1861 News Article 1

The Civil War’s First Bloodshed

18 April 1861

 Passage of Norther Federal Troops

The Baltimore Sun Fri Apr 19 1861 72From the Article Above
Regarding the First Bloodshed of the Civil War Read the Following and Note where the Article Left-out
the Name of the Injured Soldier. We Added His Name in Brackets
[Nicholas Biddle] also We Including a Full Size Article with Color Codes
Just Click the Article Above

1 black devider 800 8 72


Pottsville, Schuylkill County, resident Nicholas Biddle (circa 1796-1876) was immortalized by a carte de visite for being "The first man wounded in the Great American Rebellion, Baltimore, April 18,1861." This type of "visiting card"--mounted with a small photographic portrait--was popular from the 1860s through the 1880s. The rare carte de visite was acquired in 2008 by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for the collections of The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. Museum curators believe this card was produced upon a suggestion by Pottsville newspaper publisher Benjamin Bannan (1807-1875), who proposed that copies be sold during Biddle's appearance at the Great Central Fair in Philadelphia in 1864. The fair raised money to purchase necessities and medical supplies for Union soldiers. [The State Museum of Pennsylvania]

1 black devider 800 8 72

19 April 1861

The march from Depot to Depot was a rapid one, and the column moved, flanked on either side by files of Baltimore’s Police Officers. About ten paces apart, and extending several squares, the mass of spectators following indulging in all sorts of pastimes, such as singing “Away Down in the land of Dixie,” cheering for “Jeff Davis” and the Southern Confederacy,” the “Union,” &C.-

While the Troops were occupying the cars at Mount Clare, a complete pandemonium existed, and such a screeching, yelling, hooting and cheering was probably never heard before, or since.

Demonstrations of a riot were renewed, and several bricks were hurled at the cars. One party was arrested by the police but afterward was released.

A colored man [Nicholas Biddle] received a severe cut to the head (Some reports say the gash in Mr. Biddle's head was so deep that it left his skull exposed requiring stitches to close the wound and stop the bleeding) Reports also listed him as one of the soldiers that were injured. Which was something that made Mr. Biddle proud, as he was in the US Army at a time when, African American's were not allowed to wear a military unitform. Mr Biddle hower was an ecaped slave, that took the name of a banker he had read about in the papers. He was a hard worker and had the kind of personality that had those round him enjoying the time they spent together, to a point where those leading the group Biddle was in gave him a uniform of his own to wear and excepted him as they would any soldier. The Train departed for Washington DC at Approximately 4 o’clock.

This the First bloodshed of the civil war, and it took place while marching from Bolton Depot to the Camden Depot by way of Howard Street. During this march, like the march that would take place the following day in the better known Pratt & President Street Riots of 19 April 1861, these riots to place a day earlier on 18 April 1861 between 2 o'clock and 4 o'clock. These riots were briefly mentioned in a book by Curtis Clay Pollock titled Dear Ma - The Civil War Letters of Curtice Clay Pollock. Mr. Pollock was one of the First Defender; he was a First Lieutenant in the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry. Lt. Pollock wrote of himself in his letters as follows,

Pollock served as a member of the Washington Artillery, a Pottsville PA Militia Company that marched off to war in response to President Lincoln's First Call-to-Arms in April 1861. Joining a company that would go on to have the distinction of being among the very first Northern volunteer units to have arrived in Washington following the outbreak of war, reaching the Capital on the evening of 18 April 1861, after coming under attack in the streets of Baltimore.

This was a riot that does not garner the kind of attention received in Fort Sumter, or the Pratt Street Riots. The Pratt Street Riots took place in Baltimore on Pratt and President Streets the day after the Howard Street Riots. The Howard Street Riots and the Pratt Street Riots took place in Baltimore on the 18th and 19th of April 1861.

1 black devider 800 8 72

Dear Ma - The Civil War Letters of Curtis Clay Pollock: First Defender and First Lieutenant, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry - By Curtis Clay Pollock

Curtis Clay Pollock served bravely with the 48th Pennsylvania, one of the Civil War s most famous fighting regiments, from the regiment s organization in September 1861 until his mortal wounding at the Battle of Petersburg in June 1864, participating in the regiment s many campaigns in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, and Tennessee and seeing action at some of the war s most sanguinary battles, including 2nd Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Knoxville. Prior to his service in the 48th, Pollock also served as a member of the Washington Artillery, a Pottsville-based militia company that marched off to war in response to President Lincoln s first call-to-arms in April 1861 and a company that would have the distinction of being among the very first Northern volunteer units to arrive in Washington following the outbreak of war, reaching the capital on the evening of April 18, 1861, after coming under attack in the streets of Baltimore. In recognition of their timely response and prompt arrival in the capital, Pollock and the other members of the Washington Artillery, would be among those who earned the proud title of First Defender. All throughout his time in uniform--from the day after he first arrived in Washington with the First Defenders until a few days before receiving his fatal wound at Petersburg--Curtis Pollock wrote letters home. Many of these letters were written to his younger siblings, some were addressed to his father. Most, however, were written to his mother, Emily, whom he affectionately referred to as his Dear Ma. Fortunately, many of these letters survive and are held today in the archives of the Historical Society of Schuylkill County in Pottsville. The letters of Curtis Pollock provide us with a window to view the history and experiences of one of the war s most famous and most well-traveled regiments--the 48thPennsylvania--a regiment that served in many theaters of the war, under many different commanders, and in many of the war s largest and bloodiest battles; a regiment that endured many battlefield defeats as well as many battlefield triumphs. More than this, though, Pollock s letters home enable us to gain a further glimpse of the war from the inside. They chronicle and document the actions, the experiences, and the thoughts of a brave young man, who like so many others, volunteered his services and ultimately gave his life fighting in defense of his nation.

1 black devider 800 8 72

The Baltimore Riots 1861
Nick Biddle and the First Defenders

Biddle Nicholas Nicholas Biddle

Where Did Nicholas Biddle get his name?  (January 8, 1786 – February 27, 1844) was an American financier who served as the third and last president of the Second Bank of the United States (chartered 1816–1836). He also served in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. He is best known for his role in the Bank War.

A member of the prominent Biddle family of Philadelphia, Nicholas Biddle worked for prominent officials such as John Armstrong Jr. and James Monroe in his youth. After returning to Philadelphia, he won election to the state legislature. While serving in the legislature, he successfully lobbied Congress and President Monroe for the creation of a new central bank, which became known as the Second Bank of the United States. In 1822, Monroe appointed Biddle as the third president of the bank. Biddle would continue to serve as the bank's president for several years, during which time he exercised power over the nation's money supply and interest rates, seeking to prevent economic crises.

At the request of Henry Clay and other Whigs, Biddle asked Democratic President Andrew Jackson to renew the bank's federal charter in 1832. Jackson, who held a deep hostility to many banks, declined to renew the charter, beginning a political debate known as the Bank War. When Jackson transferred the federal government's deposits to several state banks, Biddle raised interest rates, causing a mild economic recession. The federal charter expired in 1836, but the bank was re-chartered by Pennsylvania. Biddle continued to serve as president of the bank until 1839.

1 black devider 800 8 72


After the Confederate States opened fire on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed on April 15, calling 75,000 militia to suppress the rebellion. The first volunteer troops reached Washington, D.C. on April 18, 1861, at 6:00 pm. These first troops were the Pennsylvania First Defenders and consisted of 476 officers and men. The troops were quartered in hallways and committee rooms of the United States Senate and House of Representatives. At 9:00 pm that evening, the troops were brought into the basement of the Capitol where they were distributed government arms and ammunition. President Abraham Lincoln, Secretary of State, William H. Seward, and the Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, were present as the arms were being distributed. During this time, President Lincoln proceeded down the line to shake hands with every member of the companies.


En route to Washington, D.C, the troops boarded a train at Camden Station in Baltimore, Maryland – the largest city of that Slave state. What lead to be known as the Baltimore Riot of 1861, they were met with an angry mob of pro-South sympathizers who threw bricks and pieces of the cobble stone streets at them. Many of the men received serious wounds as a result of the confrontation. Among them was sixty-five-year-old Nicholas Biddle of the Washington Artillerists who is believed to be the first to have shed blood in the American Civil War. As an African American in a union uniform, Nick Biddle likely stood out as an easy target to a group of simple southern sympathizers and Biddle suffered a head wound which was serious enough to expose the bone in his skull.


In December 1864, members of the Washington Artillerists Frances P. Dewees and Samuel R. Russel wrote a letter to Congressman A. G. Curtin of Pennsylvania to outline the importance of the First Defenders' actions at the early stages of the war. They requested that the men of the First Defenders receive recognition in the form of an awarded medal. On May 26, 1891, the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania made an appropriation of $1,500 for such medals of honor. On the front of each bronze medal is the image of the Capitol and the words "First in Defense of the Capitol: April 18, 1861." On the back, each of the five First Defender companies are listed, followed by the inscription "Medal of Honor Presented by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," and the name of the respective soldier.

Devider color with motto

Please contact Det. Ret. Kenny Driscoll if you have any pictures of you or your family members and wish them remembered here on this tribute site to Honor the fine men and women who have served with Honor and Distinction at the Baltimore Police Department.

Anyone with information, photographs, memorabilia, or other "Baltimore City Police" items can contact Ret. Det. Kenny Driscoll at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. follow us on Twitter @BaltoPoliceHist or like us on Facebook or mail pics to 8138 Dundalk Ave. Baltimore Md. 21222

Copyright © 2002 Baltimore City Police History - Ret Det Kenny Driscoll


Eastern Initiative


Officer of the Year

Parking Meters