April 14: Commonwealers Nigh Unto Riot

Marshal Browne Bounced by Coxey's "Unknown" in Maryland

From The New York Times, Sunday, April 15, 1894:

FROSTBURG, MD., April 14 — Revolt in the ranks of Coxey’s army today leaves the Commonwealers in a state bordering on riot. Chief Marshal Carl Browne of California was deposed as Marshal, and Louis Smith, “The Unknown,” is in full charge.

[pullquote]During one of the halts, Smith ordered the men to march, and Browne called a halt. In a war of words, Browne denounced “The Unknown” as a Pinkerton detective. Smith called for support, and all but the wagonmen responded. Smith ordered a squad of men to remove them, and take the wagons. Browne threatened all manner of dire punishment, but finally leaped into Coxey’s chaise and drove off at a gallop.[/pullquote]

Gen. J.S. Coxey has been absent for several days, and is ignorant of the happening. Browne’s fall was the result of jealousy between him and Smith. Yesterday they disputed over a petty matter, but the quarrel was patched up, to break out again today during the march. Smith, in an address to the men, appealed to them for support, and was loudly called upon to take charge, the army reserving only curses and sneers for Browne.

On leaving Grantsville this morning, the army moved rapidly over the Great Meadow Mountain on to the foot of Big Savage Mountain. According to the men, the march was made very laborious by the repeated calls to halt ordered by Browne, who would at each step address gatherings of mountaineers, who were attracted by curiosity. As the march was a most wearisome one, and the men fagged, they desired to move on to the camp at this town. During one of the halts, Smith ordered the men to march, and Browne called a halt. In a war of words, Browne denounced “The Unknown” as a Pinkerton detective. Smith called for support, and all but the wagonmen responded. Smith ordered a squad of men to remove them, and take the wagons. Browne threatened all manner of dire punishment, but finally leaped into Coxey’s chaise and drove off at a gallop.

The army proceeded, and two miles further on found Browne standing by the roadside and one of the horses lying exhausted. The team is valued at $7,000. Browne, as soon as the army came up, seized a horse and rode ahead, leaving the prostrate animal lying where it had fallen. On reaching town new difficulties beset the reorganized army. Assistant Commissary Childs had been ordered by Browne to not notify the army concerning any local arrangements, and refused to do so. Finally, the citizens’ committee was discovered in Odd Fellows Hall, as arranged. The horses and all the baggage were put under guard, and made subject to the order of either Marshal Smith or Jesse A. Coxey, son of the commander of the Commonweal, who supports Smith in his move. Besides, four men were detailed to guard the stage and throw out of the window anybody who attempted to address the men during the evening.

This evening Browne has been wildly telegraphing to all points to reach Coxey. He refuses to say if an answer has been received, but promises a statement. The men assert that they will not obey Browne again, as he is too officious and bullying.

This town regards the army with apprehension, and has made preparation to get them out as quickly and safely as possible, deeming that the most politic manner of dealing with the organization.

WILMINGTON, Del., April 14 — The Jones branch of the Commonweal army remained in camp at Sellers’s Woods, just north of the city all the morning, but at 2:30 o’clock this afternoon Mayor Shortlidge went to camp and ordered Jones to march on at once. Jones refused, and the police began arresting the soldiers. Half of them deserted, and thus save themselves. The others, including Jones, were loaded into a patrol wagon and driven to the police station. They will be charged in court with vagrancy.

BOSTON, April 14 — Boston’s industrial army has concluded to walk the entire distance to Washington. Although Recruiting Officer Fitzgerald has refused to state the number of men enrolled for the trip, it has been ascertained that he has the names of 500 men who are anxious to start on Tuesday. Manchester (N.H.) will furnish forty members of the army, and Marlborough will send sixty more. Fully 100 from Providence are expected to join the ranks, and large contingents have been promised from Springfield, New-Haven, and Hartford.

It is now believed by Morrison I. Swift and his colaborers that over 1,000 men will be in line when the New-England contingent starts. Major Gen. Fitzgerald states that every man registered is a bona fide workingman, and that not a member of the “tramp” fraternity has enlisted up to date. The leaders will hold mass meetings along the line of march and take up contributions from which to pay railroad fares from Washington to Boston on the return trip.


See also Coxey’s Army Snowbound in a Grove; Most of the Men Look Miserable and Talk of Deserting, The New York Times, Wednesday April 11, 1894

Also, In the Snow On The Mountains; Coxey’s Army Yesterday Had a Hard Tramp Over Laurel Ridge, from The New York Times, Thursday, April 12, 1894.

And, Coxey Men Control a Train; Over a Thousand Coming East on the Union Pacific Road, from The New York Times, Friday, April 13, 1894.

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