First Blood in Baltimore

     It had just been a week since the guns surrounding Fort Sumter had opened and the patriotic call for men of arms was sent scurrying throughout the nation. Seventy five thousand were needed to end what the Lincoln Administration was calling the rebellion.

     The railroads would carry these green volunteers from the north to the nation's capitol in Washington City. The first to brave the march and answer the call traveled south in mid April 1861, both Pennsylvania Militia and a ninety-day regiment of the 6th Massachusetts Volunteers. They were expected to arrive in Baltimore on the anniversary of Lexington Concord where the Philadelphia Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad abruptly ends, and continuing south required transit by horse drawn cars to Camden Station, the other side of town.
     The New England regiment was forewarned on the train prior to the arrival that the sentiment in Baltimore was Pro Southern and that their presence in the city was not going to be welcomed. Their orders were to have their muskets load, but no one was to fire unless fired upon.

     Mayor George W. Brown happened to be at his law office around ten o'clock in the morning the 19th of April when Baltimore Police Marshal George P. Kane approached him on the news that more troops were about to arrive in town on their way to Washington.

     The previous day federal troops had passed without molestation; however, today there was grave concern for the new arrivals. The city authorities had placed police all along the route mostly at Camden Station. While there, the mayor was told himself that angry mobs had begun placing obstacles on the tracks preventing their passage. Upon reaching Smith's Wharf along the water front, Mayor Brown had found that ship anchors had been dragged across the tracks and upon his authority ordered them to be removed.
     Columns of the 6th Massachusetts were already at a double quick down Pratt Street. The mayor had been too late to prevent angry citizens from acting and these soldiers had been fired on. Personally attempting to display his leadership the mayor joined the head of the column ushering them down Pratt Street as quickly as possible. The sounds of riot were frightening, and about the Light Street intersection the attacks became more violent. Company D, commanded by Captain A. S. Follansbee had begun receiving musket wounds and the soldiers turned on the citizens and opened up.

     Marshal Kane along with a heavy line of police officers rushed down Pratt Street allowing the Mayor to break free of the column. Forming a police line at the rear and across the street, brandishing revolvers at the crowd worked some good in tempering the resistance. The colonel of the 6th Massachusetts later reported forty wounded soldiers, losing a color bearer mortally, and three others.
     It had been the first of human blood drawn during the American Civil War. A Federal Outfit bloodied by angry citizens of Baltimore, Maryland. A hard lesson for the Government that if Maryland was to be used for the passage of Federal Troops it needed to take harsher measures against the city and the state. Washington City was surrounded by southern sympathy and the state of Maryland must be held in abeyance at the point of the bayonet if need be.

Dan (Aldie) Daniel Moran
© 2001

Editors Note: Mr.Moran is a new feature writer on the writers staff. He may be contacted with your questions, ideas and requests at