Examiner Letter

Examiner Letter

An eye-witness account sent to the Examiner, describing how the Yeomanry galloped through St Peter’s Field.


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Examiner 12 Sept 1819. Letter from Gentleman in Manchester who was on the raised ground overlooking St Peter's Field. Describes how the Yeomanry galloped into a dense crowd.


‘For a space, I should think, of 30 or 40 yards, the Yeomen had literally to cut and hack a road up to the hustings, and this they did through a people absolutely passive - no resistance of any kind was, or indeed could be offered. It has been said, that at this time stones were thrown, &c. but this I assure you is altogether false. The Yeomanry, in doing this, were in the greatest confusion, and cut down many of the constables and hurt each other. The foot troops were marched to a station at the end of the Quakers’ Meeting-house, to intercept the people who might fly in that direction; and here there was indeed most dreadful slaughter. Crowds pressed on to this quarter, and were forced back by the bayonets of the infantry, the cavalry cutting them in the rear. The shouts, screams, and confusion, were truly horrible. The people, maddened with the danger, seemed under the influence of supernatural energy - they seated the walls of the meeting house yard in every direction, while those near the yard gates burst them open; the soldiers followed up the steps into the yard, and cut away without any seeming compunction. The Meeting House doors were then, in the terror of the people, also forced; but even a Quaker’s place of worship was no sanctuary - the soldiers still followed, and many wounds were given here: even in the gallery, which is difficult of access, there were many stains of blood. For several days after workmen had to be employed to plane away, and otherwise obliterate the evidence left here of the butcherings which had taken place. The operations in other parts of the ground were of similar character. The people, treated with the same brutality, were affected to the same degree with terror - it amounted absolutely to a paroxysm - they dashed through the glass panes of windows into cellars and first floors of houses for refuge. In one street, which was closed, I am told there was only one window which escaped destruction from this cause.’

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