Along the line of the Monocacy river, skirting the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, a gang of robbers has been operating for nearly a year. They not only stole from the company, but held up foot passengers who came their way. When booty was scarce they broke into country stores. All efforts on the part of the railroad people to capture them had until last week proved unavailing. Detectives were placed along the line and stationed on cars, but in some way the highwaymen were always warned of their coming and got out of the way. The Baltimore and Ohio detectives who had worked on the case knew the robbers, but could not get at them. They had established headquarters on a little island in the middle of the Monocacy river, where, provided with boats, they easily made their escape whenever an attack was threatened. Within the past month they have become more daring than ever, and some of their escapades rival those of the train robbers on the Pacific slope. On October 5th they held up William H. Williams, of Harper’s Ferry, near Ellicot City, and took all of his money, his watch and chain, and even all his clothes except one shirt and a pair of trousers. George H. Marshall, said to be from Hagerstown, was the next victim. After going through him they kicked him off a train while it was passing Lansdowne. Marshall spent several weeks at the Maryland University Hospital recovering from injuries received by being thrown from the train.
On Friday night, Nov. 21st, the band robbed a car at Frederick Junction of enough goods to start a store, and on the following night they robbed the store of Capt. James Billmyer of $200 worth of goods. It was then that Policeman Short of the Southern district, one of the pluckiest men on the Baltimore police force, was detailed to assist the Baltimore and Ohio detective force in running down the gang. He unexpectedly came up with them on Monday morning on the railroad, near the Washington road. They passed in a coal hopper train, and, when some little distance off, they left the train and began to fire at Short. There were five in the gang, and, though they escaped that time, the officers came up with them again last Saturday on the banks of the river. They were taken unawares, and when ordered to surrender three of them, Michael Worth, Michael Cunningham, and Harry Duvall obeyed, but the other two plunged into the river and struck out for the other shore. The three men caught were unarmed, but wore stolen clothing and had a quantity of stolen goods on them. The two fleeing men each had 32-calibre Smith & Wesson revolvers and plenty of ammunition. The detectives could not get across the river, and so deputized Farmer Best who mounted a horse and followed the fugitives. He was armed with a 32-calibre pistol and had only a few bullets.
As he ascended the hill on the other side of the river the men saw him, and, turning quickly, opened fire upon him. Mr. Best returned their fire, and for a time there was a lively fusillade. About twenty-five shots were exchanged, when the men dashed into the woods and disappeared. The three men who were captured were taken to Frederick and committed to jail to await a hearing.
Last Saturday night Policeman Short and Detective Hutchinson, while going up the road on a Metro-politan branch train, saw a fire in the woods near Washington Grove. They left the train at Gaithersburg, and, going back, caught Harry Hallman, alias Flick. His companion, Archer Zepp, alias Woodberry, the leader of the gang, escaped to the woods. He tried to hold up the officers, and, as they would not have it that way, he ran, and several shots were fired after him. Hallman, or Flick, was taken to Baltimore and locked up in the Southern police station. He is 18 years old, and was formerly an inmate of the House of Refuge. He talked with little concern about the deeds of the gang and showed himself a hardened young rascal. He said he had on three suits of underclothing which he had taken in the Vanclevesville robbery. The others were older than he. All were well armed, and he said two pistols were held at William’s head when they robbed him. Hallman told of numerous other robberies committed by the gang.
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