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Sprigg
Narrative
This webpage reproduces
An anonymous pamphlet

printed in Baltimore, Md.
on September 1, 1812.

The text is in the public domain.


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Hansen
Letter
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

(p55) EXTRACTS OF LETTERS.

Extract of a Letter from one of the meritorious, though unsuccessful defenders of the freedom of the press at Baltimore, to his parents, dated August 1, 1812.

"On Monday, the 27th ult. the Federal Republican was resuscitated, printed at Georgetown, and published at No. 45, South Charles Street, Baltimore, which was the house formerly p56occupied by Mr. Wagner, and which Mr. Hanson, who now took possession of it, had furnished with arms and ammunition, in the expectation that it would be attacked, and with determination to defend it. Mr. Hanson was accompanied to town by several friends from Montgomery county; among others, were Gen. Lingan, a venerable old gentleman, about 65 years of age; Gen Lee, a revolutionary officer, and the bosom friend of Washington; Dr. Warfield; Mr. Murray, a brother in law of Mr. Hanson, and several others. These gentlemen remained to protect him, should it be necessary. The supporters of a free press in Baltimore, mortified to see these veterans leaving their families and homes to take upon themselves a duty more peculiarly their own, determined at least to share the danger with them. About twenty-five or thirty of the most respectable citizens of Baltimore, merchants and professional men, repaired to the house early in the evening, (before sunset) and tendered their services, which were accepted. We were all armed and equipped by Mr. H. and put under the orders of Gen. Lee. We then quietly seated ourselves to wait the issue. No sooner was it dark, than a parcel of boys collected around the door and began to halloo and insult us. Their noise attracted others. Their shouts were redoubled, and their numbers continued to increase. By eight o'clock, a herd of Irishmen and negroes and Frenchmen, and ragamuffins, had congregated, and encouraged by our forbearance, which, they probably attributed to timidity, commenced p57a most violent attack upon the house; some stones had been thrown at intervals before but now they came in vollies. Windows and sashes and shutters were demolished in an inst. whilst bricks and paving stones were flying about our heads with the most tremendous crash. It was then, for the first time, General Lee permitted two or three muskets to be discharged in the air, with a view to terrify the Mob and to warn them that we were armed and resolved to use our arms. He had before besought them again and again to return to their homes, and had received nothing but insults in return. We fired in the air; but far from having the desired effect, it served only to enrage the rabble, and none of them being hurt, to increase their audacity. Stones and bricks were poured upon us without intermission, and their madness broke out in the most fiendlike yells; the outer door was soon forced open, and of the lower windows, not a vestige remained — It was not however, till the Mob attempted to cross the threshold, that we directed a single shot at them; to forbear longer was to sacrifice ourselves, and we did not hesitate in adopting the alternative. The Mob retreated for a moment after this repulse, but soon returned to the charge. As often as they attempted to rush into the house, so often we fired upon them; but never else.

The action was kept up in this way till about half past two o'clock in the morning, at which time the Mob had dwindled away to about 30 or 40 men, when Maj. Barney appeared with about 30 horsemen, and had he acted with p58promptitude, here the affair would have ended. But like ourselves he erred on the side of humanity, instead of charging the mob and dispersing them at once he began to make speeches; and from that moment the rabble began again to assemble in greater numbers than ever, and with accumulated fury. Maj. Barney, however, dismounted some of his troop and placed them with their sabres to guard the avenues of the house, that none might enter or escape. — About an hour after, nearly a hundred militants were assembled and marched to our relief. Judge Scott, Chief Justice of the court of Oyen and Lerminer, had been down in the course of the night to quell the riot. We admitted him into the house, and promised to retire peaceably to our homes and Mr. Hanson into the country, if he would disperse the Mob — that he could not do — and after using all the arguments he could not think of, he went quietly home. At 6 o'clock in the morning the Mayor of the city appeared, together with the Attorney-General Montgomery, and Gen. Stricker of the militia. We agreed to surrender ourselves into the hands of the civil authority, if that authority could and would protected us; but as a preliminary and as evidence of their power we insisted upon the dispersion of the Mob. They conferred with the Mob and with us, back and forth, bearing the various propositions we made — to nothing would they consent, but that we should be committed to the county goal to take our trial for murder. The Mob now increased to the number of 2000. We had set up the whole night, p59had nothing to eat, and were worn down with fatigue, and found it necessary to capitulate on some terms. We acceededº to the last, and the Mayor and Brigadier Gen. Stricker pledged themselves in the most solemn manner and with repeated asseverations to protect us, or die in our defence. We gave up our arms, and marched out under the protection of the military, who were formed in a hallow square, the horsemen in front and rear, about 50 being by this time collected; we were then marched through the principal streets of the city, at least a mile to the county gaol. All the efforts of our escort could scarcely protect us from the fury of the populace. I was knocked down by a stone whilst under the protection of the military and the magistracy. Between 8 and 9 o'clock, we arrived at the gaol, and were confined in the common receptacle of culprits. — I assure you I never entered a place with a more bounding step, or lighter heart than I did these unhallowed cells. We then foolishly regarded it as a place of safety, confiding in the promises of the Mayor and Gen. Stricker. — We soon couched ourselves on the bare floor of the prison, and from excess of fatigue were able to sleep, even in a dungeon, and on a bed of oak. Our friends in the course of the day attempted to get us released, upon giving bail but no; Gen. Stricker had given his word to the Mob that we should not be admitted to bail, and the Judge would not do it. They had given their word to us too, to protect us. Their promises to the Mob was most sacredly adhered to — their solemn pledge p60to us basely forfeited. — Between two and three o'clock P.M. on Tuesday, that very day on which we were committed, the Mob began again to assemble in the vicinity of the gaol — sent for Gen. Stricker and the Mayor — they came and endeavoured to appease the rabble, assured them that we were not bailed, and should not be, but that a day should immediately be fixed on for our trial. They then came in to see us — General Stricker told us he had ordered out two regiments and that he would defend us — the Mayor renewed his promises of protection.

They left us about 5 o'clock — the sheriff came about the same time, and endeavoured to pacify the Mob, which was fluctuating till 7 o'clock; increasing or diminishing, but attempting no violence. Gen. Stricker's troops assembled according to his orders and as soon as they were formed, this man dismissed them — and this, too, at the moment when their presence had become absolutely necessary, and when we were confidently expecting them. — The Mayor was no longer visible, and the sheriff had retired. We were thus shut up like sheep in the pen, waiting the hand of the butcher. We had given up our arms, and were completely at the mercy of a Mob to whom mercy is a stranger, who were thirsting for our blood, and who, frantic with rage, set up a hideous yell. This was the signal of destruction — the outer gates of the prison were prostrated in a moment, and the inner doors, composed of bars of Iron, were immediately bent. The Mob were provided with p61every implement for their purpose. Sledgehammers and crow-bars soon enabled them to effect it. In fifteen minutes the inner doors were forced, and they rushed into the common passage of the cells; they soon discovered ours, and the grate between us was but the obstacle of a moment. We had previously agreed that every man should act for himself, and escape if possible, by mingling in the crowd. One or two gentlemen who had pistols presented them — this caused a momentary pause, and produced some confusion in the assailants — they were, however, pushed forward by those in the rear, and we plunged among them, extinguishing as much as possible the portable lights — those fixed in the passages were beyond their reach. How I escaped I know not, I was recognized and knocked down four several times: beaten when down, held up by the hair of my head, stamped upon, and in short maltreated in every possible manner; but at the moment when they thought me dead, and when attention was attracted to another quarter, I sprang up, disengaged myself from those that held me, and fighting and retreating backwards, jumped from the flight of steps about 10 feet on to the very heads of the Mob, who tottered under me; and the moment I felt myself on my feet, rushed into the outer circle of the crowd, where I was again seized, bloody as I was, by two fellows in the garb of sailors; but a young gentleman, whose name I cannot mention, but whose nobleness of soul, and whose services to me I can never forget, interposed, and enabled me to escape from their fury; p62and I left the city at 2 o'clock the next morning. Some escaped entirely unhurt, not being known by the Mob. But one life was lost — this was the venerable Gen. Lingan. Several are dangerously wounded. Lee is dispaired of. Eight or nine bodies were thrown together in a heap, to all appearance, and in every one's belief, dead. The Mob then following to see Mr. Thomson taredº and feathered in a cart, opportunity was afforded to some well disposed persons to carry the bodies to some houses in the neighborhood, where they revived, and were carried off by their friends. Some of our friends were enticed in the night (whilst we were parlyingº with Judge Scott) to come out of the house and converse with them, but the moment they got them, they treated them with the greatest barbarity, and left them for dead. Who were the leaders of the Mob I know not. Among the most conspicuous were a French apothecary, and a noted Irish pugillist.º

Our last accounts from the city are to Aug. 1, at which time the Mob still remained undisbanded; and the civil authority still powerless and inert. The wounded which had been taken to the hospital, were principally carried away to the country, having been threatened with further vengeance by the barbarians.


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