THE GREAT STRIKE.
Harper's WeeklyAugust 18,
ON page 640 we give two illustrations of the scenes of violence
in Chicago which marked the progress of the great railroad strike.
When the preceding number of the Weekly went to press,
there were evidences that the strikers had become convinced of
the folly of the movement, which had assumed the aspect and proportions
of an insurrection against the government, and on nearly every
railroad on which traffic had been interrupted there was a general
resumption of business. Here and there, however, scenes of frenzied
violence and bloodshed took place, where misguided men, incited
by incendiary speeches from their leaders, committed outrages
on life and property with apparently no other motive than to satisfy
a desire for plunder and destruction.
The outrages which we illustrate took place in Chicago on Thursday,
July 26. The rioting began early in the forenoon, at Turner Hall,
within a block and a half of a police station. A meeting of self-styled
working-men, mainly made up of roughs who never did an honest
day's work, was convened in the hall about nine o'clock. Nobody
seemed to know what was going on, but it was understood that certain
carpenters and cabinet-makers, representing, or claiming to represent,
their respective trades, were gathered there for conference. The
mob began to gather, and surged up and down on the sidewalk and
in the streeta howling, yelping mob of irresponsible idiots.
They talked of what they were going to do, and bow they had gotten
things all their own way, every language except Chinese being
used. The communistic element was largely represented, many of
the lowest class of Poles and Bohemians being on hand.
About ten o'clock a body of twenty-five policemen appeared
on the scene. As they neared the surging crowd the hooting and
howling became terrific, and the mob began to pelt the officers
with bricks, stones, and other missiles. The police stood the
attack quietly for a few minutes; but this encouraging the mob
to greater violence, a charge was ordered, and the men turned
upon their assailants, hitting right and left with their clubs,
and hitting to hurt.
Outside the police station was another detachment of officers,
numbering about a score, who speedily came to the assistance of
their comrades. There was a very lively fight for a few minutes,
but discipline and organization proved too much for the rioters,
who were soon put to rout. The police, having disposed of the
outsiders, forced their way into the hall. In the second story
they found a panic-stricken mob of perhaps 150, who, in their
frantic efforts to escape, ran hither and thither, like rats in
a pit. Many jumped from the windows, and so gained the street,
but some seized chairs and other pieces of furniture, with which
they attempted to defend themselves. A good many were hurt during
these operations, but none fatally, and only one of the special
police received any damage. He was led back to the station, where
it was found that, aside from a cut on the head, of no great depth,
he was all right, and he remained on station duty during the day.
The crowd spread itself over the neighborhood, many of the rioters
having received a lesson which will lead them to respect the police
a-trifle more in the future.
While the rioting about Turner Hall was in progress, a crowd
of boys and roughs gathered about the Halsted Street viaduct.
The street cars were stopped, and for some time it appeared as
if the roughs were to have every thing their own way. A detachment
of twenty-five policemen sent to disperse them was received with
stones and revolvers. The police returned the fire with good effect,
knocking over several of the rioters with their bullets. But the
crowd, constantly swelled by re-enforcements, maintained their
ground. Stones were thrown at the police from the roofs of houses
and from alleyways. Having exhausted their ammunition, the officers
at length retired, the mob following, hooting, yelling, and throwing
stones. On meeting with a detachment sent to re-enforce them,
the police turned, and made a vigorous charge on the rioters,
and scattered them in all directions.
They soon gathered again, however, and by half past ten a crowd
estimated at ten thousand was massed in the vicinity of the viaduct.
The majority were merely lookers-on, although their sympathies
were with the strikers. If they had remained at home, short work
would have been made of the actual rioters. The police did not
like to fire into a crowd of which two-thirds or more were innocent
though foolish spectators. They were obliged, however, to use
their clubs and revolvers quite freely, and many persons suffered
severely for their folly. When the crowd would press very close,
as it sometimes would, the police would make a rally from the
foot of the bridge, and beat a few over the head with their billies,
and fire shots at any one seen to fire or threaten to.
Gradually the ammunition of the police became exhausted, and
their position grew critical. Seeing that the mob were again closing
in on his men, as if they knew that they could not fire many more
times, the sergeant in command gave orders to his men to fire
off rapidly all they had left, and at the same time to move north
across the viaduct toward the station. The crowd seeing the police
retreat, grew bold and began to press them more closely. The timely
arrival of a body of cavalry rescued the policemen from their
dangerous position. A sharp fight ensued, in which several rioters
were killed and many wounded. The arrival of two companies of
regulars, armed with SPENCER repeating
rifles, completed the discomfiture of the mob. The next day the
city remained quiet. Effective measures were taken for the preservation
of the peace, and the rioters, sullen and cowed, refrained from
further acts of violence, The number of the killed and wounded
is not definitely known; the rioters carried off their dead and
disabled to places of concealment.
While all along the main lines of railroad the men were quietly
resuming work, the miners and others employed by the coal carrying
and producing companies, enraged at what they regarded as desertion
of a common cause, were engaged in fomenting strife, which on
Wednesday, August 1, resulted in riot and bloodshed. Five thousand
armed rioters at Scranton compelled the men in the shops of the
Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad Company to quit work.
In turn the employees of the Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company
were forced to join in the strike. Many of the men thus deprived
of work were assaulted and wounded because they questioned the
right of the mob to close the shops. The Mayor of the town attempted
to disperse the rioters. He was attacked by a ruffian with a club,
and his jaw fractured. A Catholic priest fortunately stood between
the Mayor and his assailants, or he would doubtless have been
killed. A body of volunteers had been sent for by the Mayor, but
when they appeared, with loaded rifles, the rioters assaulted
them with clubs, stones, and revolvers. At a signal from the Mayor,
who was lying on the sidewalk covered with blood, the volunteers
fired three volleys into the crowd, killing four persons and wounding
several others. Troops on their way to Philadelphia from Pittsburgh
were ordered to Scranton by Governor HARTRANFT.
All business was suspended. Troops were concentrated at different
points of the disaffected region with great promptitude, and on
the day following the outbreak their presence restored quiet and
On the same day the Lehigh Valley Railroad strikers at Wilkesbarre,
to the number of 6000, attempted a riot, and succeeded in compelling
a total suspension of traffic on the road. A master mechanic,
who rather hoodwinked them by taking out a passenger train in
the morning, was forced off his train and badly bruised when he
returned from Elmira. The engine was cut loose from the train
and run off. The Mayor read the Riot Act, but it was of no avail.
At Nanticoke an engineer was shot by the strikers.
In New Jersey the prompt display of authority soon checked
all disorder. By the 1st of August business was resumed on the
Jersey Central and Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western railroads,
and coal and passengers were transported as usual. In the West
all the railroads are running trains the same as before the strike.
A meeting between the managers and men of the Lake Shore and Michigan
Southern Railroad at Cleveland resulted in an agreement that the
business of the road should recommence on Friday morning, August
Through all the trying time of excitement attendant on the
strikes, and in spite of all the efforts of mischief-makers, the
men of the New York Central remained faithful. Out of 12,000 employees,
less than 500 evinced any disposition to embarrass the road. To
mark his appreciation of their good conduct, Mr. VANDERBILT
has distributed the sum of $100,000, ratably according to their
position on the pay-roll, among all the employees, except executive
and departmental officers and the clerical force not directly
engaged in operating the road.
Aftermath of Strike | Strike
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