Keep back… or I shoot!

Baltimore Riot Trail: "Keep back... or I shoot!"

History: East of Camden Station, Union troops fired upon the rioters after being attacked. Massachusetts Corp Sumner H. Needham was struck in the head and died. Earlier, he told a comrade, “We shall have trouble today, and I shall never get out alive. Promise me, if I fall, that my body will be sent home."

The violence reached a crescendo. Baltimore Mayor George W. Brown learned of the riot and rushed to the soldiers' position. He met Follansbee at the head of the marching column and told him, "You must defend yourselves." Brown picked up a dropped musket and brandished it, threatening the mob. Police Marshall George P. Kane and a company of policemen soon arrived to hold the crowd at bay as Kane shouted, “Keep back, men, or I shoot!”

More to Explore: Head to the Inner Harbor to take a tour by water on one of the many excursion boats. From a mild cruise boat to an active paddleboat to a spine-chilling Speed Dog, there is something for everyone. Then grab a bite to eat at one of the delightful restaurants at Harbor Place and the Gallery or along Pratt Street.

Photo Credits:

  1. "Lexington of 1861: Portrays the first shots against the secessionist mob in Baltimore, symbolizing the start of the American Civil War." Print courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
  2. “Mayor George Brown.” Photo courtesy of Brantz Mayer, Baltimore: Past and Present: With Biographical Sketches of Its Representative Men (Baltimore MD: Richardson & Bennett, 1871), 198.
  3. “George P. Kane (1820-1878).” Courtesy of the Maryland State Archives, MSA SC 3520-12478 Image in Wilbur F. Coyle, The Mayors of Baltimore
    (Reprinted from The Baltimore Municipal Journal, 1919), 145.
  4. “Albert S. Follansbee.” Courtesy of Military History Institute, Carlisle PA.