The 1838 Escape from Fort Henry

June 29, 1838.
In the left corner, the windows of the rooms turned into jail cells at Fort Henry have been barred. Watercolour by Lt. George St. Vincent Whitemore of the Royal Engineers, 1841. Source: National Archives of Canada.Pinterest
In the left corner, the windows of the rooms turned into jail cells at Fort Henry have been barred. Watercolour by Lt. George St. Vincent Whitemore of the Royal Engineers, 1841. Source: National Archives of Canada.

On June 29th, 1838 the prisoners of the Rebellion in Upper Canada escaped through one of Fort Henry’s underground chambers. When Sir Henry Dundas arrived at the Fort the following morning, he concluded that the escape was only possible with the assistance of an accomplice and decided that John Ashley was the guilty person. Once the magistrates began their investigation, the guilt of Orangeman John Organ and Richard Davis was quickly determined as was the innocence of Ashley. It was, unfortunately, almost eight hours before Dundas secured a warrant for Ashley's arrest and shortly after this he was released by the magistrates. Ashley immediately brought on action against Colonel Dundas for false arrest and imprisonment and retained Henry Smith Jr. and John A. Macdonald as counsel. In the end, the jury found the arrest justifiable, but held Dundas responsible for the excessive detention without a warrant and awarded Ashley damages of £200.