April 19, 1861 (part I)

A sleepy Sixth Regiment departed Philadelphia by train at 1 am on Friday, April 19, 1861. The original plan was to leave first thing in the morning, but railroad officials warned Colonel Jones of talk that people in Baltimore planned to prevent any troops from passing through the city. Jones decided to leave Philadelphia immediately which would get them through Baltimore earlier than expected, and too early for trouble-makers to react, he hoped.

Like other US cities (Boston, for instance), a train arriving in Baltimore from the north could not continue directly through the city and continue its journey south. A train arriving in Baltimore from the north arrived at the President Street Station which was on the northern side of the city’s inner harbor. If the train was to continue south, it’s cars were decoupled from the original engine and then pulled through the city by horses on the street car tracks on Pratt Avenue to Campden Station which was on the south side of the inner harbor.

Colonel Jones knew of this procedure and planned accordingly. Rather than allowing his regiment to pass through the city piecemeal in this manner, Jones decided to dismount the entire unit at the first train station and march en masse through the city to the second station. The mass of the entire regiment marching in formation, he hoped, would deter any active resistance. Before leaving Philadelphia, he planned the loading of the train in great detail so that his unit could rapidly disembark and assemble in traveling formation as soon as it reached the city.

Jones plan went awry long before reaching Baltimore. The first mix-up occurred when the train reached the southern border of Delaware and prepared to cross the Susquehanna River into Maryland at a place called Havre-de-Grace. There, the cars of the train were ferried across the river where they were reunited and attached to a new locomotive. Other cars were added to the train and those carrying the troops from Massachusetts were rearranged. For some reason, neither Colonel Jones nor any of his subordinates seemed to notice this reshuffling of the cars.

The train reached Baltimore at 10 am and railway workers quickly attached the first seven cars of the train to horse teams and dragged them through the city, again without either Jones or any of his commanders seeming to notice. While these first cars made it through the city without their occupants suffering any serious injuries, their passage was not without incident. Here is an account of the next few minutes as described in “History of Middlesex County” which was written shortly after the war:

“On Pratt Street, the mob detached the horses [that were pulling the cars], in proximity to a pile of paving stones. Here a most furious and determined attack was made with stones and fire-arms, wounding several soldiers in the car. Major Jones ordered the men to shelter themselves, as far as possible, by lying upon the floor of the car, while he went out among the crowd, and by threats, and the formidable appearance of his revolver, compelled the driver to reattach the horses. They had proceeded but a short distance, when the horses were again detached and the same scene was repeated; the car was then drawn to the Washington depot without further trouble.”

To be continued.