March 26, 1894: Coxey’s Army is Straggling Along

Coxey’s Army left Massillon, Ohio on March 25, 1894.  By March 26, there were troubles. From The New York Times:

Last Night the Soldiers Slept in a Police Station – Discontent Brewing.

CANTON, Ohio, March 26. — When the sun rose on Camp Lexington this morning not a soldier of the Commonweal Army was visible. The cold weather had driven them all out of their big tent during the night. Fifty-eight of them went to the police station, where they were given lodgings on the cold stone floor. Others scattered in different directions, many of them not to return.

Coxey says that recruits are now coming in so fast that it is impossible to keep count, but, if this statement is true, the new arrivals are successfully keeping out of sight. Three women in male attire are with the army.

Coxey, Browne, and other leaders slept comfortably at the hotel.

What was left of the army this morning breakfasted on bread, boiled bacon, and black coffee.

The weather was very cold this morning, and the Commonweal soldiers, being thinly clad, suffered.  There were many loud complaints and threats of desertion.

Camp Lexington was “broken” at 11 o’clock and the start for Louisville was made. Less than seventy-five men were in line, but Coxey and his lieutenants said everything was working according to the celestial schedule with which they had been furnished. They declare that provisions have been donated in such quantities that they can’t handle them all.

A scheme to furnish the Commonweal Army with fifteen or twenty gallons of bad whiskey has been planned in hopes that the soldiers may become intoxicated and break up the expedition before it gets beyond Alliance. Whether this scheme is carried out or not, there is a good prospect that trouble will be had within the next day or two.

Many of the Commonweal soldiers are murmuring against Marshal Louis Smith, “the great unknown,” who has shown an arrogant spirit in governing them. They threaten to turn on him and “thrash the life out of him.”

Read the full article from the New York Times archives.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *