The October, 2011 edition of Civil War Times just arrived in today’s mail. Featured in a multi-page spread is an article by journalist Michael Williams’ from his forthcoming book – “City Under the Guns.” The article Bullets and Bricks in Baltimore recounts the mob riots that caused the deaths of members of the Massachusetts Sixth … including Lowell mill workers Luther Ladd, Addison Whitney, Sumner Needham of Lawrence and Charles Taylor. These soldiers were the first to die in the Civil War. The article contains a full page picture of the 17-year old Luther Ladd, his banner and a commemorative stamped-envelope. Locals know that there is a monument – known as the Ladd and Whitney Monument in front of Lowell City Hall that also serves as the burial and final resting place of both Ladd and Whitney.
An exerpt from the article:
That kept the mob at bay temporarily. But two blocks farther on, near the corner of Light Street, rioters hit the 6th’s men again, this time killing teenager Luther Ladd, who just two days before had traded his machinist’s apron for regimental dress. As the soldiers brought their guns to shoulder, Mayor Brown ran forward, shouting at them, “For God’s sake, don’t shoot!” Given the noise and chaos at that moment, it’s unlikely that anyone heard him.
The regiment fired into the crowd one last time before Police Marshal George Proctor Kane and 50 officers arrived to form a barrier between the troops and the mob. To ensure that no one attempted to pass, Kane, a burly, no-nonsense tough, raised his revolver and cried out, “Keep back, men, or I shoot!” Kane’s reputation intimidated even the roughest thugs, helping to quell the riot. Moments later the 6th was able to march the rest of the way to Camden Station, where they boarded a train to Washington, D.C.
Though the fighting had lasted less than an hour, there was a sizable butcher’s bill. From the 6th Massachusetts, Addison Whitney, Luther Ladd, Sumner Needham and Charles Taylor were killed during the march.
What’s more, Taylor’s face had been smashed beyond recognition from repeated blows with heavy paving stones. Thirty-six others in the regiment were wounded, many of them seriously. Of the rioters, 11 died—among them a ship’s cabin boy who was hit in the stomach by a stray bullet. Countless others stumbled away to nurse their wounds.
Reaction to the riot extended well beyond Baltimore. Many Americans, North and South, had still held out some hope that the conflict might be resolved before much blood was shed. North Carolina Congressman A.W. Venable, for example, had optimistically proclaimed that he would be able to wipe away every drop of blood shed in the war with a handkerchief.
The events of April 19 extinguished that last spark of hope. It was now clear that a long and bloody conflict lay ahead. The men of the 6th Massachusetts Regiment came to Baltimore with romantic notions of war. They left knowing how bitter it would be.
Read the full account here at historynet.com.
See more images and a side bar article about General Benjamin Butler and the aftermath to the “melee” in the hard copy of Civil War Times now available where magazines are sold. Of course, there are many other interesting Civil War articles in this and other editions.