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Listed Under:  Know-Nothings  |   Mob Violence  |   Philadelphia Anti-Catholic Riots, 1844

Public Ledger

Continuation of Evidence Relative to the Riots

Citation Information:"Continuation of Evidence Relative to the Riots," Public Ledger, v. 17, 18 - 24 July, 1844.


Capt. Hill, of the City Guards, was examined yesterday morning, before Judge Jones. The first portion of his evidence narrated the proceedings at the church, on Friday night, corroborating the testimony gathered from other sources.

I was relieved between three and four o'clock on Saturday by the second company of State Fencibles, under the commanad of Lieut. Doughtery; proceeded to the armory, where I dismissed my command till 6 o'clock the same evening; my company assembled, and I marched them to the church, which we reached about 7 o'clock; divided my company into two equal platoons; despatched one to Third street, and with the other proceeded to Second street; here I found a great number of people gathered, and pressing very hard upon the police, who were stationed across Queen street, under the command of Capt. Childs; he said he could do nothing with the mob; I requested him to make an opening for my men to pass through, promising to clear the ground; this I did by charging bayonets upon the mob, upon which they fell back; I told them that I had received my orders, and that I certainly would obey them; the reply was, "obey and be d-d"; I got among the mob and made several arrests, handing the prisoners over to the police. About this time Gen. Cadwalader came to my post; he went among the mob, begging and beseeching them to clear the ground, telling them they must do so, or else take the consequences; the reply to him was very insulting; this reply came from a group in Second, above Queen. Gen. C. then ordered me to advance with a detachment up Second street, and at the same time ordering the police to arrest all who would not quit immediately, stating to the mob that he had advised them repeatedly, and that he would arrest every man who would not comply; by this process they were dispersed; we afterwards returned to Queen street, and every thing was peaceable for the remainder of the night; I think it was about 11 o'clock; cannot say how many arrests were made, a goodly number though; the turbulence of the mob ceased at all points about the same time; Chas Naylor was arrested at Third and Queen street; I saw a man who appeared to be one of the Sheriff's police, arrested near Commissioners' Hall by order of Gen. Cadwalader, who told the police to take his mace and badge away from him, and said at the time that he would appear against him.

We were dismissed from the church between two and three o'clock on Sunday morning; were ordered for parade at two o'clock in the afternoon; took up the line of march for the church about six o'clock; reached the ground about seven o'clock; the companies were stationed at different points; I was ordered, with one half of my command, at my old station, Second and Queen, in company with the Cadwalader Grays; I had, in all, about forty men out; the Cadwalader Grays had, I think, about the same number; at this point the whole force of the mob appeared to be centered; I was ordered by Col. Pleasanton to clear Second street, north and south of Queen; I first went in advance of my men, and asked the mob to retire peaceably and quietly; told them under what authority I acted; they became infuriated; one strong, stout man, whom I would know among a thousand, came forward, seized hold of my sword, and endeavored to wrest it from me; (I was then in the centre of the street, whither I had gone to endeavor to persuade the mob to retire;) immediately afterward a second man seized my sword; aiding the stout man to wrest it out of my hand; the latter attempted to break it by bending; he had hold of it with both hands near the point; the stout man had hold of it near the hilt with one hand, and with the other grasped my arm; they both endeavored to twist my arm; I held the sword by the grip; we were also assailed by brickbats, paving-stones and porter bottles; one of the stones thrown hit a member of the Cadwalader Grays and seriously injured him in the breast; there was no firing by the military even when this man was struck down; one of my own men, named Russell, was struck on the head, and a gash inflicted two inches long; I understood that Captain Scott was also hit, as well as several others of the military; I then told the mob I had received my orders to fire, and that I would do so if they did not desist and disperse; the reply was—"fire, you d-dson if a b-h, and we will give you h-l if you do." (In answer to a question by the Attorney General, Captain Hill described the man who first laid hold of his sword, as a large, stout, broad-shouldered man, with a bloated face and sandy complexion, and as over forty years of age. He also said he could pick him out among a thousand men. Mr. Johnson said he thought he would have a chance to recognize him.) Captain Hill continued—I spoke in a loud voice; could have been heard from 20 to 30 yards; the mob then cried out "you are loaded with blank cartridge:" I replied "no, we are loaded with ball cartridge, and if we have to fire, you will take the consequences;" I retired to the left of my company, near the northwest corner of the street; the mob were then 15 or 20 feet from the company; the mob were standing in a mass, the most uproarious part in the centre of Queen street; while facing my company, with my back to the mob, I was struck on the back of the head with a brick, which but for the brass guard on the cap, would have inflicted a severe wound—as it was, it knocked me down sprawling into the gutter; whilst I was down, I ordered my men to fire; before the discharge of my men a shot, either from a gun or pistol, was fired by the mob—whether at me or not I cannot say, but it killed a young man, named Dougherty, who, with officer Hemphill, had come in front of the military to my assistance; Dougherty fell within four or five feet of me; there was no discharge by the military at that time or previous; from the position Dougherty was in at the time he was shot; I cannot believe it could have come from the military; I had received orders from General Cadwalader, and afterwards from General Patterson, that if we were assailed by stones, &c., to fire, but only to do so in self-defence; at the time I gave the order, I was under the belief that if we did not fire, we would be overcome; this belief was induced by the discharge from the mob which killed Dougherty, and because I knew not how many guns or pistols might be in the possession of the mob.

The whole number in the mob at our front, was from three to five hundred; as far as I could judge only a portion of this number were actively engaged in resisting us; about eighteen or twenty in the middle of the street seemed to be all participants, it was there where the fire of my men was directed; my order to fire was obeyed; some firing in the air, and others bringing their pieces to a dead level; after giving the word to fire I rose, and the first person I saw was Gen. Cadwalader in the rear, he had given the order to fire at the same moment; my men fired a second time; I also took command of the Cadwalader Grays n the temporary absence of Capt. Scott, who had gone to the Hospital with a wounded man of his company, and prepared to fire on a crowd who were standing at the corner of a small street, below Second, shaking their fists at us, and uttering threats which I did not hear sufficiently to repeat; I gave the order not to fire if they retreated, and as they did so there was no further discharge.

The blow on my head caused great dizziness, and perhaps led to the impression that I was intoxicated, for I could scarcely keep my feet. Gen. C. advised me to go and lay down; I did not do so, but kept with my command till about three o'clock. The first discharge was from both companies, I suppose about twenty muskets were then fired; some of the men did not fire at all, others fired in the air; at the second fire not more than five or six muskets were discharged; there may have been some fired from the rear at the General's order; he gave the order to cease firing. I do not think I brandished my sword when I ran in between my men and the mob; if i did, I do not recollect doing so; used my sword only in pressing back the mob; struck no one with my sword except the man who first laid hold of it, I did strike him with the flat of the sword on the back, after I had recovered possession of it; two of my men were advanced to my assistance, and charged my assailants with their bayonets; one bayonet was close to the breast of one of the men, and I think had entered his shirt when I gave the order to desist; this charge induced the men to release the sword, and I followed one for about twenty feet, striking him on the back with the flat of my wepon; this was about 8 o'clock, after sundown. Immediately afterwards saw the mob rushing from all quarters towards the Commissioners' Hall, for the arms which had been deposited there on Friday night by order of the Sheriff. About 9 o'clock we received the first discharge from the cannon of the mob, accompanied by muskets and rifles; I know the difference between the sound of a musket and a rifle. This discharge was immediately answered by the two cannon of the Philadelphia Grays; they fired by the flash of the piece fired by the mob. The firing was kept up at intervals from different pints. I was walking with Col. Murray, at the time of the first fire by the mob. There was no liquor of any kind within the lines, and no man was permitted to leave. I was in company with Gen. Cadwalader during the most of the night, and can testify to his sobriety; his demeanor was perfectly calm and resolute; he advised the mob repeatedly to disperse and was answered with the most insulting language.

Commonwealth against Stephen House.—Eaton Harwood, sworn.—I was standing on the upper side of the way at Queen and Water on Sunday morning, about 8 o'clock. There was a cry for powder, and this man said to me "come with me and I will give you some;" I went to his house, he went up stairs, told his wife to give me the powder horn; she said, "don't speak so loud, the people down stairs will hear you;" he then took the powder horn and handed it to me; when we came down stairs and we went over and got something to drink; the bottom of the horn came out; he said something about me not being able to take charge of powder, and took it from me and went into the crowd; there was enough to load a cannon; I took it he meant the powder for the cannon; I did not know whether that cannon was fired; some of the powder was left in my pocket; I don't know of him being in the Navy, and being expert in the management of artillery.

Upon this testimony the Court committed the prisoner, who was arrested this morning, in default of $1000, to appear and answer a charge of riot.

Gen. George Cadwalader, sworn.—I hold the office of General of the 1st Brig. 1st Div. P. M. On Saturday, the 6th of July, a detachment of the Brigade was ordered on duty, consisting of five companies; it was afterwards modified informally, so as to include the whole brigade; I don't remember exactly the time I received this order; it was about the middle of the day; the order was from Major Gen. Patterson, the commanding officer of the Division to which my Brigade is attached; I sent orders to the Colonels of regiments to detail the five companies; within an hour afterwards I received the modified order to call out the whole brigade, except the 1st City Troop, and I issued orders to that effect; I should think there are about five hundred and fifty volunteers in my Brigade; the order was given duly to them; I directed them to assemble at 3 o'clock in their respective regimental parade grounds, and to report to my head quarters for further orders; it was, I think, 5 o'clock before I received such reports as I could rely upon that any Brigade was ready; there were not 200 men out in obedience to this order; most of the companies assembled, but their numbers were few; none of the officers of the First City Troop were in the city. By order of Gen. Patterson, I marched the troops down to Queen street, Southwark; some delay occurred in relation to the orders, and I arrived there about dusk; my force never amounted to 200 men, the first report being about 165, but men dropped in till we arrived upon the ground; there was not a difference of 25 men from the first report; I found a great crowd there, who appeared very much excited, surrounding the church, and from their manner disposed to dictate what should be done rather than to obey the lawful authorities. The Sheriff was upon the ground, with whom I had some conversation; I was mounted, did not go into the church, and it appeared protected by the civil authorities; by direction of the Sheriff I cleared the street in front of the church from 3d to 2d in the execution of that duty the mob groaned, and were disposed at times to resist; I notified the people present that I had been ordered by the Sheriff to clear the street; I was acting under the orders of the Sheriff and Gen. Patterson; the Sheriff was upon the ground; I then planted pieces of artillery at 2d and 3d streets.

After returning to the church and satisfying myself that it was in the possession of the Sheriff's officers, with a military guard to assist them, I went to the corner of Third street and gave notice to the crowd there assembled to disperse; I was received with very abusive language and groans; the crowd was considerable at that point; I requested the Sheriff to divide the civil posse on each side of the military so as to flank them facing north, preferring to let the civil force act, protected by the military I posted companies on the other corners of the street, facing down Third and up Queen, so as to protect the rear; there were crowds in all the streets, but the worst body was up Third, to which I more particularly directed my attention; I made these dispositions because the Sheriff directed me to disperse the crowd wherever required, which I intended to do; in riding forward in front of the line seeing that the mob were not dispersed to