Narrative of a Private Soldier » Chapter I » Suppression of the Riots

My great-great-grandfather, Charles Lewis Francis, arrived from Wales in 1860, at age 17, and shortly thereafter participated in the action of the Civil War. In 1879, he wrote and published a memoir of this period. I’ve scanned in the text and made it available as raw PDF scans and as an incomplete full-text PDF. As I correct the OCR’d chapters, I’ll be posting the sections to my blog. This is the second section of Chapter I.

On Monday the city was calm. The hot blood had run itself down. Orders had been sent to the North from Washington, the country at large had got over the first scare, and in a day or two after, an Ohio regiment of infantry and some regular tropps entered the city, partially in secret, but with loaded cannons and muskets and fixed bayonets — indeed, in full fighting trim. They marched down from the Central Railroad depot to the Washington depot on Camden street. It was an impresssive sight. Dread determination was on each and every man’s face. There were closed ranks and generally true soldierly bearing and carriage. Every eye was fixed. Not a smiling countenance nor an answering cheer from the populace greeted them, and not handkerchiefs of fair ladies waved in welcome. The crowds on the sidewalks were dense, and kept a sullen silence. The silenve was almost painful. I remember that I heard the ominous, heavy, regular tread of the soldiers as they marched to the defiant rolling of the drums. There was no music save that, and, if it may be so called, an occasional dramatic blast of the bugle as changes in the direction of the column were announced. Then indeed the people begin to breathe free. The city had been controlled, troops had safely passed through, and the “seccessionists” and their allies, the mob, had alike been awed into submission.

The first regiment of loyal troops that I saw venture on the bloody route of the Sixth Massachusetts was, I think, from Vermont or Maine. They were uniformly tall, full-bearded, healthy looking men, and a jauntily attired vivandiere was with them. They did not ride in the cars from the President street depot to the Camden depot, as the gallant Sixth attempted, but, having formed near the depot, with loaded muskets and fixed bayonets, they wisely marched along Pratt street through the great crowds to the cars. Soon after that New York city sent some regiments, composed in part of what were then called toughs. They were firemen and of that class. It was expected by the Southerners that these troops would fraternize with them, but they did not, and that was the last of Baltimore’s prospects of ruin. She settled down to terrible hard times and the mortification of seeing United States enginineers surveying old Federal Hill, as a preliminary to the erection of a strong fort right in the city itself.

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