A British View of the Baltimore Strike

This excerpt from the July 18, 1877 edition of the London Times offers a glimpse into the British view of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Strike.

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A 10 per cent reduction of wages by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad took effect yesterday, being accepted by all the servants of the company but the stokers and brakemen on the goods trains. These struck at Baltimore, but a multitude of applicants appeared for their places, and trains were sent out with new hands. The strikers attempted to interfere, but the police quelled the disturbances. Traffic at the Baltimore end of the line has been moving uninterruptedly, except for the delay caused by the wrecking of one train last night by the strikers misplacing the switch.

The stokers of Martinsburg, West Virginia, struck last night, and new men were put on the engines. The strikers interfered, but the Mayor and the police arrested the ringleaders. Their companions, however, reinforced by a large body of citizens, attacked the police, and the result was that they overpowered the railway officials, taking possession of the station and permitting no goods trains to move, though passenger traffic was uninterrupted. Mr. King, Vice-President of the Railway Company, appealed to Governor Matthews, of West Virginia, for protection, and the Governor sent two companies of troops to Martinsburg. A body of 75 troops took charge of a Westernbound goods train, and attempted to start it, but the neighborhood of the line was filled with the strikers, who fired into the train, wounding one soldier. Upon this the troops returned the fire, killing the man and wounding several others. The strikers now rushed on the train, cutting the couplings. The troops held on, but could not move it. The situation became so critical that the Governor ordered more troops to Martinsburg from Wheeling this afternoon.

According to the latest account, 1,000 strikers held the line, and the troops were too weak to overcome them. The railway is thoroughly under the control of the rioters. Eighty locomotives are gathered there, but none are allowed to depart. A committee of the strikers have notified to the drivers that anyone attempting to start the locomotives will be shot. At noon a cattle train was put in motion for Baltimore, but the strikers compelled the driver to run into a stockyard, where they unloaded the cattle. At 3 this afternoon the rebels were still triumphant, holding the line and paralyzing the goods traffic of the entire railway. The troops are passive, awaiting the Governor's instructions. At Baltimore the railway officials themselves detained the trains, preferring not to forward them till the trouble is settled.

About this Document

  • Source: London Times
  • Date: July 17, 1877