The Riot Begins

This July 21, 1877 article from the Baltimore American gives an account of the strike's opening moments and details the confrontation between the police, the military, and the mob.

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At about seven o'clock, after the crowd had become numerous, a brickbat was thrown into the window of the door on Front street, leading to the Armory. Four policemen were stationed at the door, but while they looked around to see who it was that had thrown the brick, a volley of stones and brickbats was hurried against the windows of the building, the demonstration being accompanied by shouts and hurrahs from what seemed a thousand throats. The police officers then became aware of their perilous position, but they stood their ground. They felt that their small number was powerless to resist the mob, and as to effecting any arrests among so many people, they knew it would become foolhardiness, leading to no results, and would expose their lives to danger. Four members of the Regiment were stationed as a guard in front of the door, but as the bombardment of the building by bricks and stones continued, Col. Peters issued orders that they leave their posts and enter the Armory. This move, which the crowd regarded as an indication that the military was afraid to face the mob, appeared to give encouragement to the mob, and the storming of the Armory by all kinds of missiles was renewed. The late comers of the Sixth Regiment fared badly indeed. Andrew J. George, the Major of the regiment, was one of the latter, and as soon as his gray uniform came in sight the mob set upon him. He was knocked down, beaten, and badly bruised about the body and head. With the aid of a few orderly persons in the crowd and the policemen he succeeded in reaching the Armory, and his entrance into the building was followed by a storm of stones thrown into the windows, mashing them to pieces. Q. C. Brown, the Commissary of the Regiment, who ventured out on the street to tell the guards to leave their posts, was attacked by the crowd, knocked down and kicked in the head. It was as much as he could do to re-enter the building. Lieutenant Welly attempted to make his way through the crowd to come to the Armory. He fared no better than his comrades, being also assaulted and beaten. Four other members of the regiment, while making their way to the Armory, were assaulted on Fayette street bridge and driven back to their homes, the crowd not allowing them to proceed to their destination. Meanwhile the rioting in front of the Armory was continued, the mob becoming bolder every moment. All of the windows of the Armory on Front street were broken by stones. Whenever a member ventured out on the street he was greeted with hisses and a volley of brickbats.

About this Document

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