Saturday, February 12, 2011

Baltimore 1861 - The Pratt Street Riot

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

My Twitter friend @EmilyHill_Indie was asking about Civil War Baltimore the other day...which naturally made me think of all the mayhem that took place there right at the beginning of the war.

As you all probably know, Maryland - a border/slave-holding state - entertained the idea of secession in 1861. Many citizens had southern leanings, and would have preferred joining the Confederacy...a prospect that would have been very embarrassing for the United States. Had Maryland seceded, the US national capital would have been in the Confederacy.

But of course that never happened. Maryland remained loyal to the least for the most part. But there were still plenty of Marylanders who were pro-Confederate...especially in Baltimore. On April 19, 1861 - secessionists and would be Rebels got to prove it.

It seems that the Union 6th Massachusetts Regiment were on their way to Washington City and had to transfer trains in Baltimore. There was no direct rail line through town and the unit had to march the 10 blocks west along Pratt Street to make their connection.

An angry mob (is there any other kind of mob?) gathered and began to follow the soldiers - they broke windows, threw bricks, shouted oaths...and then somebody in the mob fired a pistol. All hell broke loose and the 6th fired into the crowd - prompting a brawl between soldiers, a pro-Confederate mob, and the Baltimore police. In the end, four Union soldiers and twelve Baltimore citizens lay dead.

The entire state of Maryland fell under the scrutiny of the Lincoln administration - by May 13, Union troops under Benjamin Butler entered Baltimore and declared martial law. The pro-Confederate mayor, city council, and police commissioner were arrested and imprisoned at Fort McHenry. eventually, Union troops were deployed throughout the state.

And there you have it - the Rebels stirred up quite a fuss in Baltimore - a (sort of) northern city with definite southern sympathies. And for their troubles...Baltimore became - more or less - an occupied city.




  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Keith Harris and Keith Harris, Keith Harris. Keith Harris said: Baltimore 1861 – The Pratt Street Riot [...]

  2. Great Stuff! This is like receiving A Gift! Wonderful, thank you. ~*~Emily

  3. My great-grandfather, Gen. John Watt Horn, was a young immigrant from Scotland, in Baltimore that day. Family legend is that he set up a Union recruiting station that week. It is documented that he served in the war until the end, and was wounded in battle in Northern Virginia. He came home and served two terms as warden of the Maryland Penitentiary. He was the driving force to set up the House of Reformation and Refuge for Colored Males at Cheltenham, because he saw negro boys as young as eleven housed with adult males. Some of these childen were guilty of being homeless, nothing more.There were home for white boys.
    We have always been so proud of Grandaddy Horn and I truly wish I could have known him.

  4. Gen. John W. Horn (brevetted) was commanding officer and helped form the 6th Maryland Regiment (which was on the line at Gettysburg next to Joshua Chamberlain). Gen. Horn was wounded at the third battle of Winchester and lay on the field for days. His civil career as you recounted was in spite of that wound which never properly closed. He fathered my grandmother, Helen Mary Horn, in 1892 and died in 1897. Didn't know we were cousins.

  5. Well! look at that - Cosmic America bringing families together!!