The Massacre of Peterloo, Manchester, 16th August 1819

The Peterloo Massacre - Manchester 16th August 1819

'The Story of Peterloo' by F.A. Bruton, Pub. 1919

Page 29

excited their fears. Many jumped down and they soon dispersed more rapidly. By this time the alarm was quickly spreading and I heard several voices exclaiming : 'The soldiers! the soldiers!' "

It is possible that this alarm may have been due to a skilful movement of the infantry in Dickinson Street on the other side of the square, which seems to have taken place at this moment. A witness at the Oldham inquest speaks of "a movement of the people near Windmill Hill. l saw the 88th formed into line, and supposed the movement on the Windmill occasioned by the junction of the 88th. The regiment formed into a sort of crescent, which prevented me from moving either way. lcould not get away by any exertion. The regiment prevented persons getting either way." This is an excellent illustration of the manner in which troops skilfully handled can be used to baffle and break up a crowd.

We return to Stanley's narrative: "Another moment brought the cavalry into the field on a gallop, which they continued till the word was given for halting them. They halted in great disorder, and so continued for the few minutes they remained. Hunt had evidently seen their approach, his hand had been pointed towards them and it was clear from his gestures that he was addressing the mob respecting them."

As a matter of fact Hunt`s words, which Stanley could not hear, were: "Stand firm my friends! you see they are in disorder already. This is a trick. Give them three cheers], Bamford also shouted: "Stand fast! they are riding upon us: Stand fast!" We are reminded involuntarily of Shelleyis lines, written so far away yet with such striking intuition : -

Let the horsemen's scimitars
Wheel and flash, like sphereless stars
Thirsting to eclipse their burning
ln a sea of death and mourning.

Stand ye calm and resolute
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war.

Stanley continues: "Hunt`s words, whatever they were, excited a shout from those immediately about him which was re-echoed with fearful animation by the rest of the multitude. Ere that had subsided,


'The Story of Peterloo' by F.A. Bruton, Pub. 1919
Written for the Centenary, August 16th, 1919'.by F.A. Bruton, M.A.(of the Manchester Grammar School.
Download .pdf copy from the Internet Archive HERE

Transcribed here by Sheila Goodyear 2019

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