Henry R. Haven and the Baltimore Riot of 1861

Henry R. Haven, ca.1910
Henry R. Haven (1842–1914), a confectioner by trade, and for a time borough clerk and councilman in Chambersburg, was a veteran of the Civil War serving in both the army and navy.

Shortly after the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, eight southern states seceded during the next five months—South Carolina on December 20, 1860, Mississippi on January 9, 1861, Florida on January 10, Alabama on January 11, Georgia on January 19, Louisiana on January 26, Texas on February 1, and Virginia on April 17.

Virginia’s secession following the bombardment of Federal soldiers at Fort Sumter by Confederates on April 12 and the president's call for troops on April 15, only served to heighten the divided loyalties of Maryland which had business, cultural, and social ties to both North and South.

With the call for troops, Haven enlisted as a private in Company G of the Sixth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers. On April 17, the regiment assembled at Boston and boarded trains for Washington, D.C., by way of New York, Trenton, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Arriving at Baltimore’s President Street station on April 19, the troops marched in formation along Pratt Street toward the Camden Street station where they were to again board trains and continue on to the capitol.

It was along Pratt Street that the troops were attacked by an angry mob numbering the thousands that hurled bricks and stones, and then opened fire with pistols. The troops responded by firing indiscriminately into the crowd. Four soldiers and 12 civilians were killed in the melee along with 32 soldiers and an unknown number of civilians wounded.

On the fiftieth anniversary of the Baltimore Riot, Haven vividly recounted his experiences which appeared in the Trenton Evening Times on July 21, 1911:

“The first part of the regiment got through safely, having started from Philadelphia at 1 o’clock in the morning, but I was in Company G, toward the end. There were 10,000 people in the streets of Baltimore, forming a wild and angry mob. Bricks were thrown at us, not only from the sidewalks, but from overhead, many chimneys being pulled down upon us, and all the remaining bricks being hurled from the roofs.

“Strangely enough, we had as many friends as foes in that great throng, but we did not know it, so we fired in self protection, shooting twenty rounds of ball ammunition into the crowd, hitting opponents and sympathizers as well. It was most unfortunate.”

Massachusetts Militia Passing Through Baltimore,
engraved by F.F. Walker from a watercolor by F.O.C. Darley,
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

He subsequently enlisted as a landsman in the navy and was attached to the USS New Ironsides, USS Ohio, which at the time served as a receiving ship, and USS Wabash. After the war he became a member of Trenton’s Bayard Post, No. 8, G.A.R.

Haven is interred in Section H, Lot 104. 

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