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 37

and he wrote his "Mask of Anarchy". Within ten minutes from the time those words were uttered, those who looked down on St. Peter`s fields saw an open space, strewn with human beings, some dead, many wounded, numbers of them heaped one upon the other - and a group of horsemen loosening their saddle-girths, arranging their accoutrements, and wiping their sabres, while all round there was a flying multitude, escaping by the side streets, which were guarded by infantry, defending themselves among the timber lying near the Friends' meeting-house, and eventually making their way to the open country, through which they had marched a few hours before, with bands playing, banners fiying, and girls dancing and singing, with an exultant feeling of hope that at last something was to be done for their
suffering humanity.

We have many pictures of the scene. Stanley says: "The 15th Dragoons pressed forward, crossing the line of constables, which opened to let them through, and bent their course towards the Manchester Yeomanry. The people were now in a state of utter rout and confusion, leaving the ground strewn with hats and shoes, and hundreds were thrown down in the attempt to escape. The cavalry were hurrying about in all directions completing the work of dispersion, which was effected in so short a time as to appear as if done by magic. During the whole of this confusion, heightened at its close by the rattle of some artillery crossing the square, shrieks were heard in all directions, and as the crowd of people dispersed, the effects of the conflict became visible. Some were seen bleeding on the ground, unable to rise; others, less seriously injured, but faint with the loss of blood, were retiring slowly, or leaning upon others for support. The whole of this extraordinary scene was the work of a few minutes." Bamford speaks of "several mounds of human beings remaining where they had fallen, crushed down and smothered". This is fully corroborated by Sir W. Jolliffe, the Lieutenant of the Hussars already quoted, who says: "People, yeomen, and constables, in their confused attempts to escape, ran one over the other, so that by the time we had arrived at the end of the field, the fugitives were literally piled up to a considerable elevation above the level of the field". Wheeler`s "Manchester Chronicle," the principal Tory organ, had the following description on the Saturday following the event: -
"A scene of confusion and terror now existed which defies


'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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