Now over 500 strong, the Commonweal is ready to head into the mountains, where the terrain will be rugged, and supplies will be few. The marchers appear to be able to make it through. But, is Coxey himself up to the task?
From The Chicago Tribune – April 7, 1894:
McKeesport, Pa., April 6 — [Special] Gen. Coxey is growing frightened at the monster he has created and would reduce its size and unwieldiness if he could. He has issued orders that no more recruits be allowed to join and has gone even further. Formerly the penalty for infraction of orders was the loss of a meal. Now the penalty is expulsion from the army. Coxey is doing his best to shake off the superfluity of men, but he cannot do it. There are few of the tramp class in the commonweal now. It’s members are decent, out-of-work men who have been deluded into believing that Coxey would lead them to Washington and feed them all the way. They claim persistently to the army in spite of all discomforts and there are not likely to be many desertions. Coxey’s fear is that he cannot find food for the rapidly increasing horde of capital invaders. He is afraid an insurrection will break out and that he will be deposed from the leadership. This would put an end to his ambition for fame and Browne’s craving for notoriety and would be disastrous indeed. The men possess appetites which cause a wagon load of food to melt like butter on a stove. The worst part of the country is to come and food is scarce.
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Coxey probably weakening.
Probably Coxey is as much concerned about himself and his son as about the welfare of the army in the mountains. When he first started out Coxey looked upon the whole trip as a sort of picnic. The first night he slept in the tent. He did not do it again. Coxey has just begun to understand that there are no comfortable hotels in the mountains; that there are no hotels at all. He has heard that the best accommodations obtained will be a pair of blankets. This prospect is not alluring to Coxey and he will get out of it if he can.
The army numbered 503 men when it marched out of Homestead this morning and there are as many tonight. Everything possible has been done to drive the men away, but they have hung on. The march to McKeesport was begun at 11 o’clock. Nearly the whole distance of fourteen miles seemed to be uphill. The roads were as bad as they could be. The favorite repairing material seeming to be a mixture of tomato cans and big rocks. Every wagon had a breakdown of some kind. Coxey is disgusted at the frequency, for the expense for repairs more than balances the nightly collection at the meetings.
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Read the full article from the The Chicago Tribune archives of April 7, 1894
See also Coxey Men Must Move East from The New York Times, April 7, 1894:
The question of sufficient food is becoming more and more important, as the mountain region will be entered by Sunday, and then long marches and small towns will be the order. Coxey claims enough to carry the army through.