Haymarket Affair Digital Collection

Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial transcript no. 1.
Testimony of Edward J. Steele, 1886 July 17.

Volume I, 168-183, 16 p.
Steele, Edward J.
Police Lieutenant, Chicago Police Department.

Direct examination by Mr. Grinnell. Cross-examination by Mr. Foster. Testified on behalf of the Prosecution, People of the State of Illinois.

Police lieutenant at the Haymarket meeting. Testified on various topics (page numbers provide a partial guide): position of the defendants and others on the speakers' wagon (vol.I 171), actions of police during the Haymarket meeting (vol.I 168), Captain Ward's command to disperse (vol.I 169), Fielden's response to the police advance at Haymarket (vol.I 179), movement, position or tenor of the crowd (vol.I 174), trajectory of the bomb (vol.I 170), time and place origination of the gunfire (vol.I 170), Degan, Mathias (vol.I 175), medical care and wounds I182, Fielden, Samuel (vol.I 172).

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a witness for the People, being duly sworn, was examined in chief by Mr. Grinnell, and testified as follows:

Q What is your name?

A Edward J. Steele.

Q You are a police Officer of the City of Chicago?

A Yes sir.

Q And what is your present position; what was it on the 4th of May last?

A Lieutenant of the Police.

Q How long have you been upon the Police force?

A Well, nearly fourteen years.

Q Where is your station?

A West Chicago Avenue.

Q Was it there on the 4th of May last?

A Yes sir.

Q Were you in charge of a company that was at the Haymarket Massacre on the 4th of May?

A I was.

Q When did your company leave the station, and when did it arrive at Desplaines street station?

A We left somewhere near seven o'clock at Chicago Avenue, and I suppose we were about maybe fifteen minutes going down to Desplaines Street.

Q How many men were there under your charge, and in your company that night?

A Twenty five.

Q What time in the night, and what time in the evening did you form on Waldo Place to march down to Desplaines?

A Well, it was a few minutes after ten o'clock, maybe ten or fifteen minutes, some where there.

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Q How many men were there in your company? About twenty five men.

Q You may state the situation of your men, where your company was in referemce to the others as you marched down the street?

A We were ordered to fall in; I fell in on the right of the line with my company.

Q That is, that would be on the east side of the street?

A Well, near the center of Waldo Place. We reached out --- the right of my company was very near to Desplaines street.

Q Now, you may state what you did from there?

A The word, the order was given to, Forward March. We marched straight in two lines, two ranks, I would say, and until we got very near across Desplaines street, and the word was given by some of the men in the rear to head the column to the left; of course my men---I give the word "Left face", and myself and Lieutenant Quinn marched two companies abreast straight on, right on across Randolph street, until we come within a few feet of where the speaker's stand was, where the speaking was going on, and the word "Halt."" was given, and the men halted. Captain Ward went around to the front, or stepped up--he was in front then and commanded the speakers to disperse, in the name of the People of the State of Illinois and called on the Citizens present to assist him in dispersing them, and at that time--

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well, it might have been two or three seconds, the shell was thrown in the rear, on the left of my company, or it exploded there. There were then also a smaller report in the rear of me, like a large pistol shot, right almost behind me, and at that time they fired immediately into us, almost.

Q Who fired immediately into you?

A The crowd in front of us, on the sides and in the front.

Q On the sides of the street, on the sidewalk?

A Yes. And as soon as that was done the fire was returned by myself and the men.

Q Now, who fired first, the people in the crowd on the streets, in front of you or the Police?

A The people in front and on the side of us.

Q And with reference to the explosion of the bomb, when did the firing begin?

A Right after that.

Q You mean, when you say, "right after it", what interval of time, if you can measure it by time?

A Well, it could not have been more than two or three seconds.

Q Where were your companies, yours and Quinn's, with reference to the front company? Was there anybody in front of you?

A Inspector Bonfield and Captain Ward.

Q Very well, then your companies were the front companies?

A Front companies.

Q And Ward and Bonfieldmarched ahead of you?

A Yes

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Q When you were marching down the streets, so far as yourself is concerned or the members of your company, how were they armed and how did they carry their arms?

A Their arms were all in their pockets, and their clubs in their belts, in the sockets.

Q Their hands by their side?

A Yes.

Q And were they in that condition when the word "Halt" was given?

A Yes.

Q Where were you, how far were you from the wagon from which the speaking was had when the word "Halt" was given?

A Well, I might have been maybe six or eight feet a short distance, --six or eight or nine feet; somewheres like that.

Q Could you hear, or did you hear anyone in the wagon speaking prior to your getting there, or prior to your halting?

A I could hear speaking going on in front of us.

Q Did you distinguish the words?

A Well, I heard the words spoken by somebody: "Here comes the Bloodhounds"; you do your duty and we will do ours".

Q Who was that made that remark?

A That I could not say. It was said from in front.

Q Was it said from the street or the wagon?

A Well, it was in front of us; the sound come from in front, as we were marching up.

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Q Which side of the street were you marching, the east or west side?

A We were marching right--we took up pretty near the whole street, the two companies.

Q Which was to the left and which to the right?

A Quinn was the left---on the west side of the street, and I was on the east side.

Q Then you were near the wagon--nearer the wagon than Quinn's company?

A Yes.

Q To whom did Ward address himself, or what tone of voice did he use when he commanded them to disperse?

A Well, he spoke in a loud tone of voice to the speakers on the wagon; he stepped up to the wagon.

Q Did you see any of the speakers on the wagon? Did you see any people on the wagon?

A Yes and there were three or four men on the wagon, apparently.

Q Did you see any of the defendantsthere?

Q I see Mr. Fielden.

Q Had you heard him speak prior to, your getting up there?

A No; I could not say I did.

Q Did you hear him make any response to Ward's declaration or advice to them to disperse?

A No sir; I did not.

Q Where was that wagon in reference to the alley? I have the plat here, Lieutenant (indicating). Here is the station?

A Yes.

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Q Desplaines street (indicating) There is the alley.

Q Where was the wagon in reference to that alley?

A It was just north of the alley.

Q About how far should you say?

A Well, I did not measure it, and of course I wasn't along there the next morning.

Q Well, it is about how far?

A It was, I suppose, maybe eight or ten feet maybe twelve feet, something like that.

Q That wagon was a truck on the east side of the street?

A Yes.

Q On the east side of Des Plaines?

A Yes sir.

MR. BLACK: Brother Grinnell, I will state to you that we do not dispute the location of the wagon and substantially as testified to by Captain Bonfield.

MR. FOSTER: I suppose it was close up to the curbstone, but north of the alley.


MR. GRINNELL: What was the first thing that you did after the firing of the bomb, and of the pistols that were fired from the crowd and the people on either side of the walk?

A We returned the fire.

Q Do you know what became of Fielden?

A Well, as he stepped off of the wagon he turned to the sidewalk.

Q And then you lost track of him?

A Sight of him.

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Q Entirely?

A Yes sir.

Q Were there any men of your company injured?

A There were seven.

Q What were their names, do you know?

MR. BLACK: Unless they are some of the men that were killed, is that material?

MR. GRINNELL: It may be material; it is part of the res gesta--every individual that was injured there and every individual killed.

Q What were their names?

A Well, I have a list of them here. Do you want a list of all of the company, or the men that were injured?

Q No sir, just those that were injured?

A There was Officer Ruel, Dombrowski, Gruel, Gaynor, Wendt, McNulty, and Barrett.

Q Any of those officers dead?

A No sir, none of them dead; McNulty is in the Hospital yet.

Q At the time that you came down the street, you may describe, so far as you can, the appearance of the crowd, what you saw of the crowd, and what they did as you marched down the street?

A When we got up north of Randolph Street the crowd began to separate to the right and left, or close up to them after--well, it was some disstance, some few feet north of Randolph Street; they separated, them in front of us; there was quite a number in the

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street along. They began to separate to the right and left until we marched close to the wagon.

Q Well, was anything said by the crowd, any responses, any talk, did you hear?

A I heard nothing.

Q Did you see Degan there, Matthias J. Degan there that night, either at the time when you got back after the first firing, or at any time?

A I cannot say that I did; I remained there on the ground while he was taken away.

Q Do you know how many officers were injured there, how many were killed and how many were injured?

A Seven killed--seven dead; some sixty odd injured.

Q Where, with reference to your company, did the bomb light on the street?

A It lit in the rear of my company, or at the rear of the left of my company, and the right of Lieutenant Quinn's, between that and the next company behind us.

Q Which way were you facing when you first heard the sound of the bomb, explosion of the bomb?

A Facing north.

Q The firing from the crowd began almost instantly afterwards?

A Yes sir.

Q Which way were you facing when the word to fire was given--that is, was the word to fire or to fall in

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or march--was it given by you or some other officer?

A I did not hear the word "Fire" given by anybody.

Q But you began firing?

A Began firing when they fired on us.

Q When you heard the bomb, the sound of the bomb, or the explosion, did you turn around to look and see what the result was?

A I did. I looked to my left.

Q What was the result? What did you see? Describe it so that these gentlemen here can see it?

A Well, it was a flash flying into the air, sort of missles and some of the men lying on the ground.

Q How many men should you say? What effect did it have upon the companies?

A Well, it affected about twenty one of our men in the two companies, or that and the firing at once.

Q What time in the night did you say that was, or about what time was it?

A O, it was after ten o'clock some time.

Q Had you seen yourself any of the circulars advertising that meeting prior to your going down there?

A I had not.

Q How did you come to be at Des Plaines station?

A I got orders from Captain Hathaway to report there with twenty five men.

Q Is that your superior officer at the West Chicago

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Avenue Station?

A Yes sir.

Q And you got down there at what hour in the evening, in the afternoon?

A Sometime after seven o'clock. We had just come in from McCormick's, or from Sixteenth Street and had taken a lunch and we were ordered to fall in.

By Mr. Foster.

Q Are you Lieutenant?

A Lieutenant.

Q I suppose that your experience as an officer is that usually when a crowd--making a descent upon a riotous gathering, they usually disperse down the street, do they not, instead of separating--that is the rule?

A Well, they would separate, I suppose, anyway, right and left.

Q Well, they generally get out of there, get away?

A They move to some direction, of course.

Q They move generally from the direction in which the police are coming? Isn't that generaly the rule where there is a riotous assembly, a mob, an unlawful assembly-- they generally move ahead of you and scatter?

A Well, they vary in that respect. They move once in front of you and another time to the side. There are alleys each side of you.

Q Well, anyway to get out?

A Yes.

Q Well, now, is it your experience also, is it not, that you have often had occasion to head processions in

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coming through the streets where there were crowds, political gatherings, and others?

A Yes.

Q Now, isn't it a fact that when you got to pass through a peaceful, quiet body of men, that they separate to the sides instead of rushing down the alleys and out the other way? Isn't that true?

A Yes.

Q Now, I wil ask you whether or not the crowd on this occasion did not separate as an ordinary peaceably assembled audience would, provided you were quietly passing through in the manner in which you did?

A Well, no, I would not say they did, when they fired on us.

Q When they did not fire on you?

A They did fire on us.

Q Well, I mean at the time when they began to separate at the outskirts of it?

A A certain portion of them moved to the right and left.

Q Didn't they move far enough to the right and left to allow your column to pass down the street?

A Well, we just got up to them, the main body.

Q Well, you do not mean to say that you did not come to any persons until you come within six or eight feet of the wagon, do you?

A O, there was a crowd up on the sidewalk.

Q And they passed to the right and left on the street?

A On the sidewalk. They were on the sidewalk as

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we passed along.

Q Some went from the street on the sidewalk to be out of your way, didn't they?

A Well, they might have done before we got up to them.

Q Then you got up and you marched straight up very near to the wagon where the speakers were before you halted?

A Yes.

Q Did you march by the side of your men or in front?

A In front.

Q How far in front?

A O, maybe five or six feet.

Q A couple of paces perhaps?

A Yes sir.

Q And you say you were within from six or eight feet of the wagon?

A Well, somewheres there.

Q And your men were just behind you?

A Behind me, yes.

Q You heard a remark come from the direction of the main body of the crowd stating that; "You do your duty and I will do mine", or "we will do ours"?

A "The Bloodhounds are coming". "Here comes the Bloodhounds. You do your duty and we will do ours".

Q And that came from the direction of the body of the crowd there?

A Yes; in front of us.

Q You do not pretend, of course, to say, and you do not now wish the jury to understand you as saying that the speaker made that declaration from the wagon, and in the

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midst of his speech?

A I did not say so.

Q Well, I say, do you not wish the jury to infer that you mean it--you do not so mean--you do not pretend to say who it was?

A I do not pretend to say anything only what I know.

Q Well, you know that you heard that voice, but (I) say, you do not know where it came from; that is all there is to it?

A It came from the front; in front of me.

Q Certainly. Well, all the audience was in front of you?

A Yes sir.

Q Except a few stragglers on the sidewalk, as I understand you to say--that is true, isn't it?

A Yes sir.

Q You say Mr. Fielden got out of the wagon?

A Yes.

Q How long was it after he got out of the wagon before you heard the explosion of the bomb?

A Well, it was almost immediately, just, you may say, a chance for a man to take two or three steps.

Q You think he had not got hardly to the sidewalk?

A Yes; he was on the sidewalk.

Q Well, it was on the wagon; the wagon was right against the curbstone?

A Yes, close to it.

Q And he got out at the end of the wagon, which would be the same as if this (illustrating) was the curbstone, and he alighted right here (indicating), which was just

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about a step to the curbstone? That is so, isn't it?

A Yes.

Q And almost simultaneous with his getting out of that wagon the bomb was exploded?

A Yes sir.

Q I say almost?

A Shortly after it.

Q Very shortly after it. You heard no remark on the part of Mr. Fielden after he got out of the wagon?

A No sir, I did not.

Q Officer Ward ordered the crowd to disperse?

A Yes sir.

Q And no comments were made, no speech--Mr. Fielden didn't undertake to speak after that?

A No sir.

Q To the audience,--nothing of that kind? You paid no particular attention to Mr. Fielden after that?

A I did not.

Q Now, Mr. Ward' at the time that he made this order to disperse, was he nearer to the wagon than you were, or were you practically together?

A He was just in front of me.

Q He stepped in front?

A He made a step or two.

Q So that you could hear distinctly what he said?

A Yes, I was there.

Q And could hear distinctly anything that anyone had said, if they had made any remark about him--in close proximity to him?

A Yes; I was close enough of course if there had been anything said.

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Q But if Mr. Parsons had made any loud exclamation-- Mr. Fielden had made any loud exclamation either in the wagon or getting out of the wagon, or immediately after he got out, you would have heard it;--any loud shout so that it could have been heard and understood by the persons congregated there, you would have heard it?

A Yes, I could have heard it, yes.

Q And he made no such declaration as that?

A I did not hear him.

A JUROR (Mr. Brayton): Have you any knowledge of the proportionate number of men that were injured by gunshot as compared with the bomb?

MR. GRINNELL: In your own company.

MR. BRAYTON: No, I suppose he knew generally.

THE WITNESS: Well, I could have told eaxftly if I had known anything of it, but there is Barrett, Simonson, I think Kledgie--those I am sure were hit with the shell, and I think more were; I could not say positively. Of course I could tell you exactly.

MR. GRINNELL: That is, in your own company?

A O, not in my own company, no sir.

Q In others?

A No--Barrett was in my company, but in Lieutenant Quinn's Company.

MR. FOSTER: Wel,l, Lieutenant, isn't it a mooted question

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among the doctors in the case, as to whether the injuries are from shell or gunshot--wounds?

Objected to.

THE WITNESS: I am only speaking of these that I know, there were pieces of shell, taken out of.

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