The Battle of Barrington was an intense and deadly gun battle between Federal agents Sam Cowley and Ed Hollis against Lester "Baby Face Nelson" Gillis and John Paul Chase. As a result of the shootout, Agents Hollis and Cowley were killed, Nelson died a short time later down the road. His naked body was dumped in a ditch beside the road.
On the morning of November 27, Nelson, sporting a thin mustache on his youthful face, Helen Gillis (Nelson's wife), and John Paul Chase, Nelson's right-hand man, departed Lake Geneva and traveled south, toward Chicago, on U.S. Route 12 (now U.S. 14). Nelson planned to meet two underworld figures in Chicago and had reasoned daylight the safer time to travel as agents would expect an evening departure.
Near the village of Fox River Grove, Illinois, Nelson observed a vehicle driven in the opposite direction. Inside the car were federal agents Thomas McDade and William Ryan. McDade and Ryan were traveling to Lake Geneva to support a fellow agent who had relayed an encounter with Nelson. The agents and the gangster recognized each other simultaneously and after several U-turns by both cars, Nelson wound up in pursuit of the federal agents.
As Nelson's powerful V-8 Ford, driven by Gillis, caught up to the slower federal sedan, Nelson and Chase opened fire on the agents. Neither McDade nor Ryan were injured. The agents returned fire, sped ahead and ran off the highway. Taking defensive positions, McDade and Ryan awaited Nelson and Chase. The agents, however, were unaware a round fired by Ryan had punctured the water pump and/or the radiator of Nelson's Ford. With his vehicle losing power, Nelson was next pursued by a Hudson automobile driven by two more agents, Herman Hollis and Samuel P. Cowley
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