Organized Insurrection in the Interest of Rebellion~July 1863~the 13th and 14th

Organized Insurrection in the Interest of the Rebellion~George Templeton Strong.

Riot and mayhem grip new York City. What begins as an anti-draft protest quickly becomes a racist campaign of violence against African Americans and contains elements of class struggle as vandalism and looting increase. Sir Arthur Fremantle, on his way home to England after witnessing the battle at Gettysburg, becomes an eye witness to the riots. [In his account of his time in the country which he will publish next year in England, he will steadfastly predict victory for the Confederacy.] Some observers predict another battle between Lee and Meade. President Lincoln congratulates General Grant.

July 13– Monday– South Norwalk, Connecticut– Birth of Mary Emma Woolley, educator who will become president of Mount Holyoke College, 1901 to 1937. She will also become a peace advocate, suffragist, a vice-chairperson of the American Civil Liberties Union and a president of the American Association of University Women.

Dr Mary Emma Woolley

Dr Mary Emma Woolley

July 13– Monday– New York City–Rioting erupts as workers, many Irish immigrants, turn violent in response to the draft. At mid-morning a mob of around 500 people, aroused by anti-draft speeches from several agitators. attack the office where the draft is taking place. As the mob increases in numbers the violence gets out of hand. They cut telegraph wires, collect weapons, stop traffic in a number of streets, attack John Kennedy, the Superintendent of Police and stone the homes of police officers. Taking advantage of increasing chaos some rioters plunder jewelry, hardware, and liquor stores, eight draft offices, and vandalize the offices of Horace Greeley’s Tribune. Others burn the armory, although doing it so carelessly that some of their own people perish in the blase. About 4:00 PM, protesters loot and set fire to the Colored Orphan Asylum. The children are safely evacuated. The focus shifts from an anti-draft protest to one of racial violence against black people. A gang led by an Irish immigrant named John Nicholson attack and lynch William Jones, a black man, then burn his body. Peter Heuston, a member of Mohawk people, is taken for an African-American and badly beaten. [Two weeks later Heuston will die in the hospital.] Uncontrolled rioters burn the homes and shops of black people. A number of black persons are killed or injured. Because the New York State Militia had been sent to assist Union troops in Pennsylvania, the local police are left to suppress the riots.

rioting in New York City

rioting in New York City

July 13– Monday– New York City– George Templeton Strong renders an opinion about the day’s rioting. “The fury of the low Irish women in that region [the area around Lexington & 45th] was noteworthy. Stalwart young vixens and withered old hags were swarming everywhere, all cursing the ‘bloddy draft’ and egging on their men to mischief. . . . If a quarter one hears be true, this is an organized insurrection in the interest of the rebellion and Jefferson Davis rules New York today. . . . . We telegraphed, two or three of us, from General Wood’s rooms, to the President, begging that troops be sent on and stringent measures taken. The great misfortune is that nearly all our militia regiments have been dispatched to Pennsylvania.”

July 13– Monday– New York City– Martha Perry, nursing her injured husband, an officer from the 20th Massachusetts, describes what she saw and hear. “In the early morning, I heard loud and continued cheers at the head of the street, and supposed it must be news of some great victory. In considerable excitement I hurried downstairs to hear particulars, but soon found that the shouts came from the rioters who were on their way to work. About noon that same day we became aware of a confused roar; as it increased, I flew to my window, and saw rushing up Lexington Avenue, within a few paces of our house, a great mob of men, women and children . . . . At all points fires burst forth, and that night the city was illuminated by them. I counted from the roof of our house five fires just about us.”

fighting in the streets of New York

fighting in the streets of New York

 July 13– Monday– New York City– Having reached the city by train from Philadelphia last night, Sir Arthur James Fremantle witnesses another key series of events. “The luxury and comfort of New York and Philadelphia strike one as extraordinary after having lately come from Charleston and Richmond. The greenbacks seem to be nearly as good as gold. The streets are as full as possible of well-dressed people, and are crowded with able-bodied civilians capable of bearing arms, who have evidently no intention of doing so.– They apparently don’t feel the war at all here; and until there is a grand smash with their money, or some other catastrophe to make them feel it, I can easily imagine that they will not be anxious to make peace. I walked the whole distance of Broadway to the Consul’s house, and nothing could exceed the apparent prosperity; . . . . On returning to the Fifth Avenue [Hotel], I found all the shopkeepers beginning to close their stores, and I perceived by degrees that there was great alarm about the resistance to the draft which was going on this morning. On reaching the hotel I perceived a whole block of buildings on fire close by: engines were present, but were not allowed to play by the crowd. In the hotel itself, universal consternation prevailed, and an attack by the mob had been threatened. I walked about in the neighborhood, and saw a company of soldiers on the march, who were being jeered at and hooted by small boys, and I saw a Negro pursued by the crowd take refuge with the military; he was followed by loud cries of ‘Down with the b—-y n*****! Kill all n******!’ &c. Never having been in New York before, and being totally ignorant of the state of feeling with regard to Negroes, I inquired of a bystander what the Negroes had done that they should want to kill them? He replied civilly enough–“Oh sir, they hate them here; they are the innocent cause of all these troubles.’”

July 13– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln sends a personal letter to General Ulysses Grant. “I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment of the almost inestimable service you have done the Country. I write to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do what you finally did–march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below . . . . When you dropped below, and took Port Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join General Banks; and when you turned northward, east of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right and I was wrong.”

General Ulysses S Grant

General Ulysses S Grant

July 13– Monday– Hagerstown, Maryland– Union Officer Elisha Hunt Rhodes: “I have not changed my clothes for five weeks but still I am happy, and we are doing good work.”

July 13– Monday– Richmond, Virginia– Clerk John Jones laments. “Lee and Meade have been facing each other two or three days, drawn up in battle array, and a decisive battle may have occurred ere this. The wires have been cut between Martinsburg and Hagerstown. Not another word have we from either Charleston or Jackson; but we learn that monitors, gun-boats, and transports are coming up the James River. Altogether, this is another dark day in our history. It has been officially ascertained that Pemberton surrendered, with Vicksburg, 22,000 men! He has lost, during the year, not less than 40,000!”

July 13– Monday– Calcutta, India– Birth of Margaret Murray, an English woman who will become an archaeologist. Her 1921 and 1931 scholarly studies of witches and their practices will gain great popularity among modern practitioners.

Dr Margaret Murray

Dr Margaret Murray

July 14– Tuesday– New York City–Commerce in the city grinds to a halt with some workers joining the mob. Rioters attack the homes of notable Republicans. Governor Horatio Seymour, a Democrat, arrives in town and speaking at City Hall, he attempts to calm the crowd by declaring that the Conscription Act is unconstitutional. Republicans see the speech as encouraging the rioters. City police are reinforced by approximately 800 troops from forts in the New York Harbor and from West Point. In several neighborhoods the rioters build barricades from debris to keep police out. The nature of the disturbance is clearly racial and political, directed against African Americans and prominent Republicans who are seen as responsible for the war and the draft. William Williams, an African-American sailor, is beaten, stabbed and left to die. Henry O’Brien, the commander of the 11th New York volunteers, is murdered by the mob. Rioters fight off police and loot the Brooks Brothers clothing store, causing more than $50,000 in damages. Democratic and Republican leaders busily argue about the riots. Mayor George Opdyke, age 58, a Republican, sends for federal troops, but will not call for martial law which would give control of the city to the federal government. Militia units receive orders to return to New York. Authorities temporarily suspend the draft.

July 14– Tuesday– New York City– Martha Perry describes some of the day’s events. “Men, both colored and white, were murdered within two blocks of us, some being hung to the nearest lamppost, and others shot. An army officer was walking in the street near our house, when a rioter was seen to kneel on the sidewalk, take aim, fire and kill him, then coolly start on his way unmolested. I saw the Third Avenue street car rails torn up by the mob. . . . . I passed the hours of that dreadful night listening to the bedlam about us; to the drunken yells and coarse laughter of the rioters wandering aimlessly through the streets, and to the shouts of a mob plundering houses a block away.”

Sir Arthur Fremantle, British observer of the Gettysburg campaign

Sir Arthur Fremantle, British observer of the Gettysburg campaign

July 14– Tuesday– New York City– Sir Arthur James Fremantle observes the chaos. “At breakfast this morning two Irish waiters, seeing I was a Britisher, came up to me one after another, and whispered at intervals in hoarse Hibernian accents–‘It’s disgraceful, sir. I’ve been drafted, sir. I’m a Briton. I love my country. I love the Union Jack, sir.’ I suggested an interview with Mr. Archibald, but neither of them seemed to care about going to the Counsel just yet. These rascals have probably been hard at work for years, voting as free and enlightened American citizens, and abusing England to their hearts’ content. . . . . The consternation in the streets seemed to be on the increase; fires were going on in all directions, and the streets were being patrolled by large bodies of police followed by special constables, the latter bearing truncheons, but not looking very happy. I heard a British captain making a deposition before the Consul, to the effect that the mob had got on board his vessel, and cruelly beaten his colored crew. As no British man-of-war was present, the French Admiral was appealed to, who at once requested that all British ships with colored crews might be anchored under the guns of his frigate. The reports of outrages, hangings, and murder, were now most alarming, the terror and anxiety were universal. All shops were shut: all carriages and omnibuses had ceased running. No colored man or woman was visible or safe in the streets, or even in his own dwelling. Telegraphs were cut, and railroad tracks torn up. The draft was suspended, and the mob evidently had the upper hand.”

July 14– Tuesday– New York City– George Templeton Strong watches “a strong squad of police marching eastward down this street, followed by a company of infantry with gleaming bayonets.”

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