The Baltimore riot of 1861 (also called the Pratt Street Riot and the Pratt Street Massacre) was an incident that took place on April 19, 1861, in Baltimore, Maryland between Confederate sympathizers and infantrymen of the United States Army. It is regarded by historians as the first bloodshed of the American Civil War.
Causes of the riot
On April 12, one week prior to the riot, the battle of Fort Sumter started, signaling the beginning of the American Civil War. At the time, the slave states of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas had not yet seceded from the U.S.. In addition, it was not yet known whether four other slave states, (Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, and Kentucky) (later known as "border states"), would remain in the Union. When Fort Sumter fell on April 13 without a single man lost, the Virginia legislature took up a measure on secession. After little debate, the measure passed on April 17. The other southern states watched with interest to see what would happen, as the secession of Virginia was important because of the state's industrial value. Influential Marylanders who had been supportive of secession ever since John C. Calhoun spoke of "nullification" and agitated to join Virginia in leaving the Union. Their discontent increased in the days afterward while Lincoln put out a call for volunteers to serve 90 days and end the insurrection; newly formed units were starting to transport themselves south. Baltimore was a particularly secession-sympathetic city; Abraham Lincoln received only 1,100 of more than 30,000 votes cast for president in 1860. One regiment of newly called up Union troops came through Baltimore; however, anti-Union forces were too disorganized and surprised to do anything about it. When the next regiment came on April 19, however, they were ready.
April 19, 1861
On April 19, the Union's Sixth Massachusetts Regiment was traveling south to Washington, D.C. through Baltimore. At that time, there was no direct...