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Exciting Events of Saturday, June 21st, 1856.

On Saturday, June 21st, intense excitement prevailed throughout the city; The cause of this outburst of public feeling was an assault upon Sterling A. Hopkins of the Vigilance Committee Police, by David S. Terry, Judge of the Supreme Court, with a Bowie knife.

The following are the facts in relation to the assault, as far as they can be gleaned from the rumors of the day: An order to arrest James R. Maloney, issued by the Executive Committee, was placed in the hands of Mr. Hopkins, and he in company with one or two others, proceeded to the office of Dr. Ashe, Navy Agent, where Maloney was in Company with Dr. Ashe, Ham. Bowie, Judge Terry and Martin Reese. Hopkins attempted to arrest Maloney, and was resisted when he retired for more force. While Hopkins and his party were waiting for reinforcements from the Committee, Maloney, with his defenders, emerged from the office, armed with guns and started for the Armory of the "Blues," corner of Jackson and Dupont streets, followed by Hopkins and other members of the Committee. When they had nearly reached the Armory, Hopkins pressed forward to arrest Maloney,. in doing which he had to pass Judge Terry, who was bringing up the rear of the retreating forces. Terry presented his gun, and endeavored to stop him, and a scuffle ensued for the gun–when Terry drew a large knife and plunged into Hopkins's neck, making a very dangerous if not fatal wound. As soon as the fatal blow was struck, Hopkins wheeled and turned down the street, and Terry and the "law and order" party retreated to the Armory.

A mounted courier was dispatched to the Committee Rooms with the dread intelligence. The mounted battalion, in an incredible short space of time, were on duty, and at once swept through the streets, and surrounded the office of the Navy Agent, and the Armory, where Terry and his party had taken refuge. Company after company emerged from the Committee Rooms under arms, and were marched off to their various destinations. In less than an hour, four thousand men were under arms, and the streets were glistening with bright bayonets; and before the "law and order" party could realize their condition, their Armories were completely surrounded. by 4 o'clock eleven hundred armed men had surrounded the Armory where Terry and his friends were and every approach to the building had been cut off. A delegation from the Executive Committee, consisting of Messrs. Truett, Tillinghast, Smiley, Vail and Dempster, arrived about 4 o'clock, and, after a short conference with one or two of them, a written demand was made for the persons of Terry and Maloney, and all arms in the building. Several communications passed back and forth between the Committee men and those in the Armory, in regard to the terms of the surrender. The result of these negotiations was that the persons in the building were notified that they must surrender in fifteen minutes. At the expiration of that time, one of the Committee said, in a loud and distinct voice, sufficient to be heard by them : "We want your arms-open this door." Without a moment's hesitation, the iron bolts were drawn, and the doors thrown open. About twenty men were then marched into the building, and, without resistance, brought out all the arms, embracing a stand of about 300, which were loaded upon drays. Two coaches were then brought up in the front of the door, and the prisoners, Terry and Maloney, were brought down and placed in them, for transportation to the people's tribunal. Everything being in readiness, the prisoners and captured arms were escorted to the Committee Rooms. All along the route, the streets were most densely crowded.

After the capture of this Armory, the forces were concentrated at the California Exchange, corner of Clay and Kearny streets, where about 70 "law and order" men gathered with arms in hand; but they were unable to get out in consequence of the presence of a strong force outside. The Committee's army took possession of Clay and Kearny streets for a distance of about one block, and in front of the building they planted two pieces of very saucy looking cannon, which were manned by men who knew how to use them. Colonel Doane and a delegation of the Executive Committee made a demand of Col. J.R. West, who was in command, for the arms, ammunition, and all accoutrements in the Armory. The contracting parties held a long interview, and about six o'clock, or forty-five minutes after the surrender of the other place, Col. West ordered his men to march up to the door, and, one at a time, to hand over his arms and equipments to the Committee, who caused them to be loaded into wagons and taken to the rooms. From this place they received about 250 stand of excellent rifles and muskets – Madame Pique's Hall, and the iron building, corner of Pacific and Montgomery streets, which were both used as Armories by the "law and order" forces, were taken coralled at the Armory until about 11 o'clock P.M., when they were marched down to the Committee Rooms and confined for the night; most of them were discharged next day on their parole.

Judge Terry, Maloney, and a few other leading spirits, are still held as prisoners by the Committee. At this date, June 30th, Mr. Hopkins is still alive, but in a precarious situation.

Pictorial Letter Sheet
For sale at the "Daily Town Talk Office." [1856]

See the San Francisco History Index for more about the Committee of Vigilance.

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