia, and Disraeli was burned in effigy." So runs the latest telegram from Ireland, and the news is fully significant. Ireland knows the meaning of the escape, and will act on it. It was planned and carried out by her sons in America; and this fact will intensify the national spirit of the Old Country, and make her feel that she is beginning to reap the harvest of her motherhood.

The first news of the escape of the Irish prisoners appeared last week in the following dispatch:—

[Pg 201]

"London, June 6. A dispatch from Melbourne, Australia, states that all the political prisoners confined in Western Australia have escaped on the American whaleship Catalpa."

About the same time the SS. Colima from Sydney, Australia, reached San Francisco with news to the same effect, but adding that the ocean cable from Australia to Java had been cut on April 27, immediately before the escape.

Two weeks ago the English Prime Minister scornfully refused to release those prisoners at the earnest request of Ireland. It was in his hands then to render this escape meaningless, and to make Irishmen believe that they had better wait for the slow course of English justice. But the old spirit of domineering insolence was too strong in the British House of Commons. To show mercy to Ireland would be a confession of weakness; they determined to refuse the Irish petition, and at their own haughty will select the time to release the prisoners.

But Ireland has had satisfaction this time. At the moment that Disraeli was jauntily telling the House that he would not release the prisoners, they were on board a Yankee ship, free as air, thousands of miles from an English chain or an English dungeon. Ireland laughs at England at home; and all America joins in our jeer across the Atlantic.

It is the beginning of a new order of things in Irish national movements. Heretofore England could buy informers and perpetuate the distrust of each other which has been the curse of Irishmen. The reins of agitation have been too often given into inferior hands, and inferior intelligence has too long dominated Irish councils.

The escape of the prisoners from Western Australia is the best proof that Irishmen can manage the most dangerous and difficult enterprises, and keep their own counsel in a way unknown almost to any other nation. The plan of this escape was completed nearly two years ago.[Pg 202] Every portion of the gigantic scheme was worked out in the United States. The machinery was set in motion here, eighteen months ago, which recently struck such an alarming note in the penal colony. When the freed men are landed safe in America or some other country, the plan of the escape may be published. Until then we shall only say that nothing was left to chance, that no expense was spared, and that brave men were ready to risk liberty and life itself to make the attempt a success.

To one devoted man, more than to any other, the whole affair is creditable. He it was who, with the pitiful letters received from the prisoners in his hand, excited the sympathy of Irish conventions and individual men. He neglected his business in New York to attend to the prisoners. He told those who helped the object that they would have to trust him, that the secret must not be generally known. They did trust him, for they had reason to know his purity as a patriot. The event proves the truth and devotedness of the man. We have asked him for permission to publish his name; but he will not allow us till the men are absolutely safe. To another man, an American friend, the gratitude of the Irish people is also due.

These outlines are not imaginative, but real. We have been acquainted with the plan since its inception; and of late have been anxiously watching for the good news.



There was never an enterprise so large and so terribly dangerous carried out more admirably. It will be remembered of Irish patriots that they never forget their suffering brothers. The prisoners who have escaped are humble men, most of them private soldiers. But the PRINCIPLE was at stake—and for this they have been released. England will now begin to realize that she has made a mistake that will follow her to her death-bed, in making Ireland so implacable and daring an enemy. This is only an earnest of what will come when the clouds of war are over her. The men who sent the[Pg 203] Catalpa to Australia are just the men to send out a hundred Catalpas to wipe British commerce from the face of the sea.—Pilot, June 17, 1876.


The well-planned and boldly executed rescue of the Irish political prisoners from the penal colony of Western Australia contains lessons worth noting by those who desire to perpetuate Irish nationality. A nation that cultivates the evil weed of Distrust will never become strong or great. Cohesion is the principle of power, and the people that cannot stand by each other for a common cause, under common leaders, are no stronger than a ball of sand, to be scattered at a touch.

Heretofore the curse of Ireland has been the impossibility of union. Party hated party; class distrusted class. Rich men were called traitors because they, having something to lose, refused to enter on every wild plan of revolution without considering the probabilities. Poor men were too easily led by demagogues. The man who spake loudest, who boasted most, became the idol of the hour. When the opportunity offered, he sold the people he had so easily deceived, and scorned them for their credulity. There are plenty of "successful men" of this class—such as Judge Keogh, who a few years ago called God to witness that he would never desert the People's Cause, but who, when made a judge, was the first to lay a ruthless hand and an insulting tongue on the religion and nationality of his country.

With such an experience Irishmen have grown distrustful to such a degree that the danger from their doubt is greater than from their deception. Better a thousand times to be deceived than to lose faith in your brother's honesty and patriotism.

The CURE of this national disease is coming—for the[Pg 204] CAUSE of it is plain. Distrust has grown from disappointment; and this has been the result of a bad selection of men. Ireland has hitherto trusted the TALKERS rather than the DOERS. She has given her vote to the noisy demagogues who tickled her ear, and has turned from the men who appealed to her common-sense. For twenty-five years past—with the exception of the abortive Fenian movement—the Irish people have acted as if green flags, denunciation of England, and poetic sun-burstry were enough to establish Ireland's claim to national independence.

We trust and believe that a change for the better is coming. Ireland is beginning to see that the men who are able to do something for themselves, the men of judgment and prevision in their own affairs, are likely to bring the best intelligence into national deliberations. Hereafter it will not be a recommendation for an Irish politician that he has failed to make a decent living at everything else.

The rescue of the political prisoners proves that the Irishmen who talk least can do most. It proves also that distrust is not chronic in the Irish people—that they can stake great issues on the faith of single men—when they have selected them for their capacity and intelligence instead of their braggadocio.

Another and most valuable lesson from the rescue has a bearing on the English army. The thousands of Irishmen in the ranks knew that those men were kept in prison BECAUSE THEY HAD BEEN SOLDIERS. It seemed, too, for two or three years past, that those men had been forgotten. The leaders of the movement were free; and no one seemed to care for the poor fellows whose very names were unknown. The soldiers in the army knew that of all the Irish prisoners of '66 and '67, there were none who risked more or who would have been more valuable than a trained dragoon, the indispensable artilleryman, and the steady linesman. To see their[Pg 205] comrades forgotten and left to rot in their dungeons was enough to make the Irishmen of the army abjure their nationality and accept the English dominion in Ireland.

This has been averted by the rescue. The soldiers in the English army will read the news with a deeper thrill than any other Irishmen. It has a larger meaning to them than to others. "Now," they will say, "now, at last, we are a part of the Irish people. Our red coats do not separate us from our countrymen; and if we suffer for their cause they will be true as steel to us in the day of trial."

It is full time that Irish nationality should take intelligent position. All shades of Irish politics can agree in mutual respect; they are all shades of green. One party may desire more than another, and believe it possible of attainment. But they should not hate the others that think differently. The Home Rulers are as honest as the Fenians, and as intelligent. One should say to the other: "We travel the same road; but when you stop, we go farther. If we succeed, you can join us; if we fail, we shall return to you for support." This is true nationality; and when this spirit grows among the Irish people, there cannot be a doubt of the result.—Pilot, June 24, 1876.



On the 1st inst., a grand entertainment was given in Music Hall for the benefit of the released prisoners, who were present. The immense hall was crowded; nearly every seat on floor and galleries was filled. The stage was fitted up with a handsome proscenium, the Sheil Literary Institute playing the patriotic drama of Robert Emmet. The greatest credit is due to the management committee. Polite ushers were in attendance, and not the least hitch occurred in the whole evening's entertain[Pg 206]ment. The address was delivered by John E. Fitzgerald, Esq., who was greeted with thundering applause. He pictured in graphic words the condition of Ireland for centuries; while Poland and other struggling nationalities had been wiped from the map, the intense individualism of the Irish as a nation had preserved them. The movement for which these gallant fellows had suffered was the embodiment of the national idea. (Applause.)

The more pacific and undefinable agitation known as the Home Rule movement was by no means final—as England well knew. It was a step toward something fuller,—toward the only consummation that will ever satisfy Irishmen,—complete separation. (Great applause.) The sentiment of Henry Grattan was still vivid,—that no one but the Irish people had a right to legislate for Ireland. Mr. Fitzgerald dwelt eloquently on the devotion of the Nationalists to their imprisoned brethren. He spoke in the highest praise of the efforts of those by whom this last brilliant exploit was accomplished with so much wisdom and secrecy. He said that the sum of $30,000 had been contributed in this country in its aid, and though the object of the contribution was so widely known, the secrecy was maintained until its accomplishment. He hoped that a generous and substantial testimonial would be presented to Captain Anthony, the brave man who had risked and accomplished so much in their behalf. Mr. A. O'Dowd recited Meagher's "Sword Speech" in impressive style. A song, "Cead Mille Failthe," by Mr. E. Fitzwilliam, was sung by the composer, and pleased the audience so well that an encore was given, in response to which Mr. Fitzwilliam sang another of his compositions, entitled, "The Irishman's Version of One Hundred Years Ago," which was also generously applauded. Miss Annie Irish, a well-known vocalist, sang two songs in acceptable style; and Mr. Sheehan, who was warmly received, received an encore, to which he responded in his usual excellent manner.

[Pg 207]

The drama by the Sheil Literary Institute was, as usual with that body, well played, and gave great pleasure to the immense and patriotic audience. Before its performance there were loud requests for "Captain Anthony" to come forward, but that brave fellow, who sat in the audience with Captain Hathaway, of New Bedford, was too modest to make his appearance.

At the close of the drama the demand for the appearance of the rescued prisoners was imperious, and had to be gratified, though it was intended by the committee that the men should not be paraded. But the call was so strong and kindly that the bronzed men appeared on the stage, and were introduced by Mr. Fitzgerald. The greeting they received will never be forgotten. It was plain how deep a chord their suffering and escape has struck in the Irish heart. They numbered six, though Mr. Wilson, one of the rescued men, was not present; his place was filled by Mr. William Foley, the ex-prisoner who arrived in this country about two months ago.

The entertainment was a complete success; and, besides its value as a patriotic safety-valve, it will add a considerable sum to the testimonial to be presented to the ex-prisoners, to enable them to begin life in this new country under fair circumstances.—Pilot, September 9, 1876.



A large audience assembled in Boston Theatre on the evening of Sunday, the 24th inst., to tender a public reception to Mr. John J. Breslin, the chief agent in the rescue of the Fenian prisoners from Australia. The reception was under the management of the United Irish Brotherhood, and the committee of arrangements deserves the greatest credit.

[Pg 208]

Charles F. Donnelly, Esq., presided on the occasion, and among others on the platform were Captain Anthony, City Marshal Hathaway, of New Bedford, Alderman O'Brien, Thomas Riley, Esq., and a large number of prominent and respectable citizens.

Mr. Donnelly, in an eloquent address, reminded his audience that the turmoil of a political campaign did not prevent them from assembling to do honor to brave men. Could they say that the spirit of the knights and saints of old was dead? Did it not survive in the act of the brave men there present? A year ago, and the escape of the political prisoners would have been deemed an impossibility; it had been undertaken and executed by Mr. Breslin, who set out to rescue from bondage, ten thousand miles away, men whom he had never seen, men whose only crime was loving their country, perhaps not wisely, but too well,—if an Irishman could love his country too well. But the age of chivalry had been revived even in this hard, practical age by a generous Yankee captain. (Loud applause.) Many morals might be drawn from this event, but he would select one,—it was this: that when an Irishman and a Yankee combine to carry out an undertaking, they can do it in spite of the whole power of the British Empire.

Mr. Donnelly then stated that he had received a letter from Wendell Phillips regretting his inability to attend, and expressing sympathy with the objects of the meeting. A telegram of similar import was read from General Butler, which concluded thus: "A prominent Massachusetts politician says that Fenianism should be crowded out of politics. Fenianism is the love of one's native land. I hope it may never be crushed out of the heart of any citizen of this country."

Alderman O'Brien, the next speaker, said that when coming there he had no intention of making a speech. He came there in common with his fellow-citizens to extend to these brave men a cordial welcome, and to show[Pg 209] them that he felt as he spoke, he would shake hands with them all. He was followed by Thomas Riley, Esq., who began by likening the cause of Ireland to that patriotic society whose birth antedated that of George III., and which still lived on. The spirit of Irish liberty was not dead, as was proved by their presence there that night to do honor to a man and an act. The achievement of Mr. Breslin was worthy of the annals of an earlier era. Ireland's history was one of oppression. An Englishman had once charged that the Irish were "an unpolished nation;" to which a native of Ireland replied, "It ought not to be so, for we have received hard rubs enough to be polished long ago." It was acts like Mr. Breslin's that kept alive the spirit of liberty. Plantagenet and Tudor, and Stuart and Cromwell, all had dealt Ireland crushing blows, all had waded through seas of Irish gore; yet all their dynasties had perished off the face of the earth, and the spirit of Irish liberty still survived. The worst of the Roman Emperors was Julian, yet he sent no Christian to the cross or the wild beasts, he merely banned and barred Christian education, for he well knew that without education a nation relapsed into the depths of barbarism. England had done the same; in her savage, barbarous penal code she had proscribed education and educators, but Ireland still clung to the light of liberty. She listened to the sound of the battle of freedom in the West, and her sons caught the flame, and Flood, and Grattan, and the Volunteers raised her to nationhood, and crowned her with the star of freedom. She had lost that eminence, but the spirit burned again in the immortal O'Connell; it still survived the golden-mouthed Father Burke. The speaker paid a touching tribute to the memory of John Mitchel, and denounced England as championing the iniquity of the age, of upholding dead and rotten Turkey and her butcheries, and that the hour of retribution had arrived, if Russia would only advance. If England lost her temper in the threatened European complication, Ire[Pg 210]land would be her "beetle of mortality." During his eloquent address Mr. Riley was frequently applauded.

Captain Hathaway, who succeeded him, said he was not an Irishman, but that was not his fault. He detailed the facts already published as to the inception of the plan of escape, how Mr. Devoy had approached him with a letter from his (Mr. H.'s) friend, Mr. John Boyle O'Reilly, and the consequent chartering of the Catalpa.

Captain Anthony, who divided attention with Mr. Breslin as the lion of the night, succeeded, and was greeted with a storm of applause, to which that man of deeds, not words, responded by two modest bows.

Mr. John J. Breslin, who was enthusiastically received, then addressed the audience. He said that parliamentary action, prayers, and petitions had all failed to move the bowels of compassion of the British government in behalf of the prisoners, for the reason said government had no bowels. Mr. John Devoy, well and honorably known in '65, in 1873 began to actively agitate the plan of escape, and had, in the fall of 1874, raised funds sufficient to warrant him to make the attempt. The funds were raised in various ways; one of John Mitchel's last lectures was given for the purpose. Mr. Devoy placed himself in communication with a gentleman whose high literary abilities and rare poetic talents had raised him to a prominent position among the journalists of the day; by whom he (Mr. Devoy) was introduced to Captain Hathaway, of New Bedford, through whom the Catalpa was obtained. Mr. Breslin gave a clear, concise, and detailed account of his proceeding from first to last in carrying out the details of the escape. Most of this has already appeared in our columns. His description of the face of the country, cities, geology, and flora of Western Australia was particularly good, and show both scholarship and observation on his part. Alluding to the sandy nature of the soil, he related the following anecdote: An inhabitant meeting a "new chum," told him it was a fine country. "It is,"[Pg 211] said the latter, "so mighty fine that most of it would pass through a sieve."

At the close of Mr. Breslin's address, the chairman announced the meeting adjourned. Before and after the proceedings, Mr. Breslin, who is of commanding presence and courteous demeanor, was surrounded by groups of enthusiastic countrymen, each eager to express admiration and sympathy.—Pilot, September 30, 1876.


Mr. Gladstone is an able man, watchful and jealous of the honor of England. He has written a pamphlet of great power on the Turkish atrocities in Bulgaria, in which he says that Turkey should be excluded from Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Bulgaria, as a power unfit to rule civilized and Christian people. He says that the English government should lead in accomplishing this result,—"to redeem by these measures the honor of the British name, which in the deplorable events of the year has been more generally compromised than I have known it in any former period." That is true; the past two or three years have torn away more of England's prestige than all her previous history. She has fallen into decay so fast that she has not made a single effort to reassert herself as a Great Power. When Russia broke the Black Sea Treaty, England growled, but backed down. She sees the Czar laying railways to Northern Asia, and she hears the tramp of his legions already on the border of Hindostan; but she fears to stir a finger. When her Prime Minister, Disraeli, last year made an assertion that irritated Prussia, and that iron empire frowned, the fearful minister hastened to eat his words before the face of Bismarck. When the Fenian prisoners—men whom she persisted in calling "criminals"—were taken from her[Pg 212] in defiance of all her laws, she dare not demand them from the United States. Why? Because the root of her greatness is split—the germ of her strength is rotten. Beside her heart she has the disease that will sooner or later strike her down. She has maltreated, misgoverned, scorned, derided the island and the people of Ireland, until oppression has generated in their hearts the terrible political mania of national hatred. God forbid that we should exult in such a feeling; but no one who knows Ireland and Irishmen can deny its existence. England, to save herself, to possess the land, has driven the Irish people over the world; but wherever they went they carried with them the bitter memory of their wrongs and hates. She has strengthened the world against herself. She is powerless and contemptible; if she were to-day to demand the return of the Fenian prisoners, the people of all nations would shout in derision, and the United States would answer with a particular sneer. It is well for Mr. Gladstone to say that her honor is waning. But he has only seen the beginning of the end. The haughty and truculent country must eat the leek till its heart is sick.—Pilot, September 16, 1876.


James Reynolds, of New Haven, Conn., familiarly known as "Catalpa Jim," was born in County Cavan, Ireland, on October 20, 1831. His ancestry dates back over fourteen hundred years to the noble sept MacRaghnaill, which the Irish historians tell us was a branch of the tribe called Conmaie, whose founder was Conmacrie, third son of Fergus MacRoigh, by Meive, the celebrated queen of Connaught, in the first century of the Christian era.

He was but sixteen years of age when, during the memorable famine that peopled the cemeteries of Ireland, he bade adieu to his native heath and sailed away to the distant shores of America, bearing with him a[Pg 213] freight of precious memories that were to bear fruit in after years of patriotic endeavor. On his arrival in this country he at once apprenticed himself to learn the brass-founding trade, and in 1850 he settled in Connecticut, where he has since made his home. For twenty-eight years he has been a resident of New Haven, where he has received repeated political honors at the hands of his fellow citizens. For several years he has been at the head of the town government as town agent; the only Irishman who has ever been elevated to this position in a city where Puritanic influences and prejudices have not yet wholly passed away. In addition to his municipal duties, Mr. Reynolds has for years conducted a lucrative and somewhat extensive business as a brass-founder.

He early espoused the cause of his country and brought to its service all the energies of an active and impulsive nature. When, in the years following the rebellion, Irish patriotism was directed in a movement against England through her colonies in America, we find him foremost among those whose financial resources flowed freely into the common treasury. Not when his practical mind told him that not here lay the channel to Irish freedom did he close his purse-strings; not even when a prudent judgment convinced him that here lay a waste of Irish blood and human treasures did he say nay to the appeal for funds. It was enough for him to know that even one blow was struck at England, one thrust was made in the great cause of Irish freedom. James Reynolds never believed that the liberation of Ireland was to be effected through the conquest of Canada. His strong native sense and sagacious foresight taught him the folly of such a hope, yet, when the movement was inaugurated, he entered into it heart and soul, with all the enthusiasm of his noble nature, hopeful that even one blow might be struck at the shackles that bound his country.

But it was in the Catalpa movement that his great patriotism found its highest opportunity, and the name[Pg 214] of James Reynolds gained the imperishable splendor of immortal fame. The history of that memorable expedition is still fresh in the memory of Irishmen; how the little bark with its gallant crew sailed into Australian waters and bore away its precious freight, bringing to freedom and glory those patriots who were expiating in exile their efforts for Ireland; bidding bold defiance to the British man-of-war who gave her chase, and riding safely into the harbor of New York,—all these details are still green in the Irish memory. And while the fame of this daring rescue shall last; while the name of Catalpa shall wake and fan the fires of Irish enthusiasm, so long will the name of James Reynolds be held in fond and loving remembrance. For it was he who mortgaged his home, who placed a chattel upon his household goods, who beggared himself for the time, that the sinews might be forthcoming to inaugurate and sustain the expedition. Other choice spirits lent him their counsels and their fortunes, but James Reynolds gave his all that the Catalpa rescue might be consummated. True, the success of the expedition recompensed him in a measure for his financial sacrifices; it brought back some of the little fortune he freely gave in the cause, but his chief reward, the glory of his great heart and the pride of his noble life, is the memory which he treasures, which his children and his children's children will carry in their hearts, that his sacrifices were not in vain,—that they brought humiliation to England, liberty and happiness to the rescued patriots, and eternal fame and glory to Ireland.

When the Land League movement was inaugurated, he at once actively interested himself, and was one of the leading delegates at its first national convention. He has been a member of the succeeding ones, and has acted a number of times on the committee on resolutions. He was for several years a member of the executive council, the committee of seven, and was state delegate of the[Pg 215] League for Connecticut. He enthused much of his own enthusiasm into the movement, and during his administration the League in the Nutmeg State was to the front in point of numbers and the character and influence of its work.

James Reynolds is a pure, unselfish patriot; around his name breathes a lustre undimmed by a single thought of personal ambition, the faintest breath of self-interest or individual aggrandizement. Other men have given greater intellectual gifts to the service of Ireland; others have told her wrongs with a sublimer magic of eloquence, and waked the sympathies of men in the sweep of their mighty oratory; and still others, perhaps, have braved a larger measure of personal danger; but none has devoted his whole energies, his entire worldly fortune, with a loftier patriotism, a more generous spirit of sacrifice, than James Reynolds has for the little isle that gave him birth.

Personally he is a man of genial temperament, frank, guileless, and companionable, unaffected in manner and speech, open-handed and generous; a man whose friendships are firm and lasting; a citizen whose activities are always beneficial.—The Irish-American Weekly, Lincoln, Neb., March 20, 1892.

The Riverside Press




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