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Baltimore Riot of 1861


Overview

The Baltimore Riot of 1861 is also known by two other names, the Pratt Street Riot and the 19th of April Riot. About noon on April 19, 1861, 10 cars (7 companies of the 6th Massachusetts Regiment) of Union volunteers began the transfer from President Street Station to Camden Station along Pratt Street. As tensions mounted the first nine cars passed Southern sympathizers who had been alerted to the federal troop movement.

The crowd managed to stop the tenth car and stone the occupants, but the car made it to Camden Station. Using anchors, paving stones and other heavy material the crowd block the track between the two stations. Soon word reached the crowd that since the rail was blocked the federal troops intended to proceed on foot.

Six carloads of volunteers (4 companies of the same regiment) left the President Street station on foot, "double-quick," with loaded muskets. Early in the journey, William Patch of Massachusetts was struck from behind by a "large paving stone" as the troops forced their way through the crowd. They crossed the Pratt Street Bridge but ran into the main crowd at Commerce Street, where the tracks had been closed by debris. As the crowd closed in on the soldiers, the order was given to fire. Twelve Baltimore men fell dying, and many more were injured.

According to the Official Records, the Mayor of Baltimore William Brown joined the column at the Pratt Street Bridge. Brown and a patrolman shot and killed two of the twelve men that died. The number of soldiers killed can vary as well. One of the original men believed by his commanding officer to have died in the riot, James Keenan, was only "crippled." The others originally reported killed were Daniel Stevens and Edward Coburn. In 1874 the Adjutant General of Massachusetts updated the list to be Sumner Needham, Addison Whitney and Luther Ladd.

Introduction

Immediately after the attack on Fort Sumter volunteer troops began to move towards Washington to support the small contingent of U. S. Army forces (mostly officers and staff) in the city. The only rail link to Washington D. C. from the North was a B&O line from Baltimore's Camden Station (now Camden Yard). Two other lines, the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore and the Northern Central Railroads came into President Street Station.

Baltimore also had a large, pro-South population and southern supporters in the government. Information from the South came in from Virginia on the B&O Railroad.

To prevent pro-South mobs from seeing the soldiers, Colonel Edward F. Jones of the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment ordered the blinds be closed on the cars. Still the rioters began to interfere with troops as they left from the President Street Station.

Map


View Baltimore Riot of 1861 in a larger map

Links appearing on this page:

Fort Sumter
Official Records

Baltimore Riot of 1861 was last changed on - April 5, 2011
Baltimore Riot of 1861 was added on - May 15, 2010





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