Stoneham Historical Society

Pride in Our Past... Faith in Our Future

Detail from First Blood - The Sixth Massachusetts Regiment Fighting their way through Baltimore, April 19, 1861.
Published in Harper's Weekly, May 4, 1861.


The Stoneham Light Infantry in the Baltimore Riot - April 19, 1861

by Marina Memmo, Stoneham Historical Society



Stoneham Light Infantry

Volunteers who fought
in the Baltimore Riot

Key: 

Underline = Wounded

Italics = Left behind

Black = Died later in the war

John H. Dike, Capt 
Leander F. Lynde, 1st Lieut 
Darius N. Stevens, 2d Lieut 
James F. Rowe, 3d Lieut 
William B. Blaisdell, 4th Lieut 
Samuel C. Trull, 1st Sergt 
Jefferson Hayes, Sergt 
Francis M. Sweetser, Sergt 
Sidney L. Colley, Sergt 
James Whittaker, Corp 
George P. Stevens, Corp 
Andrew J. Kimpton, Corp 
Charles L. Gill, Corp 
Victor W. Lorrendo, Musician 
Eugene Devitt, Musician 
Charles H. Berry 
Walter B. Berry 
Daniel Brown
William G. Butterfleld 
Charles H. Carr 
Otis M. Clement 
Richard Cormick 
John W. Craig 
Horace W. Danforth 
Henry Dike 
Joel N. Doucette 
James H. Eastman 
John B. Eastman 
Stephen Flanders 
John B. Fortier 
John O. Gerry 
Henry W. Green 
Orrin A. Green 
Aaron S. Hadley 
Levi W. Hayes 
Watson A. Hayes 
Andrew E. Hill 
Warren Holden 
E. Battelle Hosmer 
William H. Jones 
Samuel S. Johnson 
James Keenan 
John W. Kimpton 
Joseph LaClair 
Charles Lamore 
William H. Madden 
Hiram P. Marston 
Albert J. Meader 
Maurice Mead 
Sidney F. Mellen 
Dearborn S. Moody 
James S. Moody 
Augustus M. Parker 
Joseph W. Pennell 
Ephraim A. Perry 
Alphonso H. Pinkham 
Fernando P. Pinkham 
Samuel H. Pinkham 
Julian Putnam 
Andrew Robbins 
James A. Sanborn 
Henry A. Stevens 
Henry F. Stoddard 
Benjamin F. Tay, Jr. 
Archelaus Welch 
John B. Wheeler 
William H. Young 

Casualty Rate = 25%
Average Age = 23 yrs

Source:

The Adjutant General (1931). Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War, Vol1.
Norwood, MA: Norwood Press.


"There was another 19th of April -- that of Lexington in 1775 -- which has become memorable in history for a battle between the Minute Men of Massachusetts and a column of British troops, in which the first blood was shed in the war of the Revolution... The fight which occurred in the streets of Baltimore on the 19th of April, 1861, between the 6th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers and a mob of citizens, was also memorable, because then was shed the first blood in a conflict between the North and the South..." - G. W. Brown, Baltimore and the Nineteenth of April 1861: A Study of the War, 1887, (p.10).


Cut off at President Street Station

They said we could never go through alive, and called us everything but honest men. "
- James F. Rowe, Stoneham Light Infantry, The Liberator, May 3rd, 1861.

It must have taken a great deal of courage for the men of the Stoneham Light Infantry to step out of their railroad cars and face an angry mob of Confederate sympathizers in Baltimore, Maryland that fateful morning of April 19, 1861.  The scene they encountered at President Street Station on the eastern side of the city was nothing like the small New England town they had left only a few days before.  Back in Stoneham, the people had cheered  and waved handkerchiefs as they marched down Main Street on their way to Boston [1]. Their friends and relatives were so proud of their young "Minute Men", who like their great-grandfathers before, were ready at a moment's notice to defend the Union.

 

They had stayed in Boston for only a few hours, just long enough to join up with their new regiment and board a train heading to the nation's capital.  Although the weather was rainy and cold, there had also been time to pick up some new gear; a grey woolen overcoat and a new Springfield rifle, and to hear patriotic speeches given by Governor Andrew at the State House. Governor Andrew had also presented the regiment with its flag or "colors", asking them to promise never forget their duty by it [2]. All along the route from New York to Philadelphia, more crowds cheered them as they passed through.  But here, in Baltimore, things were quite different.  Maryland was a slave state, and Baltimore was packed with Confederate sympathizers who were determine to resist the passage of northern troops through the city.  In this crowd, the people jeered and called them names like  "Yankee Dogs!", "nigger-stealers!", "cutthroats!", and "scum!".  Even worse, they swore "they would kill every white nigger" [3] among them before they could join their comrades at Camden Street Station, about a mile and a half to the west. 

Massachusetts Answers Lincoln's Call

"WHEREAS, The laws of the United States have been and are opposed in several States by combinations too powerful to be suppressed in the ordinary way, I therefore call for the militia of the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number of 75,000, to suppress said combination and execute the laws." - Abraham Lincoln, April 15, 1861

By the time the guns fell silent in Charleston Harbor on the 13th of April 1861, telegraph dispatches had already spread the news of the bombardment of Fort Sumter by Confederate artillery to newspaper offices across the nation. Over the course of the next few days, people as far away as Wisconsin and Texas would read vivid accounts of the attack on the Federal fort and the subsequent surrender and evacuation of the Union forces garrisoned there. The odd thing was that despite the number of rounds that were exchanged, there had been no casualties reported on either side during the bombardment. Instead, the headlines reflected differences in how the North and the South received news of the assault. In the Baltimore, they read, "Immense Excitement in Charleston"[4], while in Boston, the tone was more severe, "South Strikes the First Blow"[5]. The implications of the attack were clear to everyone. The federal government might insist on calling what was happening a "rebellion", but press saw it differently. Newspaper headlines in both the North and the South declared, "War Has Begun".

When news of Fort Sumter's surrender reached President Abraham Lincoln, he responded by issuing a proclamation to all the states in the Union, requesting 75,000 volunteers to put down the insurrection. Lincoln's proclamation was drafted in the evening on Sunday, April 14th. By Monday, it had been printed in newspapers across the nation. In Massachusetts, Lincoln's call inspired two men to immediate action. Brigadier General Benjamin Butler, a prominent attorney and politician from Lowell, was determined to lead the first troops to defend the Union. The Sixth Massachusetts was one of the regiments under his command, and through a series of clever maneuvers over the next 24 hours, he managed to convince Governor Andrew to send them to Washington [6]. Meanwhile, John H. Dike, a shoe manufacturer and captain of the Stoneham Light Infantry, was also determined to be among the first to answer Lincoln's call. Without waiting for orders, he traveled to Boston on April 16th to petition Governor Andrew to include his men among those that would soon be leaving the state. Upon his return, he asked his men to get ready to leave, even though he still had not been ordered to do so [7]. What motivated these two men, one a General, the other a Captain, to put themselves forward is hard to say. Whatever the reason, what is certain is that their actions at that point in time set in motion a sequence of events that would ultimately place the men under their command face to face with an angry mob in Baltimore, Maryland.

Page 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Timeline, March of the 6th M.V.M.