Battle of Lumbarton
In 1857, the Battle of Lumbarton occurred between federal marshals, who were enforcing the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, and anti-slavery Ohioans.
Addison White, a fugitive from slavery, set in motion the chain of events that culminated in the Battle of Lumbarton. In 1856, White ran away from Kentucky to Ohio. He eventually made his way to Mechanicsburg in Champaign County. Here, he sought refuge in the home of Udney Hyde. White remained in the Hyde home for eight months, purportedly helping Hyde recover from a broken ankle. White's owner and some federal marshals eventually located the fugitive slave at Hyde's home. The marshals attempted to capture White, who had barricaded himself in the loft of a log cabin. White had a pistol, and was able to drive the marshals away, but they soon returned. Mechanicsburg townspeople had also arrived on the scene and surrounded the barn. Armed with pitchforks and other weapons, they refused to let the marshals take the fugitive slave, who, the mob falsely said, had fled to Canada. The marshals did arrest several people for aiding White in his escape.
The marshals took their prisoners, including Udney Hyde's son, Russell Hyde, towards Urbana, Ohio. The sheriff of Clark County attempted to arrest the federal marshals for illegally detaining the men. The marshals refused to release the captives and proceeded to beat the sheriff and the posse severely. Eventually, a mob of Ohioans detained the marshals and jailed them in Springfield, Ohio on the charge of assault with intent to kill, due to the altercation with the Clark County sheriff. The first skirmish between the marshals and the sheriff's posse and the second one with the mob of Ohioans became known collectively as the Battle of Lumbarton.
Eventually, Ohio Governor Salmon P. Chase negotiated the release of the federal prisoners as well as of the marshals, with all charges being dropped against both groups. Mechanicsburg residents raised 950 dollars and purchased Addison White's freedom from his owner. Daniel White agreed to the sale.
The Battle of Lumbarton illustrates the increasing tensions between pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces during the mid-nineteenth century. These tensions eventually contributed to the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861.
- Siebert, Wibur H. The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom. New York: Russell & Russell, 1898.