Local Affairs

August 4 1877

Democratic Advocate

The Railroad Troubles – Gov. Carroll’s Proclamation – The Sheriffs of of Ten Counties Commanded to Summon the Posse Comitatus – Response in Carroll County – Great Excitement in Westminster. – The Baltimore papers of Saturday, July 28, published the proclamation of Gov. Carroll, calling upon the sheriffs of Baltimore, Carroll, Anne Arundel, Howard, Prince George’s, Frederick, Washington, Allegany and Garrett Counties, and of Baltimore city, to “summon forthwith to their aid all order-loving citizens,” and to proceed with the posse to enforce peace and good order, provide for the safety of property and secure free passage to trains conveying passengers or merchandise on any railroad within the limits of such jurisdiction by the arrest of all wrong doers.” In pursuance of this proclamation, Sheriff White proceeded to Baltimore on Saturday afternoon, accompanied by D.N. Henning, Esq. State’s Attorney, to have a conference with the Governor. Returning in the evening, he appointed eleven deputies, for the purpose of proceeded to the several districts, to summon in each their respective quotas of two hundred men. A meeting was held at the Court House, the same evening, and from the poll books lists were made out of proper persons to compose the posse. These were given to the deputies, and on Sunday the summonses were duly served, with instruction to report in Westminster on Monday morning at 9 o’clk. Accordingly, long before that hour, the city began to fill up rapidly with excited people from the several districts. Not only the two hundred who had been summoned, but many others came, attracted hither by the wild and exaggerated rumors which obtained currency on the day previous. Many of the men supposed that Westminster was threatened by a mob, and that they were needed to defend it. Sheriff White immediately telegraphed to the Governor that he had summoned 200 men, but that they were without food, arms or transportation, asking for advice how to proceed. No reply being received, the Sheriff summoned the posse to the court house, where he called the roll, all answering promptly to their names. The men, however, refused to march, alleging that they were without arms, ammunition, subsistence or transportation. The proposition to obtain substitutes was also rejected. At this point State’s Attorney Henning advised Sheriff White to procure as many volunteers as possible and proceed at once to the Baltimore and Ohio railroad. This course was adopted, and the Sheriff, accompanied by about half a dozen volunteers, proceeded to Mt. Airy, where other persons from Freedom and Franklin districts joined the posse to the number of fifty. These gentlemen were in charge of special deputy Sheriffs M. B. S. Dorsey, Joseph W. Berrett, and Robert M. Hewitt, John Macintosh and Ed. W. Shriver. The posse was discharged on Wednesday by order of the Governor, subject to his call.
The example of disobedience to the civil authority, however well grounded the pretext for it, is to be regretted by all. It was probably more the result of bad counsel by persons not of the posse than the want of respect for civil authority, for our citizens generally are a law-abiding people. It is possible there may have been no necessity for summoning so large a number, but who was to determine whether there was or not. The Governor in his proclamation had ordered the Sheriff to summon to his aid “all order-loving citizens,” and in the fulfillment of his duty the Sheriff had endeavored to comply with the order. He yielded to their remonstrances rather than occasion further irritation, and discharged all who had been summoned, relying upon volunteers. The Sheriff proceeded to Mount Airy in the afternoon, and all who had been summoned, except those who volunteered, returned to their homes. The right way to look at this matter is for each one to ask himself the question – if his own property and life were involved, would he not deem the posse a very proper thing? And is it not the golden rule to do as we would wish to be done by?

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