Posted by: Michael | 04/11/2012

Th Great Whiskey War

From Frank Leslie's Illustrated, 1869. The Great Whiskey War, December 1869 Ward 5, Brooklyn

From Frank Leslie’s Illustrated, 1869.
The Great Whiskey War, December 1869 Ward 5, Brooklyn

The Great Whiskey War

Brooklyn Daily Eagle,
December 4, 1869
The Campaign In Irishtown.

Operations suspended —
The Troops are
Withdrawn —
The After Excitement —

Impromptu mass meeting —
The Inhabitants of Irishtown Highly Indignant over the Presence of the troops.

Through the medium of the Eagle the public was informed of the occupation of Irishtown by the Federal troops yesterday morning and the summary seizure of the various stills that there carried on a flourishing business. Through the same medium, the public are informed that the campaign is over. The troops have been withdrawn and have returned to the forts, from whence they came to seize the whiskey in behalf of the United States Government. Peace and quietness reigns in Irishtown. No longer is the sight of a free people insulted by the presence of an army, in arms, and occupying the streets through which they were to roam in blissful assurance that they lived in a Republic, where a standing army is looked upon as a reproach. No longer the streets resounds to the tramp of armed men. The clank of the saber, and the rattle of musketry. No, all is quiet in Irishtown. The inhabitants of that classic locality may go hither and thither, and their progress will not be impeded by the appearance of armed men.
The army of the United States, last evening, embarked on various tugs and returned to garrison duty after a spirited but bloodless campaign, covered with imperishable glory and renown. The residents of the Fifth Ward have returned to their business, and the campaign is looked upon as a hideous night-mare. The dispossessed are probably the only ones who give the campaign much attention this morning, and no doubt their curses are more deep than loud.
Considerable excitement existed during the afternoon and evening, and the various liquor saloons were the centres at which gathered a talking crowd recount to the exploits of the day. The present administration came in for a good share of condemnatory remarks, for mixing with what was called “d———— dirty business.”

At the corner of Little and Plymouth streets a knot of men were gathered, talking loudly over the affair of the day . One particularly made himself prominent in the conversation and finally a large crowd gathered about him. Some in the crowd called out :Give us a speech, Dennis, and tell us about it.” Dennis, thus adjured, mounted a whiskey barrel which had been rescued from the Revenue officials and delivered himself of a speech, which was taken down on the spot by one of our indefatigable reporters, he said:
Feller-citizens, ye have sen this mornin’ our homes marched into by min as called themselves sogers. Its bludy shame, I say. (Applause and cries, Its right ye are.) Here ye seed to-day a lot of fellers because they had blue coats on and white badges, come and rob decent white min of their whiskey. What right has dey te steal whiskey from us, (Applause.) If we go to steal of whiskey, we gets sent up. Cos why? Cos we’re poor. But these fellers cos theys ‘pinted by President Grant they can steal anything. (Cries of That’s so, you bet.) Don’t dey steal wer in their pay, don’t they steal til they got rich every mothers son of thim. Av corse they does. Didn’t ye see thim come here this mornin’ and steal the whiskey, that min, furst rate min too, that gives us as much poteen as we wants fur the askin’ of it, made to sill. (Tremendous applause.) The thim dirty fellas wid muskies. If it hadn’t been for thim how’d we’d a warmed those Dutchmen, hey, the dirty black guards. (Applause, terrific cheering and cries go it me boy Dennis.) Doesn’t the Eagle (three rousing cheers for the Eagle was here given) tell us that we live under a civil governmen’ hey? Of course it does. The eagle knows all about it, av course it does, (which sentiment was loudly applauded.) Is this civil guvening, when a dirty lot av blackguards wid goold lace and swords and drums and muskets, can come in and steal a poor man’s whiskey. Av course it isn’t. (Immense applause lasting for several minutes.) This is what ye get for electing’ Grant. It’s a dirty shame, so it is, ‘cos these sogers was her. Let the dirty blackguards of spotters cum down here alone, and try to sillin’, and see what byes give ’em. It’s a nice reception they’d be getting’, just as shure as me name is Dennis Muldroon. Eh! Byes, hos that? (Tremendous applause.) Now lets take a drink, and may bad luck fellow the dirty devils.
The conclusion of this vigorous address was greeted with uproarious applause, and all that could get in, adjourned to a neighboring drinking shop. Several other scenes of this character might have been seen during the evening, but no disturbance occurred to increase the excitement the presence of the military had occasioned. Women as well as men were loud in the denunciations of the men, who would lend themselves to such a business, which according to their views was the most despicable that men could engage in. What seemed to enrage the boys the most, was that they were not allowed to break heads of the revenue officials. It was toward them that their ire was directed, and the military only came in for unpleasant remarks, as they put a stop to their pleasant intentions. Certain it is that Irishtown will be anything but safe for such revenue officers as showed their faces yesterday.
This morning there is no excitement. The boys are pursuing their daily avocations, and from all appearances no one would suppose that anything unusual had occurred yesterday.

The Brooklyn Eagle, July 14, 1871
Probable Loss of Life
Important Arrests
Statement of Gen. Jourdan.
At his earliest arrival at his office on the corner of Court and Jorelemon Streets, about 1 o’clock, a reporter of the Eagle waited upon Gen. James Jourdon, the Assessor of the Second District, who was in command of the raiding expedition, and obtained from him the following statement: Pursuant to my orders given last night the entire force of this office, including Clerks, Assistant Assessors and Gaugers assembled at 3 o’clock this morning at the Navy Yard, where a company of U.S. Marines were in readiness to render us required assistance. The expedition had been kept a profound secret, its purpose to seize more thean three persons. That purpose was to seize the persons of Gorman, McMahon & Cassidy, very notorious keepers of an illicit distillery, located in the Fifth ward, on what is known as Dixon’s alley, a spot where frequent raids have been made. Our raiding party numbered something less than one hundred perons in all, the marines being under command of Col. Brome, and all under my direction. At about three o’clock all necessary preparaqtions having been made. A portion of the force proceeded to the houses of the men to be arrested. Cassidy was found at home and in bed, and was taken without opposition. McMahon had in some way got an inkling of our approach and sought to escape, when surprised at the door he fled to an upper apartment, and being followed there he precipitated himself from a three-story window in the rear of the house. As he picked himself up from the earth in a much shaken condition, he was welcomed to the hospitable arms of the Assistant Assessor.
and so luckily escaped arrest. While the operation detailed were going forward, General Jourdan with eight or ten men were keeping watch and ward over the enterprise in York street, between Hudson avenue and Dixon’s Alley, a party of twenty or thirty men, concealed behind the buildings on Hudson avenue, opened upon them.
And pistol balls flew think and fast about their heads. The officers fired in return with, however, little effect as the whisky men were hidden behind the houses and could not be seen, it is believed, however, that one man was shot and killed. At the moment the firing commenced, Mr. Clinton Gilbert, a gauger in the Assessors office, when about executing an order of the General was shoot — the ball entering through the lower part of the back and passing out through the abodmen. One of two shots were fired after this, but Mr. Gilbert was carried in safety to the Marine Hospital, where he was properly cared oofr. The two prisoners were given into custody of the U.S. Marshal.
No police were present at the affray, or took any part therein. Such are substantially the facts given by Gen. Jourdan. One or two other persons including a Mr. Tuttle were slightly injured. Appended in the report of

Jas. Cassidy and Michael McMahon, the two men who were arrested this morning on a charge of being illicit distillers. Are at present in the basement of the Montague street building, occupied by the United States authorities.
They were interviewed at two o’clock this afternoon by am Eagle reporter.
Both men were sitting in their shirt-sleeves. Cassidy was smoking a cigar, and McMahon was contemplating life through somewhat dirty windows of the basement.
In answer to the questions of the reporter, Cassidy said he resided at the private house No. 203 Prospect street; by occupation he was a sub-marine diver, and at the time of his arrest — about four o’clock this morning — his was asleep in bed. Up to last April he had been in employment of the Commissioners of Charities and Correction, and had never had anything to do with manufacture of illicit whisky.
Michael McMahon stated that he resided at the private house No. 116 Hudson avenue. He was arrested there at about a quarter past four o’clock this morning and did not know why, as by occupation he was a laborer and had never had anything to do with illicit whisky.
Both of the men stated that they did not know any reason why they should be arrested, and in default of furnishing $5,000 each they will have to be locked up.

Clinton Gilbert, is still at the Marine Hospital. His injuries are of so serious a nature that the doctors say it is impossible for him to survive more than tree days.


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