Riot at the Sixth Regiment Armory

This article from the July 21, 1877 issue of the Baltimore Sun describes the riot at the Sixth Maryland Regiment armory in Baltimore.

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Riot at the Sixth Regiment Armory

Col. Peters and Adjt. Bishop were the first of the Sixth Regiment to arrive at the armory, corner of Fayette and Front streets, opposite the shot tower. The armory is in the second story of the large building on the corner, the entire story, which is divided into several rooms, being used for the purpose. The under story is occupied by George O. Stevens as a furniture factory. The entrance to the armory is on Front street, about thirty feet from the corner of Fayette street. There is a double door, about 4 feet wide, a small platform, and stairs ascending from it to the second-story admitting the passage of about three men abreast.

At the sound of the military alarm the soldiers of the Sixth came rapidly to their armory, and the crowd which had been gathered about the front of the building as spectators began to increase very rapidly. The crowd was composed in a considerable proportion of half-grown youths, men, and some women. The assemblage gradually filled up Front street before the armory, the crowd extending some distance towards Baltimore street, and on Fayette street east and west of Front street. About 7 P. M. the crowd began to exhibit turbulent symptoms, and occasionally a man in uniform was roughly handled.

The commissary, Q. C. Brown, Lieut. Walles and Major A. J. George, the latter not in uniform, and some of the artillerymen connected with the regiment were struck, receiving slight bruises on the arms, legs and body from brickbats and stones. Occasionally a stone crashed through a window, and as darkness approached the use of missiles grew to a regular stone battle. The streets being torn up for laying gaspipies [sic] in the vicinity and buildings in process of erection furnished the material of warfare. While the armory was being stoned from the outside Col. Peters and his command occupied the large drill-room. Every pane of glass on the Front street side or main entrance of the armory was smashed, and the shower of missiles drove in the guard from the pavement and the sentinels in the vestiblue [sic] . The rioters did not invade the building. The drill-room being in the rear, afforded shelter for the soldiers, who were very much excited.

Col. Peters personally superintended details of preparation for marching. Two hundred and twenty men answered to roll call. In obedience to orders three companies were detailed to go to Cumberland, viz., Company I, Capt. Wm. H. Tapper, forty men; Company F, Capt. John C. Fallon, forty men; Company B, Capt. John H. Duffey, forty men; total one hundred and twenty men. The band and drum corps were present and intended to march with music to Camden street depot with the command, but were deterred by the further proceedings on the outside. Twenty rounds of ammunition were distributed to each of the men, who carried breach loading rifles. They also carried knapsacks, rolled blankets and one day's rations.

At 8:15 o'clock the detachment was formed in two ranks and marched by twos down the stairs, and on reaching the front door the head of the column was greeted by a shower of stones, causing it to recoil and turn back. Very many of the men were struck, and the shower of stones and bricks covered the floor of the vestibule. This momentary success greatly elated the crowd, which cheered cheer after cheer.

Previous to the assault on the command there had been a very general and strong expression of dissatisfaction with the use of the regiment in behalf of the railroad. There were cries and cheers for the strikers. The demonstration had been growing for fully an hour, and several thousand persons assembled in the crowd. Col. Peters thought it necessary to send for the police to clear the way to obviate the necessity of using the military force and arms. The few policemen on the spot were powerless to quell the riotous manifestations, and a policeman was dispatched for more men, but when a larger squad came with Captain Lannan, they were unable to restore order, so that when the military were ready to march the wild spirit of the crowd was unrestrained and apparently resistless except by the terror of arms, at least as a menace.

About this Document

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