Charles F. Porter

12th Pennsylvania Infantry
1861: Charles F. Porter to Jane Porter
February 19, 2024 Griff Leave a Comment


The following letters were written by Charles F. Porter (1822-1872) who served as a Lieutenant in Co. C, 12th Pennsylvania Infantry (3 Months). Charles was mustered into the service on 25 April 1861 and mustered out on 5 August 1861.

After training several weeks at Camp Scott in York, Pennsylvania, the 12th Pennsylvania received their uniforms and equipment on 19 May and then relieved the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment along the Northern Central from the Pennsylvania–Maryland border to Baltimore on 25 May; the Northern Central provided an important connection between Harrisburg and points further north, Baltimore, and Washington, D. C. to the south. Regimental headquarters and Companies I and K were located at Cockeysville, while the remaining companies were spread out along the railroad; it was assigned to the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Division of Patterson’s Army (the Department of Pennsylvania). Though the regiment had initially been thrilled at the news of its movement, it quickly found guarding the railroad monotonous, and desired action. The regiment did not train as a unit while guarding the railroad due to its dispersed positions, although Companies I and K conducted daily drill. 


Camp Scott in York, Pennsylvania, May 1861

Letter 1


Little York

York County, [Pennsylvania]

April 26th 1861

My Dear Wife,

We left Harrisburg yesterday, after being mustered in to service, and got here at 10 o’clock all. well, and in good spirits, and found nothing ready for us but will be in camp today. We do not know when we leave, nor do we know where we go to. We were only allowed to take 64 men out of 90. John Moffitt was discharged. They would not take him and I think from what I see of the service, he could not stand it. We were not allowed three lieutenants so one of us had to leave. We drew lots who should leave and Charles Lewis had the leave straw, so I am 1st Lieutenant and Mr. [William S.] Collier is in my place. So I have went up one grade and I may still, if things go right, go still higher. When you write, direct to Lieut. Charles F. Porter, care of Col. David Campbell, 1 Second Regiment, Western Brigade, Pennsylvania Volunteers, and it will be sent to him and I will get it.

Poor Kate, how does she get along? Tell her to be a good girl and kiss her.

My uniform is spoiled with the rain on the day we left. The cloth was not sponged and it shrunk nearly off my back. 2 I have sent to him for another, and I wish you would go and see him, Mr. Frowenfeld & Bro., in the Bank Block on Fifth Street upstairs and see about it. 3 And tell him to sponge the cloth. Write soon. I shall have to close for my time is up. May God bless you and take care of you. Kiss Kate for me and tell her to kiss you for me. Keep up your spirits for there is hope for us all. God bless you all is the prayer of your affectionate husband, — C. F. Porter

P. S. Tell Mrs. Knox, John is with is and well.

1 David Campbell recruited the 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry (64th Regiment) in September 1861. He had previously commanded the Twelfth Regiment in the three months’ service, and previously a militia company of considerable repute in the city of Pittsburgh.

2 Sponging is a textile finishing process that involves the use of steam and water to moisten and condition the fabric before it is cut and sewn into garments or other products. The process can improve the quality and appearance of the fabric, making it easier to work with and enhancing its overall performance. Sponged wool made for better uniforms to prevent shrinkage.

3 Frowenfeld & Bros., wholesale clothiers, was located on 31 Fifth Street. A notice appearing in the Philadelphia Inquirer on 21 May 1861 alleged that Frowenfeld & Bros. defrauded the state by supplying Pennsylvania regiments with clothing of such poor quality that the soldiers actually suffered.


Letter 2


Camp Scott

York [Pennsylvania]

May 2nd 1861

My Dear Wife,

I wrote a letter to you on the 30th of April to send by Mr. D. Thompson but today he said he was a going to stay with Quinn’s Company so I send it and this by Mr. William Alexander who leaves tomorrow morning and he can give you all the news about the camp. I am well and hope to God you and Kate are the same. I do not know when we leave, nor can I find out, but I do not think it will be long before we take up the line of march, and then God protect us all.

Tell Kate I enclose the cockade for her. We all wear them in camp. I wore it myself. Tell John Knox’s mother he is well and in good spirits, and in good health. He sends his love to her and his little girl. Tell James Irvin when you see him to write to me. He has wrote others in the camp but not to me, so you can jog his memory about it. Tell Mr. Parks I will write to him the first spare moment, I get, and give him my best respects, and kind regards. Also to his family. And tell him I think very often of him. Have they got a letter carrier yet at the Post Office.

Our whole time is now taken up in drilling. Company drills from 6 to 7 o’clock, then breakfast, then drill from 8 to 9 o’clock, regimental drills from 10 till 12, then dinner, the company drills till 2:30 o’clock, the Brigade drill till 5 o’clock, supper at 6 o’clock. So you see we have but little time to ourselves. Mr. Alexander can tell you all when he delivers this. He don’t like camp duty much and won’t enlist so he comes home. He is wise in so doing, for a soldier’s life would not do for him. He is too slow. Everyone has to take care of himself here and one who does not, it not fit for such a life.

But I must close. He will soon be for this letter and I must go to drill. So no more. Kiss Kate for me and tell Kate to kiss you for me. May God bless you all is the prayer of your affectionate husband, — Charles F. Porter



Letter 3


Camp Scott

York [Pennsylvania]

May 11, 1861

My Dear Wife,

I received your welcome letter and box of eatables by James Irvin this morning and I am thankful for them, for they are very nice, but I am afraid you have spent your money for me, and it will take too much from you. I would rather you would keep all your money for your own use. It is a mistake about us officers having nothing to eat. We fare well for we have to buy our provisions, but our men do not get enough to eat, for three rations does not satisfy them. They do not get enough of bread to eat. They are not any better off than when they [left] Pittsburgh. We got them 69 baskets and haversacks and that is all. One of Neptune Engine 1 members came here yesterday and brought some twenty blankets which were sent to them by members of their company which was a God send to them, and I do not know when we will get them rigged out but I hope soon.

Now don’t you worry about me. I am an officer and have all the privilege my rank entitles me to. It is only the common soldier who fares hard. I have endeavored to treat the men as men as far as my power would permit but I am only 1st Lieutenant. The less I say about the Captain, the better. But I can say without any boast, there is not one man in our company who would not die for me, for they have so told me so, they say, and all who have come in contact with me in my line of duty. I am the best posted soldier on the ground. Keep this to yourself for people would say I am bragging about myself, but so it is.

I will write you again by James Irvin. He leaves here on Monday morning.

We have no news here. All the news we get is by the papers we get. Everything is kept dark from us, but so it is. I expect we will leave here soon. Tell Mrs. Knox [that] John is well, and sends his love to all his folks. No more at present, but will write by Irvin. Give my respects to all the clerks that call from the Post Office to see you. Give my love to all your folks, one and all. Now take good care of yourself and Kate. God bless you both. Give my respects to Mr. Parks and family and tell him I will write as soon as I can get time. Now Jane, be careful of yourself. Kiss Kate for me a thousand ties, and the same for yourself.

God bless you all is the prayer night and day of your affectionate and loving husband, — Charles F. Porter

1 One of the oldest Fire Companies in the City of Pittsburgh.



Letter 4

Camp Scott

[York, Pennsylvania]

May 15th 1861

My Dear Wife,

I take this opportunity of writing you these few lines. I am well at present and hope you and Kate are both well. I suppose you have heard how they have tried to make us enlist for three years, but failed. Our regiment won’t enlist for three years but our men are willing, when our three months are up, to go three more months—or six months—but not for three years. So you may rest easy about me for I will not go myself in the same situation that I have. It must be something better. But do not think for one moment that I will enlist for three years, so rest easy about it.

I expect we will leave here in a few days for we are getting equipped as fast as possible. As soon as we get overcoats and knapsacks, we will be full equipped, and then I expect we go to Washington City and I hope to God we will soon return with honor and peace to our beloved country and our glorious flag long may wave.

I have not seen John Quinn, only on parade, with 13th Regiment [commanded by] Col. [Thomas A.] Rowley. So he is well. Tell Mr. Park I will write to him soon and give him my best respects and to his family. The 12th Regiment is the crack regiment on the ground so we have worked very hard to drill the men. I have very hard work of it for all the leaving to drill falls on me. [Neither Captain John H.] Stewart nor [2nd Lieutenant William S.] Collier knows very little about drill, but I do it for the good of the men, if if they did not know how to drill, it would be a bad show for us.

Give my best love to all of your family and best respects to all friends. Also to Mr. Moffitt. And tell him he may be glad John did not come for it would have been his death. He could not have stood it. John Knox is doing better. He sends his love to his mother and child. Kiss Kate for me and tell her I. hope to see her soon.

Now Jane, take good care of yourself. May God bless you and Kate is the prayer of your affectionate husband, — Charles F. Porter


Letter 5 

Camp Scott

[York, Pennsylvania]

May 19, 1861

My Dear Wife,

I received your kind and welcome letter yesterday by Mr. Neeper and was happy to hear that you were both well. I am well at present and hope you and Kate are the same. Tell Kate I was much pleased at receiving her card and hope she will continue to improve her time. I gave me great pleasure indeed.

It is raining now and has all the appearance of raining all night. There is no news here at present. We do not know when or where they send us. They have not fixed the three years enlistees in our regiment yet. Some company will have 40 men to go, some none, some two, &c. They tell us if we don’t enlist for three years, the people of Pittsburgh if we return in three months, will turn the cold shoulder to us and treat us with scorn. But let them. We came here to do our duty and if they give us the chance, we will do our duty. There are all sorts of rumors here as to what they will do with us. We received our overcoats yesterday—grey cloth. Our men are nearly equipped now and seem better contented.

You are mistaken as to our pay being reduced. My pay is 50 dollars per month, with rations. Without rations—or in other words, find ourselves (for they won’t give us rations)—is $103.50 per month, (that is they pay us for our rations) but I fear we shall never receive any pay. I may be mistaken, but they will do anything now days. But God’s will be done.

I received a letter from Pap last week and one from Julia. They are all well. He and Sarah Ann sends their love to you. Col. Campbell left here yesterday for Pittsburgh. Expect him back on Tuesday. Neagley has gone to Lancaster so we do not have any [drill] till they return.

One Frank Grant of Company C, 13th Regiment, Col. Rowley, was drummed out of camp today. He cut some days ago one of his comrades and he was tried and found guilty and drummed out today. It was a sorry sight. He felt it keenly. Poor fellow. Whiskey was at the bottom of it. If the men would only leave strong drink alone, they would do well. In our mess—that is us officers, we neither drink it or have it in our quarters. I wish I could say the same of our men.

I saw [Lt.] John Quinn [Co. K, 13th Penn] yesterday. He is well. John Knox is doing first rate now. Looks well. He sends his love to his people. Give my best respects to Mr. Parks and family. I hope they are well. Give my respects to all inquiring friends. Give my best respects to any of the clerks that you see from the post office, and through them to all in the office. Give my best love to all of your folks, and you be sure to take the best care of yourself and Kate, and I shall do the same to myself.

If you see James Irwin, give him my best respects, to him and family. There is a great number of Pittsburghers here today. Some I got a chance to speak to and they said everything is still very dull yet and I am afraid it will still be duller yet. But I hope for the best. We have a hard days work tomorrow in the way of drills. They give us plenty of work to do, and it is very hard work to drill 60 raw recruits. But they get along finely and the Major complimented me in their drill yesterday. We do as well as some of the older companies.

Now Jane, keep up your spirits and take care of yourself and don’t send any more eatables. We have enough and can get enough at any time. We live very plain for when we leave here, we will have to come down to hard grub and then it will not sit so hard on us, and in fact, we are better on course grub for camp life is a hard life. It shows up human nature and it has showed up some of the officers here, and when they get home, they will be yet to hear of it.

No more at present. Give my love to all. May God bless you and Kate and all your folk. God bless you is the prayer of your affectionate husband, — Charles F. Porter



 Letter 6


Camp Scott

York, York County, Penn.

May 24th 1861

My Dear Wife,

I received yours of the 22nd and was glad to hear you and Kate are both well. I’m in good health. You said I must be swelled. It is not so. I had my overcoat on that day for it was raining and I was very dirty and wet. But my last picture was taken when I was fixed up so you can judge whether I have got so fat. I am a great deal stouter than when I left home.

But now for news. Our regiment leaves here. The Left of the regiment leaves today; the Right I expect will leave tomorrow, but I am not sure. Our company is on the Right Wing. The Grays [Co. B] and City Guards [Co. K] on the Left Wing. They are packing up their things now. They take six cooked rations and 40 rounds of ammunitions, so they must expect hot work. The Flying Artillery left this morning. We will commence to pack our things this afternoon so as to be ready at a moment’s warning. The Boys are in great glee for they think we will have a fight soon, and I think the same. So pray for us and our cause. God be with us and send us safe through all our trials.

I have not much time to write just now so please excuse this short letter. Give my best love to all of your family, and to Mr. Parks and all enquiring friends. Kiss Kate a thousand times for me and tell her to kiss you the same for me. Now keep up your spirits and be of good cheer, for there is a sweet little cherub that sits up aloft that will take care of me. God Almighty, bless and protect you both. Take good care of yourself and what whatever you want for yourself and Kate. As soon as I can write to [you] again, I will do so. But you must write and direct your letters as I sent the directions to you and I will get them safe. God bless you Kate, and all of you. May we soon meet once more. God bless you both.

Your affectionate husband, — Charles F. Porter

P. S. Tell the letter carrier he is getting fooled by the people. They tried the same on me. He must use his discretion in trusting, but he is too slow and not sharp.



Letter 7


Mellsville, Maryland

May 26th 1861

My Dear Wife,

We left York yesterday at 1 o’clock and at the present time are quartered at Mellsville three miles from Baltimore. The regiment is strung along the railroad guarding the bridges. The Greys are 27 miles from us on guard, and at every bridge along the road we have left one company except at this place where we have three companies—the Blues, our company, and the Washington Greys. Col. Campbell is with us. We relieved the 1st [Penn.] Regiment who goes to Frederick City road, four miles from here, to guard the passage to Harpers Ferry to stop all supplies from the rebels.

This place is very healthy and pleasant and the people very friendly. We are within sight of Fort McHenry from a high hill in our neighborhood so we are in the enemy’s country now. We have to keep a strict guard for fear of a surprise.

We are all in good health and good spirits. Knox is well and so is Bell. He never was sick. Now don’t feel uneasy about me for I think this point is as far as we shall go—at least for some time. And maybe we shall go no farther for we are all three months men. Now take good care of yourself and Kate, and do not let yourself want for anything for we will get paid for we are in the government hands now and not the State of Pennsylvania. I shall not get to write so often to you now for there is no Post Office here and we will have to wait till someone goes to York. The Asst. Quarter[master] leaves here for York at 3 o’clock so [I] send this letter by him to put in the office there. You must still direct your letters the same and they will be sent to me. Now you must excuse this short letter for it is near the time the train will pass here which he goes on, so I must close.

Now pray take care of yourself and I will of myself. I like this place better than Camp Scott. We are better quartered here and have better quarters here and have better water. We are quartered in a large new building intended for the distillery. The only thing that will be hard on us is our guard duty for we have to be very watchful. I am in very good health.

Did Lieut. [William S.] Collier give you my last picture or did he send to you? We left the next [day] after he left for home. We sent for him right away so he may have not had time to call on you, but let me know whether you got it or not.

Now give my best love to all of your folks, and to Mr. Parks, and all enquiring friends. How does Kate get along now? Tell her to kiss you for me and kiss her for me. No more at present. May God bless you both is the prayer. of your affectionate and loving husband, — Charles F. Porter

P. S. Now don’t feel uneasy if you do not hear as often from me as you have for I have not the means of sending letters as often. But you must write as often to me and every chance I get I will write to you.


Letter 8


Mellsville near Baltimore

June 4th 1861

My Dear Wife,

I received yours of June 1st and was happy to hear you and Kate are well. I am very well at present. It is raining today and I can answer your letter today but I do not know how soon I can send it, but will send it the first opportunity. I was very much pleased to get Kate’s few lines. She has made great progress and I hope she will still continue to do so.

Last Saturday morning ]1 June 1861] our company received orders to march with one days provisions to go to a town 12 miles from here to take a lot of arms from a company of rebels. The town was called Toucheytown [?]. We marched at 10 o’clock, went as far as the Relay House where we were joined by Companies I, K, and G—four companies, 172 men under Major [Alexander] Hays. After a toilsome and hard march, for it was very hot, we reached the town. We came very unexpectedly on the town. We took up our several stations. I was stationed with one platoon to the cross roads with orders to leave no [one] pass out and to join the command at a given signal. The rest of the companies was placed around hte town. In less time than I can write it, we had the town surrounded. The Major took a detachment of the City Guards, Co. K, and searched for the arms. We got 25 new rifles after a short search.

While I was guarding the roads, and old gentleman came up to me and we had a long talk. He was a strong Union man. He seemed so happy to see some of the United States soldiers once more. He pointed his house out to me. It had the Stars and Stripes waving over it. He said there was a great many rebels there and one company of soldiers which was to drill that [day but] on account of our presence, he said he expected they would put off their drill. Whilst talking to him, I seen some running in the town and received the signal to close. We dashed off at double quick with a shout from our men for we thought it was a fight, but when we got there it was only to guard the arms. So I never seen the old gentleman after.

We stacked arms by companies in the large open square in the center of the town while them men filled their canteens with water for our return home. I staid by our arms and kept half of our company with me for I did not like the looks of things whilst the rest of the officers and men scattered about. When all at once, I hear a pistol shot over at the Hotel where all of our men and officers was. Everybody rushed to see but us. I ordered our company to fall in which stopped them as if a bomb shell had fall amongst them. The reason I done so was to guard the stacks of muskets which the other companies had left unguarded. I was afraid it was got up to get our muskets and then we would have been at their mercy. But they did not like the looks of the Fireman’s Legion [Co. C], but the alarm was false. It was the accidental discharge of a pistol in the hands of one of Captain [George W.] Tanner’s Company [I]. It came near killing Glock Bonnoffer [?] if he had not jumped aside. As it was, the powder burnt his pants and the ball just grazed his sword.

After a short rest, we took up our march for quarters which we reached about 5 o’clock. So ended our first expedition. That evening the train brought down 49 muskets which was captured by the Greys under Capt. [John S.] Kennedy the night before. And Sunday afternoon, the Blues were sent out some three miles in the country to take some powder from a farmer’s house, but they could not find any there so they had their march for nothing.

We are receiving notice most every day where arms are hid, but do not place much confidence in them. But when sure of it, we go and take them. We had a shocking accident on Monday morning about 3 o’clock. A large freight train from Baltimore passed me at quarters. (I was Officer of the Day) and in about fifteen minutes after one of the guards on the line of the road came running in for the doctor for one of Company E had been run over by the train (it was the Washington Greys) and to hurry up. I woke up the doctor and the alarm woke up all. hands who started up the line. After some time they returned with the poor fellow on a litter, very badly hurt. His head is dreadfully cut and his back and breast hurt. He had sat down on the rail of the road and feel asleep when the train came up and struck him. Poor fellow. He will, I fear, hardly get over it, but it will be a warning to the rest for to sleep on post now is death. But if he gets over it, nothing will be done to him.

Since my last letter, we have lost one of our men, John J. Werling. He died at York. We left him sick there when we left. Poor fellow. He was a fine young man. We got the news yesterday. He died on Sunday morning. It was received by the company very sorrowfully. The 13th Regiment paid him all the attention they could and escorted his remains to the cars which will ever be remembered by the 12th and our company. His body has reached Pittsburgh before this. I hope they will give him a soldier’s funeral for he deserves it as much as if he had been killed in battle, for if he had lived, he would have fought nobly. May his ashes rest in peace and I hope he is in a better world.

Now you must take care of yourself and Kate and so not neglect to get anything you want. I am sorry to hear the bird is sick. I hope he will get over it for I would be sorry to hear he had died for he cost too much. If you could sell him now, it would come in good time for you. Tell Kate I will keep her letter to me till I come home and give her a kiss for it for me. Captain Stewart and Lieutenant Collier sends their best respects to you and Kate. Give my best respects to Mr. Parks and family and to James Irvin and tell him to write to me. Also give my respects to all inquiring friends and give my best respects to John Roberts and tell him to give my respects to all of our old clerks in the Post Office. Give my best love to all of your folks. Write as often as you can for nothing is so welcome as a letter from you. It cheers me whenever I receive one.

I do not know when we leave here but when we do, it will be at very short notice, like our other orders. There is all sorts of rumors of battles and fights and when and where we go to, but nothing certain. But I expect when we do leave, it will be for Harpers Ferry, but wherever it will be, I will try to do my duty as well as I can. You need not fear for me. I am not one of that kind to rush into danger unnecessarily, or volunteer unnecessarily, but will go where ordered.

Kiss Kate a thousand times for me and tell her to kiss you for me. Write soon and I will answer as soon as possible. No more at present. May God bless you both is the prayer of your affectionate husband, — Charles F. Porter



Letter 9


Mellsville near Baltimore

June 10th 1861

My Dear Wife,

I received yours of the 5th on Saturday and I was very happy to hear that you are both well. I am in very good health at present. We had a great deal of rain last week but it is clear and very pleasant now. There is nothing new to tell you at present, but any amount of rumors. We are expecting orders to leave here every moment, but where to we do not know. Some say Harpers Ferry and others say the City of Washington, but God only knows when or where we shall go to. But I think we shall be here for some time yet, and I think when we go, it will be to the City of Washington to help the guard it from the rebels, but cannot say so for certain, but that is my impression.

Col. Campbell has left here with the band and gone to Cockeysville. There is only two companies of [our regiment] here at present. The Blues have gone up to the place where the Greys were. The Greys are at the Relay House, three miles from us, in place of Capt. Cooper’s Company. The City Guards are with Campbell, and the Zouaves at Cockesyville. As there is only two companies of us here, we have still harder guard duty to do, but we all stand it very well.

We have a report in the regiment here that Campbell is to be a Brigadier General and S. W. Black is to be Colonel of our regiment. I cannot vouch for the truth of it, but that is the rumor here, and that the regiment after the three months are up is to [be] filled up and go for three years. I know for certain that the regiment has been offered by Campbell to the Secretary of War for three years, and has been accepted—that is, after out three months are up and all the three months men can [either] reenlist for three years or go home at the end of their present term of enlistment, and then they will recruit to fill up the regiment. I think and am sure there will be very few who will reenlist out of this regiment. They are dissatisfied with their treatment and their officers but would nearly all of them come back in other companies.

We are not in Gen. Negley’s Brigade now. We are not in any. We are on detached service. The Secretary of War sent officers to York to Gen. Kiem for a good regiment and one that could be trusted to guard this road. we were sent as the only regiment he could trust—so much for a good name. All around here and at Washington we are called the crack regiment of Pennsylvania. So they have a good opinion of us, and I say it without any bragging that we are the best drilled regiment for the time we have been in service of any in the state. We will drill with any of them, and our company is as good at drill as any in the regiment. We expect some trouble about here next Thursday, it being election day. They expect plenty of rows in Baltimore and all the troops are ready for any attack that may be made on us or the citizens which stand for the Union. God help them if they do commence on us. Baltimore will be laid in ashes for we can do it, for Fort McHenry commands the whole city and we have troops all around the city.

I enclose a secession badge which will be a curiosity to you as you never saw one. They are afraid to wear them openly here for if caught they would get in trouble.

How is everybody? Give my best respects to Mr. Parks and family, and to Jim Irvin, and all enquiring friends. Give my best love to all of your folks and tell Kate I have her letter safe. I wrote to you last Monday the 4th of June and have got no answer to it yet. Tell Kate to kiss you for me, and you to kiss her for me. How is the bird? How do you get along? I hope you take good care of yourself. Now be sure to do so and tell Kate to be a good girl till I come home. You must excuse this letter for I have nothing to write new to you for we get very little news here.

Tomorrow our quartermaster come to give the men their rations and then we will get some news. No more at present. I remain your affectionate husband, — Charles F. Porter

 Letter 10 


Mellsville near Baltimore

June 17th 1861

My Dear Wife,

I received your letter of the 12th inst. on Saturday and was happy to hear you are both well. I am in excellent health at present. I am sorry to hear you do not get my letters regular. I answer every one of yours as soon as possible and send them always by the first opportunity so do not feel uneasy about it for delays will happen.

I now must tell you about a very painful and shocking affair which happened here on Saturday evening near our quarters, and to members of our company. We have for some three or four days taken notice that some of our men were inclined to meeting and we were watching them very close, unbeknownst to them. On Saturday evening, just at guard mount, word came into quarters that John Knox, Joseph Davis, Robert Bell (alias Loafer Bell), and John W. McClay were drunk and raising a fuss with everybody. I was just on the point of marching off my guard (for I was on first that night) as the word came. The Captain wanted to send some of my guard but I told him I could not spare them, but to take some of the second relief. I marched my guard off to our post and in about an hour I heard some heavy firing in the neighborhood of our quarters. I expected something had happened and kept my men at their posts for I knew if wanted, we would be sent for. It seems the Captain sent the 1st Sergeant to get them to come in. He went after them but they would not come and made an attack on him with knives. He had to fly for his life. The Captain then sent a sergeant and two men with muskets but they could do nothing. Bell then rushed on the guard and took one of their muskets from them. The guard came back and reported. The Captain then ordered ten men out under the Sergeant and the orders were to bring them dead or alive. They marched off and when they arrived near the place where they were, Bell ordered them to halt. The guard still advanced and the Sergeant ordered the four men to give themselves up but they refused and defied the guard and said they would not be taken alive. As the guard came near them, Bell fired his musket at them and the rest fired their revolvers. The Sergeant ordered the guard to fire. They obeyed orders and fired. Bell was killed on the spot having three balls through him. 1 John Knox was very badly wounded in his right arm. He will lose it. Joseph Davis and McClay gave themselves up to the guard and brought to quarters along with Bell’s body.

Word was then sent to Col. Campbell. He came down yesterday morning. He examined into the affair, preferred charges of mutiny against Davis, Knox, and McClay, and ordered them to be taken in irons to Fort McHenry. I was ordered to taken them there under a strong guard. I took Davis and McClay. Knox, the doctor said, could not be taken till today (he was send under guard today). We got a covered wagon and put them in and took them to the fort. I delivered them safe there with the charges against them and they will be tried tomorrow at Fort McHenry, and according to the evidence brought against them, depends their fate. If found guilty they will be shot. I am sorry for them but they deserve their fate for they have escaped punishment so often they thought they could not be punished for anything they did. It will be a good effect on the rest of the men for now they see bad content will be punished and that promptly. The men say they deserved their fate and are quite orderly and quiet. It does not seem like the same company. We have two more men to punish this afternoon for theft. They have been under guard for 48 hours without rations. One is a sergeant, the other a private, both brothers—James and John Fowler. The one that is a sergeant [will] be reduced to the ranks as a private this afternoon and then I hope we shall never have the disagreeable duty of punishing any more of our men and I think we will not have it to do, As soon as I ascertain the fate of those men, I will write you word.

How does old Mr. Parks get along? I hope he does not suffer so much. Poor old man. Give my best respects to Mr. Parks and to all enquiring friends. I do not know how long we will be here. They talk of changing the position of the different companies on the line but the regiment will still be stationed along his road. I expect if they do change the position of the companies, we will be placed up at or near the other end of the road but I would rather not be moved for we are in very good quarters here, and a healthy place, but we will have to obey orders, and go where we are sent to. I think of going to Baltimore with Lieut. Collier some day this week and take a look at the city and see some of my old friends amongst the Philadelphia regiment stationed there.

Tell Kate to kiss you for me and you kiss her for me. Give my love to all of your folks and tell them to take good care of you, and you must take good care of yourself, and get anything you want. We will soon be paid off, so they report here. But I would rather wait till we get discharged and get it all in a lump. It will do more good then. No more at present but write often. May God bless you both is the prayer of your affectionate husband, — Charles F. Porter

1 Robert Bell’s service record indicates that he survived his stint in the 12th Pennsylvania but we now know that isn’t true. There were several people with that name living in Pittsburgh in 1860 but I believe he was either the the grocer and liquor merchant at 237 Liberty Street or his son. He was boarding at the Scott House in Pittsburgh at the time of his enlistment. His enlistment papers record his birth year as 1828 so he would have been @ 33 years old.




Letter 11 


Mellsville near Baltimore

June 22nd 1861

My Dear Wife,

I received Aunt Betsey’s letter yesterday afternoon. I am more than happy to hear that you have got over your troubles so well and happy to hear you are doing so well. It takes a great weight off of my mind to think you and the child are doing well. Tell Kate to kiss her brother for me and we will name him when I come home. How do you like Doctor King? I hope he will pay proper attention to you and you must take the best care of yourself.

I had to stand treat to our officers on the receipt of the news. They call me Pap now here as it is the first birth belonging to the regiment. They claim him as one of the 12th so take care of yourself.

I wrote you all the facts relating to that sad affair. The Dispatch has the best and truest account of it. Tell Mrs. Knox she has the sympathy of all of us and it would do no good at present for her to come on for I don’t think they will be so hard on John. 1 He has not been tried yet and will not be for some days yet for he is not fit to leave the hospital to be tried. He will not have to have his arm taken off but they say it will be always stiff. But if when tried, I find that her presence will be of any service to him. I will send her word to come, so tell her. [Joseph] Davis, I think will be shot or hung. [John W.] McClay will not be dealt so with, but God knows what their fate will be for we have not heard yet what it will be but expect to know in a day or two, and will write as soon as we do receive the news.

Two regiments of soldiers passed here this morning. Two more to pass this afternoon. There is 20,000 men to pass here in less than ten days for Washington. The 13th [Pennsylvania] will pass here in a day or two for Washington. We will be kept here to guard the road so they can pass in safety over it, for if the road was not guarded, they would burn the bridges and no troops could pass to Washington. I wish our time was up, or else they would send us to Washington to help defend it for they expect the city will be attacked, but they think we can do more service by guarding the road so troops can pass. It is very hard service, but we all keep in good health and spirits.

We have not seen Col. Campbell for a week and our Lieutenant Colonel is at preset in Baltimore sick, so we have to take care and be very watchful—so be it. Give my best respects to all. enquiring friends. Give my love to all of folks, and tell Sarah Ann to take good care of you, and not give you veal cutlets and custards to eat till you are well. Tell Kate to kiss you and the baby for me, and you kiss her for me, and tell her to be a good girl. No more at present. God bless you all is the prayer of your affectionate husband, — Charles F. Porter

1 John George Knox (1821-1904) not only survived his three month stint in the 12th Pennsylvania Infantry, he reenlisted as a private in the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry and served another one and a half years. He was married to Mary Anna Jones (b. January 1821) in 1850. His mother was Julia (Biggs) Bougher. In April 1864, after Knox was discharged from the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry and had returned to his job at Bailey, Brown & Co.’s rolling mill, an officer came to arrest Knox for stealing a government horse when he left mustered out. It was Knox’s mother, Mrs. Julia A. Bougher that paid the officer $120 to clear up the matter. It later turned out that the officer had no authority to make the arrest and the officer (named Scanlon) was arrested.


Letter 12


Mellsville near Baltimore

June 27th 1861

Dear Wife,

I received Aunt Betsy’s letter of the 21st day before yesterday and was very happy to hear that you are all well. I am very well at present. You must take the very best care of yourself and you get over your sickness very well. I received a letter from Mr. Park and one from James Irvin yesterday dated the 19th of June directed to Cockeysville and had been laying there ever since. Give them my directions to address letters to me and then I will get them.

There is no news here at present. We heard a rumor of our being discharged from the service in fifteen days—that is, all who will not go for three years. And if it is true, nearly the whole regiment will come home. There is a screw loose somewhere in the regiment for it is very badly managed and has been for some time, but do not say or let anyone see this part of my letter and when I get home, I can give all the facts and show up some of them for I know a soldier’s rights better than they do.

Tell Kate the baby is not named yet but we will name it when I come home. Tell her to take good care of it and kiss it for me. Is she a good girl? I hope she is and will continue so. I fancy I see her now as she came down the street to meet me. God bless her.

I expect I shall be sent to Fort McHenry tomorrow to see Dais and the rest of our men to see if they want anything and to take them some clean shirts and see if I can find out what their sentence is for we have not heard what it is yet. But I have no pity for them. They deserve all they will get. You must make my excuses to Mr. Park for not answer his letter for I did not get till yesterday. If he had directed as you do, I would have got it in time. I have wrote to him today and to James Irvin. Troops are still passing here everyday and here we stand idle, and nothing to cheer us up for it is very hard to see so many troops pass on to Washington which have come in the service since we came. But it is not our faults. We are willing and anxious to go on, but there is something working against our regiment, but I thinkI can tell who it is. There is a day of reckoning coming. We have not seen Col. Campbell for near two weeks.

Give my best love to all of your folks and tell Sarah Ann to take care of you and that big baby. Give my respects to Mr. Park and all enquiring friends. Tell Kate to kiss you and the baby for me and you kiss her for me. You must excuse this short letter for I have nothing new to tell you. How does the bird come on? How does all the neighbors do? Do they come to see you any?I hope you will take care of yourself and soon be about. How do you like Dr. King? I hope he treats you well. He is a Mason. If he don’t, let me know. No more at present. May God bless you all is the prayer of your affectionate husband, — Charles F. Porter

P. S. Give my best respects to John Roberts when you see him.

Letter 13 


Mellsville near Baltimore

June 29th 1861

My Dear Wife,

I received yours and Mrs. Bougher letter yesterday. I am happy to hear that you are all well. I am very well at present. The weather is very fine here but hot.

There has been great excitement in Baltimore. Martial law has been put in force and there is a great excitement there and it is not safe for the soldiers to be in or about the city by themselves. But it will soon be put down and all things safe and quiet. There is no more news to tell you. Everything goes on quietly. We have but four weeks and a few days to stay and then we will be home again.

You say everybody called the baby Charley. Everybody may be mistaken in his name. How do you like this name for him? Ellmore Ellsworth after Col. Ellsworth? If you don’t like the name, tell me and I will give him another. If you don’t like that name, how do you like to call him George Park Porter? If neither suits you, wait till I come home and then I will get a name for him but it is time enough to name him.

Tell Kate to take good care of her little brother and kiss him for me. You must not get up too soon for fear you may be taken worse. Tell Kate she must take good care of you both. How does Sarah Ann get along? She is with you yet, I hope, for she can take more care of you than a stranger, and better too. You must excuse this short letter for I have no news to tell you.

Give my best love to all of your folks and my best respects to Mr. Park and family, also James Irvin, and all enquiring friends. Kiss Kate for me and tell her to kiss you for me. God bless her. No more. May God bless you all is the prayer of your affectionate husband, — Charles F. Porter.

Letter 14 


Mellsville near Baltimore

July 1st 1861

My Dear Wife,

I received your letter of the 28th today and am very happy to hear that you and the baby are doing so well and that Kate is well. I still [am] in good health. In fact, I was never better.

It has been raining here for three days and we have to keep close in our tents. They are very comfortable and I have ours fixed up very nice. We have a raised board floor and are dry and cool. We have our tents pitched on a hill and our men have theirs just below us, near the creek.

You can tell Mrs. Knox her husband has not been tried yet and I do not think he even will be for his time is so near out. His arm will not be taken off. The Doctor says he can save it so he will get off very easy for the crime he has committed. But I hope it will be a lesson to him as long as he lives. I have no pity for him but I do feel for his poor wife and mother that they should be so disgraced by him. They must suffer a great deal. They may rest easy about him for he will not be shot. I expect to go and see him tomorrow if it is not raining and if it does, I will go the first clear day and will write to you about him. He does not, and not worthy of her love or sympathy. He is a drunken loafer. You need not tell her that, or anybody.

You ask me when I will get home. Our time is up on the 25th of this month. We may be sent home before our time is out and we may not for our regimental officers are trying to get us sent home before our time is out. You need not be afraid of me going for three years in this regiment. We are not treated like men, but I will say no more, but can speak when I get home. I do not know what I shall get at when I get home for they say times are so hard and money scarce. But I put my trust in God and hope something will turn up that I can get something to do for I cannot get along by being idle long.

You. say John Quinn is sick but my opinion of him is he is sick of war and too lay for even a soldier. Has Mr. Park got my letter yet? Tell Kate she need not fear that her nose will be cut out for I can love both as well as one. Now take care of yourself and the baby, and Kate. How is the bird? Give my love to all of your folks and my best respects to Mr. Park and all enquiring friends. Kiss Kate for me and tell her to kiss her brother for me and let her give you a kiss for me. No more at present but write soon.

May God bless you all is the prayer of your affectionate husband, — Charles F. Porter


Letter 15 


Mellsville near Baltimore

July 10th 1861

My Dear Wife,

I received your letter of the 5th and was happy to hear that you are all well. I am well at present.

It rained very hard all yesterday afternoon and night but it is now clear and pleasant. I have no news to tell you. You in Pittsburgh know more about our regiment than we do here. I don’t think they will keep us over our time without our consent but the Colonel will do most anything to gain his ends. The way things look here at present, I do not think there will be twenty men go for the three years, there is so much dissatisfaction in the regiment and if the men of Pittsburgh only knew as much as us here, they never would enlist in his regiment.

You can tell Mrs. Knox when you see her that John is with us now. He was sent back from the Fort to us on Monday. His arm is getting along very well. He can use it some. The Doctor says he will be able to use it as well as ever in six months. John seems very sorry that he had anything to do with those men. There is one thing certain, if their time of enlistment had not been as near out, not one would have been alive today. They would have been shot at the fort for mutiny.

Did Kate get her card? Give her ten kisses for me and tell her to kiss you and the baby for me. Give my love to all of your folk and my respects to Mr. Park and family. Also to all. enquiring friends. You must excuse this letter for I have no news to tell you. May God bless you all is the prayer of your affectionate husband, — Charles F. Porter



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Spared & Shared

Nearly a decade ago, I was afforded the opportunity to transcribe letters that were purchased by a major buyer on eBay who wished that I would not only transcribe them but also identify the authors, look for significant content, and basically research any of the names, places and events mentioned in them. Remuneration was offered but I declined—my reward being the preservation of history. My only condition was that I be authorized to publish the letters or diaries on websites that I created, which I entitled Spared & Shared. I have now transcribed upwards of 15,000 letters and diaries, mostly penned by Civil War soldiers or sailors but also civilians who were equally impacted by the war.

Over time, as I published these transcripts, others have approached me requesting that I transcribe letters from their private collections and I have generally done so with the same condition, that I be allowed to publish them on Spared & Shared. To showcase my transcription activity, I created a Spared & Shared Facebook page (see link in sidebar). If you follow me there, you will be apprised of any new available transcripts.

I should emphasize that most of these letters or diaries have never been previously transcribed, let alone published, and therefore represent fresh new material available to historians who may be researching their family history or collecting material for a book. Feel free to use this material but please credit Spared & Shared when you do.

If you are looking for information about a particular sailor or soldier, company, or regiment serving in the Civil War, the Billy Yank & Johnny Reb Letters website is my attempt to capture most of the letters I’ve transcribed over the last several years.

If you have any letters, diaries, or pictures—whether it are something you inherited from your family or purchased as a collector—and you are willing to share it on Spared & Shared, please contact me through my Spared & Shared Facebook page. — Griff

For more information on civil war mail and handwritten letters, check out this link by clicking HERE to visit Spared & Shared   

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We are always looking for copies of your Baltimore Police class photos, pictures of our officers, vehicles, and newspaper articles relating to our department and/or officers; old departmental newsletters, old departmental newsletters, lookouts, wanted posters, and/or brochures; information on deceased officers; and anything that may help preserve the history and proud traditions of this agency. Please contact Retired Detective Kenny Driscoll.

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How to Dispose of Old Police Items

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 pictures to 8138 Dundalk Ave., Baltimore, Md. 21222


Copyright © 2002 Baltimore City Police History: Ret Det. Kenny Driscoll 

Retired Det. /Sgt. William Leroy Sullivan Sr.

Retired Det. /Sgt. William Leroy Sullivan Sr.

Retired Det. /Sgt. Sullivan began working at a very young age with his father, Sam, as a street vendor (Arabber) selling fruits, vegetables, poultry, and seafood from a horse-drawn cart in Baltimore City. Det. Sgt. Sullivan then worked for the Albert F. Goetze Meat Packing Company in the late 1950’s before starting his lifelong career with the Baltimore City Police Department, retiring in 1995 as Detective Sgt. in the Robbery Unit. He spent 33 dedicated years protecting and serving his community. After retirement, he worked several years as an investigator for the Baltimore City Department of Social Services. Mr. Sullivan eventually retired, and he and his wife of 67 years, Margaret, moved to Ocean Pines, MD and then eventually to Milton, DE.

He moved to Southern Delaware in 2018, but the City of Baltimore remained the place he called home in his heart and was devoted to it. Det. Sgt. Sullivan's hobbies were active and constructive. He was an avid outdoorsman who relished the planning of many crabbing trips on the Wye River as well as fishing trips and vacations in Ocean City, Maryland. Det. Sgt. Sullivan also loved playing cards, handyman projects, watching old western movies, and cheering on the Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens. He enjoyed dining out in Ocean City, MD and Lewes, DE and quite often you would find him enjoying lunch on Sunday at The Wheelhouse Restaurant in Lewes, one of his favorite places to dine. Det. Sgt. Sullivan also loved telling stories about the old days at the Baltimore City Police Department when officers did not have ballistic vests, the police cars didn’t have air conditioning, and officers had to purchase their own handcuffs.

He was a proud member of the Fraternal Order of Police in Baltimore City Lodge #003, as well as a past member of Anne Arundel County Moose Lodge. More than anything, he treasured time spent with his family, especially his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who were the apples of his eyes. Det. Sgt. Sullivan was a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. His presence will be dearly and genuinely missed by all the lives he touched.

In addition to his parents, Det. Sgt. Sullivan was predeceased by his brother, Vernon Sullivan, Baltimore, MD. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Margaret Kay Sullivan; his children: Barbara Sullivan of Annapolis, MD; Karen White (Keith) of Greer, S.C., Patricia Finley of Linthicum Heights, MD, Dianna Stotz (Andy Kulp) of Annapolis, MD, and William L. Sullivan, Jr. (Heather) of Milton, DE; his numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren; his brothers: Robert Sullivan of Perry Hall, MD, and Thomas Sullivan of Baltimore, MD; and his sister, Genevieve Murray (Blaine) of Perry Hall, MD.

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Ken uses eBay Snipe program EZSniper to try to win auction for the site and museum click the logo above or click HERE

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Copies of: Your Baltimore Police Department Class Photo, Pictures of our Officers, Vehicles, Equipment, Newspaper Articles relating to our department and or officers, Old Departmental Newsletters, Lookouts, Wanted Posters, and or Brochures. Information on Deceased Officers and anything that may help Preserve the History and Proud Traditions of this agency. Please contact Retired Detective Kenny Driscoll.

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How to Dispose of Old Police Items

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.  or 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 



By Retired Lieutenant Charles J. Key

I provided Bill Hackley (the original curator of the Baltimore Police Museum website) with the materials regarding Lombard and Carey and the inception of the Quick Response Teams because I had them for thirty plus years, and, like me, they were just getting older and not doing anybody much good. What good can these materials do? They can serve as a reminder that preserving the status quo in the dangerous business of police work can get cops killed. All of the materials concerning Lombard and Carey are a matter of public record. The documents concerning the establishing of the Quick Response Teams are not public records, but, since I wrote them and have provided them to countless other agencies, I am putting them out there. Their only relevance now is to history. The reader will note that they are signed by the, then, Acting Commanding Officer of Tactical (John Schmidt), who believed that any correspondence from his unit should be signed by him. As long as the program was approved, it didn’t make much difference to me whose signature was on it. Regardless, they document the founding of SWAT operations in the Baltimore Police Department at a time when moving ahead with new concepts was like pulling good teeth out of a really pissed off Grizzly Bear’s mouth–a chancy business at best.

Some of the heroes in the command structure at the beginning of that process were Bishop Robinson, and Joe Bolesta. Of particular note on the operational level, then and later, was Lieutenant Darryl Duggins (1901 in the City Wide Communications Tape Transcript). Duggins was a sometimes recalcitrant, always plain spoken, always forge ahead and damn the "brass," brilliant leader, and implementer of the structural minutia that makes a group of diverse and resistive personalities into a cohesive unit. Darryl was a Marine at Chosin Reservoir. Nothing else needs to be said. How do the documents concerning the founding of the QRT relate to Lombard and Carey? The one led to the other, or, rather, significantly sped up the other. In the months just prior to Lombard and Carey, Bishop Robinson, who was Chief of Patrol, convened several meetings of Tactical supervisors and the Commanding Officer of Tactical, Joe Bolesta. Bolesta was, and is, a more refined version of Duggins; i.e., a man that had the fortitude to stand up to command, but could do it without making unnecessary enemies that could hurt his goals and those of his unit. I was a sergeant in Tactical at the time (1930 and 2501 in the City Wide Communications Tape Transcript) and was assigned the task of writing the general order for the resolution of sniper, barricade, and hostage situations. I completed that assignment by January of 1976. With Captain Bolesta’s permission, I began training my squad in SWAT procedures. We worked mostly on our time with equipment we bought and used tactical procedures I had acquired from military tactics manuals, Los Angeles SWAT (In operation, by contrast, since the late 60's), New York SWAT, and other similar programs. We did all of the physical training on our own time, although the effort was something like filling up a balloon with mud. In February of 1976, Captain Bolesta sent my squad to the FBI SWAT school. On Good Friday, April 16, 1976, my squad was the only squad in the Baltimore Police Department with any SWAT training. On that evening, John Earl Williams decided to impress his girlfriend by killing a few cops.

The entire Lombard and Carey incident lasted a little more than thirty-five minutes, but its repercussions still linger through today. I was scheduled to start training other TAC squads in SWAT tactics on Monday, April 19th. Lombard and Carey had been the first incident where members of the, then, nonexistent QRT had been deployed. Members of my squad were assigned as observers for the counter-sniper, an evacuation team, a gas deployment team, and an entry team for 1303 Lombard after Williams was forced out by cover/suppression fire fusillade. Those team roles had been learned and practiced primarily on their own time. Lombard and Carey would lay the groundwork for ensuring that training and equipping the QRT became a mandated, on-duty, part of the Department’s response to sniper, barricade, and hostage situations. Shortly before 7:00 p.m. on Good Friday, the temperature was above 90 degrees. TAC had been redeployed to the area around Lombard and Carey because Williams had called and told Communications that he planned to kill cops. Williams was a nothing person whose girlfriend (in his mind only) had told him to get lost. His attempt to impress her by shooting cops landed him in prison, where the last I heard, he has had many relationships much more "fulfilling" than the one he used as an excuse for his madness. I’m sure his role in prison is the achievement pinnacle of his pathetic life. Williams has been released now, a travesty and miscarriage of justice. Williams had briefly been in the National Guard and had received some training in weapons and tactics from them. He had also stolen some equipment from the Guard and had amassed a large quantity of ammunition and long guns. Specifically, that night he was shooting a 300 Winchester magnum, an 8mm Magnum, a 30-06, a 12 gauge shotgun, and perhaps others. After ingesting some PCP, he began his shooting spree shortly before 7:00 p.m.. His first targets were TAC officers, who, ironically, became his targets because of their redeployment to the area in response to his threats.

As for the rest of the story, the transcript of the tapes and photos will tell it. All of the officers were shot within the first nine minutes of the inception of the incident. They were evacuated from the line of fire within forty minutes, and the incident was over in less than an hour–39 minutes, actually. There were numerous heroes on that night, starting with, of course, Jimmy Halcomb, a Marine veteran. A hero not just because he gave his life, but because he, like nearly two hundred other cops responded to the call of cops taking fire. He and the officers who were wounded (Jimmy Brennan, Art Kennel, Neal Splain, Calvin Mencken, Roland Miller) were trying to stop Williams and did what cops do by profession and calling–they ran into the mouth of the dragon when others were running away. Also, off-duty Homicide Detective, Nick Giangrazo (forgive the spelling), who ran from a position of safety across Lombard Street into the killing zone, helped put Jimmy Brennan in a van and drive him from the scene. Brennan had been dragged behind the van by his friend and fellow Western District Officer, Doug Bryson, during a hail of gunfire. He had lain there bleeding from the time the incident began, but was kept alive by Bryson who had applied direct pressure to Brennan's gaping, gushing wounds in his elbow and side. Then there was Mike Hurm from TAC and Frank Stallings from the Western, who pulled Halcomb out during the barrage of cover/suppression fire. On the communications tape, Duggins can be heard asking me to provide a barrage of cover fire so he could take a gas team across Carey St. to a house across from 1303 Lombard. Since I had sent an evacuation team–Rummo (TL), Siebor, Schillo, and Hurm–down for Halcomb, I told Duggins I would coordinate it with their retrieval effort. Unlike the chaos of the previous half hour, when 2501 ordered cover/suppression fire, it started immediately, and ceased immediately, almost exactly one minute later, when I ordered a cease-fire. After the deafening gunfire, the silence was a remarkable change from the previous chaotic, uncontrolled communications. 2501 also ordered any streetlights shot out that were illuminating the gas and evacuation team’s efforts. Cops being cops, that order was broadly interpreted to include streetlights. a block or so away from Carey Street, where Duggins was crossing with the gas team and the evacuation team was trying to retrieve Halcomb. It was, unfortunately, too late because Officer Halcomb had died instantly, but the efforts of Hurm and Stallings were no less courageous. The reality was that all of the officers who responded that night did so selflessly, and without concern for their personal safety, and with the one overriding motivation of helping brother officers. The coward Williams decided that dying by multiple gunshot wounds wasn’t in his future after all and called communications to beg for his life. I had reset the command post’s position to Baltimore and Carey, because its original location (Hollins and Carey) was taking ricochets from either from Williams or officers who mistakenly thought Williams was on the north side of Lombard.

Communications called me and asked that I call them via land line. The radios in those days had weak signals, so I had to ask a Western District lieutenant to listen up for me while I went inside a laundry mat to use the pay phone. The Communications supervisor told me Williams wanted to surrender and asked how he should do that. Normally, he would have been directed to walk with his hands up to a place where cops were behind cover and could safely take him in custody, but I suspected that if he walked out and didn’t immediately go prone, there was a good chance he would be shot. He did that, and, although the house hadn’t been cleared, a number of officers ran to him and dragged him away. Luckily, he was the only shooter.

There were many flaws in the Department’s response to Lombard and Carey. Communications’ discipline was practically nonexistent. Officers gave conflicting information concerning the location of Williams, which resulted in officers firing on officers. Contradictory information concerning the removal of wounded officers resulted in Jimmy Halcomb being left where he fell for over twenty minutes. Again, Halcomb was killed immediately, but that didn’t change the fact that his location should have been identified and a rescue effort mounted much more quickly. The command post, 2501, was implemented and manned only by a rookie sergeant who gave all of the orders until 1303 Lombard had been declared secure by the entry team. Two colonels were on the scene (Avara and Watkins), but neither gave orders, responded and/or stayed at the command post until after Williams was forced out by a couple of hundred shots into his house. After Williams  was forced out, Watkins ordered all units, including 2501, to standby. He wanted all the district officers to return to their posts and tactical officers to remain on the scene. I broadcast to Watkins that I needed the officers to remain to protect and secure the scene until we had cleared Williams’ house–at that point it was unknown if there was more than one shooter or that Williams was, in fact, the shooter. Watkins responded again with his order for patrol officers to go back in service. After hearing that order, the unknown Western lieutenant with me at Baltimore and Carey told me he and his men would stay there as long as I needed them. Also, showing his brass mettle, Bolesta–again, a captain–told KGA to have the officers remain on the scene to protect the crime scene per general order. When KGA asked Bolesta if he was aware that unit 11 (Watkins) had ordered them back in service, Bolesta replied, “I’m aware of that.” After the house was cleared, I walked down to where Halcomb had lain. While standing over the blood soaked sidewalk with Captain Bolesta, Colonel Robinson walked up. He had tears in his eyes. He asked us, “How can I prevent this from ever happening again?” Bolesta told him, “Sign the Sniper/Barricade General Order.” Robinson did that, but, because of bureaucratic stalling by other command members, the actual publishing of the General Order wasn’t accomplished until October of 1977–for whatever reason a day or so after I was promoted to lieutenant. As a final and somewhat eerie note, the streetlight above where Halcomb had died had been shot during the cover/suppression fire, but it didn’t fully extinguish until Robinson walked up to where Bolesta and I were standing. Over the years there has been much criticism concerning the handling of Lombard and Carey. The main reason why it occurred the way it did, however, was the failure by the Department to recognize the need for a specialized team and disciplined response to such incidents well before the efforts of Bishop Robinson and Joe Bolesta. After all, there had been many similar incidents around the country and several such incidents in Baltimore prior to April 16th. Old line thinking, petty interdepartmental rivalries, and a drag-them-out-by-their-hair mentality dictated the entire response spectrum to situations like Lombard and Carey. I wish that I could say that Good Friday, April 16, 1976, changed all of that, but it would take many years for any true change to occur and, even then, not a whole hearted change. In addition to honoring the cops that were there that night, the posting of these materials is meant to stand as a stark reminder of what can happen when a police department loses, or, more accurately, never finds its ability to give the same weight to issues vital to officer safety as it does to its crime reduction mission, or now, DEI concerns. In the past crime reduction has trumped all other concerns. Today, the certain eventuality of terrorist attacks in this country should compel the Baltimore Police Department to ensure that all of its officers are well prepared to meet such challenges. It is an absolute that Baltimore Police Officers will thrust themselves into the breach, with or without proper training, with or without appropriate guidelines, and with or without necessary equipment. They will do so, and some will pay the price like Jimmy Halcomb, Jimmy Brennan, Roland Miller, Art Kennel, Neal Splain, and Calvin Mencken did on that hot night in April. It is incumbent on the Baltimore Police Department to provide them with the tools, guidelines, and training they will need. The tragedy of Lombard and Carey demands that.

Finally, I didn’t know what I was going to do with the documents that I had until I came across Bill Hackley’s website, which is now under the watchful and dedicated eye of Detective Ken Driscoll. I was much impressed by Hackley’s dedication to memorializing the Baltimore Police Department’s rich history and the huge amount of work he put into the effort. Driscoll, who sacrificed his health in the service of the citizens of Baltimore, has carried on and expanded Hackley’s work. I can think of no better way to have the story of Lombard and Carey told than to entrust it to Ken Driscoll. I know he will do it justice.



Copies of: Your Baltimore Police Department Class Photo, Pictures of our Officers, Vehicles, Equipment, Newspaper Articles relating to our department and or officers, Old Departmental Newsletters, Lookouts, Wanted Posters, and or Brochures. Information on Deceased Officers and anything that may help Preserve the History and Proud Traditions of this agency. Please contact Retired Detective Kenny Driscoll.

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How to Dispose of Old Police Items

If you come into possession of Police items from the Estate or Death of a Police Officer Family Member and do not know how to properly dispose of these items, please contact: Retired Detective Ken Driscoll - Please dispose of POLICE Items: (badges, Guns, Uniforms, documents) PROPERLY so they won’t be used IMPROPERLY. 

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, like us on Facebook or mail pictures to 8138 Dundalk Ave., Baltimore, Md. 21222

Copyright © 2002 Baltimore City Police History: Ret Det. Kenny Driscoll

Richard B. Mioduszewski Sr

Richard B. Mioduszewski Sr.

Richard B. Mioduszewski Sr., a highly decorated Baltimore police officer who earned the department’s highest honor for helping end a 1971 shooting spree that killed five, died Saturday of liver failure at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 56.

The former longtime Millersville resident had lived in New Freedom, Pa., since 1996.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Brooklyn, Mr. Mioduszewski was a 1964 graduate of Southern High School, where he played tackle on the football team and wrestled.

After graduating from the Baltimore Police Academy in 1966, he was assigned as a patrolman to the Southwestern District.

On Nov. 22, 1971, on his way to begin his shift, he arrived at a shooting.

Raymond D. Ferrel-el, 29, an Army veteran dressed in camouflage clothing, had carried a carbine and a .30-caliber hunting rifle into the PPG Industries brush manufacturing plant in the 3200 block of Frederick Ave., where he was employed dipping brush handles in vats of lacquer.

Mr. Ferrel-el, a former teacher’s aide in Baltimore public schools, began shooting, killing five co-workers and wounding another.

“The killer was ‘yelling as he shot, laughing wild, hysterical laughter,’ an officer said,” The Sun reported. “But the gunman calmly asked one witness to help him get out of the plant with his rifles.”

After leaving the building, he crossed Frederick Avenue and was standing near a fire station, reloading one of his weapons, when police arrived. Patrolman Kenneth Hayden approached, and Mr. Ferrel-el opened fire, wounding him in the left knee.

Mr. Mioduszewski “was late for work and was zipping down an alley when he arrived at the crime scene,” said his wife of 25 years, the former Margaret L. Keeney. “He quickly realized it was a bad situation. He saw the wounded officer and was afraid that Ferrel-el was going to shoot him again, so he shot him. It was the only time in his career that he ever drew his weapon.”

The gunman was wounded in the stomach and fell to the ground. After recovering, he was found innocent by reason of insanity and committed to the state’s Clifton T. Perkins mental hospital.

In 1972, Mr. Mioduszewski was awarded the Police Medal of Honor, the department’s highest decoration, for his role in responding to the shooting.

“He seldom talked about the incident and was a very quiet and modest man who took the job of protecting people’s lives and property very seriously,” said Mrs. Mioduszewski.

After resigning from the Police Department in 1978, he joined the University of Maryland campus police and was a patrol officer on the school’s Baltimore campus until retiring in 1996.

He was a member of the National Rifle Association, and he collected antique weapons. He also collected domestic and foreign money.

A memorial service will be held at 8 p.m. today at the J.J. Hartenstein Mortuary in New Freedom, Pa.

Other survivors include a son, Richard B. Mioduszewski Jr. of Annapolis; a brother, Arthur Mioduszewski of Ferndale; and two grandchildren.

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The Evening Sun Wed Nov 24 1971 pg 1 and 2 72

Click HERE or the picture above for full-size article

The Baltimore Sun Sun Nov 28 1971 72

 Click HERE or the picture above for full-size article


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Ken uses eBay Snipe program EZSniper to try to win auction for the site and museum Click the logo above or click HERE

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Copies of: Your Baltimore Police Department Class Photo, Pictures of our Officers, Vehicles, Equipment, Newspaper Articles relating to our department and/or officers, Old Departmental Newsletters, Lookouts, Wanted Posters, and/or Brochures. Information on deceased officers and anything that may help preserve the history and proud traditions of this agency. Please contact retired detective Kenny Driscoll.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Devider color with motto


How to Dispose of Old Police Items

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.  or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. follow us on Twitter @BaltoPoliceHist, like us on Facebook or mail pictures to 8138 Dundalk Ave., Baltimore, Md. 21222 

Copyright © 2002 Baltimore City Police History: Ret Det. Kenny Driscoll 

Baltimore Police Books by Baltimore Police Authors

2006 Baler, Barry M. Becoming a Police Officer 13-978-0-595-38078-7
2008 Brooks, Herman Louis Jr. Could it Be; Personal Reflections on the Book of Revelations 978-0-615-27564-2
2018 Cabrzas, James Eyes of Justice 978-1727093636
No Date Coppage, E. M., Sr. Rev/DR Inside the Divide: The Friction Within; Mending of the Blue Broken Community None
2015 Danko, Steve P. Tour of Duty Complexity of Police Work 13-1491778258
2023 Danko, Steve P. Charm City Boys 13-8854313315
2009 Dillon, John W. Have I told You About… 1-60610-393-8
1997 Douglas, Robert E. Dr. Death with Valor None
1999 Douglas, Robert E. Dr. Hope Beyond the Badge None
2010 Douglas, Robert E. Dr. Healing for a Hero's Heart None
2023 Douglas, Robert E. Dr. The Art of Being You None
2023 Douglas, Robert E. Dr. I Can't Live an Empty Life None
2016 Driscoll, Kenny Baltimore City Police History; A Historical Timeline 13-978-153087706
2016 Ellwood, Dick A Dark Side of Blue 13-978-1530126789
2017 Ellwood, Dick Police Baltimore Cop Stories II; A Real Conversation 13-978-1987410637
2022 Ellwood, Dick LEO Legends / BCPD; A look Behind the Badge 13-979-8630414021
2010 Ellwood, Dick Cop Stories; The Few, The Proud, The Ugly 978-1-4502-4351-3
2012 Ellwood, Dick Charm City Blue Justice 978-1-4759-6665-7
2012 Ellwood, Dick Charm City Blue Justice 978-1-4759-6665-7
2014 Ellwood, Dick The Secret Zoo 978-1500640484
1893 Frey, Jacob Reminiscence of Baltimore (Reprint 2002) 1-58549-745-2
2014 Gordon, Joel E. Still Seeking Justice; One Officers Story None
2014 Gordon, William D. Life in Black and White None
1980 Gribbin, August K. Sr. How it All Happened 53304314x
2017 Kapfhammer, Sean The Ghost of Anne Arundel Community College and Surroung Area 978-0-9993846-0-2
2016 Kapfhammer, Sean The Ghost of Loyola University Maryland and the Surrounding Area None
2018 Kowalczyk, Eric John The Politics if Crisis 978-19474804131
2020 LeBrun, Robert L. If I Had A Story to Tell 13-978-1-0879-2167-9
2023 LeBrun, Robert L. Death Always Wins 13-979-8886793888
2022 LeBrun, Robert L. Death Has It Ways 13-979-8886794847
2014 LeBrun, Robert L. All That Remains 978-1-59299-983-5
2019 LeBrun, Robert L. The Forever Ranger 978-1-6453-0306-0
2008 Malecki, Edward G. On Patrol; Baltimore Police 978-0-6152-0986-9
1960 Marders, Irvin E. How to Use Dogs Effectively in Modern Police Work None
2022 MclHinney, Gary / Cowherd, Kevin Bleeding Blue 978-1627203753
2002 Mize, Lawrence E. Dead Man Calling 1-56167-709-4
2019 Mize, Lawrence E. My Long Journey in Baltimore 978-1-6453-0634-4
2020 Mize, Lawrence E. Baltimore A City Besieged 978-8580887777
2008 Moskes, Peter Cop in the Hood 978-0-691-12655-5
2017 Norris, Ed / Cowherd, Kevin Way Down in the Hole 978-1-62720-144-5
2009 Olson, Steven P. / Brown, Robert P. Some Gave All; A History of Baltimore Police Killed in the Line of Duty 1808-2007 978-0-9635159-5-7
2009 Parsons, George P. Jr. Passing the Baton 978-1-4251-8387-3
2017 Phelan-Eilerman, Mary Tenley's Magic Thumb 13-1-985017641
1990 Reintzell, John F.  The Police Officers Guide to Survival, Health and Fitness 0-398-05711-7
2018 Reintzell, John F.  Charm City Cop; Life and Times of Steve Tabeling 978-1-532056505
No Date Riddick, John Life in Black and White None
No Date Riddick, John The Boogeyman of Baltimore None
2009 Rosado, Jose A. THUGS Amoung Us 978-1-4389-5703-6
2011 Sewell, Kelvin / Janis, Stephen Why Do We Kill? None
2006 Shanahan, Daniel J. Badges, Bullets, & Bars 1-42570963x
2020 Stout, P. M. Baltimore Blue Bloods 979-8637795789
2013 Tabeling, Stephen / Janis, Stephen You Can't Stop Murder: Truths about Policing in Baltimore and Beyond None
2017 Tabeling, Stephen / Janis, Stephen The Book of Cop; A Testament to Policing that Works None
2013 Tomczak, Michael P. Feasting with Franklin None
2020 Tress, Samuel D. The Art of Policing in Baltimore 979-8613521890
2016 Weinhold, Rob / Cowherd, Kevin The Art of Crisis Leadership 978-1-62720-112-4
2021 Wilson, Bob Twenty-Five Years with the Baltimore City Police Department from Behind the Badge     978-8788244754
2021 Wilson, Bob The Baltimore Police Department: Those Were the Days 979-8481325837
2017 Wise, Wesley R. A life in Blue 13-978-1508503583
2023 Wise, Wesley R. Wise Musing: A Collection of Essays and Short Stories 13-979-8377164333
2014 Wise, Wesley R. A Blue and White Life 978-1503266532

2022            Wilson, Bob                                  My Memories of The Baltimore Police Department from Behind the Badge
2021            Wilson, Bob                                  Growing Up in Dundalk in the 50s and 60s
2021            Wilson, Bob                                  The Baltimore Police Department – Those Were the Days                                       979-8481925837


Detective Albert “Mad Dog” Marcus

Detective Albert “Mad Dog” Marcus

Detective Albert “Mad Dog” Marcus was a highly esteemed member of the Baltimore Police Department. His impactful career spans over 40 years, during which he has made significant contributions to his field. Here are some key details about his career:

  • Nickname: Detective Marcus earned his nickname, “Mad Dog,” due to his assertive approach to law enforcement. Some told us it came from a character on Hill Street Blues that shared Al’s work ethic.
  • Arrests: Over his many years with the department, he made or was part of nearly 6,000 arrests.
  • Commendations: His unwavering dedication and commitment to his position with Baltimore’s police as both a patrolman and a detective garnered him numerous commendations, including two Bronze Stars. He was also in the first unit to receive a unit citation.
  • Policeman of the Year: He has also been nominated for the Policeman of the Year award twice.
  • Narcotics to Homicide: Detective Marcus dedicated many years to narcotics before transitioning to homicide cases.
  • Cold Cases: Even as he neared retirement, he continued to work tirelessly on solving cold cases, demonstrating his relentless pursuit of justice.
  • Retired Badge: On March 5, 2016, Commissioner Kevin Davis retired Detective Albert Marcus’s badge #12. This significant honor is a testament to an officer’s contributions and service. It’s important to note that the Baltimore Police Department has only retired five badge numbers since its founding in 1784 and only two of those were detective badges.

In addition to his professional achievements seen here, Detective Marcus was involved many other great cases, most of which went unrecognized, as do most cases Baltimore’s police are involved in. It is sad just how much good police work is ignored, from Ken’s work to the work of others close to Ken I would say that for every award these officers have received, at least three or four similarly great cases went unnoticed. So, when you see any officer on the streets of Baltimore wearing a single ribbon, know that officer should be wearing three or four ribbons. In Det Marcus’ case, I am sure the three ribbons we know of are far less than he actually holds, but if we know of three, we also know he should be wearing no less than nine to twelve ribbons for the work he did, and that number would grow with whatever actual number of ribbons he had received.

It is with great honor that we have added Detective Marcus to our Hall of Fame

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We are always looking for copies of your Baltimore Police class photos, pictures of our officers, vehicles, and newspaper articles relating to our department and/or officers; old departmental newsletters, old departmental newsletters, lookouts, wanted posters, and/or brochures; information on deceased officers; and anything that may help preserve the history and proud traditions of this agency. Please contact retired detective Kenny Driscoll.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Devider color with motto


How to Dispose of Old Police Items

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, like us on Facebook or mail pictures to 8138 Dundalk Ave., Baltimore, Md. 21222


Copyright © 2002 Baltimore City Police History: Ret Det. Kenny Driscoll 

The Rising Star of Jiu-Jitsu: Henry Driscoll

The Rising Star of Jiu-jitsu: Henry Driscoll

In the world of martial arts, a new name is making waves: Henry Driscoll. At just eight years old, this young man from Baltimore County has shown exceptional talent and dedication to the art of Jiu Jitsu.

Born into a family of MMA fighters, Henry Driscoll was introduced to martial arts at a young age. His parents, Kennith Driscoll II and Brittany Driscoll, both practical MMA fighters, have been instrumental in his journey. They have not only nurtured his skills but also ignited his passion for the sport, encouraging him to excel and fostering his love for martial arts.

Henry’s determination and resilience are not just a testament to his character but also a reflection of his lineage. His grandfather, retired Detective Kenny Driscoll, studied Jiu-jitsu and Judo under Robert Koga while serving in the Baltimore Police Department for nearly 16 years. Despite facing significant injuries, Detective Driscoll’s determination never wavered, and he always managed to stay one step ahead. His unique approach to eliciting confessions, which had a 98% success rate, encouraged people to confide in him and share their stories.

Just like his grandfather, Henry has turned his challenges into his strength. Despite Henry’s battle with asthma, he has shown that no obstacle is too big. His technique is precise, his movements fluid, and his understanding of the sport is well beyond his years.

Henry often hears stories about his grandfather’s achievements, his grandmother’s excellence, and how his uncles and aunts have all been known for their abilities. So, Henry has been eager to create his own legacy. He dreams of the day when people will search his name in the search engines or ask Alexa and hear about him and his accomplishments.

Well, Henry, that day has come. Your name is now etched in the archives of martial arts, and your story is an inspiration to us all. Keep shining, keep fighting, and keep making us proud. The world of martial arts awaits its new champion, and we believe that champion is Henry Driscoll.

Remember, every time Henry steps onto the mat, he’s not just fighting an opponent; he’s fighting his own health challenges, and he is fighting for his dreams. We are all cheering for him to succeed, and we have no doubt he will.

This is just the beginning, Henry Driscoll. The future holds great things for this kid. Just like his father, his mother, his aunts, uncles, grandmother, and grandfather, Henry is creating a legacy of resilience, determination, and excellence that we believe will outshine all of theirs put together if he keeps his heart in it, as he is already off to a great start.

This is just the beginning, Henry Driscoll. The future holds great things for you.


For audio, click HERE 

Stephen Tabeling

Steve Tabeling

Stephen Tabeling
Retired Baltimore police lieutenant

Stephen Tabeling is a former Baltimore police lieutenant who served for 25 years in various roles, including narcotics, homicide, and security. He was the first detective to win a murder conviction without a body, and he investigated some of the most notorious cases in the city’s history, such as the attempted assassination of former Mayor William Donald Schaefer, the sniper shooting of seven police officers, and the killing of a drug-dealing state delegate. He also worked as a chief of police in Salisbury, a director of public safety at Loyola University, and a consultant for Johns Hopkins and the Baltimore Police Department. He retired from policing in 2000, but he did not stop working. He became a private detective, a substitute teacher, and an author. He co-wrote several books about his experiences in law enforcement, such as Black October, The Badge and the Bullet, and The Thin Blue Line. He also co-produced a documentary series called The Wire: The Real Story, which won an Emmy award in 2008. At the time of these writings, he is currently 94 years old and lives in Towson, Maryland. He is married to Dolores Tabeling and has four children and nine grandchildren. He is passionate about education and mentoring young people, and he often tells his students, “Don’t be like me.” He is a respected and admired figure in the Baltimore community, and he is a living legend in the history of policing. He has dedicated his life to serving and protecting the people of Baltimore, and his impact on the city's police force is immeasurable.

Throughout his career, he has been known for his commitment to justice and his unwavering determination to make a difference. His contributions to law enforcement have left a lasting legacy, inspiring future generations of officers to follow in his footsteps.

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LEO Legends cover

LEO Legends Baltimore, PD 
A Look Behind the Badge
Click HERE or on the book to buy the book

Dick Ellwood, a retired police officer, detective, and sergeant, has written several books since his retirement from the Baltimore City Police Department. As a police officer for over twenty-five years, he brings many stories of LEO (Law Enforcement Officers) legends to this book. Dick was a police officer who worked in several high-profile units in one of the most dangerous cities in the nation, Baltimore. In this book, he will share stories of some of the true legends that he knew during his career. The author details the reasons he has chosen these men that he served with as legends. The definition of a legend is a person who stands out above others; a person who, by his actions, leaves an indelible mark on those he worked with and the community he served.

The author realizes that by singling out law enforcement officers that he has firsthand knowledge of, he may be leaving out many that are legends in the eyes of others. He does not want to offend anyone who feels a certain law enforcement officer should be included in the book. Maybe by writing the book, he will have readers think about their legends when they served in law enforcement.

The author was born and raised in Baltimore City’s 10th ward. Ken's father was also raised in the 10th ward. Ken once had to make an arrest on a street called Albemarle St.; it was out of Ken’s district, but just outside the line. Somehow,  the topic came up while Ken was talking to his father; he may have asked for directions. Ken’s dad was a cab driver and knew all the streets. Anyway, during the conversation, Ken’s father told him he grew up on Albemarle and added that it was part of the 10th ward.  The neighborhood was made up mostly of people of Irish descent. Many of the legends he writes about in this book are from that neighborhood. Dick Ellwood served four years in the Marine Corps. He comes from a family that includes four generations of people who served with the Baltimore City Police Department. He retired from the police department with the rank of detective sergeant. While with the department, he earned a degree in criminal justice. He resides in Baltimore, Maryland, with his wife, a retired educator.

The names selected by Detective Sergeant Dick Ellwood Jr. were as follows:

1.   Dick Ellwood, Sr.
2.   Jim Cadden **
3.   Steve Tabeling * **
4.   Leon Tomlin
5.   Donald “Skippy’ Shanahan
6.   Bishop Robinson *
7.   Joe Bolesta
8.   Furrie Cousins
9.   Jules Neveker **
10. Leander “Bunny” Nevin **
11. Donald Pomerleau *
12. Jimmy Cabezas
13. Darrell Duggins *
14. Mike Dunn *
15. Pete Bailey
16. Gene Cassidy *
17. Owen Sweeney **
18. Pete Barnes
19. Kenny Driscoll
20. Ed Boston
21. Bobby Berger
22. Ed Blaney
23. Ed Mattson **
24. Dick Frazier
25. John Ellwood
26. Ed Dunn
27. Steve Ellwood
28. Tom Ellwood
29. Dave Ellwood

I can’t give the reason these names were selected, but I highly suggest getting your hands on a copy. It is in paperback, available through Amazon, and only costs $6.00. Aside from the names of some true legends in the Baltimore Police Department, you’ll read some great stories as to why these men were selected.

* They are also on the Baltimore Historical Society’s Hall of Fame page.
** These are guys Ken recognized and admired, guys he modeled his policing style on, or guys he later learned of and admired.

Some were both on the Hall of Fame page, and among those, Ken admired. I just didn’t know how to put symbols on those names. 

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We are always looking for copies of your Baltimore Police class photos, pictures of our officers, vehicles, and newspaper articles relating to our department and/or officers; old departmental newsletters, old departmental newsletters, lookouts, wanted posters, and/or brochures; information on deceased officers; and anything that may help preserve the history and proud traditions of this agency. Please contact retired detective Kenny Driscoll.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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How to Dispose of Old Police Items

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Edgar Allan Poe and the BPD

Illustration of a Edgar Allan PoeMy Notes on Edgar Allan Poe, 

In reality, Poe was never a suspect in any murder case, nor did he help the police solve any crime. He did write a story based on a real murder case called “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt," in which he used his fictional detective, C. Auguste Dupin, to analyze the clues and propose a solution. In his story, his solution was wrong in reality ( or was it—Poe never named the killer; he only gave the initials W.W.G. ), and the actual killer confessed on his deathbed in 1849, shortly before Poe’s own death. The killer was William W. Gantt, a former Baltimore police officer and journalist who had a romantic interest in the victim, Marie Rogêt, aka Mary Rogers.

Poe's stories had an impact on the development of detective fiction and crime solving because they introduced the reasoning, observation, and deduction techniques that both fictional and actual detectives still use today. However, Poe himself was never directly involved in any criminal investigations.

1 black devider 800 8 72William W. Gantt 
The Mystery of “The Mystery of Marie Roget”

When we say that Edgar Allan Poe invented the detective story, we may as well say that Poe invented the detective. In 1841, when “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” were first published in Graham Magazine, Boston Police was five years away from founding the first professional police detective unit in the United States. Indeed, Poe established one of the genre's most enduring tropes when he created the character C. Auguste Dupin to solve mysteries using "ratiocination," or the powers of reasoning: a civilian solves a mystery without an obvious solution because they enjoy the thrill and challenge of the puzzle.

But it does not discredit Poe’s immense and macabre imagination to point out some of the real-life inspirations for his stories. Poe certainly read writings by Eugène Vidocq, a French criminal-turned-informant who established some of the procedures we associate most closely with the detective profession, such as taking an impression of a shoe print. (Some of his publications can also be found in our current exhibition, Clever Criminals and Daring Detectives.) And then there is “The Mystery of Marie Roget,” which was based on a mysterious death that captivated New York in the 1840s.

In 1841, the body of a young girl was found in the Hudson River and identified as Mary Rogers, a noted beauty who worked as a clerk in a tobacco shop. The cause of her death was uncertain, although her body and clothing appeared to be battered. Years later, Edgar Allan Poe would write that “the death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world." Perhaps that’s why the death of “The Beautiful Cigar Girl” inspired numerous theories, speculation, and gossip—not all of it poetical. Some posited gang violence. When Mary’s fiancé committed suicide several months later, many considered his despair to be evidence of his guilt. Mary’s past and present came under scrutiny, and when it was revealed that she had disappeared from her home under mysterious circumstances for one day several years earlier, attempted suicide or some other trouble seemed plausible. The coroner's report found no evidence that Mary had been pregnant, but a well-liked theory held that she had experienced a botched termination by Madame Restell, a woman well-known for the services she provided to women who did not want to become pregnant. (Incidentally, Madame Restell too is represented in our exhibition gallery; check the wall of broadsheets to find her portrait in a gazette of criminals.) But despite the intensity of public interest—maybe even because of it, as the case inspired several false confessions—the mystery of Mary Rogers was never solved.

In “The Mystery of Marie Roget,” Poe references Mary Rogers outright and suggests that readers familiar with her case (i.e., everyone at that time) might reconsider it in light of a similar story that took place in France. This similar story is Poe’s fiction, but it features all the details that made the real Mary’s death so fascinating to her contemporaries: the beautiful shopgirl, the fiancé’s suicide, and the injuries of the fictional Marie recounted in lurid detail. Then Poe’s story offers something that the facts of the real case could not: an account of the events that led up to the body’s discovery. Poe's Detective C. Auguste Dupin walks the reader through the murder step by step, from the arrangement of the victim’s clothes to her transportation to the river. The effect is both salacious and educational.

So did Poe crack the case? His contemporaries seemed to think not, but a former Baltimore police officer confessed to killing Mary Rogers, the young woman whose murder inspired Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt.". His name was William W. Gantt prior to his work as a patrolman. Gantt was also a former journalist who had moved to New York from Baltimore in 1839. He had met Rogers at her cigar shop and had fallen in love with her. He claimed that he had taken her on a boat ride on the Hudson River on July 25, 1841, and had killed her in a fit of jealousy after she rejected his marriage proposal. He then threw her body into the water before fleeing the scene.

Gantt had read Poe’s story and said he was amazed by how close Poe had come to the truth in the case. He said that Poe had correctly identified the location of the murder, Poe had correctly identified the motive of the killer, and Poe had correctly identified the manner of death. He also said that Poe had almost guessed his identity, as he had used his initials (W.W.G.) in the story as a clue. However, Poe had never revealed the name of the murderer publicly. Poe wouldn't have had the chance to learn of this confession before William W. Gantt's death.

Gantt confessed to the murder on his deathbed in 1849, as he was dying of tuberculosis in a Baltimore hospital. He asked for a priest to hear his confession. He also wrote a letter to the New York Herald, in which he admitted his guilt and explained his actions. He said that for the previous eight years, guilt and fear had plagued him, and he wanted to clear his conscience before passing. He also expressed his admiration for Poe and his detective fiction, as it had come so close to being non-fiction.

Gantt’s confession was published in the New York Herald on October 7, 1849, the same day that Poe died in Baltimore under mysterious circumstances. It is unknown if Poe ever learned of Gantt’s confession or if he had any connection to him. The only piece of evidence connecting Gantt to Mary Rogers' murder was his confession, and no other source ever corroborated it. Some historians have doubted the authenticity of Gantt’s confession and have suggested that it was a hoax or a delusion. However, others have accepted it as the final solution to the mystery of Mary Rogers and have praised Poe for his remarkable insight and imagination.

“The Mystery of Marie Roget” was probably the least popular of his mysteries. But this story nonetheless established yet more of the tropes that would become vital to the genre of detective fiction: the practice of mentally walking through the crime scene to discover overlooked details and the “poetical” impact of the death of a beautiful girl.

1 black devider 800 8 72Edgar Allan Poe
and the
Baltimore Police Department

Edgar Allan Poe revolutionized the literary genre of mystery with his story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” He created the first fictional detective who solved crimes by using logic and observation rather than intuition, community support, or luck.

Poe’s life and work were full of mystery and drama, as some movies have shown. They imagined him as both a target and a solver of crimes, using his own fiction as a guide. These stories were not true, but they added to the appeal and mystery of Poe’s legacy. Poe’s stories also had a real impact on crime solving, as they inspired many detectives to follow his logic and style. Poe not only created a character; he also shaped a profession that has been using his techniques for almost 200 years. Poe’s influence also reached other writers, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who created one of the most famous fictional detectives, Sherlock Holmes.

According to some accounts, Poe was found unconscious and delirious in a tavern in Baltimore on October 3, 1849, by a man named Joseph W. Walker, who was a printer and a member of the Fourth Ward Watch, a volunteer police force. Walker sent a note to Poe’s friend, Dr. Joseph E. Snodgrass, asking for help. Snodgrass arrived and saw that Poe was wearing someone else’s clothes and was in a state of "beastly intoxication." He took Poe to the Washington College Hospital, where Poe died four days later. The exact cause of Poe’s condition and death remains a mystery, but some theories suggest that he was a victim of cooping, a form of electoral fraud in which people were kidnapped, drugged, and forced to vote multiple times for a certain candidate. The tavern where Poe was found was a polling place for the 1849 Baltimore mayoral election, and Poe’s strange clothes could have been used to disguise him as a different voter.

However, Poe was also involved in a murder case that he helped solve with his detective fiction. In 1842, Poe published “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt," a sequel to his first detective story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” The story was based on the real-life murder of Mary Cecilia Rogers, a cigar shop employee who was found dead in the Hudson River in New York in 1841. Poe used the details of the case, which was widely reported in the newspapers, and transposed them to Paris, where his fictional detective, C. Auguste Dupin, solved the mystery by using his analytical skills and newspaper clippings. Poe claimed that his solution was correct and that he knew the identity of the murderer, but he never revealed it publicly.

However, in 1849, a few months before Poe’s death, a man named William W. Gantt confessed to the murder of Mary Rogers on his deathbed. Gantt was a former Baltimore police officer who had moved to New York and became a journalist. He had met Rogers at her shop and had a romantic relationship with her. He admitted that he had taken her on a boat ride and had killed her in a fit of jealousy. He also said that he had read Poe’s story and was amazed by how close Poe had come to the truth. Gantt’s confession was published in the New York Herald on October 7, 1849, the same day that Poe died in Baltimore. It is unknown if Poe ever learned of Gantt’s confession or if he had any connection to him.

Poe’s death and his involvement in the murder case have inspired many works of fiction and non-fiction, such as The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl, The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard, and The Poe Museum by Edward Pettit.

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What really happened to the master of the macabre in the days leading up to his death here 174 years ago?


PUBLISHED: October 2, 1994
UPDATED: October 24, 2018

Death has reared himself a throne... In a strange city, lying alone

On a balmy Friday in late September 1849, a middle-aged man with curly brown hair and deep pouches under his eyes stood among the passengers of a smoke- and cinder-belching steamship as it slid into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

No diary, letter, or newspaper article recorded his arrival. But it’s likely he wore his trademark threadbare black suit with a boutonniere and black bow tie. He probably held a Malacca cane, which he was later found clutching.

As he stepped off the ship, perhaps the ancient side-wheeler Pocahontas, he may have plunged into the mob of hansom cab drivers and hotel hawkers that often greeted visitors at the wharves.

One thing is certain: On Sept. 28, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe vanished into the city’s crowded, noisy, and dangerous streets.

Five days later, he was discovered muttering incoherently and dressed in filthy, outlandish clothes in the first-floor saloon of a hotel in what is now Little Italy. Taken by friends to a hospital in East Baltimore, he spent nearly four days wrestling with invisible demons.

Before dawn on Sunday, Oct. 7—145 years ago this week—the acclaimed writer died with a hoarse plea: “Lord, help my poor soul.”

It was a fitting coda to a remarkable, troubled life.

An author of horror tales about premature burials and corpses springing to life, Poe himself died in a mental maelstrom of confusion and terror.

With the publication of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” in 1841, he invented the genre of detective fiction. Yet he left few clues about the events that led to his own death—a puzzle that has intrigued, divided, and stumped historians, fans, and critics for almost a century and a half.

According to Jeffrey Savoye, the secretary of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, "his mystery attracts people who are interested in Poe." “His death is so shrouded by so much disinformation and lack of information that we don’t know why he died, and we’ll probably never know.”

Yet Poe’s death amounts to more than just a mystery tale or an antique celebrity scandal. It resembles a faded family album, full of disturbingly familiar faces.

There are fading images of a city scarred by violence. Daguerreotypes of a society split by ethnic divisions. And an intimate portrait of a prodigious talent tragically destroyed, or foolishly squandered—but in any event, lost.

“There are some secrets that do not permit themselves to be told.”

From “The Man of the Crowd”

Born in Boston, where his parents were working as actors, Edgar Allan Poe was orphaned before he was 2 years old.

After his mother died, he was raised in the household of John Allan, a wealthy merchant in Richmond, Va. John Allan fed and clothed Edgar and paid to send him to school. But he never adopted the boy, and the pair began to quarrel as Poe grew older. Ultimately, they fought over Poe’s college debts and career plans, which severed relations.

After stints as a student at the University of Virginia, as an Army recruit, and as a cadet at West Point, Poe moved to Baltimore, where he lived with relatives.

This is where he struggled to launch his writing career. This is probably where, in 1835, he married his 13-year-old first cousin, Virginia. After a few years, the restless artist moved on to work as an editor, critic, and writer in Richmond, Philadelphia, and New York.

When Poe arrived here on Friday, Sept. 28, 1849, he was a 40-year-old widower and an accomplished man of letters. The internationally known author of the poem “The Raven” was a master of Gothic fiction and one of the most prominent literary critics of his day.

The stop in Baltimore was expected to be brief. In Richmond, Poe had proposed to a wealthy widow—a childhood sweetheart—then set off for New York, probably to pack up his things for the move to Virginia.

He had taken a steamer to Baltimore, then planned to continue north by train, stopping in Philadelphia long enough to edit a book of poetry by the wife of a piano manufacturer and collect a $100 fee.

The author had much to look forward to: his coming marriage, the move from New York to his boyhood home of Richmond, and his long-delayed plans to launch a literary magazine.

But he was also a troubled man.

In an age before effective copyright laws, Poe was chronically broke and forced to borrow small sums of money. His wife's death from tuberculosis two years earlier still troubled him. He was in poor health and sometimes drank excessively. A few weeks before leaving Richmond, he joined the Sons of Temperance and swore never to drink alcohol again.

Throughout his life, he quarreled with bosses, had trouble holding onto a job, and frequently moved from city to city. Weeks of lassitude would follow months of overwork.

In November 1848, he tried to commit suicide with an overdose of laudanum, or liquid opium.

“I have been terribly depressed since birth,” Poe wrote to a friend the year he died. “I cannot express to you how terribly I have been suffering from gloom. . . . I am full of dark foreboding. Nothing cheers or comforts me. My life seems wasted, the future a dreary blank.”

“Once upon a midnight dreary . . . “

From “The Raven”

Wednesday, Oct. 3, 1849, brought rain and an early chill to Baltimore. Smoke curled from chimneys. It was Election Day for members of Congress and the state legislature, and men sloshed through the streets to the city’s polling places, many of them neighborhood saloons.

That afternoon, Joseph W. Walker, a Baltimore Sun compositor, dove into Gunner’s Hall, a hotel and tavern on Lombard Street owned by a man named Ryan. Fourth Ward voters and patrons mingled in the tavern, located just east of the Jones Falls in present-day Little Italy.

Walker talked to a raggedly dressed man. Shocked at the man’s condition, he scribbled a note and dispatched it to Dr. Joseph Evans Snodgrass, a physician who lived on nearby High Street.

“Dear Sir: There is a gentleman, rather the worse for wear, at Ryan’s 4th ward polls who goes under the cognomen of Edgar A. Poe and who appears in great distress, and he says he is acquainted with you, and I assure you, he is in need of immediate assistance.

“Yours in haste, Jos. W. Walker.”

Snodgrass, once editor of the Baltimore Saturday Visiter and a longtime friend of the poet, later recalled that when he arrived, Poe sat slumped in a chair with “an aspect of vacant stupidity that made me shudder.” On his head was a “cheap palm-leaf” hat; around his shoulders, a second-hand coat. He wore dingy and badly fitting pants and a rumpled, soiled shirt. He had a Malacca cane.

Poe mumbled and seemed almost paralyzed.

The doctor tried to rent a room upstairs for the sick man, but the hotel was full. About this time, Henry Herring, a well-off lumber dealer and Virginia Poe’s uncle, walked in. He offered to help his nephew-in-law, but refused to take the sick man home with him. In the past, Herring said, Poe had abused him and been ungrateful for his help—presumably when Poe was drunk.

So Snodgrass and others carried Poe into a horse-drawn cab, which took him to what was then called the Washington Medical College and is now Church Hospital—at the crest of Broadway in East Baltimore.

Dr. John J. Moran, the young resident physician, put his patient in a second-floor room with a view of Fells Point, Locust Point, and the harbor.

There, Poe passed out.

“It was the most noisome quarter... where everything wore the worst impression of the most deplorable poverty and of the most desperate crime... Horrible filth festered in the dammed-up gutters. The whole atmosphere teemed with desolation.”

From “The Man of the Crowd”

What happened between the time Poe left the docks on Friday and that next Wednesday when he wound up in Gunner’s, just a few blocks east? No first-hand accounts survive about his five days missing in Baltimore. Rumor and speculation have filled the void.

It’s clear, though, that in 1849, Baltimore’s streets were dangerous places for a stranger to wander.

A noisy, restless, and rapidly growing city of 169,000 residents, Baltimore was one of the nation’s largest urban centers and a commercial hub of the booming South. Iron foundries pumped smoke skyward. A forest of ship masts jammed the Inner Harbor. Merchants peddled goods from Pratt Street warehouses or clapboard storefronts lining Baltimore Street.

Baltimore was just beginning to acquire its rich ethnic texture. Irish immigrants came to escape the potato famine of 1845–1849. German political dissidents arrived at the docks, fleeing repression after the collapse of their country’s 1848 liberal revolution. By 1850, about one out of five Baltimoreans was born overseas.

The city’s population of free blacks and fugitive slaves was one of the nation’s largest and was growing rapidly. Still, slave traders were busy here. Coffles of chained men, women, and children were sometimes marched through downtown streets.

Immigrants competed for scarce jobs with free blacks and migrants from America’s rural areas.

Knots of young men loitered around saloons or the streets. Whiskey was cheap and generally more potent than it is today. Temperance advocates, meanwhile, battled the bottle with a righteous vigor.

Neighborhood gangs, usually made up of members of a single ethnic group, flourished. Adopting names like the Eighth Ward Blaggards, the Red Necks, and Butt Enders, they attacked rival gangs or unlucky bystanders, employing fists, clubs, knives, and pistols.

Many gang members also worked as firemen in the city’s numerous private companies, which raced each other to blazes. Sometimes, while the building burned, competing companies would battle for the right to fight the fire and the right to collect the insurance company’s fee for dousing the flames. Firefighters were even suspected of committing arson to drum up business.

A handful of police officers and night watchmen struggled to cope with the growing violence. In five years, the city jail population will grow by 40 percent.

Violence escalated during the election season. And Poe was unlucky enough to arrive here during a fierce political battle.

The Whig Party had controlled Maryland politics for the previous decade but saw its grip slip. Democrats, meanwhile, aggressively recruited immigrants and were gradually eroding their rivals’ power.

As in most major American cities in the early 19th century, election fraud was widespread in Baltimore. One popular form of ballot rigging was called “cooping.”

A few days before Election Day, gangs of thugs roved the city, rounding up drunkards and the homeless. They furnished their captives with liquor and food and kept them in a basement or back room, like chickens in a coop. On Election Day, these hapless citizens were herded to the polls to vote repeatedly for the candidates of the party that sponsored the gang.

There were no voters’ lists. Balloting was done with color-coded cards, so there was nothing secret about it. Election judges, who were charged with challenging the qualifications of suspicious voters, were often bribed to look the other way, says Robert I. Cottam Jr., a Baltimore historian who has studied the politics and gang violence of the era.

By some accounts, there was a notorious Whig coop in the rear of an old firehouse on High Street, near Gunner’s saloon.

Poe—injured, sick, drunk, or perhaps just vulnerable-looking—was scooped from the streets by a gang and carried off to their coop, some biographers and historians strongly suspect.

On Election Day, Oct. 3, he and his fellow captives most likely would have been roused and herded over to Gunner’s, where they would have been told to vote the Whig ballot. That being done, Poe would have been sent back to his coop, told to swap clothes, and then herded out to vote again. The exchange of clothing was supposed to make it harder for opponents at the polls to spot the fraud, Mr. Cottam said.

Critics of the cooping theory have sometimes objected that Poe had too many fans, friends, and relatives in Baltimore to permit him to be marched through the streets without being recognized and rescued.

In the days before television, however, celebrities were not so easily recognized. And it seems hard to account for Poe’s strange attire in any other way.

Many scholars find the cooping theory very persuasive. In his 1934 biography of Poe, the scholar Hervey Allen called it “by far the most probable explanation of what happened.” Jean Baker, a historian at Goucher College who has written about the politics of pre-Civil War Baltimore, agreed.

“The people who like Poe as a writer really don’t like this story of cooping,” she said. But, she insisted, the circumstantial evidence seems strong. “It’s more than just sort of the myth of Edgar Allan Poe, which would fit nicely with his life.”

“I was sick — sick unto death with that long agony. . . . “

“The Pit and the Pendulum.”

After the polls closed that evening, triumphant partisans lit bonfires in the streets and set off gunpowder charges.

Poe saw and heard none of this. From the time he was taken to Washington Medical College until before dawn the next day, Thursday, Oct. 4, the author lay unconscious in his room.

He woke to a nightmare.

Delirious, shaking, and drenched in perspiration, he began to babble, talking with “spectral and imaginary objects on the walls,” Moran, the resident physician, reported. For more than 24 hours, he remained restless and incoherent.

Then, on Friday afternoon, Poe was able to talk to Moran, although he was still confused. He said that he had a wife in Richmond. To soothe his patient, Dr. Moran said Poe would soon be staying with friends.

“At this he broke out with much energy,” Moran reported in a letter written weeks later, “and said the best thing his best friend could do would be to blow out his brains with a pistol.”

Poe dozed, then lapsed back into a “violent delirium.” At one point, two nurses had to hold him down.

By Saturday evening, he began shouting the name "Reynolds" and kept it up for several hours. (To this day, Reynolds’ identity remains a mystery.)

Exhausted, finally, he grew silent.

Shortly after 3 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 7, Poe turned his head and died.

“We tremble with the violence of the conflict within us—of the definite with the indefinite—of the substance with the shadow. But if the contest has proceeded thus far, it is the shadow

which prevails—we struggle in vain.”

“The Imp of the Perverse”

Biographers and others have blamed Poe’s death on various things: alcohol withdrawal, injury, or illness. Whatever the direct cause, his last months seemed haunted by the shadow of self-destruction.

“This death was almost a suicide, a suicide prepared for a long time,” wrote Charles Baudelaire, the French poet and Poe’s fervent admirer.

Poe’s mother-in-law, Marie Poe Clemm, decided, after talking to friends here, that the writer had run into some former classmates from West Point, who urged him to break his temperance pledge with a fateful toast of champagne.

John Pendleton Kennedy, a Baltimore lawyer and early patron of Poe, came to a similar conclusion. He noted in his diary entry for Oct. 10, 1849, that “Poe fell in with some companion here who seduced him to the bottle.”

“The consequence,” he wrote, “was fever, delirium, and madness.”

Snodgrass, a trained physician and the city’s leading lTC temperance advocate, wrote years later that, when he found Poe in Gunner’s saloon, the poet was “utterly stupefied with liquor.”

The New York Herald reported in October 1849 that Poe died during an attack of mania a’ potu—delirium tremens, the chills, pains, fever, and hallucinations that come with alcohol withdrawal.

Poe’s fans resisted this conclusion then, and they resist it now. His defenders portray him as a level-headed man, often down on his luck, whose character is too often confused with the tortured, self-destructive figures who populated his Gothic tales and poetry.

Some defenders suggest Poe may have been robbed and beaten. Others say illness felled him. Jeffrey Jerome, curator of the Edgar Allan Poe House in Baltimore, thinks the author suffered from diabetes or a heart condition. Poe, he said, probably collapsed on a Baltimore street and was picked up by passersby and taken into Gunner’s Hall for shelter.

Poe’s reputation as a drinker, his defenders say, is false, or at least grossly exaggerated. It grew, they say, out of a malicious 1850 memoir by his bitter literary rival, the Rev. Rufus W. Griswold.

Yet there is no question that Poe drank, sometimes with disastrous results.

“I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I so madly indulge,” he once wrote. “It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have perilled life, reputation, and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, some a sense of insupportable loneliness, and the dread of some strange, impending doom.”

“Ye who read are still among the living; but I who write shall have long since gone my way into the region of shadows.”

From "Shadow: A Parable”

On Monday, October 8, the author's dejected little funeral cortege—a hearse and a single carriage—bubbled through the rain along the cobblestone streets from the hospital on Broadway across town to the Presbyterian cemetery at Fayette and Greene streets.

The lumber dealer, Henry Herring, provided a mahogany coffin.

About 10 mourners gathered for the hastily arranged ceremony, including the undertaker. The Rev. William T. D. Clemm, a relative of Poe’s late wife, said a few words. Mourners lowered the coffin. In all, the service took about three minutes.

That same morning, the sun carried this obituary:

“DEATH OF EDGAR A. POE. — We regret to learn that Edgar A. Poe, Esq., the distinguished American poet, scholar, and critic, died in this city yesterday morning after an illness of four or five days. This announcement, coming so suddenly and unexpectedly, will cause poignant regret among all who admire genius and have sympathy for the frailties too often attending it. . . . “

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The Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe's Death

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site

Theories abound about Poe’s death, but there has yet to be one that proves definitive—a fittingly mysterious end for the master of mystery.

No subject regarding Edgar Allan Poe ignites as much controversy as his sudden death at the age of forty, which remains shrouded in mystery. What we know is that Poe planned a trip from Richmond, Virginia, to New York City, during which he traveled by steamer and stopped in Baltimore on September 28, 1849. His actions and whereabouts throughout the next five days are uncertain.

Was Alcohol Involved?

On October 3, 1849, printer Joseph Walker found Poe inside or near Gunner's Hall tavern and sent a note for J.E. Snodgrass, one of Poe’s acquaintances in Baltimore. Walker described Poe as appearing in "great distress.”

Snodgrass noted that the clothes Poe wore looked disheveled and out of place: "he had evidently been robbed of his [own] clothing or cheated in an exchange." Snodgrass and his uncle, Henry Herring, both presumed that Poe was in a drunken state and agreed to send him to Washington College Hospital. Once there, Poe was taken to a room reserved for patients who were ill due to intoxication.

Poe lapsed in and out of consciousness for the next few days, and according to Dr. John J. Moran, who questioned Poe about his condition, Poe's answers were incoherent and unsatisfactory. Moran also prevented visitors due to Poe’s “excitable” condition.

Moran later noted in a letter to Maria Clemm, Poe’s mother-in-law, that during a period of consciousness, Poe held "vacant converse with spectral and imaginary objects on the walls. His face was pale, and his whole person was drenched in perspiration." Poe died quietly before sunrise on Sunday, October 7, 1849.

It may be logical to assume that alcohol played a role in Poe's death, given that it intermittently surfaced as a negative influence during his adult life. But how does it explain why Poe was wearing somebody else's clothes? Nor does it provide any insight into the circumstances that caused him to be found in such an unfortunate state.

Was Poe a Victim of Cooping?

One of the most popular theories about Poe’s death stems from the fact that Poe was found on Election Day, and Gunner’s Hall was a polling location. It is possible that on that day, Poe fell victim to cooping, a common method of voter fraud in the 19th century. Cooping victims were kidnapped, drugged or forced to drink, and disguised several times in order to cast several votes. Others have suggested that perhaps Poe was beaten and robbed, or even that he contracted rabies.

Theories abound about Poe’s death, but there has yet to be one that proves definitive—a fittingly mysterious end for the master of mystery.

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Poe's History Life and Death
"I had walled the monster up within the tomb!"

Described as horrifying, mystifying, and brilliant, Poe’s writing has engaged readers all over the globe. The six years Edgar Allan Poe lived in Philadelphia were his happiest and most productive. Yet Poe also struggled with bad luck, personal demons, and his wife’s illness. In Poe’s humble home, reflect on the human spirit surmounting crushing obstacles and celebrate Poe’s astonishing creativity.

Early Life

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston in 1809. Both of his parents were actors. His mother, the much-admired Elizabeth Arnold Poe, was a talented actress. His father, David Poe, was considered less talented. The Poes performed at theaters throughout the Eastern Seaboard, from Boston to Virginia. In 1811, Elizabeth Poe died of tuberculosis in Richmond, Virginia, leaving orphaned Edgar, his infant sister Rosalie, and his older brother Henry. David Poe apparently abandoned his wife and children earlier and was not present when she died.

Different families separated and raised the three children. The successful Richmond businessman John Allan and his frail wife Frances took Edgar in. The Allans had no children of their own. They raised Edgar as part of the family and gave him their middle name, but never legally adopted him.

In 1815, Edgar traveled with the Allans to England and Scotland, where John Allan planned to expand his tobacco business. Edgar attended boarding schools throughout the five years the family lived overseas. After John Allan’s business venture failed, he moved the family back to Richmond, Virginia, in 1820.

From University of Virginia to West Point

Edgar continued his studies in Richmond. He entered the University of Virginia in 1826 at the age of 17. During the year he attended the university, Edgar excelled in his studies of Latin and French. He was unable to complete his studies at the university because Allan refused to pay debts Edgar had incurred during the school year. Allan and Edgar quarreled over the debts, of which a large portion was incurred from gambling.

Shortly after his quarrel with his foster father, Edgar Allan Poe left Richmond for Boston, where he hoped to pursue a literary career. His first book of poetry, Tamerlane and Other Poems, was published there. Unable to support himself and receiving little assistance from his foster father, Poe enlisted as a private in the US Army on May 26, 1827, for a five-year term. He entered under an assumed name and lied about his age, claiming to be 22 years old when he was only 18. Poe was assigned to Battery H of the First Artillery at Fort Independence in Boston Harbor. On October 31, 1827, Battery H was ordered to Fort Moultrie to protect Charleston Harbor. He sailed on the Brigantine Waltham, arriving for duty in Charleston on November 18.

At Fort Moultrie, Poe was promoted to artificer, the rank of a noncommissioned officer or enlisted man who had a mechanical specialty. On December 11, 1828, Poe’s battery sailed for duty at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, where he attained the rank of Sergeant-Major, the highest possible rank for a non-commissioned officer. His quick progress up the ranks can be attributed to his education, high social standing, and competence. Despite his accomplishments, Poe left military service in April 1829 and hired a substitute to complete his obligation. 

A brief reconciliation between Poe and Allan occurred upon the death of Frances Allan in 1829. Allan assisted Poe in obtaining a discharge from the regular Army and an appointment as a cadet at the US Military Academy in West Point. Poe experienced restlessness once more as he entered West Point in July 1830. One of his roommates described him as having “the appearance of being much older. He had a worn, weary, discontented look, not easily forgotten by those who were intimate with him.” The financial hardship, along with the realization that literature was his true vocation, led to Poe’s decision to resign from the academy. Allan, as Poe's guardian, refused to give him permission to resign. Unable to obtain permission to resign, Poe chose to neglect his duties and was court-martialed for “gross neglect of duty” and “disobedience of orders.”

Editor and Author

After leaving West Point, Poe eventually moved to Baltimore, where he lived with his impoverished Aunt Maria Poe Clemm, and her young daughter, Virginia. Poe continued to write poetry and prose. In 1833, he won a $50 prize and attention for his short story “Ms. Found in a Bottle.” The attention he gained led to a job offer as an editor for the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond. Poe accepted the position and moved to Richmond in 1835. His aunt and cousin joined him the following year. Poe married his thirteen-year-old cousin, Virginia, shortly afterwards.

The Poes and Mrs. Clemm moved to New York City in 1837 with the hope of Edgar finding work in the literary field. The financial "Panic of '37" had caused a depression in the city as well as the rest of the nation. Unable to find work, Poe moved to Philadelphia in 1838. The six years he spent in Philadelphia proved to be his most productive and perhaps the happiest years of his life. He worked as an editor and critic for one of the nation's largest magazines, Graham’s Magazine. Some of his most famous stories were written in Philadelphia, including “Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Mask of the Red Death,” and “Ligeia.” Poe referred to South Carolina settings in several short stories, including “The Balloon-Hoax" and “The Oblong Box." The Gold Bug, first published in 1843, was by far his most well-known work and drew inspiration from Sullivan's Island. In 1842, his beloved wife became ill with tuberculosis. Her illness and the constant strain of financial problems caused Poe to sink into deep bouts of depression.

Professional and Personal Loss

The Poes and Mrs. Clemm moved to New York City in 1844. Poe continued to work as an editor and critic. He gained his greatest fame as a poet after his poem “The Raven” was published in 1845. In the same year, he achieved his lifelong dream of owning a literary journal. Unfortunately, the journal failed within a few months. The Poes and Mrs. Clemm moved outside of New York City to a small cottage in 1846. Virginia died of tuberculosis the following year.


For the next two years, Poe continued to write poetry, short stories, criticism, and plans for his own literary journal. After a successful lecture tour in the South and an extended visit to Richmond, Poe seemed to be finally recovering from the loss of Virginia and making plans for the future. On his way back to New York City, Poe stopped in Baltimore, where he died of “acute congestion of the brain.” The day was October 7, 1849; Edgar Allan Poe was 40 years old.

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Edgar Allan Poe was suspected of killing Mary Rogers, a young woman who worked in a cigar shop in New York and whose body was found in the Hudson River in 1841. Poe wrote a story based on her murder, called “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt”, in which he claimed to have solved the case using his fictional detective, C. Auguste Dupin. However, Poe’s solution was wrong, as the real killer confessed on his deathbed in 1849, shortly before Poe’s own death. The killer was William W. Gantt, a former Baltimore police officer and a journalist who had a romantic relationship with Rogers.

Possible Solutions

The fact that the murder of Mary Rogers is still remembered today has much to do with Edgar Allen Poe.  Poe biographer Jeffrey Meyers notes that in the second of his mystery stories involving the detective Chevalier C. Auguste Dupin, Poe neatly transported Mary and the surrounding characters from New York City to Paris and presented Dupin's solution to the crime in "The Mystery of Marie Roget" via three magazine installments.  Dupin/Poe believed the murderer to have been a naval officer of dark complexion who had previously attempted to elope with Mary/Marie (thus explaining her first disappearance in 1838) and who killed her the second time she ran off with him.  Loss's deathbed confession came to light before the last installment had been published, but Poe managed to hint at a bungled abortion in the final episode and later added footnotes that further brought his fictional story into line with the known facts of Mary's case.

After Poe, other writers and criminologists would attempt to "solve" Mary's murder.  In 1904, Will M. Clemens proclaimed that both Mary and the man of dark complexion had been robbed and murdered inside Loss's tavern.  A man's body (although not matching Loss's description) had been pulled from the East River on August 3, 1841, but nobody other than Clemens seems to have considered a connection between the two corpses.

Samuel Worthen proposed a theory a few decades later that John Anderson, Mary's former employer, had paid for her abortion, which had occurred at Loss's Tavern.  Mary died during the procedure, and the "tall, dark" abortionist who had been seen with Mary that day panicked and threw her body into the Hudson River.

In Irving Wallace's "The Fabulous Originals," the author suggests three possible killers: Crommelin, whom Wallace believes was the father of the baby whose abortion caused her death; Mrs. Rogers, who possibly offered up Mary as a prostitute at the boarding house and had arranged for an abortion that accidentally turned fatal; and, without any evidence to back it up, Wallace names Poe himself as a possible candidate, referring to the possibility that Poe knew Mary from Anderson's tobacco store and Anderson's later claim that Poe had discussed Mary's murder with him while the writer was researching his story.

And finally, author Raymond Paul presented in the early 1970s his theory that Daniel Payne did indeed murder Mary, but not on the Sunday she disappeared (for which Payne had a solid alibi), but on the following Tuesday.  Paul argues that Mary did go to Loss's for an abortion on that Sunday and survived it, then stayed to recuperate for a couple of days at the inn.  While Mary's family and friends searched for her the next day, Payne couldn't admit to where she really was, so he stalled for time and pretended to look for her, knowing that he was to meet Mary on Tuesday and bring her home.  Paul points out that Payne's own statements show him to have been in Hoboken on that Tuesday "searching" for the lost Mary.  But when he met her, Paul theorizes, Mary informed him that she was breaking her engagement to him, and Payne strangled her in a fit of anger, dumped her in the river, and later retrieved some of Mary's clothes (including the second pair of gloves) and planted them in the thicket near Loss's inn to add credence to the "gang" theory.  Paul's main evidence consists of the fact that when Mary's body was taken ashore on Wednesday afternoon, the body was, according to the coroner's report, in a state of rigor mortis that clearly indicated to Paul that she had not been murdered on Sunday—because rigor mortis passes within 24 hours of death and, Paul contends, the Hudson's waters in July would not have been cold enough to slow down the rigor mortis process.  Paul thus concludes that the stiffness of her body proves that she was killed no earlier than Tuesday, when Payne was known to have been in the area.

Whether done in by a gang of ruffians, strangled by a jilted lover, or killed at the hands of the man who would later write a fictionalized account of her death, the murder of the "beautiful cigar girl" is undoubtedly one of the pioneer instances of the media celebrating a gruesome crime. Yet despite the intense media interest and immortalization of a sort by Poe, the crime remains one of the most puzzling unsolved murders in New York City.

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Edgar Allan Poe Tried and Failed to Crack the Mysterious Murder Case of Mary Rogers 
After a teenage beauty turned up dead in the Hudson River, not even the godfather of detective fiction could figure out who done it

Angela Serratore

October 31, 2013

She moved amid the bland perfume
That breathes of heaven’s balmiest isle;
Her eyes had starlight’s azure gloom
And a glimpse of heaven in her smile.

New York Herald, 1838

John Anderson’s Liberty Street cigar shop was no different from the dozens of other tobacco emporiums frequented by the newspapermen of New York City. The only reason it was so crowded was Mary Rogers.

Mary was the teenage daughter of a widowed boarding housekeeper, and her beauty was the stuff of legend. A poem dedicated to her visage appeared in the New York Herald, and during her time clerking at John Anderson’s shop, she bestowed her heavenly smile upon writers like James Fenimore Cooper and Washington Irving, who would visit to smoke and flirt during breaks from their offices nearby.

In 1838, the cigar girl with ”the dainty figure and pretty face” went out and failed to return. Her mother discovered what appeared to be a suicide note; the New York Sun reported that the coroner had examined the letter and concluded the author had a “fixed and unalterable determination to destroy herself.” But a few days later, Mary returned home, alive and well. She had been, as it turned out, visiting a friend in Brooklyn. The Sun, which three years earlier had been responsible for the Great Moon Hoax, was accused of manufacturing Mary’s disappearance to sell newspapers. Her boss, John Anderson, was suspected of being in on the scheme, for after Mary returned, his shop was busier than ever.

Still, the affair blew over, and Mary settled back into her role as an object of admiration for New York’s literary set. By 1841, she was engaged to Daniel Payne, a cork cutter and boarder in her mother’s house. On Sunday, July 25, Mary announced plans to visit relatives in New Jersey and told Payne and her mother she’d be back the next day. The night Mary ventured out, a severe storm hit New York, and when Mary failed to return the next morning, her mother assumed she’d gotten caught in bad weather and delayed her trip home.

By Monday night, Mary still hadn’t come back, and her mother was concerned enough to place an advertisement in the following day’s Sun asking for anyone who might have seen Mary to have the girl contact her, as “it is supposed some accident has befallen her.” Foul play was not suspected.

On July 28, some men were out for a stroll near Sybil’s Cave, a bucolic Hudson riverside spot in Hoboken, New Jersey, when a bobbing figure caught their attention. Rowing out in a small boat, they dragged what turned out to be the body of a young woman back to shore. Crowds gathered, and within hours, a former fiancé of Mary’s identified the body as hers.

According to the coroner, her dress and hat were torn, and her body looked as though it had taken a beating. She was also, as the coroner took care to note, not pregnant and “had evidently been a person of chastity and correct habits.”

Questions abounded: Had someone Mary knew killed her? Had she been a victim of a random crime of opportunity, something New Yorkers increasingly worried about as the city grew and young women strayed farther and farther from the family parlor? Why hadn’t the police of New York or Hoboken spotted Mary and her attacker? The Herald, the Sun, and the Tribune all put Mary on their front pages, and no detail was too lurid—graphic descriptions of Mary’s body appeared in each paper, along with vivid theories about what her killer or killers might have done to her. More than anything, they demanded answers.

Suspicion fell immediately upon Daniel Payne, Mary’s fiancée; perhaps one or the other had threatened to leave, and Payne killed her, either to get rid of her or to prevent her from breaking their engagement. He produced an airtight alibi for his whereabouts during Mary’s disappearance, but that didn’t stop the New-Yorker (a publication unrelated to the current magazine of that name) from suggesting, in August of 1841, that he’d had a hand in Mary’s death:

There is one point in Mr. Payne’s testimony that is worthy of remark. It seems he had been searching for Miss Rogers—his betrothed—for two or three days, yet when he was informed on Wednesday evening that her body had been found at Hoboken, he did not go to see it or inquire into the matter—in fact, it appears that he never went at all, though he had been there inquiring for her before. This is odd and should be explained.

If Payne hadn’t killed Mary, it was theorized that she’d been caught by a gang of criminals. This idea was given further credence later that August, when two Hoboken boys who were out in the woods collecting sassafras for their mother, tavern owner Frederica Loss, happened upon several items of women’s clothing. The Herald reported that “the clothes had all evidently been there for at least three or four weeks. They were all mildewed down hard. The grass had grown around and over some of them. The scarf and the petticoat were crumpled up as if in a struggle.” The most suggestive item was a handkerchief embroidered with the initials M.R.

The discovery of the clothes catapulted Loss into minor celebrity status. She spoke with reporters at length about Mary, whom she claimed to have seen in the company of a tall, dark stranger on the evening of July 25. The two had ordered lemonade and then taken their leave from Loss’ tavern. Later that night, she said, she heard a scream coming from the woods. At the time, she’d thought it was one of her sons, but after going out to investigate and finding her boy safely inside, she’d decided it must have been an animal. In light of the clothing discovery so close to her tavern, though, she now felt certain it had come from Mary.

The Herald and other papers took this as evidence that strangers had indeed absconded with Mary, but despite weeks of breathless speculation, no further clues were found and no suspects were identified. The city moved on, and Mary’s story became yesterday’s news—only to return to the headlines.

In October 1841, Daniel Payne went on a drinking binge that carried him to Hoboken. After spending October 7 going from tavern to tavern, he entered a pharmacy and bought a vial of laudanum. He stumbled down to where Mary’s body had been brought to shore, collapsed onto a bench, and died, leaving behind a note: “To the World—Here I am on the very spot. May God forgive me for my misspent life.” The consensus was that his heart had been broken.

While the newspapers had their way with Mary’s life and death, Edgar Allen Poe turned to fact-based fiction to make sense of the case.

Working in the spring of 1842, Edgar Allan Poe transported Mary’s tale to Paris and, in “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt,” gave her a slightly more Francophone name (and a job in a perfume shop), but the details otherwise match exactly. The opening of Poe’s story makes his intent clear:

All readers will be able to identify the secondary or concluding branch of the extraordinary details that I am now required to make public as being the primary branch of a string of hardly understandable coincidences that relate to the recent murder of MARY CECILIA ROGERS in New York.

A sequel to “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” widely considered the first detective story ever set to print, “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” would see the detective Dupin solve the young woman’s murder. In shopping the story to editors, Poe suggested he’d gone beyond mere storytelling: “Under the pretense of showing how Dupin unraveled the mystery of Marie’s assassination, I, in fact, enter into a very rigorous analysis of the real tragedy in New York.”

Though he appropriated the details of Mary’s story, Poe still faced the very real challenge of actually solving the murder when the police were no closer than they’d been in July 1841.

Like many other stories of the mid-19th century, “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” was serialized, appearing in November issues of Snowden’s Ladies Companion. The third part, in which Dupin put together the details of the crime but left the identity of the criminal up in the air, was to appear at the end of the month, but a shocking piece of news delayed the final installment.

One of Frederica Loss' sons accidentally shot her in October 1842, and she confessed to Mary Rogers on her deathbed. The “tall, dark” man she’d seen the girl with in July 1841 had not been a stranger; she knew him. The Tribune reported: “On the Sunday of Miss Rogers’s disappearance, she came to her house from this city in company with a young physician, who undertook to produce for her a premature delivery.” (“Premature delivery” being a euphemism for abortion.)

The procedure had gone wrong, Loss said, and Mary had died. After disposing of her body in the river, one of Loss’ sons threw her clothes in a neighbor’s pond and then, after having second thoughts, scattered them in the woods.

While Loss’ confession did not entirely match the evidence (there was still the matter of Mary’s body, which bore signs of some kind of struggle), the Tribune seemed satisfied: “Thus has this fearful mystery, which has struck fear and terror to so many hearts, been at last explained by circumstances in which no one can fail to perceive a providential agency.”

To some, the attribution of Mary’s death to a botched abortion made perfect sense—it had been suggested that she and Payne quarreled over an unwanted pregnancy, and in the early 1840s, New York City was fervently debating the activities of the abortionist Madame Restell. Several penny presses had linked Rogers to Restell (and suggested that her 1838 disappearance lasted precisely as long as it would take a woman to terminate a pregnancy in secret and return undiscovered), and while that connection was ultimately unsubstantiated, Mary was on the minds of New Yorkers when, in 1845, they officially criminalized the procedure.

Poe’s story was considered a sorry follow-up to “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” but he did manage to work Loss’ story into his narrative. His Marie Rogêt had indeed kept company with a “swarthy naval officer” who may very well have killed her, though by what means we are not sure—did he murder her outright or lead her into a “fatal accident,” a plan of “concealment”?

Officially, the death of Mary Rogers remains unsolved. Poe’s account remains the most widely read, and his hints at abortion (made even clearer in an 1845 reprinting of the story, though the word “abortion” never appears) have, for most, closed the case. Still, those looking for Poe to put the Mary Rogers case to rest are left to their own devices. In a letter to a friend, Poe wrote: “Nothing was omitted in Marie Rogêt but what I omitted myself—all that is mystification.”

Joseph A. Chianca

Retired Major Joseph A. Chianca  Jr., 


Baltimore Police, a long-time employee of JetBlue, devoted husband, father, and friend to all of East Boston, passed away peacefully on March 15th. Loving husband, father, Papa', brother, uncle, and nephew. Joe was born in Chelsea, MA. He attended Christopher Columbus High School in the North End and graduated with the Class of 1969. Joe proudly enlisted in the Marines (Reservists) for a four-year term. Having a deep passion for law enforcement, Joe traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, joined the Baltimore police force as a patrolman, and made his way up the ranks, retiring 27 years later as a major. Joe returned to his home in East Boston to enjoy time with his family. After a short retirement, he accepted a position with Jet Blue as an airport operations crew member and later as the Chairman of the Airport Values Committee, which he served with great pride and dedication—Loyalty Above All Except Honor. Joe's wife Beth Chianca, beloved daughter Caitlin Sophie Chianca, cherished grandson Shawn Joseph, late parents Joseph A. and Sophie Chianca, godmother and aunt Lucy Ryan, sister JoAnn Memmolo, and late husband Richard, brother Anthony J. Chianca, and wife Jeannette are all still alive. I am a loving and adored cousin, uncle, great uncle, friend, and mentor to so many.

Black Maria America's First Police Transport Vehicle

Black Maria America's First Police Transport Vehicle

1928 Studebaker Patrol Wagon 314 CD

Black Maria

It is a well-known fact that Maria Lee influenced the nickname of the Black Maria police transport vehicle.

In the annals of history, countless individuals have left their indelible mark, shaping the world as we know it today. Yet, many of these individuals remain unsung heroes, their stories untold, and their contributions unrecognized. One such individual is Maria Lee, a formidable woman from colonial Boston. Maria Lee was no ordinary woman. She was a towering figure, both in stature and in the impact she had on her community. As the proprietress of a boardinghouse for sailors, Maria Lee was known for her strength, energy, and her unique ability to maintain law and order. In her neighborhood, there was a new sheriff in town, and he was a she, and she ruled with an iron fist. Her story is a testament to the power of individual courage and resilience.

This page aims to shed light on the life and legacy of Maria Lee, a woman whose influence extended beyond the confines of her boardinghouse, reaching into the very heart of Boston’s law enforcement. As we delve into her story, we hope you will gain a deeper appreciation for unsung heroes like Maria Lee, whose contributions have helped shape our society. Join us on these pages as we journey back in time, uncovering the life of Maria Lee and celebrating her remarkable contribution to colonial Boston.

1920sPatrol Wagon2

Before we learn of Maria Lee, let’s learn why we are learning of Naria Lee. The term “Black Maria” is often used to refer to a police van, also known as a paddy wagon. The history of the term is quite interesting and has roots in the mid-1800s in Boston, Massachusetts. There lived a black woman named Maria Lee who ran a lodging house for sailors. Maria was a large and powerful person, known for her ability to quell fights and bring offenders to jail. So successful was she in handling tough characters that the constables frequently enlisted her aid in bringing malefactors to book. When police wagons came into use in the 1830s, the Boston constables, remembering the great help the black woman had given them, immortalized her name in the term "Black Maria." These vehicles were usually painted black or a very dark blue. 

Maria Lee was an African American woman who ran a boarding house for sailors in colonial Boston, and some accounts place her in the early 1800s. She was known for her large stature, strength, and energy. Maria Lee became an indispensable asset to the Boston police force of her time due to her ability to handle particularly rowdy individuals. There’s an often-repeated anecdote that describes Maria Lee single-handedly hauling three boisterous sailors into the police station when they were causing a disturbance at her boardinghouse.

The term “Black Maria," used as slang for a police van, is often attributed to her. The story goes that when the police needed backup to take a lawbreaker to jail, they would call for “Black Maria," referring to Maria Lee. When police vans, originally large boxy horse-drawn wagons, came about, they were painted black and named “Black Maria” in honor of Maria Lee. However, it’s important to note that there’s no concrete evidence linking Maria Lee directly to the origin of the term for the police vans.

Maria Lee’s most notable accomplishment was her significant contribution to maintaining law and order in colonial Boston. Her strength and courage in dealing with rowdy individuals, particularly sailors, made her an indispensable asset to the Boston police force of her time.

There’s an anecdote that describes Maria Lee single-handedly hauling three boisterous sailors into the police station when they were causing a disturbance at her boardinghouse. This story has been repeated in several periodical and newspaper publications as a bit of interesting trivia.

However, beyond these accounts, there don’t seem to be any other specific accomplishments attributed to Maria Lee. It’s important to note that historical records from this time period are often incomplete or biased, and the contributions of many individuals, particularly women and people of color, may not have been fully recognized or documented. Maria Lee’s story is a reminder of the many unsung heroes who played vital roles in their communities.

The exact birth and death dates of Maria Lee, the proprietress of a boardinghouse for sailors in colonial Boston, are not documented in the available historical records. This is not uncommon for individuals from this time period, particularly women and people of color, whose lives were often not as thoroughly documented. If you’re interested in more information about Maria Lee or other historical figures.

The Evening Sun Thu Oct 24 1912 72

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Paddy Wagon

The term “paddy wagon” is also commonly used to refer to these police vans. The precise origin of this term is uncertain and disputed, though its use dates back to at least the beginning of the 1900s. One theory suggests that the term arose due to the number of immigrant Irish being arrested for having consumed too much alcohol and taken away in the paddy wagon.

Another theory holds that the name originates from the padding used on the inside of police horse-drawn carriages to prevent injury. However, the most prevalent theory is based on the term “Paddy” (derived from the common name Patrick), which was once a nickname for anyone of Irish descent. Since many of the early constables, or police officers, in the major east coast cities at the turn of the century were Irish, their police vans were also called paddy wagons by association. It’s fascinating to see how these terms have evolved and are still used today in parts of Britain, Australia, and the United States. I hope this gives you a good overview of the history of the terms “Black Maria” and “paddy wagon." If you have any other questions, feel free to ask!

The term “paddy wagon” is commonly thought to have originated from an association with the Irish. There are two main theories about its origin:

The first theory suggests that the term “paddy wagon” came into use because a disproportionately large number of Irish were police officers in North American cities in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The term “Paddy” is a common Irish shortening of Padraig (Patrick in English) and was used in a derogatory way to refer to Irish people.

The second theory suggests that the term originated in the 1840s and 1850s, when the majority of people being transported by police were poverty-stricken Irish Americans acting out against their destitute conditions.

It’s also worth noting that many believe “paddy wagon” could simply be a shortening of “patrol wagon" to Patty Wagon, but due to the Irish influence at the time, it became Paddy instead of Patty. This would be similar to how police cars are referred to as patrol cars today. However, the exact origin of the term is uncertain and heavily disputed. It’s fascinating to see how these terms have evolved and are still used today in parts of Britain, Australia, and the United States.

There could be a third theory. Perhaps it was a combination of both the first and second theories. At this time, there were a disproportionately large number of Irish police officers on the east coast. Likewise, the majority of those the Irish police were transporting at the time were impoverished Irish Americans, most for drinking, others for fighting, and still yet a third-class combination of the two: drinking and fighting. So, the Irish were driving and the Irish were occupying these wagons, so maybe that contributed to the nickname. While this theory suggests that the term "paddy wagon" may have originated from the stereotype of Irish involvement in law enforcement and the transportation of Irish Americans, it is important to note that this theory is speculative and lacks evidence, so any conclusions you may draw are left solely up to you. Nonetheless, it offers an interesting perspective on the possible origins of the term "paddy wagon," and for the easily offended, they need not worry about the feelings of the Irish, as we are not that sensative, and if this is a fact, it is a fact that makes us proud. There were many Irish police in the United States at the time, and Boston may have had even a higher number than the other east coast police forces, though looking at the yearsbooks of those times, NYPD and BPD were not lacking in the area of Irish police. 

We cannot leave this article without providing still yet another argument: an argument that says the term may have originated from an abbreviated form of the term "patrol wagon," where "patrol" has been shortened to "patty," but due to the Irish influence, "patty" had become "paddy." This theory is widely debated. However, some linguists maintain that the term "paddy wagon" is strongly linked to the Irish. If we look at St. Paddy's Day, a religious holiday named after St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, the Irish say St. Paddy's Day, not St. Patty's Day. According to the linguists, the term "paddy wagon" may have derived from the term "paddy," which they say is derogatory and was used to refer to Irish immigrants in a way that was meant to mock and demean the Irish. The issue with this is that the Irish call St. Patrick St. Paddy, and the Irish do not offend easily. With that, it should be noted that the Irish do not find the term "paddy" derogatory.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding its exact origin, these terms continue to be used in various countries, such as Britain, Australia, and the United States. The term "Paddy Wagon" is commonly used to refer to a police vehicle used for transporting multiple suspects or prisoners. So while we are not sure where the temr Paddy Wagon came from, we do know where the term Black Maria came from.


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We are always looking for copies of your Baltimore Police class photos, pictures of our officers, vehicles, and newspaper articles relating to our department and/or officers; old departmental newsletters, old departmental newsletters, lookouts, wanted posters, and/or brochures; information on deceased officers; and anything that may help preserve the history and proud traditions of this agency. Please contact Retired Detective Kenny Driscoll.

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How to Dispose of Old Police Items

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 pictures to 8138 Dundalk Ave., Baltimore, Md. 21222


Copyright © 2002 Baltimore City Police History: Ret Det. Kenny Driscoll 

Traffic Officer William R. Myers

Traffic Officer William R. Myers

Fallen Hero

Traffic Officer William R. Myers passed away on September 27, 1933.

On September 20, 1933, Officer Myers reported feeling ill to the point that another officer had to take over his post at Howard and Pratt Streets. Officer Myers was an original member of the "Beauty Squad," Baltimore's first Traffic Division; he took his spot in the division on its start in 1912. After working on one of the busiest corners of Baltimore for more than twenty years, the corner located at Lexington and Eutaw Streets, he reported to his supervisor, Captain Hamilton Atkinson, respectfully requesting to be moved to a semaphore. Myers, who has been with the Baltimore Police Department since July 14, 1896, was well known and well liked. He did his time on one of the harder corners of Baltimore, and it was becoming too stressful for him toward the end of his career, so Captain Atkinson gave him the transfer he had requested. The captain had acknowledged Myers' commitment and years of service by granting his request and moving him to the semaphore once located at the corner of Howard and Pratt Streets. This move allowed Myers to continue serving the Baltimore Police Department in a more subdued capacity.

However, after 20+ years on Baltimore's most congested corner, the stress had caught up with him, and the damage was already done. Feeling ill on the 20th day of September 1933, Officer Myers reported his illness to his supervisor and was sent home. He wasn't getting better after a week at home, and on September 27, 1933, just before 6 a.m., he passed away from heart disease, a stress-related illness. Myers' dedication to the Baltimore Police Department was evident in his willingness to dedicate himself to a tough corner and work it for so many years before requesting a move to an easier semaphore. Still, the toll of serving on such a congested corner for over 20 years had taken its toll on his health. Despite reporting feeling ill to his supervisor and being sent home, Myers' condition wouldn't improve; tragically, it took his life on September 27, 1933, signaling the end of an area in Baltimore's Traffic Division.

We can't say 100% that his death was the result of a work-related illness; all we can do is present what we know and let our readers decide for themselves. We will say that given his position as one of the original Beauty Squad, it might be enough for us to take a minute to think of him on this, the anniversary of his passing, and pray that he continues to rest in peace as we thank him for his service.

Myers' passing marked a significant loss for the department, as he had been a dedicated and respected officer and a pioneer in the traffic section of our agency. His contributions to the Beauty Squad will always be remembered, and his death serves as a reminder of the risks stress places on its law enforcement officers. Let us honor his memory and remember the sacrifices made by all those who serve to protect our communities.

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We are always looking for copies of your Baltimore Police class photos, pictures of our officers, vehicles, and newspaper articles relating to our department and/or officers; old departmental newsletters, old departmental newsletters, lookouts, wanted posters, and/or brochures; information on deceased officers; and anything that may help preserve the history and proud traditions of this agency. Please contact retired detective Kenny Driscoll.

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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 pictures to 8138 Dundalk Ave., Baltimore, Md. 21222


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