TIP OF THE DAY: Watch a short documentary by photo artist Sanna Kannisto about the creation of bird photos at the Hanko bird station.

Prisoners free

Sara Wacklin

Sara Wacklin often described perseverance, extraordinary courage, and an exemplary sense of solidarity. But what happened when the authorities left the city and the criminals decided to take the law into their own hands? The story is from Sara Wacklin's book? Hundrade minnen från Österbotten? from 1844.

One sweet summer morning, when the governor of Oulu was on a business trip, the city's senior officials were hiking in the countryside, and all the workers were busy in the fields, meadows, docks or fishing, the manpower of our peaceful city remained mostly only the prisoners of the castle. That's when a burning desire hit them too to get to freedom, to the wild nature to enjoy the summer weather. As early as ten in the morning, the prisoners had been released from their chains. Before that, they had attacked the guards, wounded them with knives, murdered one of them and locked the entire Cossack guard behind bars, whose weapons they took away. In addition to knives, they carried files with which they now cut their chains.

An official who stayed at home directly ordered the city drummer to sound the emergency signal in all the streets, so that the people could be gathered to subdue the peace breakers. But to top it all off, the drummer also wanted to enjoy the summer and wandered off to the nearest club, where he now loitered in a pleasant drunken stupor. To the harsh order, he responded with blissful satisfaction "trum, trum, trum!" and couldn't even move a finger. What advice now?

Danger threatened at the customs gate. The town's most important drum was hung around the neck of a little boy who had been washed as a substitute. The boy was not much bigger than a drum, but he beat such masterful beats that entire groups of children and students immediately left their balls, catechisms, rye and bowls of dough to rush to hear the unusual drumming and the terrible announcement that "the prisoners of the castle were free and intent on looting and burning everything they could get their hands on in the city". The horror of the listeners soon caught even the little drummer, who suddenly quit his job and kicked the big drum in fear into the street. However, at the head of his quickly recruited group, he ran towards the castle prison to see what was to come and to show the feared criminals that he was not at least to blame for whatever happened to them.

A war veteran who once reached the rank of officer got really excited when he heard the distress signal. During the long peace, however, the blade of his sword had rusted so tightly to the scabbard, that with difficulty, with the help of his lady, who was trembling with fear, and the strong maid, he was able to wrestle out the scabbard that had been torn open in the war. For he now, as brave as years before, went out alone to defend the lives and property of the citizens, and to besiege the castle, in whose shelter the prisoners had taken possession of the guards' rifles and ammunition.

After reaching the vicinity of the prison, the old warrior immediately recruited a strong-armed blacksmith into his command. Together they went around the castle to prevent the prisoners from sneaking out through the hatches. In the meantime, the euks who arrived on the scene took a little girl to borrow a gun from a house where it was known to scare sparrows from the garden. Sent back smartly and out of breath from his successful trip, gun with him. It was given to the master, who had long watched with irritation as the wildly laughing prisoners shot through the open windows at the onlookers, who mostly stayed out of gun range.

By this time, one of the prisoners had found the castle's liquor store. Those famished creatures didn't need a lot of coaxing before they were already raucous and jubilant, jumping and frolicking while a couple more tightly bound prisoners worked hard with their cleavers to free themselves from their heavy iron shackles. No one had tried to escape yet. Those who got out of the shackles waited for their unfortunate comrades, not wanting to leave them in trouble. It was already four in the afternoon.

Then appeared the athletic figure, the sailor Monius, at the head of the seven broad-shouldered Korstos. Together they rushed towards the castle. The attack was joined by an old war veteran with his troops (with the blacksmith he commanded).

The wooden outer gate of the prison was quickly broken down with axes and logs, even though the prisoners rushed from the side of the castle yard to fight back. A bloody battle began. Shots were exchanged, and many an unfortunate prisoner fell dead or wounded to the ground. In the end, 10 brave men who fought with their lives for public safety managed to defeat and capture 48 criminals.

Translation translation; Sampsa Laurinen.

Svenska Kulturfonden has supported Sara Wacklin's ?Hundrade minnen från Österbotten? publication of stories.

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