Description

    [Baltimore Riot of 1861]. Union Captain Timothy A. Crowley Autograph Letter Signed. Four pages, 6.5" x 8.25", Washington, April 19, 1861. On April 15, 1861, just two days after the fall of Fort Sumter to Confederate guns in Charleston Harbor, President Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 volunteers to force the states in rebellion back into the United States. The 6th Massachusetts infantry, which had been organized in January, assembled in Lowell, Massachusetts, and headed south to Washington.

    Meanwhile, unrest in the city of Baltimore was brewing. The population of the city was split between those loyal to the union and those who sympathized with their Southern neighbors. When the men of the 6th Massachusetts arrived on April 19, they were immediately set upon by a mob of Confederate sympathizers. Timothy Crowley, then the color bearer for the regiment, recalls the scene in this letter addressed to Jesse Huse on the night of the riot. Writing from the Senate Chamber in Washington, D.C., where the regiment was being housed, he states, in part:

    "Leaving Philadelphia at a most sudden call . . . we were obliged to buckle on our armor . . . and take cars for Baltimore in which town we arrived this forenoon . . . they the Baltimore roughs began to assail us with epithets to [sic] polite to mention and also to assault us with stones, bricks, bats etc. But as we had orders before arriving at the God forsaken city, to load with ball cartridge but not to fire unless fired upon, we did not do it. . . . Revolvers became common with the rabble and the flag of secession seemed to predominate. Our men after suffering all the indignities of insults and brick battery became enumerated for the contest and the first discharge of a firearm, turned with determination upon their assailants and instantly the streets became . . . as vacant as a churchyard at night. But it was for a moment only for the cowardly rebels fired from the windows and house tops but many a stout hearted recreant that gloried in his heart that the sentiment of the Southern Confederacy would prevail now lies low. . . . It is reported that 25 or 30 of those rascals are gone to their final home . . . By last account Gov. [Thomas H.] Hicks has put the city under martial law and the Mayor of the city during the fight took from the hands of one of our men his musket and shot through the head a ruffian in the act of casting a stone at our colors." The deaths of the Baltimore citizens and four soldiers from the 6th Massachusetts represent the first shedding of blood in the war.

    With the original transmittal envelope. Folds. Spots of staining can be seen on the first and final pages, else fine.

    Crowley served with the 6th Massachusetts until August 1861, when he left the service. He re-enlisted in November 1861 as a captain in Co. "F," 30th Massachusetts Infantry, and served until his untimely death of disease at New Orleans October 5, 1862.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2015
    12th-13th Friday-Saturday
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