The Bombing

As the police made their way to the square, many crowdmembers left as the weather grew colder. Only 500 remained to hear Samuel Fielden finish his speech when the police marched to the wagon where the speakers stood.

There are two versions of what happened in Haymarket square after the police arrived and Captain William Ward ordered the crowd to disperse. Bystanders and some police claimed speaker Samuel Fielden protested the group was peaceable, while others claimed he called them bloodhounds and began firing a gun.[1] Whatever Fielden said was soon drowned out by the exploding of a bomb thrown in the middle of the police companies. Again, stories diverge; Police Lietutenant Edward J. Steele testified the crowd immediately fired on the police after the bombing, while the anarchists and other bystanders said it was the police who began firing.[2]

All agree the once peaceful protest descended into chaos as shots rang out in the Square and people fled for safety. In the confusion, “most if not all of the officers had been wounded by their own comrades, who fired indiscriminately in the panic that followed the explosion.”[3] Seven policemen were dead and more were wounded. Papers described the scenes of the hospitals.

[1] James Green, Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the first Labor Movement and the Bombing that divided Gilded Age America, (New York: Pantheon Books, 2006), 188.
[2] Illinois vs. August Spies et al., Vol. I, 170, Courtesy of the Haymarket Affair Digital collection
[3] Paul Avrich, The Haymarket Tragedy, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984), 208.

Top Picture from: Lucy Parson, Life of Albert R. Parsons (Chicago, 1889) taken from Dave Roediger and Franklin Rosemont, Haymarket Scrapbook, (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company, 1986), 15.
Bottom Left Picture: Roediger and Rosemont, 71.
Bottom Right Picture: The Chicago Historical Society and nOrthwestern University, The Dramas of the Haymarket