Limerick Roughs: Michael J. Grady, of the 8th Ward Baltimore

The 8th Ward of Baltimore City during the mid 1800s was known as “Limerick” for its concentration of Irish immigrants. Controlled by the Democratic Party, Limerick gang members faced Nativist gangs who controlled the rest of the Wards in bloody street battles.

I have previously detailed the Election Riot of 1857.  In that riot, Michael J. Grady fought as a Democratic Party rough against Nativists. He was tried in killing of Police Officer Jourdan during that riot in 1859.

Little is known of Grady’s early life except he worked as a clerk along the wharves of Baltimore as a young man. Born roughly in 1833 in Maryland, he married a woman named Mary Ellen and worked as a carpenter in the mid-1850s.

By 1857, Grady was a captain in the National Greys, an independent city militia unit. During the trial, Col George P. Kane recommended Grady’s character: “….has known him for 12 or 15 years; he was a clerk in a mercantile house of a friend of his; he was connected with the volunteer corps; is a fine young officer and was always highly spoken of by those who knew him.”

After his acquittal in Jourdan’s death, ironically enough he was made a Lieutenant in the Baltimore Police. Grady served as a lieutenant in the police but resigned on 18 December 1861 (being an ardent Democrat his resignation appears to be preparation for secession.)  –The Daily Exchange. (Baltimore, Md.), 19 Dec. 1860.

As the nation braced for war between the states, the 8th Ward elected Grady delegate to the State convention of 1861: “to consider what position Maryland should take in the present national crisis.” –Baltimore Sun. 6 Feb. 1861 p 1

In the chaos of the first months of civil strife, Grady and twenty others on the 7th of September 1861, took a road South under darkness. Someone betrayed their intentions to join the Confederate Army to the federal police. The police rode hard to capture them “about nine miles from the city.”  With only one pistol between them the group pleaded they were only going a-fishing. A search revealed that if they didn’t have firearms they at least had a Confederate Flag to show their disloyalty. The  were shipped to Fort McHenry prison.- Baltimore Sun. 9 September 1861.

On 12th September a “strong posse” moved the twenty-one souls from a police station to Ft. McHenry where they boarded the steamer “Richard Willing” for Ft. Delaware. Baltimore Sun. 13 September 1861.

The reports give the names of the following secesshes: Thomas Shields, William Kewen, Benjamin F. McAuley, George Thompson, John Wilkins, William Ellis, James Harker, Patrick Croughan, James Campbell, David H. Luchesi, Alexander O’Connor, Frederick Solenbach, Patrick  Conway or Conney, George Appleton, Charles Powers, John Bouldin, George Summers, Thomas Daley, Samuel Davidson, and David Simmons or Summers. Robert J. Ramsey, George Gosnell, and Robert G. Ware.

Considered a political prisoner, Secretary Seward sent an order of release for many held in Ft. Warren in late November 1861 if they took an oath of allegiance. Grady was to be released with John Bouldin, Thomas Shields, George Appleton, David H. Luchesi, George Thompson. Grady refused and remained a prisoner. –Port Tobacco Times, and Charles County Advertiser. (Port Tobacco, Md.), 28 Nov. 1861; Daily Nashville Patriot. (Nashville, Tenn.), 07 Dec. 1861.

Some reports mention Grady’s release shortly after, but the spotty reporting makes it uncertain. However, it appears Grady did not survive the war. In 1864 Mary, his wife, resides on 31 Buren alone, and subsequent directories do not show the return of her husband.


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