Commanded the 6th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry that suffered greatly during the Baltimore Riots of April 19th, 1861.
The Carte de Visite has no photographer information, but bears the bold signature of Colonel Edward F. Jones, commander of the 6th Mass. Volunteer Infantry. This is a very sharp, and clean image of the colonel holding his forage cap and sword.
Colonel Edward F. Jones of Pepperell, Ma (home of Col. William Prescott of Bunker Hill fame) received President Abraham Lincoln’s official call for troops, through the Massachusetts Adjutant General’s Office three days later on the 15th, directing the 6th Massachusetts to depart the state for Washington. At noon on the 18th the regiment departed Boston, arriving in Philadelphia at 1:00 o’clock A.M., April 19th. Taken from the 6th Mass history comes this extract highlighting history’s repetitive powers for the “Minutemen of 1861”; “If it had been in the power of the government, for dramatic and patriotic effect, to arrange the programme in the best possible manner, could any other day have been so propitious for treason to strike down its first victims, as the anniversary of the day, on which was
“Fired that shot- heard round the world” –
at Lexington, April 19, 1775? And is it not remarkable, that some of the descendants of the very men who then shed their blood in the beginning of the first great war for independence, should have been the first to fall in the last, and that, too, on the same immortal day? The nineteenth of April will, hereafter, unite Lexington and Baltimore on the page of American history; for each begun a long and bloody war, and Middlesex county was represented in both conflicts.”
I can’t know how you react to this historical repetition, or similar enlightening events, but it gives me an epiphany that charges through me. Trying to grasp that deeper meaning is for another time, but it is so compelling to truly comprehend the its cause and effect….again and again.
Once the regiment arrived in Philadelphia, Colonel Jones had received information that word coming from Baltimore was that trouble was brewing, causing the colonel to inquire of railroad officials at to the availability of transportation through Baltimore, thus avoiding any open conflict with the citizenry there. Railroad officials in Baltimore assured constantly that no trouble would occur unless the regiment provoked it.
The arrival of the 6th Mass in Baltimore at 10:00 A.M. took the city by surprise, but very quickly any assurances made previously where lost in the immediate confusion and the growing mobs now prevented safe and organized passage through the city. Clubs, bricks, rocks, anything that could used by the mob now had officer’s of the regiment concerned about the ranks opening fire on civilians, which they had been ordered prior to their arrival in Baltimore not to do.
Do to the many obstructions of the track, or that simply torn up across the city, transportation for four remaining companies was not forth coming. The mob had grown to an estimated 10,000, “the air was filled with yells, oaths, taunts, all sorts of missiles, and soon pistol and musket shots.” The officer who, at the desire of the other officers in the regiment decided to take command of the four companies was Captain Albert S. Follansbee, who now gave orders to the soldiers to fire at will. Through the danger proceeded the column in the following order, Co. C, I, L, and lastly Co.D. Finally making it to the station, amid the carnage, four men from the column had been killed, and about 36 wounded soldiers; several of them left in Baltimore and the bulk of the wounded brought with the regiment to Washington and sent to hospital there. Colonel Jones later said of Captain Follansbee, “..proved himself worthy of the confidence which I had always placed in him, and never after, while under my command, did he do aught to sacrifice one particle of the esteem and respect I entertained for him.” On their way to the seat of war, the first bloodshed had been spilt in a northern city, with unfortunately, a numerous constituency of southern sympathizers.
Colonel Edward F. Jones, commander of the 6th Massachusetts (3 Month Regiment), signed on the reverse, no back mark. Col. Jones was a 32 year old merchant from Pepperell, Ma.; formally a member of the Prescott Guard of the town, named after Colonel Wm. Prescott, who had command of the militia at Bunker Hill in Charlestown, Ma in June, 1775. He later commanded the 26th Mass Vols. during the war, and was breveted to Brigadier General at the end of the war.