Original Document
Original Document
Arthur Burgoyne, "After the Battle," Homestead, 1893.

Chapter VIII: After the Battle

At three o'clock on the morning of July 7, a committee of picked men made a search of the Homestead works, keeping a sharp look-out for stray Pinkertons, spies or other interlopers. Nothing was discovered. Even the rats were scared away from the place, where empty cartridge shells, wadding and discarded weapons - mute evidences of the bloody work that had been done the day before - were scattered around in profusion. Having completed its round, the committee retired to headquarters and prepared an order requiring the watchmen, who had deserted their posts when the battle with the Pinkertons began, to resume the guardianship of the Carnegie Company's property. The men had guaranteed protection to the plant and showed by this step that they meant to keep their word.

At an early hour all Homestead was stirring, and anxious crowds assembled at headquarters and other distributing centers of information to ascertain what the new day was likely to bring forth. For the most part, the feeling of self-confidence which had inspired the locked-out men was as strong now, when a reaction might have been expected to set in, as it was at any time previously. Rumors of the coming of a fresh detachment of Pinkertons put the men on their mettle, and it was apparent that a repetition of Mr. Frick's experiment would be worse than futile.

Nobody gave serious thought to the likelihood of prosecutions to follow. The Pinkertons were invaders, whose purpose was to murder, and the workmen were legally justified in repelling them vi et armis. So the people reasoned, and this line of argument seemed, in their judgment, to be the only one that could present itself to any fair-minded and intelligent person. Even if it was wrong to kill and wound armed invaders, they believed it would be preposterous to think of arresting and imprisoning several thousand citizens.

The extraordinary interest taken in affairs at Homestead by the world without was demonstrated by the fact that, within the twenty-four hours elapsing after the firing of the first shot on July 6, this usually quiet little town was transformed into the busiest and most prolific news center in the United States. An army of newspaper correspondents from all parts of the country found quarters in the hotels and took possession of the telegraph offices. The ten daily papers of Pittsburgh had variously from two to ten men on the ground. The New York World headed the list of outsiders with five correspondents and a special artist. The New York Herald, Sun and Mail and Express; the Chicago Tribune and Herald; the Philadelphia Press and Times; the Cleveland Leader and Press, and the Baltimore Sun and World all dispatched bright, able "specials" to the scene of disturbance with that admirable promptitude which makes American journalism a world's wonder. The Postal and Western Union Telegraph Companies also proved fully equal to the emergency. The Postal Company placed a corps of operators in a large room in the building where the Amalgamated Association held its meetings, and the Western Union, in addition to its regular office, established an annex in a restaurant, where two expert operators were kept busy handling huge masses of "copy," intended to be put in type, perhaps a thousand miles away. The excellence and magnitude of the work done by the newspaper men and telegraph operators at Homestead from this time on were unprecedented. Reporters from Pittsburgh were on hand to meet the Pinkertons when a landing was attempted, fraternized with the firing parties behind the barricades while the battle was in progress, interviewed the Pinkertons as they emerged from the barges after the surrender, and withal seemed to lead a charmed life, for there is no record of injury to any of the' 'gentlemen of the press." The latitude enjoyed by the journalistic fraternity was owing chiefly to the influence of Hugh O'Donnell, who had himself been a newspaper correspondent in a small way and who realized besides the advisability of aiding the press to secure accurate details of the struggle, so that the motives and actions of the workmen should not be injuriously represented. The gallant young leader had his reward. In a single day, the newspapers made him world-famous.

The making up of a list of the killed and wounded turned out to be a difficult matter. The Pinkertons had been hurried away, carrying many of their wounded with them and leaving not more than a dozen of their number in the Pittsburgh hospitals. At Homestead, there was a tendency to conceal the losses of the workingmen. How many of the latter were badly wounded has never been definitely ascertained. The official list of the dead, on both sides, as it appears on the books of the coroner of Allegheny County, is as follows:

Detectives - J. W. Klein, Edward A. R. Speer and T. J. Connors.

Workmen - Joseph Sotak, John E. Morris, Silas Wain, Thomas Weldon, Henry Striegel, George W. Rutter and Peter Farris.

Speer, who was a Pinkerton lieutenant in Chicago, was shot in the leg and lingered at the Homeopathic Hospital, in Pittsburgh, until July 17, when death ended his sufferings.

Rutter also survived until July 17. He fell at the first volley, having been shot in the thigh and abdomen. This man was a veteran of the Union army and one of the most respected mill-workers in Homestead. He possessed courage above the ordinary and died rejoicing that he had been able to lay down his life for his fellow workmen.

At two o'clock in the afternoon of July 7, the members of the Amalgamated lodges and of the various other local societies were marshaled in attendance at the funeral services of their dead brethren - John E. Morris, Silas Wain and Peter Farris. The funeral of Morris was under the supervision of the order of Odd Fellows, of which he was a valued member. Rev. J. J. McIlyar conducted services at the Fourth Avenue M. E. Church, and delivered an impassioned oration, embodying a recital of the untoward events which had made Homestead a place of mourning. "The millmen," he said, "were organized in an association that enabled them to obtain just and adequate remuneration for their services. The existence of this union of the men was threatened by a body of Pinkertons, employed by somebody for the purpose. This is what has put this blessed man in his coffin to-day ; a perfect citizen; an intelligent man; a good husband who was never lacking in his duty; a brother who was devoted and loyal and who will surely
find his reward."

Rev. Mr. McIlyar told how easily the difficulty between the Carnegie firm and its employees might have been adjusted had arbitration been resorted to. "But," he added, "this town is bathed in tears to-day and it is all brought about by one man, who is less respected by the laboring people than any other employer in the country. There is no more sensibility in that man than in a toad." While the minister. was speaking the sobs of Morris's broken-hearted widow interrupted his address, and her grief found a sympathetic echo in the hearts of all present.

Crowds lined the route to the cemetery and watched with tear-dimmed eyes the passage of the funeral cortege. On the way the hearse that bore the remains of Peter Farris fell into line. After the last sad rites had been performed over the graves of Morris and Farris, another procession was formed and all that was mortal of Silas Wain was removed to its resting-place.

Towards evening a stir was created by the appearance on the streets of a little band of anarchists from Allegheny City, who, like vultures attracted by the scent of prey, were drawn to the scene of trouble by the hope of fomenting still greater disorders. The unbidden guests proceeded to distribute incendiary circulars, setting forth that the mills were the rightful property of the workingmen and should be seized as such, and calling on the good people of Homestead to become anarchists and strike for liberty hand-in-hand with their "brother..." Two of the agitators were placed under arrest and confined in the lock-up. The rest were promptly shipped out of town with an admonition not to return. It caused the workmen much concern to suppose that they might be credited with anarchistic tendencies; and, as a consequence, a species of censorship was established over the newspaper correspondents, with a view to preventing the publication of reports describing the Homestead defenders as a set of cut-throats and desperadoes, whereas, they wished the whole world to know that they were honest men, fighting for bread for themselves and their wives and children.

On the night of July 6, as has been told in the preceding chapter, Sheriff McCleary set his clerks to work on the issuing of notices to prominent citizens to report for service as deputies. The papers were delivered early in the morning, but the results were far from satisfactory. Some of the editors, bankers, merchants, manufacturers and political leaders addressed were too far advanced in years to be physically fit for active service, at least one of the number being over 80 years of age. Others had too wholesome a regard for their own safety to risk doing duty at Homestead and preferred being arrested and fined, if a penalty should be required. Only thirty-two men reported at the sheriffs office, and these were unarmed. The sheriff dismissed them with the remark that it was useless to go to Homestead with so small a force. Governor Pattison, however, was not moved by the representation that an appeal directed to persons who were not likely to undertake police duty under any circumstances exhausted the powers of the county government. He had already taxed the sheriff with shirking his duty and the course of events after the battle did not seem to have altered his opinion on this head. But the sheriff had made up his mind to incur no danger that he could avoid, and, therefore, remained all day in his office, leaving the local authorities of Homestead to preserve the peace if they could or would. The only important move which he made looking to the restoration of order was to call a conference in the evening to consider a proposition to introduce deputies into the Homestead works. At this meeting, C. L. Magee, John F. Cox, a Homestead attorney, Burgess John McLuckie, Hugh O'Donnell, President Weihe and President-elect Garland, of the Amalgamated Association, David Lynch, William Roberts, Jerry Doherty and James McCrory, also of the Amalgamated Association, were in attendance. As might have been expected no definite conclusion was reached, beyond what was embodied in the assurances tendered by the Amalgamated men that they would do their utmost in the interest of peace. The persistent refusal of the Carnegie Company to lift a hand for the prevention of another outbreak or to exhibit any trace of friendly consideration for its locked-out employees was an obstacle in the path of the peacemakers that could not well be overcome.

A conference of militia officers at the Seventh Avenue Hotel, in which the sheriff was also a participant, excited considerable interest. The purpose of this consultation, it was understood, was to consider the facilities for getting the citizen-soldiery into the field on short notice, in case the governor should finally decide to order them out.

Much uneasiness was felt in Homestead concerning the chances of military interference. The citizens were naturally averse to the quartering of troops in the town for an indefinite period. It was apparent that this was what Mr. Frick was aiming at. His own hired troop having failed, it was his desire, with the aid of Sheriff McCleary, to force the governor to call out the troops of the state and place them indirectly at the disposal of the Carnegie firm. With the militia at his back, the Carnegie Company's chairman counted on easily filling the mill with non-union men and breaking up the Amalgamated lodges.

In order to prevent the execution of this design and to offset the sheriff's representations, leading citizens of Homestead telegraphed the governor requesting him to take no action until he had conferred with a committee which would immediately wait upon him at Harrisburg. The committee, which consisted of Attorney John F. Cox, Hugh O'Donnell, J. H. Williams, Dr. John Purman and G. W. Sarver, reached the executive chamber at 10:20 p.m. on July 8 and remained in conference with the governor until midnight. Messrs. Cox and O'Donnell made strong arguments against the calling out of the military, assuring the governor that order was restored in Homestead and that the sheriff would be allowed to take peaceable possession of the Carnegie property. Governor Pattison's reply was to the effect that insubordination would be checked if it took the whole military power of the state and of the nation; but, he added, the rights of all parties to the struggle would be maintained without regard for the merits or demerits of the business differences between them, and the military would be subordinated to the civil power. In short, without stating positively that he would call out the military, the governor sent the committee home with a pretty firm conviction that Sheriff McCleary's supineness had done its work and that, unless conditions altered amazingly, the troops would soon be on the ground. It was learned afterwards that the governor had sent an officer of the national guard to examine into the condition of things at Homestead and make an accurate report. The experiences of this individual, who, being a stranger, fell under suspicion and had some disagreeable encounters with the pickets and workmen's committees, were, no doubt, the real occasion of the governor's action; for it is certain that Sheriff McCleary's pleading telegrams had little weight at Harrisburg.

Credit: Arthur Burgoyne, "After the Battle," Homestead, (1893): 89-97.
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