Wednesday, May 1, 2013


4/22/1934 - For the flying members of the FBI attack squad, the trip to Rhinelander is an air-bag rollercoaster nightmare (even the co-pilot of the plane becomes ill in the extreme turbulence), and things do not get much better once the team is on the ground, some surviving a near crash when there is a brake failure in one of the planes and it spins 360 degrees twice before coming to a stop. Down in disarray, Voss is soon located and quickly diagrams the lodge so Clegg and Purvis can put an arrest plan together, but fails to note a barbed-wire fence on the right of the main building, a ditch on the building's left side, and an embankment behind the structure leading down to Little Star Lake, nor does he mention that Nan Wanatka's has two collie watchdogs, Shadow and Prince ... all will play a part in the coming fiasco.  The government men also find out they are in a race against time ... as related by Mrs. Voss to her husband whom she encounters on the road back to Manitowish Waters, instead of staying through Sunday night as he has paid for, Dillinger has decided to pull up stakes once more, leaving as soon as Pat Reilly and Patricia Cherrington return to the lodge from their St. Paul errands.
Image result for melvin purvis Image result for special agent hugh clegg
Purvis & Clegg

Using the information they have, Clegg and Purvis come up with a simple plan, the element of surprise in their favor, the one road leading into and out of the lodge area will be blocked, teams of agents will set up at the front and on the sides of the building complex, and an attack squad of men wearing twenty-four pound armored vests and carrying machine guns will storm the main lodge ... surrounded on three sides with Little Star Lake forming a fourth and final barrier, the Dillinger Gang will be trapped and eradicated once and for all.  In Washington D.C., Hoover is so confident of the outcome of the coming raid that he tells newspapermen to stand by for a major story out of Wisconsin ... and in that he is right, the events soon to take place at the Little Bohemia Lodge will be front page headlines for every newspaper in the country the next day, but not in a way that will please the FBI boss!  Sadly, not wanting to share any of the credit for taking down the notorious outlaws, neither Clegg nor Purvis ask local authorities to set up roadblocks or assist in the coming confrontation ... and full credit is indeed what the government agents, and their boss Hoover, will receive for the debacle in which they are about to participate.

Purvis & Hoover

The next order of business is procuring vehicles to take the team on the ninety-minute journey from Rhinelander to Manitowish Waters. Flexing government muscles, from local citizens and a Ford dealership, five cars are procured for transportation, including from a very upset twenty-two-year-old local named Isidor "Izzy" Tuchalsky, a brand new black 1934 Ford Deluxe coupe with a custom high compression engine and altered rear end that will allow the vehicle to top 100 mph.  Off for Little Bohemia, the trip becomes a new nightmare for the flight woozy lawmen ... dark, bumpy, and icy, one car breaks down and another blows out a tire, forcing three cars to do the duty of five, and causing several agents to go forward riding on running boards, hanging on for dear life in freezing temperatures. 

Manitowish Waters Region

At the lodge, Dillinger and company await the return of Reilly, not knowing the young bar tending gopher has already shown up on the doorsteps of the lodge earlier in the afternoon, but turned around in full panic mode, thinking a police trap might be in place or that the gang has fled, when none of the gang's vehicles appear to be present (Dillinger has had them hidden in the garage of the complex).  Once it is dark, he decides he'll return to check out the situation.  And so the gang waits, mingling with the seventy or so locals who stop by for the lodge's Sunday night dinner special ... one dollar for roast duck with liver dumpling soup, mashed potatoes and vegetables (instead of going with the special, the gang dines on garlic butter steaks).  As the crowd thins as the evening progresses, the bandits finish their packing, partake in libations at the bar (not wanting to cause trouble, Hamilton buys a round of drinks when a local tavern owner gets upset with the outlaw for refusing to participate in a shot downing contest, along with purchasing four tickets to a benefit dance scheduled for the next weekend), and watch as Nelson downs three slices of Nan Wanatka's freshly baked apple pie (tipping the princely sum of $10 for his delight with his dessert). 

The Little Bohemia Lodge

At around 9:00 the last of the locals decide to leave ... twenty-eight-year-old John Hoffman, a gas station operator from the nearby town of Mercer, thirty-five-year-old Eugene Boiseneau, a logger at the government's Mercer CCC camp, and John Morris, the fifty-nine-year-old cook at the CCC camp.  To the crazed barking of the Wanatka pooches, as Baszo and Traube say good evening to their customers, the trio leaves the lodge and get into Hoffman's 1933 Chevy coupe.  Turning the ignition on, the car's radio instantly comes blaringly to life, drowning out any sounds that might be coming from the surrounding Wisconsin darkness ... sounds like demands that the men should stop and get out of the car.  The FBI has finally arrived at the Little Bohemia Lodge ... and so has death! 

Nan Wanatka and the feisty Shadow and Prince

Following their plan, the lawmen make their final approach with lights off in their commandeered vehicles, and on arrival, the team blocks access to the lodge by parking two of the cars in a "V" (and manned by two agents armed with a shotgun and a rifle), then creep forward into positions in front and to the sides of the lodge, movements that cause the two alert collies to go wild ... actions that exactly coincide with five men coming out of the lodge.  Not yet ready for their raid to begin, nerves jangled from the trip to Wisconsin and then the bumpy night journey to Manitowish Waters, thinking that the dogs have alerted the gang, three of whom are in the process of attempting to flee, when the "STOP" order is ignored and the Chevy containing the lodge patrons begins to move forward, Clegg and Purvis both yell "FIRE!" ... a command that instantly brings a deluge of pistol, shotgun, and machine gun lead down on the car.  Windows shattering, tires blowing, and metal holed, Hoffman slams on the brakes and leaps out of the car, fleeing into the night with wounds to his right arm and right leg, along with facial cuts caused by the explosion of the vehicle's windows, while Morris tumbles out of the front passenger door bearing two machine gun slugs in his right shoulder and buckshot pellets in his right hip, groaning as he identifies himself as John (which doesn't help matters) and takes a long pull of whiskey from a metal flask he pulls out of his back pocket (a move which almost gets him shot again).  Only Boiseneau doesn't move ... sandwiched between the two men in the front seat, the CCC worker is dead from bullet strikes to his head and chest.  Lasting only a matter of a few seconds, the FBI has mistakenly shot the shit out of three innocent citizens.

The bullet torn Chevy

But before the Federals can react to their horrible error, more gunfire from automatic weapons suddenly erupts from the lodge and one of the cabins ... warned by the shooting outside, the real prey of the raid is now aware of the presence of lawmen on the property ... and is responding with bullets.


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