July 26, 2010

Bill Johnston: 11. Fort Wallace Falls

Within hours of his attempted capture of Bill Johnston on Grindstone Island, Lieutenant George Leary of the Royal Navy sailed his armed steamer, Bull Frog, directly to Johnston's principal hideout, Fort Wallace. Inside were a few broken muskets and the flag proclaiming Sir William Johnston. The unlikely knight abandoned the fort a week earlier after his famous party.

The island most identified with Johnston was no longer a secret. Bill shrugged off the loss. As he was later quoted: "Fort Wallace is wherever I am."

July 19, 2010

Bill Johnston: 10. Party, Run, and Hide

In the face of the massive manhunt for him in the summer of 1838, Bill Johnston remained cocky but retained his soldier's respect for his enemy. He knew the net was drawing tighter. Most vulnerable was his principal hideout, Fort Wallace, because it sat in plain sight. He knew the time had come to abandon the cozy cave with its water-level entrance hidden by drooping trees. But, first he insisted on one more show of bravado and defiance.

July 12, 2010

Bill Johnston: 9. The Fox Bites the Hound

Reacting to Bill Johnston's sacking of the Sir Robert Peel, his proclamation of war, and his near-hero status among Americans, the United States and the British in colonial Canada each dispatched a small armada to find Johnston. More than any other, one man dearly wanted to see him hang.

July 5, 2010

Bill Johnston: 8. Taunts His Pursuers

The day after Bill Johnston issued his proclamation of war, the passenger steamer Oswego was taking on a load of fuel wood not far from where Johnston destroyed the Sir Robert Peel. Several passengers noticed a dark rowboat draw up to a nearby island. Four men landed and skulked through the forest carrying pistols. They watched the Oswego for a few minutes and returned to the boat. A wildfire of speculation swept the ship—could that be Johnston? Is this another attack?