Last Night in Baltimore

This article from the July 21, 1877 Baltimore American gives an account of the events that led to the large gathering of people outside of Camden Station the previous evening.

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The morning of yesterday in Baltimore gave no evidence that before its close the streets of the city would be the scene of violence and disorder, that life would be sacrificed and property placed in jeopardy. The news which came from almost every part of the country was not of a reassuring character. As bulletin after bulletin was placed outside of the various newspaper offices announcing that the strike had extended to Cumberland, that Ohio and Illinois were also threatened, and that the action of the employees on the Pennsylvania and Erie railroads had necessitated the calling out of troops, little groups gathered at street corners indulging in comments. The general impression, however, seemed to be, looking at the quietness which had pervaded the city for the last few days, that the defiant spirit existing elsewhere would not show itself in our midst, but the events of last night were a sad disappointment to the hope. When the news was received that Gov. Carroll, in view of the disturbances at Cumberland, had issued a proclamation calling out the State militia, a strong ripple of excitement was created. Soldiers were soon seen hurrying through the streets to the armory of the Fifth Regiment, and around that building a crowd quickly gathered. It was, however, orderly enough, and appeared to be attracted more by curiosity than any other motive. The Sixth Regiment was also ordered to be in readiness at its armory, and the men in obedience to this command were soon seen assembling at the rendezvous. When the call to arms sounded from "Big Sam" and the fire engine stations, the excitement was at fever heat. The number struck by the bells, No. 151, does not appear on many of the fire alarm cards which are published, and this added to the speculations indulged in by the people as to the significance of the alarm. Besides this, it was the first time in the history of Baltimore that the call had ever been used, and it soon had the effect of drawing together a large concourse of people. Opinions, of course, naturally varied as to the wisdom of the expediency of this action on the part of the military, some claming that it was necessary, while others held that it would be the means of kindling those smouldering embers of discontent of the presence of which there was already a few symptoms. Whether or not it had the effect of hastening the emeute which followed is a matter of opinion, but it was not long until some very stirring scenes were enacted. The conflict between the soldiers and citizens, fully reported below, and which resulted so fatally, was a sad ending to the day, while the destruction of property which followed at a later hour kept reporters busy and filled the air with all manner of exaggerated rumors. Taken throughout the events of yesterday will be long remembered and will form a dark episode in the history of the city.

About this Document

  • Source: Baltimore American
  • Date: July 21, 1877