Henry's Songbook

All original copyrights respected / For private use only

go to  de   Susannes Folksong-Notizen   English Notes  uk

The Ludlow Massacre

  • (Woody Guthrie)

    It was in early springtime that the strike was on
    They drove us miners out of doors
    Out from the houses that the company owned
    We moved into tents up at old Ludlow

    I was worried bad about my children
    Soldiers guarding the railroad bridge
    Every once in a while the bullets would fly
    Kick up the gravel under our feet

    We were so afraid you would kill our children
    We dug us a cave that was seven foot deep
    Carried our young ones and a pregnant woman
    Down inside the cave to sleep

    That very night you soldiers waited
    Until us miners was asleep
    You snuck around our little tent town
    And you soaked our tents with your kerosene

    You struck a match and the blaze it started
    You pulled the trigger of your Gatling guns
    I made a run for the children but a fire wall stopped me
    Thirteen children died from your guns

    I carried my blanket to the wire fence corner
    And watched the fire till the blaze died down
    Helped some people grab their belongings
    While your bullets killed us all around

    I never will forget the look on the faces
    Of the men and women that awful day
    When we stood around to preach their funerals
    And lay the corpses of the dead away

    We told the Colorado Governor to phone the President
    Tell him to call off his National Guard
    But the National Guard belonged to the Governor
    So he didn't try so very hard

    Our women from Trinidad they hauled some potatoes
    Up to Walsenburg in a little cart
    Sold their potatoes and brought some guns back
    And I put a gun in every hand

    The state soldiers jumped us at the wire fence corner
    They didn't know that we had these guns
    And us red-neck miners mowed down them troopers
    You should have seen them killers run

    We took some cement and walled the cave up
    Where you killed these thirteen children inside
    I said, God bless the Mine Workers' Union
    And then I hung my head and cried

    (as sung by Dick Gaughan)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1980:] [In late 1944, Woody] suggested to [Moe] Asch that he might even try a regular musical newspaper, with ballads describing the major events of the week or month. Asch was enthusiastic, and decided the series would be called "American Documentary". Woody tuned up for the project by writing several ballads about important events in American radical history, taken from Mother Bloor's autobiography. One ballad described the famous Ludlow Massacre of 1914, where National Guard troops fired on striking Colorado miners and their families. (Klein, Woody Guthrie 281)

  • [1996:] The Ludlow Massacre is one of those shameful occurrences in social history that make scarce an imprint on your average history book. While history books are busy talking about this battle or that war, they usually pass no comment on the social uprisings that took place here, there and everywhere in the first 20 years of this century.

    Briefly, the United Mine Workers of America had managed to organise the many different races of newly-arrived immigrants in the coalfields of Southern Colorado by 1913 to the extent that it was decided to strike against the mighty Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. This company was controlled by John D. Rockefeller and the conditions the workers were kept in resembled the unspeakable squalor of Medieval feudalism.

    The company, of course, owned the ramshackle huts that the miners and their families were packed into and evicted them at the outset of the strike. The Union moved them into tent colonies, the largest one being at Ludlow.

    In the icy winter of 1913-14, the striking miners and their families were controlled in their tent town by the National Guard which had been called out as a buffer between the Company Guards and the miners, but which soon sided with the company. The dominant figure in this State Militia company was Lieutenant Lindersfelt, an especially brutal bully boy. On April 20 1914, with machine guns and high-powered rifles, the militiamen, who may have been drinking, opened fire without warning on the Ludlow tent colony. The miners had dug pits under some of the tents, so that pregnant women and nursing mothers and their children could be below the firing line. However, the murderous militiamen went berserk and set fire to the tents with coal oil. The next day, when the smoke had cleared, the blackened bodies of two young mothers and eleven children between three months and nine years were found.

    Though Lindersfelt and others were found guilty after a farcical trial they were punished only by their promotions being delayed. At a congressional hearing, Rockefeller insisted that he had known nothing of the conditions in his mines nor of the company's crimes committed during the strike. This was later shown to be totally untrue.

    At the spot where these 13 people died, today there is a monument - put up by the United Mine Workers, note, not by the State of Colorado - which says "In memory of the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's cause at Ludlow, Colorado, April 20, 1914". (For the whole story see: "Buried Unsung" by Zeese Papanikolas.) (Notes Andy Irvine, 'Rain on the Roof')


Quelle: USA

go back de  L-Index uk

 Sammlung : Susanne Kalweit (Kiel)
Layout : Henry Kochlin  (Schwerin)

aktualisiert am 7.09.2000