“Blow Limerick to Hell”: The Baltimore Election Riot of 1857

Maryland State Archives

from Maryland State Archives “Documents for the Classroom”

This post attempts to use trial testimony to present the election riot of 1857 in Baltimore.  The dialogue comes from the transcriptions of courtroom testimony by Sun reporters.  While errors must exist, the reports still have immediacy and personality. On a side note, Joseph Enmart testfies of someone dying in Cuba – perhaps related to the Cuban filibuster expeditions of Narciso López.

In 1857, Baltimore had already suffered years of political violence at the hands of Nativist gangs: white Protestants organized in order to lash out at mostly Catholic immigrants.  In secretive circles, their movement ran under various monikers: Natives, Know-Nothings, The American Party.  At street-level, the movement pushed violently under the rallies: Plug Uglies, Rough Skins, Black Snakes and others.  In early morning of October of 1857, the city of Baltimore was certain of intimidation and violence.  Many Democrats fearfully withdrew their candidacy.  Anyone trouble the nests of thugs at the polls, someone would cry their rally slogan and chase the prize, “armed with new and bright barreled horse pistols….”

During city wide unrest in the October 1857 municipal election, the most pitched conflict took place in the Irish and German 8th Ward in an area also known as “Limerick.”  Nativist gangs ran out Democratic supporters from the 5th Ward, just South of the 8th.  A firefight began in the 5th Ward approaching French street.  8th Ward toughs retreated to Jackson Hall where they repulsed the Natives, killing Police Officer Sergeant William Jourdan and wounding several others.  It appears likely that the police were partisans with the Natives.

Twenty-four 8th Ward roughs stood trial either for Jourdan’s killing, rioting, or attempting to kill other officers of the law: Michael J. Grady, John B. Dalton, Henry Burns, John Burns, James Fawcett, James Rock (perhaps Roach), John Milan, John Powers (also reported Bowers), Milton “William” Ward, George Ely, James Murray, John Brady, and Michael Dougherty, William Quinn, Charles Rielly, Thomas Murray (perhaps the same person as James Murray), James McFarland, Thomas Kildock, Arthur Kildock, Patrick Fitzpatrick, John Carrigan, George Bradley, John Ryan, Michael Cox.  None were judged guilty.

The defense for Grady, who appears to have been the focus of the prosecution for Jourdan’s death, opened with the following: “The affray grew out of a bitter political pique.  If it should be proved that a party came from the fifth ward—breathing blood and terror to a whole neighborhood—amid the shrieks of women and children—and the firing was done under the influence of great excitement, or inebriation, and the heat and flame it engendered, and that the officers of the law took part with one of the parties, it would present a different state of things from that represented by the State.”

Site Map of 1857 Riot

Site Map of 1857 Riot

Busting the 5th Ward Polls

Officer Alex. H. Rutherford “Was at the fifth ward polls about 10 or 11 o’clock; saw Fawcett standing on the corner of High and Gay streets; that was the only time he saw him.”

Officer Steven Stevenson  “There was a little fighting; a man named Daniel Manes came up, got licked, and went away.”

Officer Joshua Mitchell  “Mr. Mains and E. Delcher had come there from the eighth ward and created a previous disturbance at the 5th ward polls, but there was no firing then; Did not see Mains or Delcher beaten; saw Delcher struck; did not see Mains struck…”

Officer Joseph Elliot “…did not see any body beaten at the fifth ward; did not see John Blecker nor Daniel Manes, nor Mr. King or any other person beaten; …witness was at Green’s corner, but heard no firing;…arrested the man for disorderly conduct; the man was drunk–that is all; it was not Patrick Reynolds he arrested; the man was not a ‘Patrick’ at all; the man was not flying from the fifth ward men when he arrested him.”

Omnibus Comes Up to 5th Ward Polls

Officer Steven Stevenson “The excitement was first in the fifth ward; where he was stationed; about 12 o’clock things were quiet; an omnibus came up…”

James King “Was at the fifth ward polls when the omnibus came up, about 15 minutes past 12 o’clock.”

Officer Steven Stevenson  “After the omnibus came up, he had considerable trouble … ….Some of the party in the ominbus had on grey roundabouts; did not know if they voted; …the omnibus party were going round just as they always do on election days; they were peaceable men”  did not know if they were ‘Roughskins;’”

Kalmus “ about 12 o’clock the omnibus came up; a man was on box with the driver; they were hallooing ‘Rough Skins,’ ‘Plugs,’ and making a great noise; the people all got frightened and left; …did not see them have arms; one or two men had on a blue knit shirt, one man was named Claggett; there were from ten to a dozen”

James King “…there were 14 or 15 came out of the omnibus…”

Isaac M. Denson “omnibus came up pretty well filled; they got out and halloed ‘Plugs,’ ‘Natives;’”

Joshua Vansant “…was judge of election at the fifth ward polls…[the omnibus] shouted, ‘O, you Natives,’ and they were responded to by persons on the sidewalk; …nearly all the democrats left;…..persons who had attempted to vote had been driven from the polls before the omnibus came; they were forced violently from the polls; Stevenson did not do his duty; recollects Benj. Sutton, of the fifth ward, had either a musket, rifle or pistol; also Charles Ogle; also McAllister, who shot himself accidently; Ogle offered to vote but was rejected; also John Hutchins, who was a private citizen at the time, but is now a police officer; recognized Abbess and Tobe Cook, but cannot say that Cook had arms; they had been notorious that day…”

Francis Elder  “the people of the neighborhood for two squares shut up their houses in a state of alarm; saw Tobe Cook with a pistol in each hand, rapping them against each other as a butcher would a knife; Tobe Cook is now a watchman at the penitentiary; saw Francis Abbett and Frank Hudgins there; there was a party called the ‘Rosebuds,’ …they have changed their name since to the ‘St. Lawrence Club.’ they were the ones who drove him and others away from the polls before the omnibus arrived; they stamped his feet so badly that his toe nails have never grown properly since…and two of them had things in their belts with a lump of iron on one end and a hook on the other, which were called ‘knock downs and drag outs;’ they rallied under the cry of ‘Babes’ and ‘Plug Uglies;’

Wm. P. Lightner “…heard a lady scream; looked around and saw a man, named Benj. Sutton, taking deliberate aim at the party with whom he was; officer Stevenson was standing along side of him, but made no attempt to arrest him…”

Candidates Flee

Kalmus “…they rushed by to the omnibus and returned with arms; which they must have got from the omnibus; they hallooed to the driver to turn the omnibus, which he did…”

James King “…remonstrated with Sergeant Evans for allowing arms; he said everybody had arms, and it did not make any difference…”

Kalmus  “…fifteen or twenty of those around the polls ran into his house for protection; they staid several hours; they were democrats of the fifth ward…”

Wm. P. Lightner “… he took refuge in Mr. Kalmus’ house; was a candidate for the city council; went home shortly after; he was requested to resign, as Mr. Vansant considered his life in danger…”

Isaac M. Denson  “…there was so much excitement and terror that he suggested that the candidates should withdraw in order to save life…”

Joshua Vansant “… left his seat as judge before two o’clock;…left from considerations of personal security…”

8th Ward Residents Batting Down

Catharine Smith “…Before the officers came, there was a rumor in the neighborhood that there was an omnibus coming to take Jackson Hall; the people of the neighborhood were all frightened and thought they were coming there to tear up the streets sure enough; the two drunken men when they came on halloed for eighth-warders ‘to come on;’  Catharine Smith “…there was no shooting immediately before they came up [the police for the first time]; she was gathering her children into the house at the time; …did not see a crowd from Jackson Hall go down High street…”

Jane Smith “..everybody was excited; heard people say that the neighborhood was to be sacked.”

Henry Staylor “…as he passed Jackson Hall heard a man on the corner say ‘We expect an attack on the ward every moment,’ this was about 15 minutes before the firing at the armory;….the whole neighborhood [of French street]  was in a state of alarm; he closed the doors of his house; his family went up in the second story; loaded his double barrelled gun to defend his castle…”

There was an objection by the state— “The defense portrayed the alarmed condition of the neighborhood at the time, the terror of the women and the children there, and urged that the defense should be permitted to give in evidence that such was the condition of that portion of the community, whose families and firesides were sought to be protected.”

Crowd at High and Hillen

Officer Steven Stevenson “…[after the omnibus arrived] in about two minutes a party came to the corner of Hillen and High streets, down Hillen; there was a large number of persons…”

John Delcher “Was at the corner of Hillen street, and on the day of the election with William Deal; was on the left hand side coming from Gay street; a few minutes after 12, saw six or eight young men; asked them where they were going; they said ‘they were just walking round; ‘ told them they had better not go to the fifth ward polls, as they had arms there; Joshua Mitchell stepped out and said, ‘Boys, you had better get away, there is going to be the biggest kind of a fight here;’ … —if an eighth ward man went to the fifth ward polls he was certain to be shot by the ‘Rosebuds’—his life was worth nothing; he got a tremendous rap across the head himself at the fifth ward.”

Officer Joshua Mitchell “Did not tell [8th] Ward that they had better move their children out of the way, that there was going to be a disturbance or fight,….Was stationed at the fifth ward polls; a few minutes after twelve o’clock he left for dinner, and saw Fawcett at the corner of Gay and High streets; saw a crowd coming round the corner of High and Hillen sts., and saw Peter Ward, Charles Reilly and Wm. Quinn among them; told them to go back and not make a disturbance—they told witness ‘to go to hell.’ … did not see either Ward, Reilly or Quinn have pistols… On the opposite corner saw William Deale and Delcher; saw Delcher previously cross over; saw some of the crowd telling some children to keep out of the way and saw them pushing them aside into another street.  The persons who had pistols in their hands at the corner of High and Hillen streets could have fired at the fifth ward polls; it was about 175 yards distant; some of the pistols were long; they could from that point see the crowd at the polls; they could shoot a man the[re]…”

Miss Ann Gott “Lived in Hillen street when Jourdan was killed; was on the corner of Hillen and High streets, saw a crowd of men coming down High street, from French; they stood on the corner of High and Hillen streets; making up plots to take the fifth ward polls; Charles Reilly, one of the prisoners, asked some one to give him a pistol, saying that he could use it better than he could; after the man gave Reilly the pistol Reilly asked if they were all armed and they said ‘yes;’ after a while an omnibus came along; one of them used bad language, and said ‘they would not have a bit of show down there; they were all Plugs in the omnibus; Delcher came over to the corner where the crowd was standing, and said ‘shoot down the police first, and then take the polls…”

John Delcher “…never told anybody ‘to shoot the police down first’…”

Miss Ann Gott “…some of them then said ‘stand behind the corner and as the omnibus comes up fire at them.’  Some one then said, ‘children, stand back, we are going to fire;’ witness went into the house, and immediately heard the pistols go off; the firing was near at hand.  Mitchell came up just before that, heard a good deal of firing; Quinn was also there—did not hear Quinn say anything.”

Sarah Haines “Was with Maria Gott on election day; heard the crowd making up a plot to take the fifth ward polls.”

James King “…saw at this time on the corner of High and Hillen streets, two men and half a dozen boys…”

Wm. Deale “Was on the corner of High and Hillen streets with Delcher; saw a party coming towards French street; went over and stopped them; told them not to go to the fifth ward polls, that there had been a disturbance there…”

Omnibus Party Moves Up Toward 8th Ward

Officer Joshua Mitchell “…after the quarrel of Delcher was over, some one said ‘let’s go up after the eighth warders,’ and buttoned up their coats and started after them;  heard S. Ely say, ‘Come, let us go up after the 8th warders,’ afterwards saw the crowd coming down.”

Samuel B. Davidson “…in a few minutes they went up towards Gay street; witness heard some of them say ‘Let us go up and take Jackson Hall; two of them were very much intoxicated; they were crying out ‘Plug Uglies,’ &c.”

Officer Joseph Elliot  “…was on duty at the fifth ward polls.  The polls were attacked by men from the eighth ward, who came down High street from French.  The party threatened to take the polls; it was about 12 o’clock;   the street was black with men with fire arms in their hand… were flourishing their arms; there was not more than ten persons; the assailants of the fifth ward were driven back by the police; …did not hear any shooting at the Grays’ armory; there was no firing in Humes st.; heard the assailants cry out ‘8th ward’ and ‘Limerick;’ thought that sufficient evidence of a riot.”

Joshua Vansant   “…the first crowd who left the polls said ‘let us go;’ …the  omnibus was there only five or ten minutes. …they and others moved up towards Gay street—towards the eighth ward; in about five minutes heard pistols from … the Gray’s armory; all the persons there left the polls and went towards the eighth ward; when they returned in about half or three-quarters of an hour they had fire-arms.”

Kalmus ”…the party went armed towards the Gray’s armory; Claggett had a pistol a foot or 18 inches long; several had guns, some rifles, and some one had a large knife; there were ten or twelve men carrying arms after that all day at the polls; it was a scene of terror and alarm; did not venture out till next day. …heard the omnibus party say, ‘Here they come,’ they rallied under the name of ‘Natives,’ ‘Black Snakes’, &c…”

Firefight at Greys

Officer Steven Stevenson “…the first shot was about the corner of High and Hillen streets, the same party that he first saw at the corner of High and Hillen he afterwards saw with muskets in their hands… there was some firing on both sides; there were from 250 to 300 persons at the corner of High and Hillen when the first pistol was shot;…”

Officer Joshua Mitchell  “…some one of them said ‘shoot;’ the one who said ‘shoot’ had on a velvet cap. …just as he got to his house, the second from the corner, the shooting commenced from that direction; do not know who they were firing at—it was the first firing he heard; saw some of them coming out of Hillen into High street—others in High towards French street; saw Ward with the crowd that was running up High towards French street”

James King “…the first shot that was fired was fired at them by Thomas Pierce, reputed to be a ‘Rough-Skin;’… Pierce came in the omnibus;…the party then commenced a general fire on the eighth ward— The eighth warders, when they commenced firing at the fifth ward party, turned out of French street; there were 8 or 10 of them.”

Francis Elder  “The two parties were shooting at each other in Hillen street; heard the omnibus party say, ‘Come on boys,’ when they went after their arms.”

Isaac M. Denson “…there was a muss up the street near the armory, and the persons at the fifth ward rushed up there; heard firing there and in Exeter street…”

Officer Joseph Elliot “….Grady was shooting round the corner; cannot say he had a crooked gun to fit the corner; he may have had a gun made for that purpose; there was no bloodshed on that occasion; witness was not excited, he always takes things very calm; do not know the interesting party known as the ‘Rough Skins,’ do not know the ‘Babes’ of the fifth ward…”

Dr. Reed “…at 12 o’clock, on the corner of Gay and High streets, saw eight or ten persons crossing Gay street, going down High street towards the fifth ward polls; they kept looking round; a party of men crossed the street crying ‘Roughskins,’ with a man in advance of them, who fired at them; it was near the pavement of Arthur McCourt’s house; he was reinforced and there was a general rush; the fire was returned; it became a general fight, and was kept up briskly for five or ten minutes; they were dressed in knit shirts; the one he saw had a belt around him; everybody in the neighborhood was frightened, and did not know which way to turn;…; there were eight or ten persons in the party who opposed them; saw eight or ten policemen on Charles B. Green’s corner, and a man standing in front of them loading his gun; they made no effort to stop him; the police could have stopped the whole thing if they had been disposed; saw a man arrested by the police, and in a few minutes the man was back again with a gun.”

Francis Elder  “…they went up Gay street; just before they got to the polls, near the armory, saw the first fire;…saw a smoke the other side of Hillen street; officers Stevenson and Bowers went up with them; Bowers arrested a man, but the man returned in fifteen minutes with a gun—it was Benjamin Sutton…”

Cap Hewell “…at the corner of High and Gay streets he saw 25 or 30 men running; when they got opposite the Gray’s armory they fired 20 or 30 shots at a party near Jameson’s, who run up Hillen street; witness recognized Benj. Sutton, —Miller, John Hudgins, Claggett and Tobe Cook, among them; when they came back witness told them they were a pretty set of fellows to attack defenseless men, and then run as soon as they got ready to defend themselves; Clagget had a pistol 18 inches long; Sutton was in a stooping position; two or three had guns; one man dressed in police uniform was running on the pavement with the party; when he returned home his house was in uproar; his wife did not get over it for several days.”

Dr. Bussy “…was on a visit at 15 Hillen street examining a wound; heard reports of fire-arms near the Gray’s armory; went to the front door; saw two men running around the corner of High and Hillen sts, with pistols in their hands, pursued by two others; one of the pursuing party stopped near where he was; the other said to him, ‘Now give it to him;’ he pointed his pistol at the man, but did not shoot; they went back; he afterwards saw, from the window, a man fall on the pavement…”

Joseph Enmart “…was shot at the corner of High and Hillen streets…saw the crowd proceeding up High street; recognized Grady with them; saw Grady with a musket near Greys’ armory; there were forty or fifty of them; they were all armed; did not see the police have muskets…some in their shirt sleeves and some disguised; there were shooting; made an attack on the fifth ward; [8th warders] retreated as soon as they saw the police come;….did not see the ‘Black Snakes’ there; thinks he knows them; did not see a man of them there, and knows the best part of them;  they followed down towards the eighth to see the excitement; witness knows what Mr. Preston [a defense attorney] alludes to when he talks about ‘Black Snakes;’ it is because he thinks he is one of them.  [The State told him not to answer the question if he was a Black Snake.]  when he followed up the party that retreated to French street; one of the men with him was shot in the jaw; his name was Miller; witness refused to answer the question if he was the man who killed Leyburn; …Schwartz is dead, they say; he went to Cuba.”

Dr. Bussy “[Enmart] was shot in front of the thigh, about midway; the bone was splintered by a large-sized ball, as if from a musket…a half dozen persons rushed by him; he pitched forward as though he had been running, and a weapon, like a large pistol, fell on the pavement at the time…”

Joseph Enmart “Had not a pistol in his hand or about his person.”

Lt. Solomon C. Wright “…started to go to the fifth ward; changed their purpose because he saw firing in another direction; saw a man named Enmart fall at the corner of High and Hillen streets, who is now in court, and lost a leg by the shot…”

Henry Staylor “…saw about ten policemen at the corner of French and High streets; five or six citizens came up with them to the corner, and one of them said, ‘Stop this is the place for us;’ the officers then fired three round Cape’s corner; one officer fired twice; they fired several times before; the fire was returned… saw five or six persons in front of Jackson Hall…. it was about ten minutes after he saw the omnibus.—There must have been fifty guns fired in the neighborhood of the armory; there must have been thirty shots fired from Cafe’s corner; Cafe’s corner is 58 yards from Jackson Hall…there were as many reports from towards Jackson Hall; saw the effects of the shots from the hall; they struck Mr. Glenn’s door and shutter; the officers fired three shots before it was returned.”

Officer Steven Stevenson “…the firing continued for sometime; in about ten or fifteen minutes they were repulsed and moved back by a party from the direction of the eighth ward; there was considerable firing, and one or two wounded at the time….”

James King “…the Babes and ‘Rough-Skins’ retreated first as far as Hillen street; the eighth warders beat them back; the eighth warders then returned to their own ward.”

Vansant  “…the party when they returned, were noisy and excited and flushed in the face; one had a revolver and a knife, did not see any police officer from the time the pistols were fired until he left the judges’ room…it was about one o’clock; …does not think he heard 20 shots.”

Police response

Lt. Solomon C. Wright “…he and his party went out to quell the riot; they had news that the eighth warders had come to take the fifth ward poll; they had only pistols…. ..while on his way to the polls did not see or speak to an amiable party of ‘Rough Skins’ in an omnibus….to his knowledge, when he came from the station-house; saw a party with guns, but took them to be eighth warders; never heard that the fifth ward nor the ‘Rough Skins’ were going to take the eighth ward polls…”

Captain Mitchell  “…news came to the station-house about half-past twelve that there was a riot in the fifth ward;…he went up Gay street; did not see many men at the fifth ward polls; saw no riot; saw men running down High towards Hillen st…”

Officer B. F. Cover “…the first man he recognized was Fawcett; as soon as he and Robert Miller saw witness, he said, ‘here they come, rally,’ and then went back with the crowd; they were on the corner of Centre and French streets; it was about twenty minutes past twelve; Fawcett had a gun or pistol in his hand—Fawcett was not five steps off the curb when he saw him;—Fawcett and party had the means of attacking them, but did not; there was nothing to prevent; did not know that the Rough Skins were coming down to attack the party he saw; could not tell whether the firing he heard was in French or High street; it came from that direction.”


Officer Joseph Elliot  ”… had nothing but a musket that day; it was loaded with a blank cartridge.  Lieut. Wright and party came up Hillen street and Capt Mitchell and party came up Gay street; it was then the eighth ward party retreated.  Witness stood at the corner of Gay street; the eighth ward party halted from three to five minutes after he warned them off; it was after 12 o’clock when Mitchell and Wright came up.”

Captain Mitchell “…there was a great deal of firing and [I] was much excited;…. he went up Gay street on his way to the fifth ward, but some of the officers scattered;…had some fifteen or twenty officers with him.”

Officer Simpson “…was one of the reserved police, and when he arrived at the corner of Hillen and French streets saw a party of men running in different directions…”

Lt. Solomon C. Wright   “ …soon as the persons who were firing at Humes street, on the left of Hillen, saw the officers, they ran; some of them were on High street, between Hillen and French; beckoned them to stop shooting; while the officers were going up High street they were shot at by them.”

Mrs. Fitzpatrick “…saw a man running down Hillen street towards Front; three policemen chased him; saw officer Jourdan with a pistol in his hand; two of the officers with him fired at the man, and hallowed ‘Natives;’ the other crowd hallowed ‘Rough Skins,’ the last crowd cried out, ‘Blow Limerick to hell.’— Thought the firing was up High street; Jourdan came out of the crowd that was firing; he turned round Humes’ corner as if from the Gray’s armory; it was about half past twelve o’clock.”

Bidget Toner “….saw two or three fellows come out and halloo to the eighth warders to ‘come on.’ and then threw bricks up French street; they hallooed that they were ‘natives;’ one of them threw a brick in the door of the house on the corner of High street and hallooed for them to ‘tear down the shanties.’”

Lt. Solomon C. Wright “…before he got to the corner of French and High streets saw two or three men with guns firing towards them…. There were quite a number of persons in front of Jackson Hall and at the windows.  …saw two men at one window—one with a check shirt and one with a white shirt; cannot tell how many shots were fired…. could only identify Michael J. Grady; Grady was on the pavement, near the pump;…Grady had a gun; he was shooting towards them; saw the flash of his gun; the guns were pointed and fired towards the police officers; saw five or ten guns, or perhaps more, pointed from the Hall; there was not a shot fired towards Jackson Hall to his knowledge…”

Captain Mitchell “… arrived at the corner of High and Gay streets he saw the crowd firing; there was a large crowd about Jackson Hall;..with muskets and rifles; they were firing on the police who were stationed on the corner of High and French Streets; …the rioters numbered some seventy or eighty persons and some were firing from the windows, others from the pavement…”

Officer Simpson “… proceeded in the direction of Jackson Hall; when they turned the corner of the street they were fired on by a party of men from the hall, the same as a charge of an enemy;….”

Officer Steven Stevenson “…he followed them down French street; …went to his house and came out in a few minutes, when the bullets were passing his house, cutting off limbs of trees before his door. …had to go into the alley to keep from getting shot himself.”

Mary A. Norman “…knows the prisoner Burns; she saw him in his shirt sleeves; he had a musket on his arm; he was in French street, about ten or fifteen steps from Jackson Hall; his musket was aimed towards High street; he had on a light cross-barred waistcoat and a cloth cap.”

Officer Denison “… saw [John Burns] point the gun at him; and when he pulled the trigger the gun flashed; witness knows the prisoner well, and identified him in court.  The prisoner was arrested in the house; he fired from a window in the second story.”

Mrs. Burns  “…mother of the prisoner, testified that he was in the house; saw a large force of police coming towards the house; they were three abreast; when they got near they fired on the house; her son was behind the bar, at work, and was not up stairs during the day.”

Wm. H. Brown “… saw a crowd at the corner of Buren and French streets; saw them go into Jackson Hall and bring out the guns and fire in the direction of High street; the party fired several minutes;…Rock went into his house, came out and fired repeatedly; other persons went into Dalton’s house, came out and fired again; Dalton was standing on his steps; did not see who they were firing at; they were firing from half to three-quarters of an hour before the police came up; the police were on French street fifty feet from High street when he first saw them; the crowd scattered when the police came up; thinks there was firing from Jackson Hall at the police after they turned into French street; all the firing was in the direction of High street;…the firing first commenced from Jackson Hall, thinks there were twenty or thirty persons standing about there at the time.

Jane Smith “Saw three officers and two men come up High street; one of the men wore a gray knit jacket, and both appeared to be drunk; the other wore a dark coat buttoned up; the man with a gray knit jacket had a bright musket in his hand; saw both of them throw bricks…”

Officer Alex. H. Rutherford “…saw a crowd of men in front of Jackson Hall, and men with guns at the windows; Jourdon called to him to come across the street, ‘or he would get shot;’ …”

Murder of Jourdan

Catharine Smith  “saw a crowd coming up High street; saw two drunken fellows throwing up their arms and coming out into the street, who were firing bricks; saw three of the officers firing shots along with those who were firing bricks. There were only three police officers on the corner of High and Hillen streets at the time Jourdan was shot and two drunken men; they were the only ones who did any thing; the three officers fired pistols; the two drunken men kept the middle of French street firing bricks at Jackson Hall”

Bidget Toner “…saw a low set, stout officer come up and fire three or four shots towards Jackson Hall, from a revolver, as quick as possible; …he stepped out and said, ‘pull in that drunken man;’ there were several shots fired at that time; several shots were fired from Lefferman’s alley—the last one shot Jordan; he put his hand to his heart.  is sure the shot was fired from Lefferman’s alley which killed Jordan; saw the fire and smoke”

Officer Thomas “Did not see Jourdan shoot a pistol on the corner of High and French streets; there was firing from the direction of Jackson Hall to the corner; one of the shots cut off his second finger.”

Captain Mitchell “ Lt. Wright was at the corner when he got there; witness was not over five minutes getting there.  …as soon as the police turned around the corner, Jourdan was shot; the firing came from the democratic headquarters at Jackson Hall”

Lt. Solomon C. Wright “…a man named Lynch came up to them after they got to the corner; he was intoxicated, and was shot in the shoulder and had his coat torn; Lynch had on arms, but picked up a stone, which was taken from him by the officer……did not go round the corner, because he did not want to be shot… he was in High street looking round the corner dodging the bullets….there were trees along there, and the limbs were being shot off…”

Officer Alex. H. Rutherford “…Jourdan had hold of a man who was shot in the shoulder…”

Henry Staylor  “…the man whom he tried to pull in cried out several times, ‘Hurra for the Rough-Skins.’”

Officer Deal “… It was a minute after Jourdan had dragged the man in from the pavement that he stepped out again and was shot.”

Catharine Smith “…saw officer Jourdan pull one of them in; at that moment heard a shot and saw the smoke of a gun from Lefferman’s alley; saw Jourdan throw his back up against the wall after he was shot.”

Officer Alex. H. Rutherford  “Jourdon was trying to pull the man back; saw Grady shoot twice toward them; he took deliberate aim at the corner and at the pump; it was not over a minute before Jourdon was shot;…they had pistols only; they were too far off to shoot….”

Henry Staylor “Jourdan was shot five feet from the corner, in High street…”

Dr. Reed “Jourdan was shot a little on one side of the medium line of the pit of the stomach.”

Mary A. Norman  “Was on the opposite corner from Jourdan when he was killed; she then ran home.”

Officer Lucas “…saw two men point muskets out a window fronting on French street; they fired; one shot struck Jourdan and the other came so near to witness’ head that he felt the wind as the ball passed….”

Jane Smith “…saw the officer put his hand to his breast, and heard a shot come from Lefferman’s alley.”

Officer Deal  “…all the firing he heard was from French street; if they had been shot from Lefferman’s alley, it would have killed them all …the officers were all exposed to fire from that direction…”

Lt. Solomon C. Wright “…he put his hand to his side and said he was shot; Jourdan walked off—went down High street towards Gay, to a drug store, where he died…”

Captain Joseph Mitchell “…Jourdan said he was shot; opened his bosom and showed witness the blood; most of the other shots he heard were up French street towards Buren street…”

Catharine Smith “…saw Jourdan put his hand on his breast; saw the two other policemen lead him down High street; the two drunken men went with them; there was nobody then left on the corner…”

Bidget Toner  “…saw three police officers with Jourdan when he was shot, and two people who had been firing brickbats; there was right smart more there about five minutes before Jourdan was shot, but they had got out of her sight; heard shots from Jackson Hall when they said ‘rack the shanties’”

Officer Steven Stevenson “…heard the report of pistols and guns, but do not know where they came from; saw Jourdan brought out of Williams’ dead in about an hour.”

Second Charge

Captain Mitchell “…when Jourdan was shot; he was taken away and the witness returned to the mayor’s office.”

Officer Simpson “…the police ran back to the mayor’s office, got arms and orders to take the hall and arrest whoever they found there…”

Catharine Smith “…there was no more shooting until the policemen came back from the watchhouse; the policemen had their bayonets screwed on their guns, and fired at Jackson Hall round the corner; saw no firing from Jackson Hall at the policemen; the crowd scattered when the policemen came…”

F. J. Wheeler “…followed the police officers from the station-house after the death of Jourdan; when he got at the corner of High and Hillen streets saw the officers apparently shooting at any persons seen in the street; ran up to the corner of Exeter and Hillen streets and took shelter in the house of Dr. Bussey, and while standing on the second story balcony of his house saw a man come out of a house about fifty yards up Exeter street with his back towards him, and also towards the police officers, who took deliberate aim at the men, and Dr. Bussey called to the officers, ‘for God’s sake, do not shoot that man,’ and they did not fire; saw persons in citizens’ dress mingling with the officers armed with short rifles.”

Burns at the Swivel

Wm. H. Brown “…Burns carried the cannon out, and the other man carried the block or something else; they carried them about 50 or 60 feet.  Michael Grady fire a gun repeatedly from near the corner of the street; saw men come out of J. B. Dalton’s house opposite the Hall and fire guns….”

Officer Joseph Elliot “….Capt. Brashears was in command of thirty or forty of them; went up French street, and just before they got to High street they commenced firing at them from Jackson tavern; there was a swivel in the street; he recognized the prisoners Burns and Faucett; Burns was in his shirt sleeves, at the swivel, and attempted to touch it off; the swivel was pointed down towards High street; saw guns in the street—could not tell how many; the persons had all fled; saw Grady with a gun, on the corner of Exeter and French streets, firing at them–at the men going up to Jackson Hall; they met fifty of them—the street was black with them…”

Officer Deal “…saw Burns at the swivel, in his shirt sleeves, trying to shoot it off; a man named Evans was trying to keep him from it.  saw Grady and Murray looking out of the alley; can’t say that Murray had a gun; Grady had a gun and shot at witness.  …shot at Burns with a blank cartridge; thinks if it had not been a blank cartridge he would have hit him; if the swivel had gone off it would have killed them all; Burns was the last one that ran from the swivel; could not see any fire in Burns’ hand; saw him stooping down over it;…; Fawcett had on a high cap and a frock coat; witness shot at Grady when he as about the length of the court room; he reloaded his musket opposite Jackson Hall, in French street, with ball cartridge; Grady would have killed him if he could, and he shot because he did not want to be killed himself; Murray had on a frock coat;..-Murray had no gun in his hand when he saw him….they were shooting in Exeter street when Marshal Herring was there.  …Had no muskets till after Jourdan was killed.”

Officer Deal “Saw John Claggett in the street, near Jackson Hall; did not see him have a gun; thinks he had a stick; did not see him heading a party, and noisy.”

Marshal Herring “…saw Claggett there; Clagget was very violent, and he ordered him to leave there; witness prevented him from making any demonstration”

Robert Mitchell “…was at Jackson Hall when Brashears came there; saw no firing from Jackson Hall when the officers came up; the firing was started from Jackson Hall; when they came out from there Grady was at the head of them.  Saw shooting from Jackson Hall and about there, down to the corner of High and French streets; saw Grady shooting, Burns and Fawcett at the swivel; also saw Ward and one of the Powers’; do not know if it was the one that was hung in Washington, or not;…saw Grady fire repeatedly and go to Dalton’s and James Rock’s and either reload or change his musket—he would come out and fire again; Grady went down further and took dead aim on a stoop; Ward had a gun……he might have gone to his father’s and asked if they had a gun, because he thought they might sack Constitution street, which was the headquarters of the natives…[Mitchell was an American Party sympathizer”

Cap Hewell  “…Saw a cannon in the street, and no persons around it; …one of the police officers stood behind a plug and aimed his gun at a boy 15 or 16 years of age; hallooed to him ‘not to shoot that boy;’ he then raised his piece; at that moment somebody at the corner of Buren and Exeter streets fired and hit the top of the hydrant: it must have been shot by a police officer.”

Officer Joseph Elliot “Marshal Herring came up ahead of them in his buggy and sided off in High street; got out of his buggy and came up behind them; he heard and saw the firing as they came up; got into a house in Exeter street; searched but two houses; Mr. Coster brought out of Jackson Hall the three rifles; the crowd ran when they came up; there were police officers there; saw some few persons there now and then”

Marshal Herring  “There was no rioting when he got to Jackson Hall; saw person retreating in different directions as he approached it. …It was nearly 2 o’clock when he was there; there was some excitement there, and a considerable crowd;; the first squad he took up there were armed with muskets, but they were not loaded; if they were loaded it must have been done by those who took them. Some of the muskets had buckshot in them, but not powder enough to do any harm; there was not powder enough in a dozen muskets to load one properly; it would not have thrown the shot across the court house. …saw a number of men standing about French street and some in the hall; saw one man who was trying to touch off a swivel about 2 feet long, which was planted in the middle of the street in front of the hall;…the swivel was mounted on something and pointed towards Bath street; it was loaded with nails and slugs…”

Officer Simpson “…returned and as they approached, saw a cannon or swivel planted in the street; made a rush and captured it; then broke into the hall and made some arrests; witness arrested Burns and captured a gun; took them to the station-house; the swivel was placed in Marshal Herring’s carriage and taken to the station-house; saw the charge drawn; it was loaded with glass which looked like broken bottles…”

Taking of Jackson Hall

John Lutz “Was at Jackson Hall about an hour or half an hour after Jourdan was shot; went to Capt. Brashears for protection for Jackson Hall; they told him ‘they would take him down’”

Officer Lucas “…found the prisoner about one half hour afterwards secreted in a closet in the third story of Jackson Hall; the door was closed and the closet dark; the prisoner asked the officer not to kill him, and witness said he should not be hurt; Mr. Coster discovered the prisoner in the closet; the lower part of the Hall is used as a bar-room, and witness did not hear any one say, ‘Let us kill the d—n son of a b—h,’ and no bottles were broken; but the prisoner did say, when the officers arrested him, ‘Don’t let them kill me.’”

Patrick Burns  “…was at Jackson Hall when [Patrick Fitzpatrick] came there; they were in the bar-room when the police came to make arrests; the witness and [Patrick Fitzpatrick] ran upstairs to hide; got in the closet and closed the door; the officers had muskets, and stamped the butts on the floor; opened the closet, and one remarked, ‘Let me kill the d—d Irish;’ and they begged the police not to harm them; the reason they ran to hide was because they were afraid of the police, for they did not belong to the same party; on that day every man opposed to the police in politics should be afraid of them.”

Captain Joseph Mitchell  “… saw Marshall Herring and other officers there before him; he found nothing, but saw a keg of cut nails, horse-shoe nails, a long iron spear, three or four rifles, and a musket or two; saw the nails in the house; saw the guns outside….”

Officer Steven Stevenson  “…went to Jackson Hall; was about the first, and went into the cellar; they took one man out of the cellar–an elderly man; he was not any of the accused…”

Officer B. F. Cover  “…did not step forward to an old lady there and say ‘damn it, give us something to drink;’ did not go behind the bar the hand out the liquor to John Claggett and others, and not pay for it; did not drink at the bar; did not see an old lady there; saw a young lady; had not been drinking; do not remember that he drank any spirituous liquor that day.”

Marshal Herring “…Jackson Hall was occupied as a public house; …there was no beds up stairs at the time; thinks everything had been taken out; …an officer was bringing out a man from the barroom. …there was a party of officers who wanted to rush into Mr. Dawkins house; he prevented it and searched the house himself, but found no arms there; did not see an old woman in the back part of Jackson Hall…”

John B. Dalton “…people were shutting up their houses; the general hue and cry was ‘the Roughskins are coming to rack us all out.’ Shut up his house and told his family to go up stairs; a ball then entered his house…”

James Ward “… saw officer Miller fire into Dalton’s house. Is a brother of the prisoner; had been at home three-quarters or an hour after Marshall Herring came up; heard forty or fifty reports in French street before he got to his house, No. 16 French street.”

John B. Dalton “…in about five minutes Marshal Herring came, and searched the house. [Here the witness exhibited the ball, and it was shown to the jury–it was a very heavy musket ball.] …Herring said, ‘gentlemen, there is a mistake about this house;’ Mitchell, who had a musket, then pointed his finger to witness and said, ‘we will have you to-morrow;’ told Mitchell ‘If he had done anything wrong he would be responsible to the law;’ no person came to his house to load their arms that day…”

Robert Mitchell “…was not with the officers at Jackson Hall with a gun on his shoulder; did not say to Dalton, ‘never mind, we’ll have you to-morrow’–cannot tell whether he did say so or not.”

Wm. H. Brown  “Marshal Herring….left for the station-house in his carriage; taking with him one prisoner, the cannon and a keg of cut nails.”

Officer Joseph Elliot “Grady was arrested in a frame house in Exeter street, near French, in about two hours; he ran in there when the officers pursued him….”

Once the verdict was read: “The wives, sisters and mothers of the accused gave vent to their emotions in tears of joy.”

Library of Congress

from Library of Congress


Baltimore Sun,15 October 1857. pg. 1

—. 28 October 1857. pg. 1

—. 19 March 1858. pg. 1

—. 2 February 1859. pg 1.

—. 3 February 1859. pg 1.

—. 4 February 1859. pg 1.

—. 5 February 1859. pg 1.


“A Sketch of the New Tragic Farce of ‘Americans shall rule America.'” Maryland State Archives “Documents for the Classroom.” MSA SC 2221-19-24 Brugger, Robert J. Maryland A Middle Temperament 1634-1980. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988, p. 261. Mayor Swann and anti-immigrant sentiment. <http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/speccol/sc2200/sc2221/000019/000024/html/0000.html&gt;

Robinson, Tom. “Paddy’s Fight with the Know-Nothings.” Andrews: New York, n.d. Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, America Singing: Nineteenth-Century Song Sheets.<http://www.loc.gov/item/amss001059/#about-this-item >


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