The Eight-hour Movement—Anarchist Activity—The Lock-out at McCormick’s—Distorting the Facts—A Socialist Lie—The True Facts about McCormick’s—Who Shall Run the Shops?—Abusing the “Scabs”—High Wages for Cheap Work—The Union Loses $3,000 a Day—Preparing for Trouble—Arming the Anarchists—Ammunition Depots—Pistols and Dynamite—Threatening the Police—The Conspirators Show the White Feather—Capt. O’Donnell’s Magnificent Police Work—The Revolution Blocked—A Foreign Reservation—An Attempt to Mob the Police—The History of the First Secret Meeting—Lingg’s First Appearance in the Conspiracy—The Captured Documents—Bloodshed at McCormick’s—“The Battle Was Lost”—Officer Casey’s Narrow Escape.
THE events immediately preceding the inauguration of the eight-hour strike were remarkable in the opportunities they afforded Anarchists for arousing workingmen against capital and stirring up their worst passions. The leaders had already intensified the clamor for reduced working-time, and only the occasion was needed to fully arouse the true ruffianism behind the Socialistic rabble. This occasion was presented in the troubles that grew out of the “lock-out” at McCormick’s Harvester Works, and, as the facts in connection therewith are necessary to a clear and comprehensive understanding of the situation, I shall briefly review them. Before doing so, however, it may be well to premise by saying that the real state of affairs in that trouble was greatly exaggerated, and that, instead of dividing responsibility, the Socialistic orators sought to throw the sole burden upon the owners and managers of that establishment, charging them, in the heat and excitement of the times, with gross violation of pledged faith to the men employed, and instigating even violent resistance to the installation of new men, or “scabs,” as they were opprobriously termed, into the vacated places.
This so-called “lock-out” occurred on February 16, 1886, and through it some twelve hundred men became idle. The Anarchists proceeded at once to distort every fact in connection with it. The view they presented of the affair may be best shown by the following extract from a history of the Chicago Anarchists published by the Socialistic Publishing Society:
The employés of that establishment had been for some time perfecting their organization, and at last had presented a petition for the redress of certain grievances and a general advance of wages. The dispute arose over an additional demand that a guarantee be given that no man in the factory should be discharged for having acted as a representative of his comrades. This was absolutely refused. A strike in the factory in the preceding April had been adjusted on the basis that none of the men who served on committees, etc., and made themselves conspicuous in behalf of their fellow workmen, would be discharged for so doing. This agreement has been wantonly violated, and every man who had incurred the displeasure of Mr. McCormick was not only discharged, but black-listed, in many cases being unable to obtain employment in other shops.
It thus appears that the Socialist leaders not only hoped to utilize the strike to precipitate their revolution, but, by purposely misstating the grievances of McCormick’s men, to engender a bitter and violent feeling against that establishment. Now, what were the true facts in the case? Along in February the employés in the works asked for a uniformity of wages, the re-employment, as occasion demanded, of all old hands, who had been out of work since the strike in April preceding, and the discharge of five non-union men employed in the foundry. Mr. Cyrus McCormick generously conceded the first two demands, but firmly declined to discharge the non-union men, as he regarded this as an interference with the company’s right of employing whom they pleased. Thereupon the employés held a meeting and formulated an ultimatum, in which they insisted upon the discharge as requested, “not because,” as they said, “they wanted to abridge the privilege of hiring and discharging, but because Foreman Ward threatened to pursue old hands with such vindictiveness that he would drive them over the ‘Black Road,’ or else they would have to walk in their nakedness,” and in justice to the old employés the non-union workmen ought to be “thrown out.” Mr. McCormick took the position that this was an attempt to dictate that only union men should be employed in the works, and he finally declared that the company had always decided and always would decide who were best suited to do its work, and whom or how many men it would employ or discharge. If the concessions already made were not satisfactory, he would close the works.
During the strike of the preceding spring, McCormick had done just what other manufacturers had done in similar cases—introduced new machinery to perform work hitherto done by hand. He had put in new molding apparatus and had found that the new machines in the hands of ordinary laborers, as soon as they learned to handle them, turned out daily far more molds and more reliable ones than the old hand process. On the outbreak of the trouble in February there were fifteen men employed in the foundry,—ten old hands and five non-union men. The services of all of them might thus have been dispensed with, since skilled labor was not necessary, and, with the addition of more machines and a few raw hands, just as much and just as good work, he claimed, might have been produced. But the owners desired to favor the employés, and, having granted a uniformity of wages even to the extent of advancing the pay of ordinary labor to $1.50 per day, a sum greater than that paid by similar industries elsewhere, and having promised to give preference to old employés when additional hands were needed, they resolved not to be dictated to by outside malcontents nor to discharge men who had done efficient work for the company.
The grant of such a request would, they held, be virtually placing the management of the concern in the hands of outsiders. When, therefore, the employés, instigated by the Anarchists, resolved to strike for their demand, McCormick took time by the forelock and ordered the works closed on and after nine o’clock on the morning of February 16, to remain closed until the strikers decided to return.
By this “lock-out” the employés were deprived of $3,000 a day in the shape of wages, that amount representing the daily payroll of the concern. Meanwhile, pending the lock-out, the company canvassed the possibility of an early resumption of business and quietly perfected arrangements for that step, which they concluded to take on March 1. Of course, this contemplated move enraged all the groups in the city. The strikers in the vicinity of the factory were especially excited. Ever since the establishment had closed its doors the neighborhood had been infested with idlers and vicious-looking men. They had all felt confident that the firm would be finally forced to submit, but when it gradually dawned upon their minds that arrangements had actually been made for a resumption of work without reference to the wishes of the “outs,” they determined to prevent it by force. They were the first to decide on violent measures, and they presented their purpose to the members of Carpenters’ Union No. 1. The result was that two secret meetings of the armed men of both unions were held between February 27 and March 3 at Greif’s Hall. The first meeting called out nearly all the “armed men” of the Metal-workers’ Union and about one hundred and forty men belonging to International Carpenters’ Union No. 1, some with rifles, revolvers and dynamite bombs. They then and there formulated a plan to prevent the “scabs” from going to work. The plan was that the metal-workers should gather in the vicinity of the factory at about five o’clock on the morning the works were to be reopened, well equipped with bombs, rifles and revolvers. Those who did not possess rifles were to secure revolvers and bombs, which could be obtained, they were told, on Blue Island Avenue, between Twenty-second Street and McCormick’s. At that place, on giving the pass-word and number of the place, every member would be supplied. In the event of their running short of ammunition, they were to repair to that place, and they would find some one there always to wait on them. It was given out that the place was run by the metal-workers, who would see to it that all necessary bombs were on hand. Members having friends living in the vicinity of the factory were to stay with them over night so as to be up bright and early in the morning, and those living at a distance were to make it a point to get up early enough to be on hand at the time indicated. A point of rendezvous was designated, and, when all had arrived, they were to surround the factory and permit no one to enter except on peril of being shot. This situation of affairs, they said, would necessarily bring out the police, but the moment these should arrive the “armed men” were to open fire. The first volley was to be over the heads of the “blue-coats,” and if that did not put them to flight, they were to be shot down without mercy. When they began to throw bombs the “reds” were all to be in line, so that none of their own number would be hurt by the explosions, and wherever the police formed a company a solid front was to be presented and a rattling fire maintained. They would also form different lines along the “Black Road,” and when patrol wagons came to the rescue of the officers, they were to hurl bombs at them.
It was to be a fight to the death. Every one agreed, as I was told, “to die game, give no quarter, and see to it that the green grass around McCormick’s factory was nourished with human blood.” In accordance with the plan, the members of the Carpenters’ Union were to assemble with rifles and ammunition at Greif’s Hall at an hour not later than six o’clock in the morning, and to remain there until orders for their services were sent. The carpenters carried out their part of the programme, and at the appointed hour there were no less than two hundred of them at the hall, fully armed and apparently ready for any emergency. They scattered throughout the hall building so as not to attract attention, and impatiently awaited orders or information indicating the progress of affairs at the factory. But no orders were received. They heard nothing for some time, but when they did they were a happier lot of men. The clamor and excitement of the hour had stimulated them with a false courage, but each had nevertheless entertained a secret hope that there would be no call for a display of their valor. And there was none.
It appears that, on the morning they were to have created such dire destruction, the brave metal-workers overslept themselves! “There was snow on the ground,” and probably they did not care to defile it with the blood of their enemies. None of them appeared at the rendezvous on time, and when they straggled around at a later hour they were full of excuses, the one on which they principally relied being that their faithful spouses had neglected to wake them in time. No one for a moment charged the others with cowardice, and yet that was the whole secret of their failure. Each had expected others to be at the appointed place ready for the fray, but the unanimity with which all had prolonged their slumbers prevented what all had expected to see—a brilliant victory with themselves beyond all danger.
But about the time these braves should have been around according to programme, another party occupied the field. It was the brave and fearless Capt. Simon O’Donnell, of the Second Precinct, with two lieutenants and three companies of well disciplined officers. They took charge of the “Black Road” and the vicinity of McCormick’s factory as early as six o’clock, and the so-called “scabs” passed into the works, “with none to molest them or make them afraid.” When those who had overslept sneaked around, one after another, they were perfectly amazed. Where they had hoped to see the ground strewn with the dead bodies of policemen, they found order and serenity.
In the expectation of seeing some disturbance, the vicinity became crowded during the forenoon with idlers and curious people drawn from all parts of the city. Seeing this throng and relying on the presence of many Anarchists, the daring metal-workers revived their spirits and hoped yet to precipitate a conflict by egging it on at a safe distance in the rear. They accordingly began to utter loud threats and urge the excited rabble to an attack on the “blanked bloodhounds,” the police.
There were in the crowd a lot of half-drunken Polanders and Bohemians who, living in the neighborhood, claimed that the presence of the police was a menace to their personal rights and privileges. The police were on what these misguided people considered their own reservation, and, with a view to driving them away, some began throwing stones and clubs at the officers in the patrol wagons. Others picked out officers apart from their companions and made them the targets for their missiles. Captain O’Donnell learned, while this disconcerted attack was going on, that many of the crowd had revolvers and dynamite in their pockets. He speedily resolved on a plan for arresting and disarming such men and gave orders to his lieutenants to surround the crowd and search all suspected persons. The result was that the following were found to have arms, and they were placed under arrest: Stephen Reiski, Adolph Heuman, Charles Kosh, Henry Clasen, John Hermann, George Hermann, Ernest Haker, Otto Sievert, Emil Kernser, Frank Trokinski and Stanifon Geiner. Detectives from the Central Station assisted in the search, and the offenders were taken to the Police Court, where they were fined $10 each.
It was thought that this procedure would quiet the mob, but later in the day the Anarchists again gathered around McCormick’s. The crowd was again surrounded, and the following were arrested for carrying concealed weapons: Louis Hartman, William Brecker, Julius Vimert, Peter Pech, William Holden, Louis Lingg, Carl Jagush, Samuel Barn, William Meyer, Rudolph Miller, John Hoben and John Otto. These were also fined.
During this trouble at the factory a gang of Anarchists had gathered at the Workingmen’s Hall on West Twelfth Street, and they had just formed a procession to march out in a body to McCormick’s, when they were surrounded and searched. In this “round-up” the great “Little August” Krueger was arrested with a full uniform of the Lehr und Wehr Verein under an overcoat, and a number of his comrades were taken in charge at the same time. Many of them had dynamite bombs, and some one shouted that “all brothers who had ‘stuff’ should get away and the others should assist them.”
But the police were not to be trifled with, and some of the most daring officers rushed into the thickest of the crowd, and succeeded in gathering in several bombs. There were a number of women in the mob, and some of these hid bombs under their petticoats. The officers were of course too gallant to molest them. But the search and arrests served to break up the procession and prevent further outbreaks at the factory that day.
Such were the results of the plots of the first secret meeting. The second secret gathering, a few days later, was held, as the former had been, at Greif’s Hall. It was called by the metal-workers and carpenters jointly. They were more demonstrative than ever. Gustav Belz was accorded the distinction of presiding over the turbulent members of the Carpenters’ Union. All of the carpenters belonging to the Lehr und Wehr Verein, numbering one hundred and eighty men, were present with their rifles, and they were loud for war. At the same time the metal-workers had a gathering by themselves, and when a delegation from them called on the carpenters and announced that they were prepared to engage in battle that day, the carpenters’ assemblage became delirious with excitement. They shouted and jumped about in such a lively manner that some of the more conservative members were obliged to warn them to quiet down or they would attract the attention of the police. The hot-heads, enraged at this caution, retorted by accusing the conservatives of cowardice. They refused to be quieted, and, like Comanche Indians about to take to the war-path, they examined their revolvers and brandished their guns. They even inspected the fuse on their bombs, and insisted that they would be ready the moment the command was given. In anticipation of blood, they screwed up their courage by frequent libations; and the more they drank the happier they grew over the prospect of speedy acquisition of wealth when once their revolution was started.
It was an uncomfortable place meanwhile for the conservative members, and these had frequent occasion during the stormy proceedings to regret that they had uttered a word of remonstrance. But there was one who did not allow his feelings to get the better of his judgment. It was Balthasar Rau. He took the floor and said that, however much he desired to fight and sweep McCormick and all other capitalists from the face of the earth, yet he could plainly see that the time had not yet arrived for commencing the revolution. It would be folly, he insisted, to go out on the streets with rifles in hand while all the surroundings were against them and while they were not generally prepared to cope with the police and militia. To commence a general upheaval now would be to destroy their prospects in the immediate future.
“Before you make war,” said Rau, “you must have something to fall back on; but now we have nothing. We ought to have a treasury well filled. If we inaugurate a fight we must expect that some of us will be killed, others wounded, and others again arrested. Where is the money to help those in distress? What will your families do if you are killed? You must take all these things into consideration. It is very easy for us to go out, shoot and kill somebody, but what can we expect to gain by all that? We must be ready and prepared and protected.”
This speech had a soothing effect upon some, but Belz wanted blood, and that immediately. He despised the capitalists, and the sooner their blood was spilled the better it would suit him. The majority of the meeting expressed a concurrence in Rau’s ideas, and one member emphasized Rau’s remarks by saying that it would be like a man going out on the streets, pounding another and then running away—nothing was gained.
Belz, seeing the drift of sentiment, grew very angry, and he suggested that some one move an adjournment to some other day, when they might hope to get together a braver lot of men. Such a motion was made, and the gathering separated, those that were not too drunk posting off at once for home.
Belz grew quite demonstrative over the lack of results at this meeting, and avowed that he would have nothing more to do with such a crowd of cowards. A few days thereafter, however, another meeting was held; but, in view of the many arrests Captain O’Donnell had made among their members, they were unable to decide upon any business. Some of the hot-heads threw all the blame on Rau and some of his friends for having prevented decisive action when they might have hoped to come out victorious. But all this sort of talk was simply braggadocio, and had any of these loud-mouthed fellows been actually tried, they would have been found skulking in the rear of an attacking party. Prior and subsequent events proved them all trembling cowards when their own personal safety was at stake.
Perhaps the most dangerous, because the most secret, figure in the cabal at this time was Louis Lingg. He seems to have been chosen especially to direct the revolutionary design in the southwest part of the city, and his counsels permeated every Socialistic circle in that section. In his trunk, after his arrest, the following letter was found in his own handwriting, evidently a copy or the original of one sent:
Dear Brother Union: On the occasion of the last general meeting in Zepf’s Hall the International Carpenters’ Union passed a resolution asking the Furniture Makers’ Union if they were satisfied with the doings of their delegates, especially with Mr. Hausch and Mr. Mende, who had agreed to take the leadership of the revolution.... It is natural that the governing class would take these—their means—as soon as the workingmen would try to take their rights. In consequence of these facts we feel it our duty to call the attention of indifferent workingmen to these facts and suggest the adoption of force, power against power, and urge all to arm yourselves. Therefore, stand with all your energy against the system of profit without regard to the way they prepare themselves. We request our brother union to acquaint us with their point of view, so we can form our plans accordingly.
With greeting and the shaking of the hand.
International Carpenters’ Union No. 1.
Lingg likewise issued a personal address, a copy of which was also found in the trunk, urging the laborers of the Southwest Side to practice in the handling of arms. Among other things found written over his signature, is the following:
Our authorized demands are replied to with clubs, powder and lead. In consequence of these experiences it is no more than right that we adopt force and arm ourselves. The opportunity to arm yourselves cheaply can be ascertained from all well-known comrades, as well as armed organization, where you can find good places to drill. Don’t let this opportunity pass. The medicine dynamite, in leaden bomb, is more powerful than the rifle. Don’t forget the opportunity.
Lingg also sent another circular to his comrades in that section, of which the following is a copy:
Brothers: As you have noticed for a long time past that the police are more than ready to break your heads with their murderous clubs and do not care whether they make you cripples for the balance of your miserable days, and do not care whether your wives and children have to go begging for you after you become useless; neither do they care for the loving young son that supports his old parents, whether they kill him or not: therefore, taking all these things into consideration,—that these policemen are ready, under the instruction of the capitalists, to commit murder on the working people,—I say we must resist these monsters, and the way we must do this is to get ready and be all like one man. We must fight them with as good weapons, even better than they possess, and, therefore, I call you all to arms! As we are no capitalists, we can make arrangements in a gun-factory outside of this State. Have this matter treated very confidentially. Have only a committee of three members to buy arms as cheaply as possible, and see if there can be anything secured on half credit, so that you can also give time to the buyer. In this way you can get all new and good arms and better than the police have. Then I call your attention again and impress on your minds that it is not alone enough that you have the arms; you must also understand how to use them so that you can be equally well drilled with them as your opponents. Then you can give them successful resistance. And now, to make this matter very easy and a success for all, the workingmen of this city, with the third company of the Lehr und Wehr Verein and some members of the International Carpenters’ Union, held a meeting yesterday, and they all agreed to give lessons in drill to any one that wanted to learn how to use arms. All the people so desiring should call every Thursday evening at 8 o’clock at Turner Hall “Vorwaerts,” on West Twelfth Street, and there they will receive instructions free of charge.
I want you Southwest Side people to be as useful with arms as the people on the North and Northwest sides. We have everything about as complete as we wish it to be. On the North Side we have Neff’s or Thuringia Hall, No. 58 Clybourn Avenue, and you can come and visit us there and see the boys drill. We have a man named Hermann, and he is a soldier from the old home and a first-class drillmaster, and always pleased to see new recruits. Now, workingmen of the Southwest Side, I beg of you to make use of this opportunity. Do not let this go by like a dream. Remember, we are all one. It does not matter whether you are on the South, North or West Side; we must all fight for a purpose. Do not stay at home and let your brothers be killed when you can help them and make your cause a victory. Come in large masses, come often, come promptly. If you do this, everything will be an easy matter for us to undertake. Our labor will be rewarded.... The first of May is coming near. We will have to kill the monster. We must be ready to meet him. This is our only chance now. Probably we will not have this opportunity to meet the monster so that we can fight him with our weapons. You must kill the pirates. You must kill the bloodsuckers; and for the first time in ages the poor workingmen will be made happy. Our work is short; we do not want a thirty years’ war. Be determined. Do not let your near relation, if he is an enemy, stand in your way. Doing all this, then, the victory is ours. _Louis Lingg.
In the work of stirring up bad blood, Lingg seems to have neglected no point likely to count with the dissatisfied laborers. He knew that among the strikers were a great many German Knights of Labor, and, with an ingenuity worthy of a better cause, he took occasion particularly to point out an article published in the Arbeiter-Zeitung of April 22, 1886, giving Governor Oglesby’s views on boycotting. This paper was afterwards found in his trunk, somewhat soiled from frequent usage, and the article in question, for convenience of reference, had been heavily marked with a lead-pencil. Lingg no doubt figured that those who believed in the boycott would thereafter array themselves solidly on the side of those who favored force. A translation of the Governor’s remarks, as given in the Arbeiter-Zeitung, is as follows:
The system of boycotting is the most damnable proposal which was ever fabricated. It repudiates the Constitution, the law and everything. It is the devil’s invention. Yes (speaking to John V. Farwell), when it has so far progressed that the militia is obliged to interfere, you will find that these d—d boycotters will come to them (the merchants and business men) and say, “You must prohibit your employés joining the militia, and those who persist in belonging must be discharged from employment, or you will be boycotted.” This is a fine arrangement. It is true that, meeting with opposition all over, it will die out, but I tell you it is the most damnable transgression which was ever concocted.
Parsons and Schwab also took a hand in the McCormick “lock-out,” but they used the platform to arouse the people to force. On the 2d of March a mass-meeting of Anarchists and hot-headed strikers was held at the West Twelfth Street Turner Hall. Parsons and Schwab were the chief speakers. They were particularly abusive of the owners and the superintendent of the works, and advised the use of violence against the police. So incendiary were the speeches that E. E. Sanderson, a member of the strikers’ standing committee, took occasion to denounce the proceedings.
“Such speakers,” he declared, “cause every spark of sympathy to disappear and bring us into disrepute.” If he had had the power, he said, he would have stopped the gathering. He belonged to the true laboring class, and to properly voice its sentiments he hired another hall for the next day.
The continued presence of the police at the works finally restored order in the vicinity, and it seemed as if the Anarchists had abandoned any further intention of violence. But they were secretly at work, biding their time and watching their opportunity. It came on the afternoon of May 3. At this time between 40,000 and 50,000 men in Chicago were out of employment by reason of the eight-hour strike. Excitement ran high throughout the city. The reaper works were now almost in full operation, and, led by the Anarchists, some of the hot-headed strikers, grown impatient over the apparent failure of their plan, made an assault upon the “scabs” at work in the shops. The instigators of this attack and the principal assailants were Anarchists, who exerted themselves to the utmost to bring on a deadly conflict between the police and the unemployed.
For the day in question a meeting of the Lumber-shovers’ Union had been called in the vicinity to receive the report of a committee who had waited on their employers with reference to the eight-hour question. The Socialists, learning of this, determined to make use of the opportunity. The union was composed of over six thousand lumber workingmen, three thousand Bohemians and over three thousand Germans, and had no connection with the McCormick strike, but it occurred to the Central Labor Union that, inasmuch as many of them were adherents of Socialism, it would be no difficult matter to incite them to riotous demonstrations. On the day preceding, Spies had been delegated by his union to address the gathering. The president of the Lumber Union, Frank Haraster, had become cognizant of the Anarchists’ intentions, and had taken occasion to warn the men against either listening to Socialistic orators or participating in a riot. But there were mutterings of discontent, and the crowd was in a revengeful mood. There were no less than 8,000 people at the gathering—some estimated the number as high as 15,000. Some were intent on revolution, and others had been drawn to the scene through idle curiosity.
It only needed a spark to create a tremendous conflagration. Anarchists were busy among the various groups that had collected. For several days they had labored early and late in the locality to stimulate revolutionary action. Their plans had been carefully concocted, and their network of conspiracy extended in every direction. They had opened channels of subterranean communication, and so arranged their mines of Socialistic powder that at the appointed time they hoped to produce an explosion that would reverberate throughout the globe. That appointed time, they figured, had arrived with the inauguration of the eight-hour movement, and in the lock-out at McCormick’s the first opportunity was presented for a general upheaval. This was their hope and the burden of their care.
When, therefore, a coterie of trained Anarchists appeared on the scene of trouble,—evidently by a preconcerted arrangement,—with the Nation’s flag reversed and trailing in mud and muck, the wildest excitement was aroused, and only a leader was necessary to connect the electric currents of suppressed hostility to start an outburst of violent deeds.
The occasion brought forth that leader in the person of the impulsive and impetuous Spies. He, with some trusted lieutenants, mounted a box-car in the vicinity of the meeting of the lumber-shovers and the McCormick works. He gathered about him an immense crowd, and, speaking in German, called the attention of his auditors to the “brutalities of capital, its selfishness and its grinding oppression” of wage-workers, rendering their condition worse than that of slaves. With fiery invective he wrought up the feelings of the mob to a pitch of reckless frenzy. In the climaxes of his envenomed utterances, he held the multitude with a charmed spell, and he evoked their highest plaudits when he counseled violence as a means to redress their grievances.
Before the termination of this lurid speech, many hitherto apparently apathetic had caught the infection, and when some of the non-union men emerged from the gate at the McCormick foundry, on the conclusion of their day’s labor,—the hour being three o’clock,—many of the mob rushed to the establishment, bent on wreaking vengeance. They had hardly begun to move when some one on the box-car shouted: “Go up and kill the d——d scabs!” The identity of this person has never been disclosed, but it is no rash conclusion to suppose that it was a confidant of Spies, as well as of Lingg, who had secret charge of fomenting disturbances in that district. Lingg was present at this gathering, and, as he subsequently claimed that he had been clubbed by the police in the riot that followed, he may possibly have raised the cry himself.
The mob reached the works in short order, hurling stones and firing shots into the windows of the guard-house, which they finally demolished. The non-union men, seeing the approaching mob, took to flight, some seeking shelter in the works and others scampering across the prairie beyond reach. There were at this time only two policemen on duty. One of them, J. A. West, endeavored to pacify the crowd, but received in response bricks and mud. The other for awhile, as well as he could, held the mob at bay at the gate. West finally worked his way through the crowd to a patrol box, and turned in an alarm for reinforcements. Meanwhile the mob disported itself in throwing stones and firing revolvers, and finally forced an entrance through the gate to the yards.
Presently a patrol wagon loaded with officers plowed through the turbulent mass, and, securing the ground between the mob and the buildings, began driving out and dispersing the rioters. This only served to infuriate the Anarchists, who fired in the direction of the police and hurled a shower of stones. The officers remonstrated in vain, warning the mob to keep back, and finally made a rush upon the rioters with revolvers drawn, shooting right and left.
The crowd swayed to and fro, retreated slightly, then rallied again, and, diverging to either side in a jumbled but compact body, seemed bent on holding their ground and fighting for every inch of it. But the dashing and aggressive movements of the police, backed by courage and discipline, soon demonstrated to the howling rabble the hopelessness of the struggle. The very air seemed charged with bullets, clubs and missiles. Revolvers clicked furiously, the exigencies of the moment necessitating their use on the part of the police, and several revolutionists bit the dust, maimed and wounded. What seems strange is that none were killed in this furious onslaught.
The mob, which numbered fully 8,000, was soon put to precipitate flight. Some of the most vicious leaders, however, kept up a rattling fire of guns, revolvers, brickbats and sticks so long as their retreat was measurably covered by the fleeing mob surrounding them. Several of these leaders, with their weapons still smoking, were subsequently overtaken, disarmed and locked up.
During all this short affray, Spies was nowhere to be seen, but, the moment all danger seemed past, he emerged from his seclusion, breathing courage and vengeance. He bounded into the field like one ready to sacrifice himself for his cause, but cautiously kept himself where no stray bullets might reach him. Another singular feature in connection with the part he played in the affair was his attempt to parade his own heroic virtues, by implication, in the denunciations and upbraidings he heaped upon his comrades in the account published of the riot on the very afternoon after its occurrence. This is what he said in the Arbeiter-Zeitung:
The writer of this hastened to the factory as soon as the first shots were fired, and a comrade urged the assembly to hasten to the rescue of their brothers, who were being murdered, but none stirred.... The writer ran back. He implored the people to come along,—those who had revolvers in their pockets,—but it was in vain. With an exasperating indifference they put their hands in their pockets and marched home, babbling as if the whole affair did not concern them in the least. The revolvers were still cracking, and fresh detachments of police, here and there bombarded with stones, were hastening to the battle-ground. The battle was lost!
A riot on a smaller scale occurred shortly after this in another locality, instigated by the Anarchists who had been so severely repulsed in the afternoon. After the McCormick outbreak one of the wounded strikers was taken in a patrol wagon to the Twelfth Street Station, and thence to his home on Seventeenth Street. Officer Casey was one of the men in charge of the wagon, and remained behind at the house to take a report of the man’s name, his residence and the nature of his injuries. When the officer came out of the wounded man’s home, he was set upon by a mob, shouting:
“Hang him! Hang the blue-coat!”
A Bohemian, named Vaclav Djenek, cried out:
“Help me; help me to hang the canaille!”
Two or three came to his side and endeavored to execute the threat. Casey by a great effort managed to get away, and started on a run. Pistol shots were fired after him by the mob, but fortunately he escaped without injury.
A patrol wagon from the West Chicago Avenue Station had meanwhile been telephoned for by some peace-loving citizens, and it rapidly dashed up to the scene of disturbance. The officers saw the whole situation, dispersed the mob, and set about arresting the parties who had so nearly succeeded in hanging the officer. They found that it had been a very close call for Casey, that the rope was ready, and that, had it not been for his own Herculean efforts, he would have dangled from a lamp-post in a very few seconds.
Djenek, who was afterwards recognized as the principal actor in this episode, was run down and placed under arrest. He was tried and sentenced to one year in the penitentiary. During the trial two officers of the West Chicago Avenue Station happened to be in the State’s Attorney’s office when a lot of Bohemian literature and Anarchist utensils were being exhibited. Among other things, they noticed a photograph of Franz Mikolanda, and they at once exclaimed:
“This is the other man who helped Djenek to hang Casey!”
Mikolanda appeared at the trial for the purpose of swearing to an alibi for Djenek, and was promptly recognized. He had no sooner left the witness-stand than he was arrested on a warrant and subsequently prosecuted. He was found guilty and sentenced to six months in the Bridewell.