Nine Sharpshooters

(February 1914)

The International Socialist Review, Vol. 14. No. 8, February 1914, pp. 462–463.
Transcribed by Matthew Siegfried.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

WHEN the mine owners of Colorado began evicting striking miners and their families from the companies’ shacks and company property the United Mine boys threw up tents on nearby land and moved into them.

Then the mine companies sent men with machine guns and searchlight, and, perched upon almost inaccessible ridges or boulders, these gunmen sent shot after shot into the miners’ tent colonies below.

In the December number of the Review, we printed a photograph of the machine gun used by nine guards at Berwind Canyon. It was placed high upon a ragged ridge, from which it could be constantly trained over the miners’ camp in the valley below. All night long the guards kept a powerful searchlight trained over the passes and the comings and goings of the miners. They believed themselves to be in an impregnable position.

From five hundred to a thousand miners occupied the attention of the guards by the use of long-distance rifles on one side of the ridge. The guards felt confident that they could easily sweep clear the remaining sides before any attacking party could approach. They imagined that the death-dealing instrument with which they sent destruction into the camps would cow the strikers. They did not know the spirit of the Colorado miners.

It was on a Friday at 10 o’clock in the morning, October 20, that nine miners, who had served as sharpshooters in the Balkans, bade their comrades goodbye and started their long journey toward the enemy that blazed gleefully away from the topmost pinnacle of the lofty ridge. Through narrow passes and over bald boulders they traveled. Very quietly, very cautiously, very slowly they journeyed, for much depended upon the success of their mission. It was for them to silence the machine gun that belched forth death in the tent homes of the miners below. They did not mean to fail.

Through the long night they worked their way, and it was not until noon on the following day that they paused in a fissure of the great rocks to confer. They saw nine guards casually continuing their work of murder. And some of them smoked while others took their ease from the day’s grind.

And the nine miners, who had served in the Balkans, lifted their rifles to their shoulders and picked each his man. Nine shots rang out! And the machine gun ceased to fire, for upon the high ridge there remained no single living thing.

And down to the camps of their brother miners went the sharpshooters with the machine gun which they captured. And there it has remained. On their triumphal march homeward, the victors encountered seven auto loads of provisions designed to feed militiamen, deputy sheriffs and private detectives. These they promptly confiscated and bore with them.

That night a message was sent to the strike relief committee by the miners at Berwind Canyon. It bore the advice that thereafter no provisions need be supplied them and a request that arms and ammunition be sent instead.

It has been reported that George Belcher, manager of the Baldwin-Felts detective agency, who shot and killed Gerald Lippett, organizer for the U.M.W.A., has been killed.

Our correspondent informs us that the investigation of the shooting was a farce and that Belcher was released on bond. Not long after Belcher came out of a drug store at Trinidad and paused to light a cigar. Eight hundred soldiers were upon the square with fifty deputies and innumerable policemen and detectives. As Belcher struck a match a bullet from an unseen gun hit him at the base of the brain and he was killed instantly.

E.E. Schumway, president of the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company, declared that the recent explosion that occurred in one of the mines and killed thirty-seven miners had not been caused by gas. He went so far as to go down into the mine to prove his point. Within four or five days he died as a result of being overcome by gas. Everybody agrees that this was a most unfortunate occurrence.

More Work for the Undertaker

They say that of the army of Baldwin-Felts thugs that “went through” the miners’ tent colony at Ludlow looking for arms and ammunition, one hundred and seventy-three met a sudden death within the following · week. Reports of the brutalities practiced by these hired dogs pass all belief. But we are glad to record the fact that their tactics changed wholly after one hundred and seventy-three funerals occurred, following the fatalities mentioned above.

Mother Jones is in jail again. The governor of Colorado assured her that she could go anywhere in Colorado except in the southern strike zone. Two weeks ago, on Sunday evening she took a train from Denver, securing a berth at the railroad yards in order to avoid publicity. Arriving at Trinidad, she rented a room and prepared to take a much-needed rest. That night at about 10 o’clock, with eight soldiers in her room and eight hundred soldiers surrounding the hotel, she was taken to the St. Raphael Hospital. She is as closely guarded as though she were in a Chicago jail, but knowing the character of the miners, it was decided to inform the public that she is in a hospital. Two sentries stand before her door and eight hundred soldiers are camped on the grounds of the “hospital.”

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