Vigilante headquarters on display

Soon after their stunningly successful military parade, starting on August 21st and lasting through the 23rd, the Committee of Vigilance opened their headquarters, Fort Gunnybags, for inspection by the general population to further emphasize the intimate connection between the committee and the general public. Thousands of people visited the building, both residents of San Francisco as well as many who came from afar. The sand-bag fortifications in front had been removed but the cannon on the floor, the guns in their racks and the ammunition in the magazines remained. Portraits and pictures hung on the walls. In one place was a bust of James King of William, in another the famous double action ballot box with false sides and bottom partially drawn out to show the stuffed ballots that had been found inside. On the second floor were cells formally occupied by Cora, Casey, Sullivan, Hetherington and Brace. Terry’s cell was in an adjoining building also used by the vigilantes.

Fort Gunnybags

Fort Gunnybags

The room for the executive committee was completely plain with only a few long tables, some chairs and a number of cases full of papers. In the police office pistols, knives and other weapons taken from the prisoners were kept. On the wall were the hats of Casey, Cora, Hetherington and Brace surrounded by the ropes with which they had been hanged. An old rusty blade, said to have been wielded when the law and order arms were taken from the schooner Julia, was facetiously labeled “The sword of the pirate Durkee.” Above the police rooms were the armorer’s shop and the hospital and on the roof the bell, ever ready to call the vigilantes to assemble in time of need. There were some nineteen hundred muskets, two hundred and fifty rifles, three hundred dragoon sabers, seventy-eight roman sabers and fifty-five artillery swords in addition to a lot of shotguns and arms of other kinds stored in the building.

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