The Attack on the Fifth

This article from the July 21, 1877 edition of the Baltimore American gives an account of the attack on the Fifth Regiment by the mob, which threw stones and bricks, forcing the troops to charge into Camden Station with fixed bayonets.

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At a little past 7 o'clock, previous to the sounding of the 1-5-1 alarm, there were not over a few hundred people about Camden Station. In less than fifteen minutes after the alarm sounded, however, the number, as if by preconcerted action, increased to thousands. They were mainly men in their working clothes and with shirt sleeves rolled up, as if just from the shops. They were frenzied and determined in their demeanor.

Word was brought that the Fifth Regiment was moving to the depot. Then the crowd surged in that direction. On Eutaw street near Lombard great crowds collected on the sidewalks, and at the corners above and below. Meantime several hundred more threatening persons had formed into a sort of skirmishing corps, and were harassing the militia as they moved. Near the corner of Eutaw and Lombard streets a volley of bricks and stones was thrown into the ranks, and this was repeated until the soldiery reached the corner of Pratt street. The stones came in showers, and had evidently been collected for the purpose. Even women hurled stones from the windows. Captain Zollinger would not fire, but was cool and determined. The militia kept well together and moved on, standing the terrible volley of missiles without flinching. About a dozen men were struck. They were supported by their comrades until the depot was reached. Captain Zollinger ordered his men to fix bayonets, which they did. There were about two hundred and fifty men in line. At the junction of Camden and Eutaw streets a solid mass of rough looking men blocked the passage of the soldiery. They came to a halt for a moment, and although the bricks were falling fast Captain Zollinger counseled his men not to fire. Then he ordered them to prepare to double-quick with their fixed bayonets into the depot. Drawing his sword Captain Zollinger shouted to the mob to give way that the command might pass. A brawny man, with his arms and neck bare, who stood in the front in a defiant attitude, was knocked aside with the blunt end of the Captain's sword. Then, amid the hoots and yells of the crowd, the Fifth Regiment charged into the depot. Several shots were fired at them, but they gained the depot without any casualties save those already mentioned. The crowd in front of the depot swelled in numbers and kept up continuous cries, calling the leading railroad officials by name, saying, "Hang them," "Shoot them." Burn them out," &c. The soldiers, as soon as they entered the depot, proceeded to get into the cars waiting for them. The Company that suffered the most was Company C, near the rear of the line. About twenty-five soldiers were more or less injured. The excitement was terrible, and people in the vicinity closed up their houses.

About this Document

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