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 30

the cavalry, the loyal spectators, and the special constables cheered loudly in return, and a pause ensued of about a minute or two. An officer and some few others then advanced rather in front of the troop, formed, as l before said, in much disorder, and with scarcely the semblance of a line, their sabres glistened in the air, and on they went direct for the hustings. At first, and for a few paces, their movement was not rapid, and there was some show of an attempt to follow their officer in regular succession, five or six abreast; but as Mr. Francis Phillips in his pamphlet observes, they soon 'increased their speed; and with a zeal and ardour which might naturally be expected from men acting with delegated power against a foe by whom it is understood they had long been insulted with taunts of cowardice, continued their course, seeming individually to vie with each other which should be first.

"As the cavalry approached the dense mass of people they used their utmost efforts to escape, but so closely were they pressed in opposite directions by the soldiers, the special constables, the position of the hustings, and their own immense numbers that immediate escape was impossible. The rapid course of the troop was, of course, impeded when it came in contact with the mob, but a passage was forced in less than a minute - so rapid, indeed, was it that the guard of constables close to the hustings shared the fate of the rest. On their arrival at the hustings a scene of dreadful confusion ensued. The orators fell, or were forced off the scaffold in quick succession; fortunately for them, the stage being rather elevated, they were in great degree beyond the reach of the many swords which gleamed around
them. "ln a footnote Stanley adds: "from the moment they began to force their way through the crowd towards the hustings, swords were up and swords were down, but whether they fell with the sharp or flat side l cannot, of course, pretend to give an opinion". Lieutenant Jolliffe decides this point for us when he says: "The Hussars drove the people forward with the flats of their swords; but sometimes, as is almost inevitably the case when men are placed in such situations, the edge was used, both by the Hussars and by the Yeomanry"

What actually happened at the hustings we know from the account given in the London "Times" by Tyas, who was present, and was himself taken into custody. "The officer who commanded the detachment," says "The Times," went up to Mr. Hunt and said,


'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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