Oshkosh, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
3 February 1900
"I shall never forget the commanding presence, and splendid coolness of Sir Charles Warren, who led the British troops at Spion Kop, as I saw him one Sunday during the bread riot of '88 or '89 in London," said a Detroit gentleman one day this week. "There had been meetings of all kinds; the socialists were losing no opportunity to promulgate their doctrines and Mrs. Besant and her ilk were adding fuel to the flames.
"Finally it was announced that on Sunday the whole mass of starving, wild eyes, hollow cheeked men and women would meet in Trafalgar square. A policeman tried to hustle a little knot of radicals. He was lifted off his feet over the heads of the crowd, and thrown crashing through a plate glass window into a cigar store. This made the mob laugh. The majority were sullen rather than ugly, and they laughed rather than jeered.
"The streets had become impassable. There had long been cries of 'The soldiers! The soldiers!'I had seen them forming in St James' palace court yard, and was momentarily expecting their appearance. Fearing trouble, I secured, at large expense, a seat on the knife board of an omnibus, which had been impressed by the authorities, and was being driven around and around the square to break the ranks of the rioters.
"The cry deepened into a roar. There was madness in it. Sir Charles Warren appeared on horseback and in full uniform, attended by his aides. By the time the first burst of anger had subsided, I was near Sir Charles. He raised his hand to secure silence and for a space of several hundred feet about him there was a pause, a silence so terrible that it seemed like a vacuum in which one could not breathe.
"The riot act was read. Very few of the assembled thousands could have heard. The rear began to press forward. The crush was killing. Just at the critical point a bugle sound, followed shortly after by the appearance of that magnificent regiment on black chargers - every man of them a picture, every horse an inspiration, every face stern, gazing straight ahead.
"Sir Charles looked the picture of dignity and sorrow. Those near could see for themselves that to ride down his countrymen was almost the sting of death to him. I heard him mutter something about 'crushing Englishmen.'
"The rest is in my mind a sort of wild confusion. My omnibus was nearly overturned. People were forced in and under it, the horses were wedged in. After a while I saw a long line of soldiers stretching across the square. Their black chargers were protected at vital points by breast plate and coats of mail, so close together that they seemed a living wall. There was a quick order of 'Forward!', a mingling of men and horses; hoarse cries of revenge, murder and mercy, and the black wall moved steadily on, driving before it a writhing, cursing, struggling mass of humanity. The tenderness of Sir Charles' face had gone. Only stern impassiveness remained.
"Mrs. Besant clung to a railing, but was dragged away, her hands cut and bleeding. The square behind the regiment seemed, by comparison, deserted, but was in reality crowded. It was as though a comb had been drawn through. That which fell rose again. That which remained erect was forced out and out, until it formed that later mob in Hyde park, but Sir Charles Warren had done his work, and there was no looting."