How Baltimore celebrated the end of World War I

Baltimore’s celebration of the end of World War I began in the early morning of Nov. 11, 1918.

“With the coming of the first light of a perfect day, the misty light that begins at dawn, the whistles began to ring and bells began to peel out their message that peace again had returned to the world,” The Sun said. “Newsboys were scurrying all over the city with the news that President Wilson announced that the armistice had been signed and that the war ended at 6 o’clock.”

Few people went to work. Banks and courts closed. Office workers at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad left at noon. Armament factories shut down. “Nobody was in a humor for working,” the paper said.

Throughout the day, Baltimoreans jammed streetcars and headed downtown in what The Sun reported was an experience similar to a “religious exaltation.”

There was also sad news. Among those who were killed in action in France was Lieutenant Merrill Rosenfeld, 35, a City College and Johns Hopkins graduate. Other deaths were Samuel Halpert, of Bond Street, and Joseph Ludwig, of Durham Street. He died at the Battle of Montfaucon, a hill captured by members of the 313th Infantry, a unit known as Baltimore’s Own.

Word of the death of Highlandtown resident Henry Nicholas Gunther, 23, the last soldier to die in the war, did not reach the paper until Dec. 14, 1918. His body was brought back to Baltimore in 1921 and was interred at Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery, Belair and Moravia roads. Gunther died in France when a German machine gun bullet hit his temple a few seconds before the armistice took effect at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, 1918.

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