The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd.

The Baltimore Riot

In April, 1861, after Virginia seceded from the Union, it was a real question as to whether Maryland, a slave state, would follow Virginia or remain in the Union. Maryland was, of course, of crucial strategic importance to the United States. Not only did it border the nation's capital, but any troops from the northeast had to pass through Baltimore on their way to Washington or further south. One of the first to respond to Lincoln's call for troops was the 6th Massachusetts Regiment, which arrived in Baltimore by train from Philadelphia on April 19th. The soldiers had to change trains to board the B&O to Washington, which entailed their marching through Baltimore.

A large pro-Southern mob gathered and began to attack the Massachusetts troops with stones and bricks. In reply, the panicked soldiers opened fire and a full scale riot developed in which four soldiers and twelve citizens were killed. These were the first fatalities of the war that were the result of actual conflict and the news of the event raced through the states, North and South. News of this event electrified the public in the North and South and a number of prints were made depicting the riot.

Baltimore Riot
"First Blood.-The Sixth Massachusetts Regiment Fighting Their Way Through Baltimore, April 19, 1861." From Harper's Weekly. New York: May 4, 1861. 9 x 13 3/4. Wood engraving. Issued just two weeks after the event. NA

Riot in Baltimore
W. Momberger. "Attack of the Massachusetts 6th at Baltimore, April 10th 1861." From The Great Rebellion. Connecticut: Hurlburt, Williams, & Co., 1862. 4 1/2 x 7. Engraving. NA

Baltimore riot
F.O.C. Darley. "Massachusetts Militia Passing Through Baltimore." From The Great Civil War. New York: Virtue & Yorston, ca. 1865. Steel engraving by P.F. Walker. 5 x 7 1/2. $75

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©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. May 5, 2015