Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Strikers battle Pinkerton men at Homestead, Pa.
The Cortland Democrat, Friday, July 8, 1892.


A Pitched Battle Between the Workmen and Pinkerton's Detectives—Several Killed and Many Wounded.
   P1TTSBURG, Pa., July 6.—Pittsburg has had another experience with labor riots and this time, as during the fearful scenes which were witnessed during the railroad riots of 1877, blood has been shed, life jeopardized and valuable properly placed in danger. This time there was no destruction of property, but the mob was thoroughly well organized, well disciplined and had efficient officers at the head to conduct the operations. The forces embraced all the men employed in the extensive plants of the Carnegie Iron and Steel Company at Homestead, some eight miles east of Pittsburg, and a battle, which for blood-thirstiness and boldness of execution has not been excelled in actual warfare, waged from 4 o'clock this morning until 6 o'clock this evening, and only ceased when the force of Pinkertons brought to the place to suppress the strike unconditionally surrendered, leaving their arms in the barges in which they had been transported to the works.
   The riot was the culmination of the troubles which have been brewing at Homestead for the last month. Yesterday the Carnegie Company announced their intention to proceed to get ready to make repairs and the officials asked the Sheriff to appoint deputies to protect their property. The sheriff sent a small squad of men up to the works, but the strikers assembled in force and notified them to get out of town as no disorder was intended and no damage would be done to any property. They even offered to be sworn in as deputies and to give bonds for the faithful performance of their duties as conservators of the peace. When this offer was declined, the Advisory Committee, which had been directing the action of the workmen, and which had held the turbulent spirits among the workmen in check, was immediately dissolved and all the records of the committee were promptly destroyed.
   The developments today showed that the applications made for assistance of the Sheriff was merely for the purpose of them covering what was intended to be a coup de main on the part of the Carnegie Company, in clandestinely introducing a body of Pinkerton detectives into the mill enclosure. The detectives had been rendezvoused some five or six miles below the city on the Ohio river, at which point two model barges had been prepared for them. The barges were of the best build, and were used in shipping iron rails down the river from the Carnegie Mills at Braddock. The holds were filled up with bunks, cooking arrangements and other accommodations and as an extra precaution, as if in preparation for the siege to which they were subjected to to-day, were lined with heavy steel plates on the inside, while the whole back deck was protected in a similar manner. It was the intention that the men should reach the works about 3 o'clock this morning, but the guards who were on duty along the river got word of the threatened invasion of the Pinkerton men and prepared to receive them. The barges were towed up the river by a tow boat, but before the Pinkerton men reached Homestead thousands of strikers had gathered on the banks of the river ready to give them a warm welcome. When the boats attempted to land, the workmen broke through the fence surrounding the mill and entrenching themselves behind piles of billets, prepared to resist the landing of the detectives.
   By 4 o'clock in the morning an effort was made to land the Detectives , but the strikers met them and a fierce battle was precipitated, both sides exchanging a heavy volley of shots. The Detectives were all armed with Winchester rifles, but at the point where the attempt to land was made, there was a steep embankment and they were compelled to go in single file and were soon driven back to the boats by the steady fire from the shore. The Pinkerton men were determined to land, and poured volley after volley into the ranks of the strikers, many of whom were stricken down by the bullets, some of them being fatally injured and others killed outright. As the battle progressed the strikers took up a position behind breastworks hastily constructed of steel rails and billets, and from this place of safe refuge were able to pick off the Detectives as soon as they appeared on the deck of the boats. In the meantime, Captain Hynd and Superintendent Kline of the Pinkerton men were disabled and the fire was so fierce that the crew of the tow boat hastily cut loose from the barge and steamed up the river, carrying as many wounded as they could reach to Braddock, from which point they were sent down to the hospitals for treatment at Pittsburg. Seven of the force were thus cared for, while the strikers that fell wounded were carried to their homes at Homestead, the dead being taken to the morgue and undertaking rooms in the town.
   The news of the riot reached Pittsburg as early as 6 o'clock in the morning and thousands of mill workers, all of whom are now idle pending the conference on the scale, congregated in the streets while hundreds of others armed with guns and well supplied with ammunition took up the line of march to reinforce the strikers. As soon as the day broke the strikers secured a small brass ten-pound cannon and planted it within the steel billet embrasure, so as to command the barges which were moored at the bank of the river.
   When it was found that little impression could be made by the cannon on the boats, an effort was made to fire the barges, and thus compel the Detectives to leave the vessel or suffer the terrible fate of being burned alive. Hose was procured and oil was spouted on the decks and sides of the barges. While this was being done, barrel after barrel of oil was emptied into the river above the mooring place, the object being to allow it to float against the boats and then ignite it.
   At 5 o'clock the Pinkerton men hung out another white flag and this time it was respected, and a committee of strikers went aboard lo prepare terms of capitulation. They guaranteed safe conduct for the Pinkertons provided they left their arms and ammunition behind and agreed to leave the place under guard. The detectives had no alternative and promptly accepted the terms, some of them saying it was the first time they had ever submitted to such a humiliating surrender.
   The most shocking and dastardly deeds, however, were committed while the prisoners were being escorted through the streets by guards appointed by the strikers. An angry mob lined the streets on both sides as the men passed by, each in charge of two deputies, the mill men and their friends kicked them and threw some of them down. The unfortunate detectives begged for mercy. Some of them had pistol shot wounds in their heads and three were seen with their eyes shot out. Several were shot in the shoulders, arms and legs, and could scarcely limp along. Blood was running in streams down the shirts and they fairly yelled in pain. Fully 30 injured men were taken to the Town Hall. One of them had his eye punched out by an umbrella in the hands of a woman. Sand was thrown in their eyes and they were hit with clubs and other missiles. Many were knocked down with clubs and trampled upon and some were too weak to walk when they started for the Town Hall. The mill men used the stocks of their rifles and struck the detectives over the heads and shoulders, inflicting serious and in some cases fatal injuries.
   As the procession reached the Amalgamated Association building, the detectives had to remove their hats and salute the flag. When they removed their hats men and women hit them with umbrellas and sticks and abused them in every way imaginable. There seemed to be a determination to kill the prisoners and it was with the greatest difficulty that the demon-like crown could be restrained.
   The men were finally lodged in the Opera House, where they were to be kept for the night. Thousands, however, gathered around the building and the wounded men were kept in a constant state of terror, and it was long before their wounds could be dressed.
   After a time and when but a few stragglers remained on board, the retreat of the rear guard was hastened by the cry of "Fire." Some one in the mob had set fire to the model barges which for 15 hours had been the shelter of the Pinkertons and which had withstood the assaults of 5,000 men. They burned rapidly, and soon nothing but the charred hulks of the vessels of war remained.
   PITTSBURG, Pa., July 6.—A complete list of the killed and wounded was not obtainable at midnight. As far as could be ascertained, 12 workmen and 9 detectives were killed and 18 workmen and 21 detectives injured in the battle. In addition to this, at least a hundred detectives were seriously injured by the strikers while on their way to jail this evening.

A Prominent Cortland Man.

   In a recent visit to Cortland one of the editors of the Sun met his old friend, J. Melville Sampson, who has become wealthy by his investments in real estate. He is now erecting a magnificent building directly opposite the Cortland House that will cost about [$400,000.] Mr. Sampson is a genial gentleman and one of the most popular residents of Cortland. His success is well deserved and his example should be followed by other persons of that flourishing village.—Norwich Sun.

Injured by a Canon.
   On Monday, at Harford, a young man named Charles Tanner was seriously injured by the discharge of a cannon that was being fired there. When the gun was loaded, he stepped up and applied a lighted cigar to the vent. When the gun was discharged the flash from the vent struck the lad full in the face, tearing open one cheek and blowing out one eye, and ruining the sight of the other, so that if he recovers he will be terribly disfigured and blind for life.—Marathon Independent.

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