The march as headed by John Frost leading a column into Newport from the west, Zephaniah Williams leading a column from Blackwood to the north-west and William Jones leading a column from Pontypool to the north.
The exact rationale for the confrontation remains opaque, although it may have its origins in Frost's ambivalence towards the more violent attitudes of some of the Chartists, and the personal animus he bore towards some of the Newport establishment. The Chartist movement in south east Wales was chaotic in this period and the feelings of the workers were running extremely high.
After spending Sunday night mostly out of doors in the rain, the commitment of many of the marchers was lukewarm. Many had been ambivalent to the Chartist cause in the first place, more concerned with the immediate problems of their own employment conditions. Thus many marchers did not participate in the final assault on Newport and simply waited in the outskirts of the town.
Rumours of a possible Chartist rising and previous violence elsewhere, following the earlier arrest of Chartist leader Henry Vincent and his imprisonment at the gaol in Monmouth, meant that the authorities had suspected there might be a riot. The sheer scale of the rising, however was not fully appreciated until November 3rd. The Authorities then quickly started to prepare. The Mayor of Newport Sir Thomas Phillips had sworn in 500 Special Constables and asked for more troops to be sent. There were about 60 soldiers stationed in Newport already, and he gathered 32 soldiers of the 45th (Nottinghamshire) Regiment of Foot in the Westgate Hotel where the Chartist prisoners were held.
Amongst the defenders of the Hotel Mayor Thomas Phillips was badly wounded, 1 soldier was seriously hurt, along with 2 special constables.. As the chartists fled they abandoned many of their weapons a selection of which can still be seen in Newport Museum.
An eye-witness report spoke of one man, wounded with gunshot, lying on the ground, pleading for help until he died an hour later.
Some of the Chartist dead were buried in Cathedral Church of St Woolos in the town where there is a plaque to their memory. Some of the bullet holes from the skirmish remained in the masonry of the hotel entrance porch until well into modern times.
As a consequence of public pressure, and to forestall their becoming political martyrs, however, the Melbourne's government eventually commuted the sentences of each to transportation for life. Others chartists involved in some way included James Stephens (trade unionist), John Lovell, John Rees (Chartist) and William Price (doctor), and according to some accounts Allan Pinkerton.
Testimonies exist from contemporaries, such as the Yorkshire Chartist Ben Wilson, that a successful rising at Newport was to have been the signal for a national uprising. Instead Chartism slipped into a period of internal division and acrimonious debate. Whuloe some men like Samuel Holberry and other Chartists in Sheffield planned their own rising in response, others said that the Newport rising showed that force would fail and achieve little. The imprisoned Chartists were regarded as heroes and martyrs amongst workers.
Meanwhile The Establishment and middle classes became convinced that the Rising meant all Chartists were dangerously violent. Newport Mayor, Thomas Phillips was proclaimed a national hero for his part in crushing the rising and was knighted by Queen Victoria barely six weeks after the Rising .
Today the Chartist-inspired murals in Newport and "John Frost Square" at the centre of the city, proudly commemorate the rising and local activities are often held to mark the anniversary
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