Tuesday, February 04, 2014

"As soon as the train reached the stockade there ensued a desperate fight with firearms of all description...."



Dead Will Number a Dozen and the Wounded Twice That Number--Miners' Loss the Greatest--Few Fatalities Occurred on Board the Train; or Inside the Stockade--Hired Guards of the Coal Company Responsible for Many Deaths.

 VIRDEN, Ills., Oct. 13.--The little town of Virden is now comparatively quiet after a day of riot and bloodshed, the long expected clash between the union miners and imported negroes.

   At 12:40 o'clock a Chicago and Alton special train bearing 200 negro miners from the South arrived at the stockade around the Chicago-Virden Coal company's mines and immediately a terrific firing began. The list, as far as known, stands seven dead and eighteen wounded.

Miners Were Awaiting Them.

   For the past two weeks rumors have reached Virden daily that a train having negroes from Alabama would reach the city and the Chicago and Alton depot has been surrounded day and night by vigilant miners determinedly awaiting their arrival. When the Chicago and Alton limited passed about 10 a.m., displaying flags on the rear indicating that a special was following, the word was spread and a dense crowd of miners lined the station platform, while another crowd collected at the entrance of the stockade, a half mile north of the station. D.B. Kiley, a Chicago and Alton detective, stood guard at the switch at the north end of the station platform to see it was not tampered with. At 12:40 p.m. the train appeared at the north end and shots were fired from the south end announcing the special's
arrival. Immediately shots were fired from the train and the battle was on. Soon the train had arrived at the north end of the switch where Kiley was standing. He was talking with two companions when suddenly he threw up his hands and fell with a

Bullet Through His Brain.

He was the first man killed. The miners were firing into the train and the negro passengers were returning the fire. As soon as the train reached the stockade there ensued a desperate fight with firearms of all description. The negroes kept up a steady fire and the carnage of battle reigned. The miners and the train were enveloped in a cloud of smoke and the shooting sounded like a continuous volley. Engineer Burt Tigar received a bullet in his arm and dropped from his seat. His fireman seized the throttle, pulled it open, and with a jerk the train was under full speed, carrying the load of wounded negroes to Springfield. The train stopped at the stockade only two minutes. Its departure did not cause the firing to cease. The tower of the stockade was filled with sharpshooters, armed with Winchesters, and they kept up a steady fire into the crowd of union miners. Eye witnesses say the dead miners were killed after the train had departed. It is not known how many men are stationed behind the walls of the stockade, but an estimate is placed between 25 and 30.


Said Imported Negroes Could Not Land in Virden and They Go On.

   VIRDEN, Ills., Oct. 14.--The excitement of Wednesday prior to the arrival of the negro train was equaled last night when it became known that a special train consisting of one box car, three apparently empty coaches and a caboose that had passed through here at 6:20 o'clock bore two carloads of negroes taken through here to Springfield on the day of the fight. The train went south and by a clever ruse succeeded in passing through Virden quietly and without interference. A big crowd of miners was at the station, but the militia held them in check. When the train stopped at the stockade, Captain Fevier, who was in command, shouted:

Not Allowed to Disembark.

   "Don't allow any one to disembark from that train."

   The gate was opened and a file of soldiers rushed out on the double quick with fixed bayonets and lined up alongside the train. General Manager Lukens made a formal request that the employes be allowed to land and enter the stockade. Captain Fevier declined to grant this. Then Mr. Lukens put it the form of a demand, but the officer replied that he was under orders from Governor Tanner to prevent the disembarkation of any negro miners at the works and he would have to carry out these instructions. General Manager Lukens protested in vain and the train pulled out, headed south.

   Following is the revised list of dead: ERNEST KITTERLY, miner, Mount Olive. ELLIS SMITH, miner, Mount Olive. ED WELSH, miner, Springfield. WILLIAM BLUE, miner, Springfield. ERNEST KEMLER, miner, Mount Olive. A.H. BENEMAN, miner, Girard. FRANK BILICU, miner, Springfield. ED GREEN, miner, Mount Olive. ERNEST LONG, miner, Mount Olive. D. H. KILEY, Chicago and Alton detective, Chicago. A.W. CARROLL, guard on train. A. W. MORGAN, guard, killed in stockade. THOMAS PRESTON, guard, killed at stockade. WILLIAM HARMON, miner, .Giriird.

   The number of injured will not much exceed the first estimate of 20. Of these a few are in a critical Condition.

[Mower County Transcript, Austin, Mower County, Minnesota, Wednesday, October 19, 1898. Vol. XXXI--No. 32. Pg. 6]

No comments: