On July 12, 1917, nearly 1,200 miners, their supporters, and innocent bystanders in Bisbee, Arizona woke up to armed men barging into their homes and forcing the bewildered men onto boxcars hitched to a waiting train. The men who were so rudely awaken were, in large part, members of a new union – the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The miners had been on strike against “Big Copper” – the owners of the copper mines that dotted southern Arizona. The strikers wanted better wages and safer working conditions.
Less than two weeks prior to that fateful morning, an editorial in the newspaper the Arizona Republican had hinted that some sinister German plot was behind the strikers’ actions. This was just about 4 months after the United States had entered World War I. Supporters of the mine owners, known as Loyalty Leaguers, along with the owners themselves conspired to be rid of the strikers. Thus, on the morning of July 12, they owners arranged to have boxcars waiting on the railroad that ran through town while the Leaguers roused miners from their beds and forced them aboard. These 1,200 hapless men were then railroaded out of town to Hermanas, New Mexico – a crossroads town some 150 miles from Bisbee. There the men were left with limited rations and no shelter until a contingent of U.S. Cavalry arrived to help the men. No legal action was ever taken by the State of Arizona against the mine owners and suits brought against individual vigilantes all came back “not guilty” or had the cases dismissed.