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 32

"No spectator on the ground could possibly form a correct and just idea of what was passing". He cites this as one explanation of the varying accounts and contradictory statements. Hunt, who had himself ridden in the Wiltshire Yeomanry, thus describes the charge in his "Memoirs": "Before the cheering was sufficiently ended to enable me to raise my voice again, the word was given, and from the left flank of the troops, the trumpeter leading the way, they charged amongst the people, sabring right and left, in all directions, sparing neither age, sex, nor rank. ln this manner they cut their way up to the hustings, riding over and sabring all that could not get out of their way."

Finally, let us hear the officer speak who led the charge in person. At the Royal Birthday festivities in Manchester on the 29th of April, 1820, Colonel Hugh Birley, in replying to the toast of the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry, made a lengthy speech, in which he complained bitterly of the obloquy and outcry levelled against them, "which we should have been more or less than men not to feel." Speaking of the charge into the crowd, he said: "l observed as l approached the stage a movement in the crowd about the spot from which all accounts agree in stating that the first attack was made upon the Yeomanry. That movement appeared to be intended to throw an obstacle in the way of our advance. Up to that moment the Boroughreeve had walked by my side, but l then quickened my pace in order to prevent an interruption. There was ample space for a front of six men whereever we passed, but l am assured by those who formed the first rank of six that they were obliged to break off into single file before they reached the stage. The mob must therefore have closed in immediately behind the officers who led the squadron." He goes on to speak of the Yeomanry`s clash for the flags, which is mentioned below. He does not attempt to deny that it took place; but there is no object in quoting further from an apologia which at the best is a very lame affair.

The arrival of the other troops is thus described in the " Manchester Chronicle ": "lmmediately the Cheshire Yeomanry galloped on the ground; to them succeeded the 15th Hussars, and the Royal Artillery train; while all the various detachments of infantry also advanced Stanley has this footnote on the infantry: "on quitting the ground l for the first time observed that strong bodies of infantry


'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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