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F.B.I. Agent Killed!

Retired Intelligence Detective Gary Jenkins brings you the best in mob history with his unique perception of the mafia. In this episode, I recount the thrilling tale of the Battle of Little Bohemia, a showdown involving infamous gangsters like John Dillinger and Babyface Nelson in the 1930s. The narrative vividly describes the chaotic raid on the Little Bohemia lodge by law enforcement under Melvin Purvis, showcasing a tense and dangerous confrontation filled with gunfights and dramatic escapes. The story delves into the planning challenges, unexpected twists, and tragic consequences, including casualties like Special Agent Carter Baum. The aftermath explores the criticism and emotional impact of the failed raid, offering a compelling insight into the relentless pursuit of justice and sacrifices made by law enforcement agents during that turbulent period.
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[0:00]Well, hey, all you wiretappers. Glad to be back here in studio Gangland Wire.
I’m glad to have you here with me. You know, this is Gary Jenkins,
retired Kansas City Police Intelligence Unit detective, now turned podcaster.
Inquiry from Greg Scavuzzo
[0:11]And I have a show for you today that I’m kind of excited about.
I did this a long time ago. I had a inquiry from Greg Scavuzzo on my YouTube channel.
And Greg’s longtime listener, Kansas City guy, he said, hey,
why don’t you ever do anything about those 30s bank robbers?
We had a lot of those here around Kansas City.
Kansas City Massacre at Union Station
[0:33]We had the, as you know now, by now, we have the Kansas City massacre down at the Union Station.
So this month, I’m doing nothing but those 30s gangsters. And so I’ve got the
Kansas City massacre at Union Station with Terrence O’Malley,
John Dillinger’s Escape from Little Bohemia
[0:48]who’s a real expert on that.
And I am doing the John Dillinger story, but not the John Dillinger escape from jail story.
I am doing the John Dillinger escape from the Battle of Little Bohemia story,
which is maybe not as well known.
John Dillinger and his crew, after he escaped from jail at Crown Point,
Indiana, he was on the lam. He got back in with some of his old buddies,
Babyface Nelson and Homer Van Meter and two or three others.
[1:17]And they were going around robbing banks and doing things and they needed to lay low.
And the police, after that Crown Point jail thing, and they took that lady sheriff’s
car and it was it was it hit the headlines.
It was so flew in the face of law enforcement that people were starting to like back off from this.
Hey, John Dillinger’s like Robin Hood thing. And law enforcement was after him.
They were raiding pads in Chicago. They were raiding apartments.
They were raiding places all over the Midwest.
There were reports coming in from all kinds of, you know, he wouldn’t,
if John Dillinger was in Northern Minnesota and a bank was robbed in Southern
Missouri, John Dillinger got the credit and Clyde Barrow, Bonnie and Clyde,
they got some of the same kind of a thing.
People are always, you know, trying to say that was Bonnie and Clyde or that
was John John Dillinger, because they were so well-known.
Well, John Dillinger really was up in northern Wisconsin.
[2:12]He and these gang members, Babyface Nelson in particular, and Homer Van Meter,
and they picked up some gals, and they went up to a lodge, a hunting lodge,
fishing lodge in northern Wisconsin called Little Bohemia.
And the people that were there figured out who they were, and they sent a message back out.
And Melvin Purvis was the agent in charge in Chicago.
You know, Melvin Purvis will eventually shoot and kill John Dillinger next to
the Biograph Theater when they set him up in an ambush.
But this is before that happened. So Melvin Purvis gets the word,
and he’s going to get a crew together and go up and capture Dillinger and the
rest of this gang at this little Bohemia lodge.
And it’s quite a story. Now, I found what I thought was really interesting.
That’s why I’m kind of excited about doing this.
I found a first-person account that Melvin Purvis wrote.
Somebody paid him to write this account and put it in newspapers back in the time.
[3:09]And I found a actor, a part-time actor, a guy named Paul Kim,
who I remember he was a young policeman when I was a desk sergeant out at Metro, dog watching.
He’s a really nice kid, and he ended up quitting the police department and went
into acting. He’s been in a lot of commercials here in Kansas City and around in the Midwest.
[3:27]And so he’s got a pretty good speaking voice and can do a kind of a dramatic read.
So I got Paul to read this article word for word.
And so you are going to get the story of the Battle of Little Bohemia right
from the mouth of the man who did it.
The man who wrote did it and then wrote about it, Melvin Purvis.
So settle back and listen to this. I think it’s I think it’s a really fun story.
And I like the kind of descriptive language he uses.
And this is one of those stories that whatever can go wrong will go wrong.
And if you don’t have a plan together, you know, you better stop back.
[4:02]Drop back and punt and get a plan together when you go after guys like this.
Because back in those days, you know, everybody was armed with machine guns.
Those 45 caliber Thompsons or a BAR, they all had bulletproof vests.
They it was just they were pretty organized these traveling
bank robber gangs that were successful and got
to be well known were really pretty well organized and really armed
well and and listen to paul kim tell the
story of the battle of little bohemia right out of the mouth of one of the men
who was there and who was actually in charge of it you probably remember the
fbi agent named melvin purpose he ended up shooting and killing john dillinger
in the alley outside the biograph theater He was a go-getter,
ball-busting FBI agent in Chicago that dealt the mob a fit back in the 30s.
And I say the mob, the FBI didn’t really recognize the mob as the mob,
but he dealt the professional criminals, especially the traveling bank robbers
throughout the Midwest, but professional criminals in Chicago dealt him a fit.
[5:07]He was a ballsy guy. Now, after he left, it seemed like he didn’t have such
a great career after he left the FBI.
And they said that he ended up kind of being forced out of the FBI because he
was getting so much good press that J.
Edgar Hoover was jealous of him and ended up transferring him into a place where
he couldn’t do anything.
And he ended up leaving the FBI and doing some other law enforcement things
before he died, kind of an early death.
He may have even committed suicide. I can’t remember offhand now.
It’s not really important. I know he died an early death.
He led the raid on Little Bohemia and John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd and
the rest of their traveling bank robber gang who were hiding out up there.
This was in April of 1934.
Now, in March of 1934, John Dillinger, he escaped the Crown Point Jail.
And he went on kind of a crime spree. And they were robbing banks.
And he got back together with these old bank robbing crew. and they were robbing
banks, and they ended up in April of 34.
[6:09]Just a month later, trying to dodge all the law enforcement that were after
them going to this hunting and fishing vacation lodge up in Upper Wisconsin,
up in the woods, called Little Bohemia, and the word got out.
We’ve got more evidence to work on than ever before in hunting Dillinger, said Melvin H.
Purvis, chief of the U.S. Division of Investigation here, and we’ll have him before long.
His trail is getting broader every minute. So that was a headline,
but this article, actually, what you’re going to hear Paul read,
was actually written by Melvin Purvis, part of his post-FBI career, I guess.
I don’t think J. Edgar Hoover would have allowed him to do a writing for a newspaper
while he was still in the FBI, so it’s a first-hand account of that.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Saturday, October 17, 1936.
[7:01]FBI author gives first-hand information about G-Man, Dillinger’s dramatic escape
when he shot his way out from Little Bohemia Lodge.
Former G-Man starts series with a thrilling story about a battle at Roadhouse
in which desperate gunmen escape the clutches of the law.
By former special agent Melvin Purvis.
That Sunday, April 22, 1934, about 1 o’clock in the afternoon,
a telephone rang in my apartment in Chicago.
The United States Marshal in Chicago was calling.
He said that a man named Voss at Rhinelander, Wisconsin, desired to furnish
the information as to the location of John Dillinger.
Immediately, a call was placed to Mr. Voss. He said.
[7:45]At first, he did not want to mention the name over the telephone.
He was urged, You mean Dillinger? I asked, and he replied, Yes.
Six members of the Dillinger gang are at a resort called Little Bohemia,
and John Dillinger is among them.
Upon inquiry, he added that he had not informed anyone else of this matter,
and anyone else could see that there was no time to be lost.
[8:07]The United States Marshal had previously told me at the time of his telephone call that he knew Mr.
Voss to be a reliable person, and it was apparent that this information was real.
I asked him the location of the nearest airport to Little Bohemia.
He stated that Rhinelander was the nearest airport, and that was 50 miles away.
I told him to wait at the airport and to wear a handkerchief around his neck
so that I could identify him upon arrival there by plane.
I called my office and issued instructions to have every man report immediately.
I called the director in Washington and informed Mr.
Hoover fully, and it was agreed that I should request our St.
Paul office to send men from that office to meet me by plane at Rhinelander. This was done.
Almost immediately, automobile loads of special agents started for Rhinelander
from Chicago and St. Paul.
Two planes were chartered in Chicago.
We requested that the pilots be instructed to warm up the planes immediately
so that no time would be lost in taking off after we arrived at the airport.
Then followed a rapid assembly of the special agents at the Chicago office,
and a hurried selection of weapons, bulletproof vests, tear gas equipment.
I had arrived tying my tie and shoes, as did many of the members who had been
aroused from much-needed sleep.
The Chicago airport is located about 12 miles from the heart of the city,
and almost an hour was wasted in reaching it.
The planes were warmed up, and no time was lost in taking off.
[9:29]For my own part, I was thinking fast as the plane bounced and staggered through the raw April winds.
I had only a telephone message to guide me. I had no description of the place
we were about to raid, and I was totally unfamiliar with the country around it.
What was the terrain of this section in question?
The whole hurried expedition somehow seemed as unsubstantial as a dream.
We knew that we would need every possible moment after arriving at Rhinelander
to make our plans, and everyone was anxious to get there as soon as possible.
One man inquired of the pilot, already flying at top speed.
When we speed up the motors a bit, we must reach Rhinelander before darkness descended.
[10:07]Most of our plans and strategy would have to be evolved after landing and after
learning something of the terrain.
I shall never forget that trip to Rhinelander. The going was very tough.
Even the pilot was air-sick. The men in my plane were like soldiers awaiting the zero hour.
Faces were tense and nerves taut. Everyone knew that the venture would be no Sunday school picnic.
Everyone knew that if there were six members of the Dillinger gang at Little
Bohemia, they would not come out with their hands up.
The descent to the Rhinelander field snapped me out of my doldrums.
It was just before dusk as we touched down and the brakes on one wheel failed us.
We spun around twice. The wing almost touched the ground, and then,
shaken, we rolled to a stop.
The St. Paul plane was already there, and so was a considerable crowd.
Three planes carrying sixteen men in heavy luggage had landed in close succession. session.
It was a red-letter day for Rhinelander. Some explanation was necessary.
[11:01]We said rather lamely that we were members of a wedding party.
It was a grim wedding party. All of this had been caused by an event of March 3, 1934.
A teletype message from the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
to our director in Washington told the story.
John Dillinger escaped from Crown Point Jail a few minutes ago.
I had just been informed by a member of the press by telephone.
In making his escape with a Negro named Youngblood, John Dillinger had violated
a federal law by stealing and transporting, in interstate commerce,
the automobile belonging to the sheriff at Crown Point, Indiana.
For this reason, the Federal Bureau of Investigation assumed jurisdiction and
began a search which was to last many months.
[11:44]No one could foresee that we were about to embark on forays,
raids, and fruitless searches involving heartbreaking failures.
But the nation thundered with outraged indignation and demands for the recapture
of Dillinger to have descended upon our shoulders like a raging torrent.
Previously, John Q. Public had displayed an unmistakably apathetic attitude
toward crime and law enforcement in general. Now it was aroused.
But aroused is too intangible for definite discussion.
Possibly the glamour of a figure outrivaling Jesse James made it crime conscious. us.
Possibly full realization of the danger which threatened its homes and firesides
created in it that fear of extinction which usually precedes revolution.
[12:25]Innocent people were being shot down wantonly by this arch desperado and his gang.
People seemed to realize that the comfortable concept that could never happen
to me might not be so true as some individuals had allowed themselves to believe.
Previously, they had watched the battles being waged by law enforcement officials
against the lawless element as the ordinary fight man watches a battle in the arena.
[12:48]Now it was different, and there was nothing so strong, nothing so efficient
as a roused public opinion.
Three airplanes on April 22, 1934 were converging on Rhinelander,
Wisconsin during the late afternoon.
Darkness would soon be approaching.
Speeding over that wild and beautiful northern country could have been a pleasant
experience had it not been for the nature of the mission on which the occupants
of these airplanes were engaged.
Two of the planes were flying from Chicago and one from St. Paul.
In the plane in which I was flying, there was an outward appearance of mirth,
and although the high spirits of the men were maintained, there must have been
the thought in their minds that some of us might not return.
One of us did not. We reached Rhinelander after a seemingly unending flight,
although we had made good time.
The special agents who had taken the plane from St. Paul had already begun their
efforts to obtain automobiles to transport us to Little Bohemia.
I located my telephone informant. He was there with the identifying handkerchief tucked in his collar.
He told me that Dillinger, five members of his gang, and four women were staying
at the Little Bohemia resort, that they had been there since about noon of the
preceding Friday, and were leaving the next morning.
Dillinger had walked in and announced that he was going to stay there for a
few days, and that he had been sent there by a friend who had formerly operated
a tavern at Fox River Grove near Chicago.
[14:10]The story unfolded by Mr. Voss was that Emil Wanatka, his brother-in-law,
was the proprietor of Little Bohemia, and that Mr.
Wanatka, his wife, his eight-year-old son, and two employees were being held
in fear of their lives at the lodge.
Mr. Wanatka had placed a note in a package of cigarettes and given this package to Mr. Voss.
Written on the note was the information that Dillinger was there and that Mr.
Voss should report this fact to the authorities.
From his story, it was apparent we would have a sufficient amount of time to
surround the place properly since Dillinger and his gang did not plan to leave
until the following morning.
One special agent was sent with Mr. Voss with instructions to wait at the latter’s
home, which was about two miles from Little Bohemia.
A man who had come to Rhinelander with Mr. Voss had agreed to accompany us and
to point out the location of the resort.
While we were still unloading the planes and making plans, Mr.
Voss came rushing back on the landing field, shouting my name.
I quieted him, praying silently that Dillinger had no scouts in the crowd.
In an excited manner, he informed me that he had just met his wife on the road
and that she had learned since his departure from home that Dillinger and his
gang had changed their plans and were leaving after dinner that night.
[15:24]Descriptive. I like his description of, and it’s a little bit confusing.
He starts off with describing the FBI agents on the plane and what happened,
how they came up with a cover story that they were a wedding party,
which looked kind of funny for a wedding party.
And then when they started dragging those shotguns and Tommy guns up the plane,
they probably thought, well, that’s going to be an interesting wedding.
And, of course, they would be known when they came down to that airport.
I don’t care what their cover story is.
If somebody was thinking along those lines, they would immediately know these
were FBI agents, And then they’d have to jump in some old crappy car,
what they had back then, you know, in some 1929 Model A.
Agents from St. Paul had gotten there a little bit earlier because they were
closer than the agents in Chicago.
And they’re going around trying to line up cars. And there’s not a Hertz rent-a-car.
You know, there’s no facilities whatsoever to speak of.
So they have to figure out how to get cars, which is kind of a story in itself
that I believe he’s going to tell us in a minute.
The description of the men on the way up and kind of that false bravado,
but yet they’re all a little bit nervous because Dillinger and his crew,
they knew when they caught him and Pretty Boy Floyd, they knew when they caught
him it was going to be like a battle. It was like in war.
[16:44]It was then 6.30 p.m. and thick dusk.
My first reaction to the startling news was one of deep depression.
The gangsters were having supper at that very moment, and we had 50 miles to
go through a bitter April night over bad roads.
We had not yet obtained automobiles. It seemed hopeless.
We could not reach Little Bohemia in time to make a survey of the territory
and to surround the place properly.
Then the fever for action dissipated all other emotions.
We could not wait for our reinforcements. We must get to Little Bohemia at once,
and trust to luck that we got there soon enough.
The town of Rhinelander was several miles from the flying field,
and I asked a young man, whose name I later learned to be Isidore Tuchalski,
who was at the airport in a Ford Coupe with his wife, if he would drive me to the business section.
He agreed, and as we sped to town, he told me proudly that his automobile was
a special job, geared up to travel 103 miles an hour.
When we arrived at the Ford dealer’s garage, we learned that our efforts to
secure five automobiles had not been successful.
It might take another hour before we could get the required automobiles.
[17:50]Mr. Tucholsky’s special job stood outside the garage. I told him I would like
to rent his car, that I would pay him for the trip and for any damages incurred on the trip.
Not knowing who he were and being very proud of his car, he refused.
Perforce, I informed him of our identities and that it would be necessary for
us to commandeer his car. He then readily agreed.
There were no automobiles for rent in Rhinelander, and ultimately,
we commandeered four other cars, two of which turned out to be dilapidated relics.
We gathered behind the closed doors of the garage and there made sketchy plans for the raid.
Six men were to attack the front door at Little Bohemia. The others were to
split, five and five, and move in from the sides.
We had been informed that there was a lake behind the house and that there were
no boats on it, so escape in that direction would not be possible.
[18:40]The six of us who were to attack the front door put on bulletproof vests.
I was to wear my steel vest for the next twelve hours.
I would never wear one again, because the job of carrying the sheer weight,
about twenty-four pounds of it, a bulletproof vest for twelve hours,
is a good day’s hard work in itself.
We started. The journey to Little Bohemia will always stand out in my memory.
The roads were bad and the night was wretchedly cold.
The cars were driven at a reasonable distance from each other,
so as not to arouse suspicion on the part of the countryside.
Things started happening. The commandeered cars were not the best in the world,
and before half the distance had been covered, two of them had broke down.
The eight men in them were forced to stand on the running boards of the three
remaining cars, holding their rifles and shotguns as well as they could,
and also holding on to the speeding cars for their lives.
Our weapons had been divided up so that each car would contain a machine gun,
a rifle, a shotgun, tear gas equipment, and of course, the short arms of each special agent.
Finally, our guide informed us that we were about two miles from Little Bohemia.
I called a halt. All lights were extinguished and instructions were issued that no one could smoke.
We proceeded slowly through the crowded timber and the chill darkness.
[19:58]Little Bohemia is about 400 yards off the main highway in the center of a wild
hunting and fishing section.
A single driveway leads to it from the main road. The lodge itself is built
of rustic logs and is surrounded on the front and two sides by crowded timber and at the rear by a lake.
On the right side, there are a series of small cottages in which guests can be quartered.
We drew up at the entrance of the driveway and parked two cars across it in
a V-shaped position so that any flight attempted in that direction would be impeded.
The men, swinging their chilled arms and rubbing their numbed hands,
made ready their weapons in silence. There were a few whispered orders.
Up the driveway and through the thick bare limbs of the trees,
we could see the great circle of light at the front door of the roadhouse.
It was as brilliant there as at midday. The men began to take their positions
on either side and at the front of the house.
But our plan to surround the place quietly before our presence might be suspected
was instantly frustrated.
Dogs on the grounds, sensing the presence of intruders, set up a loud and insistent barking.
[21:02]Those faithful sentinels cost the government the victory at Little Bohemia.
Immediately, five men appeared at the front of the house. Three of them hurriedly
entered a coop which was parked there. The other two ran back into the house.
There appeared to be a great deal of commotion inside. We were cloaked in darkness.
The sound of our movements was lost in the noise of the wind whistling through the trees.
It had seemed easy to surround the place and make a surprise attack,
yet the alarm spread so efficiently by the barking dogs destroyed all hope of doing so now.
[21:32]Immediately, every man was instructed to abandon all caution and to proceed
to his post as swiftly as possible.
The men in the car who had rushed out of the house were informed in the loudest
voices we could command that we were federal officers.
[21:45]They had started the motor of the car and attempted to run through us.
We commanded them to halt, and when they failed to do so, fired on the car.
One of the men in the automobile jumped out and ran into the woods.
Another of the trio tumbled out of the car wounded, and the other slumped over
in the car. A special agent crawled up to the car while he was being covered
by other special agents with machine guns.
He determined that the man in the car had been killed instantly.
The man slumped on the running board had been wounded four times.
He stood up, and when we saw that he could walk, we called out to him to come
toward us, but he staggered back into the house.
We later discovered that these three men were not members of the Dillinger gang.
They had come that night to the Little Bohemia Tavern to drink beer.
The man who was killed was Eugene Boissoneau, 35 years old, worked in a nearby government camp.
The wounded man was John Morris, 59 years old, a cook at the camp.
John Hoffman, who escaped serious injury and has disappeared into the woods,
was an oil station attendant at Mercer, Wisconsin, a nearby town.
He was the owner of the car. The men who were to cover the left of the house
ran into a drainage ditch in their hurry and because they were unable to see in the darkness,
Those of us who were covering the front had proceeded to a point at the edge
of the clearing just outside the arc of light emanating from the front of the house.
[23:04]Gunfire had begun from the upper stories of the left side of the lodge.
For a moment, I did not notice the flash of fire from another sector.
Then a bullet hit the ground a yard from my right foot, and two other bullets struck trees behind me.
I suddenly realized that I was being shot at, and I didn’t like it.
[23:21]The shots were coming from the vicinity of a small cabin on the right side of the lodge.
I whirled about. My machine gun jammed. I threw it on the ground and returned
the fire with an automatic pistol at a short, slender figure which was fleeing towards the woods.
I was trading fire with baby-faced Nelson.
[23:38]Nelson, quartered in the cabin, had, with astonishing folly,
delayed his departure to swing his gun through a sweeping art into the red-spitting darkness.
It was later verified that this was actually Nelson after we had traced the
movements of the hoodlums who had escaped from Little Bohemia.
Melvin Purvis’s Raid on Little Bohemia
[23:54]For a time, the noise was deafening. The men on the left side of the lodge,
after their scramble out of the ditch, discovered that they were being fired
upon from the upper windows, and they answered.
For what seemed like an endless interval, there was not even a small pocket of quiet.
Then abruptly, the fire from the roadhouse ceased. The machine gun and rifle
fire continued for what seemed an interminable length of time.
It was, in reality, only a few minutes.
We did not know that at that moment the hoodlums were scrambling out a rear
second-story window and moving toward the right side of the lodge,
through the brush at the lakefront to freedom.
We do not know how they escaped. Most probably they had gone to the north by
the edge of the lake and through the woods during the time when the men were
becoming disentangled from the barbed wire fences, which they had run into in
their hurried effort to get to their posts.
In the meantime, Special Agents Jay Newman and Carter Baum were sent to the nearest telephone,
which was in a country store nearby, owned by a man named Kerner,
for the purpose of calling the other Special Agents who were proceeding to Little
Bohemia by automobile to let them know where we were.
[25:00]We shouted at intervals, commanding those who were in the house to come out.
Finally, Mr. Wanatka, the proprietor of Little Bohemia, and two waiters came
filing through the front door with their hands up.
They had sought refuge in the cellar during the main part of the fire.
The proprietor was very excited and frightened.
He said there were still four men in the house.
Every man was visited at his post and given this information.
[25:24]The ominous silence in the lodge lent color to the belief that the gangsters
were awaiting our onslaught, and since we had the place covered and we decided
first to attend to the wounded men, and then to throw our gas shells in the windows of the lodge.
[25:38]An ambulance was called from the CCC camp to take care of our casualties.
Nothing but rank stupidity and suicidal intent would have projected any man
into that arc of light at that time.
The proprietor of Little Bohemia had come out of the house without a coat,
and in the bitter cold night air would soon be suffering from exposure.
He asked if he might go to a nearby friend’s house to obtain a coat.
He was granted this permission.
After a time, he came back. He was out of breath from running.
Someone is holding up your men at Mr. Kerner’s house, he said.
Two special agents were immediately dispatched to that point.
Finally, they returned. I seemed to dread their report. court.
They stated that Special Agent Carter Baum had been killed instantly and that
both Special Agent Jay Newman and Mr.
Carl Christensen, a local deputy constable who had joined them,
had been severely wounded by one of the Dillinger gang.
These men were sent at once to Ironwood, Michigan, where the nearest hospital is located.
We learned that these three men, upon arriving at the house where they were
to make the telephone call, had seen an automobile in which three people were seated.
One of the special agents asked Mr. Christensen whose car it was,
and the latter replied that it was all right and that it belonged to Mr. Kerner.
[26:53]Baum, Newman, and Christensen stopped their car in front of the house.
As they neared the other car, a figure moved out from behind it. It was Babyface Nelson.
In his hand was an automatic. He spoke fast. I know you.
You have on bulletproof vests, so I will give it to you high and low.
He began firing as he spoke.
[27:12]Baum was killed almost instantly. Jay Newman made several grabs to get the automatic
in Nelson’s hands, but failed to reach it.
He received a wound in the head and fell.
Nelson leaped into the car in which the agents and Christensen had driven up and drove away.
Newman regained consciousness sufficiently to see the car disappearing about
a hundred yards away, and he emptied his automatic at it, but the bullets had no effect.
There was no one to give pursuit. The car Nelson had taken was the one we had
commandeered, and the one which had been geared up to a speed of 103 miles per hour.
Turner told us that Nelson had appeared at his store, brandishing a gun and demanding a car.
He was just about to leave in a car belonging to a native when the special agents
and the deputy constable drove up.
[27:57]We continued to maintain our cover of the little Bohemia lodge,
but it became more and more evident that all of the gangsters had escaped before
the proprietor left the house.
We searched the grounds and in the garages. We found the Buick coupe and the
Ford sedan belonging to the gang.
Both were fully packed with luggage and contained the gang’s machine guns,
bulletproof vests, rifles, tear gas, and ammunition.
We then started to gas the house by shooting gas shells at the windows.
Two of our men in an automobile rushed up to the front of the house while we
covered it with machine guns to protect their advance.
They threw gas bombs into the front door. Every one of us surrounding the place
was gassed by our own tear gas, blown toward us by the wind.
After a time, we heard a woman’s voice in the house crying out,
We will come out if you stop firing.
We replied, Come out and bring everyone with you with your hands up.
Three women came out. They said they did not know whether anyone else was in
the house and continued questioning failed to break down their statements.
These were the women with the Dillinger gang.
Now you understand why when they actually, the agents, a few months later,
actually catch Babyface Nelson, that he did not walk away from that encounter with the FBI.
[29:10]I guess, and they were right, they were getting ready to leave town,
and they found that they’d already packed up their cars with their guns and
bulletproof vests, so they kind of caught them with their pants down in a way.
If all that, all the guns and bulletproof vests were already in their car,
They just grabbed a few guns and started shooting and then got out the back.
A group of six special agents rushed the first floor of the lodge,
becoming gassed by the tear gas.
We rushed the second floor and then ran out and put our heads speedily under the pump.
[29:39]When we had recovered from the first gassing, we rushed the cellar and the top floor.
After a thorough search, we found to our chagrin that every one of the gangsters had escaped.
Three women and a much shot up house, which was later to prove of great financial
benefit to his proprietor, were all we had to show for our efforts.
During the night, while we were covering the place, a car approached and turned into the lane.
There it stopped, its driver apparently suspecting that something was wrong.
We approached the car and commanded the occupants to get out with their hands up.
They immediately began backing out. We endeavored to disable a car by machine
gun fire into the radiator. Some months later, we learned that its driver was
Pat Riley, a former mascot of the Minneapolis baseball team,
who had joined up with his gang to take a minor part.
Companion was Pat Charrington, a former nightclub dancer and performer.
These two had been to St. Paul, Minnesota for the purpose of obtaining more ammunition.
Pat Charrington, upon apprehension, had a slight scratch between her eyes,
caused by flying glass as a result of the firing upon the car in which she and
Riley were riding in that.
They escaped and as the story later came to me, Pat Riley hid out in the icy
fields all night and finally made his way back to St. Paul.
The story of the battle had spread rapidly over the countryside.
As the dawn was breaking, a posse had approached. They had wanted to join in
the battle, but the fighting was over.
Washington had been on the telephone all night.
[31:02]Mr. Hoover had been pacing the floor and had been in almost constant communication
with a special agent who had been sent to the telephone at the home of a resident
which local people called the Central.
Final report was made to him early that morning and plans were made for the
investigations which would necessarily follow in that section.
In small groups, we went at different times to have breakfast at Mr. Voss’ house.
Most of us didn’t feel like eating. A group was selected to remain at Little
Bohemia to complete the investigation, and the rest of us returned to our headquarters.
We soon learned that Dillinger and two of his gang had appeared at Ed Mitchell’s
Rest Lake Resort, about two miles north of Little Bohemia, where they tore the
telephone from the wall, threatened to kill Mitchell and his family, and demanded a car.
[31:47]Mitchell told them his car had not been used for some months and probably would
not have run. but that his hired man had a truck.
On the way to get this, the gangsters saw the Ford Coupe belonging to Robert
Johnson, a tenant of the resort.
They forced Johnson to drive them about 35 miles across country to Park Falls
Dillinger’s Escape to Park Falls
[32:03]where they allowed him to get out and then sped away in his car.
There followed expressions of great dissatisfaction at the utter failure of this raid.
While waiting at the airport for the plans to be warmed up to take me back to
Chicago, I overheard several people talking about the raid in an extremely critical vein.
Stories began to circulate. Wild rumors as to what happened at Little Bohemia floated in the air.
One story, created by some inane individual with more regard for melodrama than
for truth, was that there had been a mutiny of the special agents and that I,
with two others, had been held in a garage at the point of a gun by the other special agents.
A petition was circulated by two disgruntled individuals demanding my removal
from office. Several people signed it.
Large black headlines appeared in the newspapers. Urge Purvis ouster.
Post-Raid Criticism and Consequences
[32:53]Demand Purvis quit in Dillinger fiasco. The raid had failed.
At Little Bohemia, we had probably the largest aggregation of modern desperados
ever bottled up in one place.
Never again would we have such a great opportunity as was afforded us there.
[33:10]There had seemed no avenue by which they could escape, and yet they did escape,
and all we had to show for our battle were three terrified women.
The events of the night ran constantly through my mind. I relived every moment of the raid.
I could see that we had failed, but I could not see that we had failed through
our own fault, or how the affair could have been planned in the time available in any other way.
[33:32]Perhaps I was too close to the picture to see the fine points of it.
I offered my resignation. I did not want to, and I did not do so because of
criticism directed against me personally,
but because of the storm of unjustified criticism directed against the organization
which had not been at fault. It was not accepted.
Somehow, I wasn’t thinking about the various opinions advanced about the raid.
My thoughts were about the loss of Special Agent Carter Baum and the other serious
casualties at Little Bohemia.
That young Special Agent was my friend.
I thought of his boyish ways and lovable character. I remembered how he had loved to play handball.
I thought, too, of his devotion to duty and his intelligence,
the high aims and ideals which he had.
Then I thought of that life being snuffed out by a gun in the hands of a ruthless
and irresponsible killer.
There was the family of this man who had lost his life in line of duty,
Mrs. Baum and her two little children.
What would happen to them? I thought of the inadequacy of the government’s support, for this family.
The story of the battle is told and retold, and the empty shells of the cartridges
fired there have had a ready market.
The luggage of the Dillinger gang, which was discovered in the two automobiles
left at Little Bohemia, contained the instruments of gang warfare.
Machine guns, rifles, pistols, bulletproof vests, and ammunition,
together with a large number of suits, shirts, and other articles of clothing.
The gang had already packed and were ready to leave.
[35:02]Some months later, all the articles of clothing were sent back to the proprietor of Little Bohemia.
Some felt that possibly he might have a claim of some sort on them in view of
the sojourn of the Dillinger gang at his resort.
My own feeling was that he would have and would make no claim for these articles,
but these considerations occupied very little of my concern at the time.
Gangsters at Little Bohemia
[35:23]I am told, however, that later these articles became a part of his murderous relics.
The gangsters at Little Bohemia were John Dillinger, John Hamilton,
an old prison pal of Dillinger who had escaped from the Michigan City,
Indiana prison on March 28, 1933, and who had been his companion in many a robbery.
Homer Van Meter, the so-called front man, or caser for the gang.
Tommy Carroll, a not-so-widely-known gang member, but who often helped when
an extra man was needed for a job.
[35:55]Babyface Nelson, whose ruling passion was murder, and Pat Riley.
They were all dangerous men, and word had leaked through from gangland that
Fates of the Gang Members
[36:03]each had said he would never be taken alive.
Only one of them was. Pat Riley was captured and sent to prison.
Paul Kim’s Dramatic Reading
[36:11]The others died of gunfire. So I hope you appreciated Paul Kim’s dramatic reading
of the story of the Battle of Little Bohemia and Babyface Nelson.
He killed that poor young agent, Carter Baum, in cold blood.
Now you know why later on, Babyface Nelson, when he had a confrontation with
the FBI, he did not walk away from it.
They didn’t let him have a chance to walk away from that confrontation.
And the same thing happened with Bonnie and Clyde. They had killed several policemen.
They executed two Texas state troopers not too long before those two Texas Rangers
set that ambush for them down in Gibsland, Louisiana.
And fill them full of lead. And that’s what these FBI agents did with John Dillinger
Confrontations with Babyface Nelson and FBI
[36:56]and with Babyface Nelson.
So thanks a lot, guys. Don’t forget, I like to ride motorcycles.
So watch out for motorcycles when you’re out there on the street.
If you have a problem with PTSD and you’ve been in the service,
go to the VA website and get that hotline number.
Resources for PTSD, Drugs, and Alcohol
[37:11]And hand-in-hand with PTSD is drugs and alcohol.
And our friend Anthony Ruggiano has a hotline number on his website.
And he’s a drug and alcohol counselor down in Florida. So you might give him a shot.
Closing Remarks and Podcast Sharing
[37:25]Don’t forget to like and subscribe and share this with your friends,
share it on your social media.
You know, we have a big social media following on Gangland Wire podcast.
I think there’s 60,000 people on it. It’s a private podcast group now.
I had to cut it down because of all the spammers that were getting on there.
We’re slowly but surely, I think we’ve got rid of all of them now.
So, you know, go in and find that podcast group and join up.
We’ll approve you and let me know that you heard about it from the podcast.
And I really appreciate everybody listening and supporting the group and keep coming back.

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