|Massachusetts Militia Passing Through Baltimore ( From an |
1861 engraving by F.F. Walker)
He took it as a personal affront, as did the citizens of Baltimore. The implication that there was a plot to kill Lincoln in their city made the townspeople feel like criminals put under a magnifying glass.
Because Lincoln snuck into the town after dark, it left a bitter taste in their mouth similar to his sending troops through the heart of the city without alerting them.
If “Old Abe” had just come into town and shook hands like planned, Brown was sure everything would have been okay. If the army had informed city officials about the troop movements, proper precautions could have been taken to ensure their safety.
The “real problem” was the government's lack of communication.
The day before the Pratt Street Riot, on April 18th, two companies of United States Artillery commanded by Major Pemberton, along with four companies of militia arrived on the North Central Railroad. They disembarked from their cars at Bolton Station in North Baltimore shortly after 2:00 PM.
Most of the soldiers were unarmed and without uniforms. They marched over a mile through the streets making their way to Washington Street Station.
Brown said the regular soldiers passed unmolested, but the militia was harassed and threatened mercilessly. If it had not been for Marshall Kane and the Baltimore police force violence would surely have erupted.
The difference between the two days was the army notified city officials on April 18th that the troops were coming. Because of that, the police force was on hand to ensure the soldier’s safety.
The circumstances behind the Pratt Street Riot on April 19th were entirely different. The city didn’t receive notice that the troops were coming until a half hour before their arrival. Because of this, the city police were unprepared to protect the soldiers.
From hindsight, it’s hard to say what the correct move should have been. The evidence leaves no doubt that violence lurked at every turn on the streets of Baltimore.
That came as no surprise to the soldiers involved in the incident.
Colonel Edward Jones woke his men early on the night of April 18th to coach them about what lay ahead.