Monday, April 19, 2010

The First Blood Shed

Considered the first blood shed of the Civil War on April 19th 1861 the Baltimore Riot or the Pratt Street Massacre took place.

The Battle of Fort Sumter on April 12th 1861 signaled the beginning of the Civil War. At that time the states of Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia had not seceded from the United States. There was some question whether these states and the border states of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri would remain loyal to the Union or secede. Many influential Marylanders who were supportive of secession began pushing hard for their State to leave the Union. When Lincoln’s call for troops went out, the secessionist became even louder.

On April 18th 1861; 460 Pennsylvania Volunteers marched through Baltimore Maryland. The anti-Union people weren’t ready for them, but when the next regiment came through this had changed. The 6th Massachusetts on its way to Washington DC on April 19th 1861 had to pass through Baltimore Maryland. There was no rail connection between the two Baltimore Maryland train stations; the Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, at the time. The train cars were pulled between the two station by horse along Pratt Street. A mob of Southern sympathizer blocked this route, causing the troops to have get out of the cars and march in formation through Baltimore.

The mob continued the follow the men of the 6th Massachusetts, breaking windows and causing other damage as they went. At some point these Confederate sympathizer attacked the rear companies, using bricks, and paving stones. This caused the soldiers who panicked to fire into the mob, finally leading to a hand to hand fight. The 6th Massachusetts did make it to the Baltimore and Ohio train station with the help of the Baltimore police, who kept the crowd away from the soldiers.

The Regiment abandoned a lot of their equipment. Twelve civilians and four soldiers [Corporal Sumner Needham, and Privates Luther C Ladd, Charles Taylor, and Addison Whitney] were killed. There were also 36 soldiers who were wounded and had to left behind. After this riot there were a few other small skirmishes between the Baltimore police and citizen from about a month.

Other good information on the web
Riots, Baltimore, 1861

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