Skip to main content
Use the right side menu to identify relevant boxes and place requests.

Pratt Street Riot collection

 Collection 0502-MDHC

The first casualities of the American Civil War occurred in Baltimore City on April 19, 1861 when scores of Confederate sympathizers and anti-War Democrats attacked Union troops marching through the city. Documents in this collection from eye-witnesses John E. Brown, Edwin Fowler, Asbury Clark, and Felix van Reuth describe the events of April 19th as well as events that occurred after the riots and various pro-Union and pro-Confederate sentiments in the Baltimore area. The collection consists of correspondence, and one song called "A Southern Song" all written in 1861.


  • 1861

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections Reading Room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


2.75 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

The entirety of the Pratt Street Riot Collection materials date from 1861. The collection consists of personal correspondence from local citizens and visitors who witnessed the riots and its aftermath in Baltimore, as well as the lyrics to one song written by an anonymous Southern sympathizer.

Biographical / Historical

The Pratt Street Riot, also known as the Baltimore Riot of 1861 or the Pratt Street Massacre, occurred on April 19, 1861. Violence broke out between members of the Massachusetts militia who were marching through to Washington, D.C., and local Confederate sympathizers and anti-War Democrats. By the end of the day, four soldiers and twelve civilians were killed and scores were wounded on both sides. The riot prompted the Union to send many more troops to Maryland to ensure that it did not secede and join the Confederacy, and General Benjamin Butler declared martial law in the city the next month. Since there were no deaths at the Battle of Fort Sumter earlier that month, the causalities at the Pratt Street Riot were the first of the Civil War.


Series 1
John E. Brown
Series 2
Edwin C. Fowler
Series 3
Asbury Clark
Series 4
M.B. Lowry
Series 5
Southern Song
Series 6

Custodial History

This cCollection was purchased in August 2014 from Michael J. Osborne Books with generous funding from the Gordon S. Mackenzie Estate.

Related Materials

The following are related collections that are located in Special Collections and University Archives. Please contact the curator for additional assistance in locating related subject material, if necessary.

Address of His Excellency John a. Andrew, to the Two Branches of the Legislature of Massachusetts, May 14, 1861. Boston: William White, 1861. [Maryland Rare Stacks E513 .E61 1861]

Brown, George William. Baltimore and the Nineteenth of April, 1861: A Study of the War. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001 [Maryland Stacks F189.B157 B76 2001]

Ezratty, Harry A. Baltimore in the Civil War: the Pratt Street Riot and a City Occupied. Charleston: History Press, 2010. [F189.B157 E98 2010]

Maryland Manuscripts Collection, State of Maryland and Historical Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Wallis, S. Teackle, and John Sherman. Correspondence between S. Teackle Wallis, Esq., of Baltimore, and the Hon. John Sherman, of the U.S. Senate: Concerning the Arrest of Members of the Maryland Legislature, and the Mayor and Police Commissioners of Baltimore, in 1861. Baltimore, 1863. [Maryland Rare Stacks E512 .W21 1863]

Guide to the Pratt Street Riot collection
Processed by Tyler Stump.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742