"Remember Ludlow!" (May 1914)
LUDLOW" the battle cry of the crushed, downtrodden, despised
miners stifled at Calumet, in West Virginia, in Cripple Creek, has
echoed from coal camp to coal camp in southern Colorado, and has
served again to notify the world that Labor will not down.
Colorado, slumbering in her eternal sunshine, has been rudely
awakened. And her comfortable citizens, tremendously busy with their
infinitely important little affairs, have been shocked into a mental
state wavering between terror and hysteria. And the terrified and
hysterical community, like the individual, has grabbed for safety at
the nearest straw. The federal troops are called to the strike zone
in the vain hope that their presence would intimidate the striking
miners into submission, and the first spasm of the acute attack has
subsided. But the end is not yet.
September the coal miners in the southern Colorado district went out
on strike. Immediately the word went forth from No. 26 Broadway, the
Rockefeller headquarters in New York City, and the thugs and gunmen
of the Felts-Baldwin agency were shipped from the Virginia and Texas
fields and sent by hundreds, into the coal camps. With their wives
and children the miners were evicted from their huts on the company's
ground, and just as the heavy winter of the mountains settled down,
the strikers put up their tents and prepared for the long siege. It
was then that the puerile, weak-kneed Governor [Elias] Ammons,
fawning on the representatives of the coal companies, at the request
of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Co., called out the militia to "keep
the climax came when the first spring winds blew over the hills and
the snows melted from the mountain sides. On the 20th of April the
cry was heard "Remember Ludlow!"—the battle cry that
every workingman in Colorado and in America will not forget. For on
that day the men of the tent colony were shot in the back by
soft-nosed bullets, and their women and children were offered in
burning sacrifice on the field of Ludlow.
militia had trained the machine guns on the miners' tent colony. At a
ball game on Sunday between two teams of strikers the militia
interfered, preventing the game; the miners resented, and the
militia—with a sneer and a laugh—fired the machine
guns directly into the tents, knowing at the time that the
strikers' wives and children were in them. Charging the camp, they
fired the two largest buildings—the strikers' stores—and
going from tent to cent, poured oil on the flimsy structures, setting
fire to them.
the blazing tents rushed the women and children, only to be beaten
back into the fire by the rain of bullets from the militia. The men
rushed to the assistance of their families; and as they did so, they
were dropped as the whirring messengers of death sped surely to the
mark. Louis Tikas, leader of the Greek colony, fell a victim to the
mine guards' fiendishness, being first clubbed, then shot in the back
while he was their prisoner. Fifty-two bullets riddled his body.
the cellars—the pits of hell under their blazing tents—crept
the women and children, less fearful of the smoke and flames than of
the nameless horror of the spitting bullets. One man counted the
bodies of nine little children, taken from one ashy pit, their tiny
fingers burned away as they held to the edge in their struggle to
escape. As the smoking ruins disclosed the charred and suffocated
bodies of the victims of the holocaust, thugs in State uniform hacked
at the lifeless forms, in some instances nearly cutting off heads and
limbs to show their contempt for the strikers.
women and children perished in the fire of the Ludlow tent colony.
Relief parties carrying the Red Cross flag were driven back by the
gunmen, and for twenty-four hours the bodies lay crisping in the
ashes, while rescuers vainly tried to cross the firing line. And the
Militiamen and gunmen laughed when the miners petitioned "Czar
Chase" [General John Chase] and Governor Ammons for the
right to erect their homes and live in them....
the first time in the history of the labor war in America the people
are with the strikers—they glory in their success. The
trainmen have refused to carry the militia—enure
companies of the National Guard have mutinied—nearly every
union in the State has offered funds and support of men and arms to
the strikers— and the governor has asked for federal troops.
federal troops are here—the women who forced the governor to
ask for them believe they have secured Peace—but it is a dead
hope. For Peace can never be built on the foundation of Greed and
Oppression. And the federal troops cannot change the system—only
the strikers can do that. And though they may lay down their arms for
a time—they will "Remember Ludlow!"
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