A Perilous Nightófireóriotómurder

This editorial from the July 21, 1877 edition of the Baltimore American emphasizes the strike and violence was preventable if adequate police had been on the scene and available.

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It seems that Baltimore is doomed to maintain its character for riotous demonstrations, which has given it the sobriquet of "mobtown." Whilst the great mass of people are the most peaceable and law-abiding in the whole country, it requires but the occasion for excitement and the congregation of the disorderly elements to break forth in riot and bloodshed. There is always a singular absence of precaution on the part of the authorities. They are slow to move, and fail to use the measures of prevention which are so essential to the preservation of peace and good order. Had there been a force of police at the armory of the Sixth Regiment to keep the mob in subjection and to arrest the ringleaders at its incipient stage, there would have been no occasion for the military to subsequently fire upon their assailants. No action was taken until the mob had assembled in such force as to be uncontrollable by the small posse of police on duty, and they proceeded to stone the armory and prevent the officers and privates who came late from entering the building. At this juncture it was dangerous for the men to remain in the armory, and still more dangerous to come out. Everyone who was seen near the windows was fired at, and as the mob was constantly increasing in numbers and ferocity, it became necessary for them to force their way out where they could defend themselves. As they came out of the door volleys of bricks were hurled at them, which they returned, firing into the mob with deadly effect. As usual on such occasions, many innocent parties were killed or wounded, and more were added to the list as the military came at double quick up the Baltimore street, followed by the mob with stones and pistol shots, and returning the assault with bullets. Many of the men discharged their guns in the air, whilst others fired with deadly effect. There could not have been more than a hundred men in line, and as none but those in the rear platoon could wheel and fire the others discharged their guns in the air, hoping by this means to intimidate their assailants. By the time they reached Camden Station an immense concourse of excited people had assembled around the building, two companies of the Fifth Regiment being on guard to prevent the rioters from entering. There were, of course, thousands of spectators, who were merely lookers on, filling all the streets surrounding the depot, while the active participants in the riots were comparatively small in number, but extremely active and violent.

At 10 o'clock an alarm of fire was sounded, and a lurid glare of flame was observed rising from the vicinity of Camden Station. The mob had fired a small building at the west end of the depot and stood guard to prevent the firemen from extinguishing the flames. The two locomotives attached to the trains preparing to start with the military were soon disabled by the mob, and rendered unfit for service. The track at Lee street was torn up for about two hundred yards, so that the trains could not pass out, and it become necessary for the police and military to prevent the rioters from entering the depot. They were repulsed and driven out, and protection given to the firemen, who soon suppressed the flames. The round house beyond the depot was afterwards fired, and considerable damage done to the locomotives. A locomotive and three passenger cars were also burnt, which was about the extent of the [[unreadable]]

At midnight the military and police held full possession of the depot, and although the crowd had greatly diminished, there were still a great many standing quietly around talking over the events of the night. There were some shots exchanged by the mob and the police whilst the latter were protecting the hose from being cut, and two men were carried off wounded, but not seriously. The police undoubtedly did their duty bravely at the depot, and saved much valuable property from destruction.

About this Document

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