Deputy U.S. Marshal Thomas P. Foley

Deputy U.S. Marshal Thomas P. Foley

United States Department of Justice - United States Marshals Service, U.S. Government

End of Watch Wednesday, April 27, 1870

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Thomas P. Foley

Deputy Marshal Thomas Foley died of injuries sustained in the Virginia Capitol Disaster.

On April 27th, 1870, a balcony collapsed inside of the Virginia State Capitol, killing 62 people, including 12 law enforcement officers.

Following the Civil War, the United States Army installed a mayor in Richmond. In January 1870 Virginia's governor appointed a new city council, which then appointed a new mayor. However, the previous mayor refused to cede the mayorship and the city operated with two mayors and governments, including two separate police departments.

The balcony collapse occurred during a Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals hearing to determine which of the city's two mayors and police departments was considered legitimate. Because of the interest in the case, hundreds of citizens crowded onto the balcony to view the case. The weight of the spectators caused the structure to give way, killing dozens of elected officials, law enforcement officers, and citizens, and injuring hundreds more.

Following what became known as the Capitol Disaster, the court reconvened and ultimately ruled that the newly appointed mayor was the legitimate mayor.


  • Age Not available
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Structure collapse
  • Location Virginia

Most Recent Reflection

View all 7 Reflections

Deputy Foley, on this 146th anniversary of that tragic event, I thank you for your service. Though you had 'no dog in the fight', or so I believe, you were none-the-less there as a law enforcement officer wondering how it would turn out and hoping to keep the peace no matter what. Again, or so I believe.

How tragic so many law enforcement officers lost their lives and, I note just how many Irish names there are, including yours. I cannot help but wonder just how long most of you had been here before taking on your roles as protectors.

Rest in Peace, Brother and may you and all those who died in this horrific event be forever Blessed by God.

Ptl. Jim Leahy, Jr.
Harvard University Police Dept.

April 27, 2016

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