I just posted an article about the Pratt Street Riots on HubPages, you can check it out here for all the details.

The riot is considered the first bloodshed, as well as the first act of guerrilla or partisan warfare, in the American Civil War.  Baltimore, as well as most of Maryland, were strong Southern sympathizers, along with most of the border states.  When Union troops came in by train to get to Washington, DC they had to pass through ten blocks of city street.  Their train cars would be pulled through tracks individually by horses with the passengers still in them.  The Southern sympathizers in the city blockaded the tracks so two cars full of soldiers had to walk, leaving their larger supplies like the band equipment behind.  The mob attacked them the whole march, most with stones and anything they could throw while some had pistols they fired at the soldiers.  The frightened militia soldiers fired back with no real aim as they ran.  Four soldiers died and twelve civilians died, not all involved in the mob.  More were injured before the police got between the soldiers and the mob, threatening to fire on anyone in the mob who approached the soldiers.

Mobs continued sporadically over the next month until the state was firmly under  martial law by the Union government, where it would remain throughout the war.  As I researched this event, I was frustrated by how little is officially known.  Although the number of dead and military injuries are known, no one has an accurate account of the civilian injuries.  The panic and chaos of the day means no one knows who fired first, and it’s unknown if there was ever an order given to the soldiers to shoot back.  There was an understanding of the soldiers that if they were shot at by the civilians that they shot down the person who shot or who is aiming a gun at the soldiers, no one else.  Any shouts or other projectiles, like stones, were to get no reaction from the marching column, unless someone fell out.  Another fact I found interesting is that one of the four dead soldiers was shot with his own gun.  I found two accounts online that the mob actually walked up to the soldiers and tried to take their muskets.  I understand that these soldiers were probably militia members that weren’t trained very well but the audacity of a crowd to actually try and take a soldier’s musket as he marches by is just wrong to me.  However, I have never been in a war situation or a place with such hostilities that someone would want to do damage to a soldier to stop their cause.  I can easily understand why the government saw fit to turn the city and the whole state into martial law though.

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