Riots At New York
of the Provost-Marshall's office
between rioters and military
of the police on the rioters at the "Tribune" office
a drug store in Second Avenue
a Negro in Clarkson Street
RIOTS AT NEW YORK
| On page 484 we illustrate the charge of the police upon the rioters who were engaged in sacking the Tribune office.
We take pleasure in publishing the following graphic account of this affair from an officer who
took part in it, and can personally testify to its correctness:
To the Editor of Harper's Weekly;
Sir, -- As a variety of conflicting statements have been published in the daily papers purporting to be descriptions
of the dispersion of the rioters engaged in sacking the Tribune office, a brief statement of the actual facts of that
truly brilliant affair, from a participant, may possibly be not unacceptable.
At seven o'clock on Monday evening the members of the 26th Precinct then present, 38 men all told, were assembled in their Squad-room, southeast corner City Hall
basement. With them, at the same time and place -- and constituting with the 26th a special reserve at that
important point -- were the reserves of the 1st Precinct, under
Captain Warlow; the bulk of Captain Bryan's force (4th Precinct) having being previously ordered to police
headquarters, 300 Mulberry Street; that gallant officer was also present as a volunteer. A report, whether designedly
or not, that a riot was progressing in the 1st Precinct, started first Warlow and his command, and immediately
after the 26th, under Captain Thorne; on down Broadway to Beaver, or thereabout, and so through to Broad
Street, when we found that the disturbance, a slight one, had been suppressed. After a brief delay we resumed
our march up Broad and Nassau. Passing the Evening Post, a cheer greeted us from the building. On reaching
about the corner of Beekman and Nassau a halt was quietly ordered. It was now dark, or nearly so, and through
the deepening gloaming we could see the 1st Precinct men halted on the west side of Nassau, just south of the Times
Buildings. They had rapped, and that was the reason of our halt. A few hurried words of consultation between
Captains Thorne and Warlow, and we were again in place and ready. We could now distinctly hear the crashing
of wood and glass; the work of riot and devastation had commenced, but with the earnestness and
thoroughness which has marked the conduct of this outbreak from
the start, there was no shouting or profane clamor. It was a storming party under competent and effective
leadership. So earnest were they in their work -- so absorbed,
in fact, that the low, stern order, "Keep together, men; steady; now, then, Forward! Charge!" from Captain
Thorne, was unheard save by a few spectators on the Times corner. With a shout from a hundred throats, the
26th leading the onset, we struck them like a thunderbolt, cleaving and scattering them in utter rout, ruin, and
dismay. A few of us entered the office. They had only got as far as the ground-floor, and the few fool-hardy rebels who were found were mercilessly clubbed into the street
or into insensibility, and hurriedly dragged off by friends to die in unknown homes, or linger, with maimed and
shattered heads and limbs, for months and years of pain and disfigurement. The square -- a minute previous crowded
by a surging mass five thousand strong -- was in five minutes cleared to a point below French's Hotel, save where
the dead and wounded were being hurriedly dragged off by terrified friends. We did not try to take prisoners till
after the first rally, except that Officer Freeman, of the 26th, finding a man, who gave his name as Burt Francis,
in the act of ripping up the counter in the office, brought him in, and he was duly committed next morning. Only
two more arrests were made.
Victorious, but breathless, we had just succeeded in extinguishing the flames, which had by this time broke out,
when a shout as from a great crowd was heard, and a mass of men were seen charging across the Park toward
us from the direction of Broadway. The word was given "Stand firm!" and every man squared himself for what
now seemed about to be a death-struggle with an overwhelming reinforcement of the mob. It was a supreme
moment; but our suspense was immediately at an end. Soon the bright buttons and uplifted batons of our own
gallant fellows from Broadway were recognized, the grizzled locks and martial figure of the Metropolitan
warhorse, brave Dan Carpenter, conspicuous at their head.
One loud, ringing cheer went up, while trusty batons waved, of triumph and relief. Victory was with the right.
Law and order had triumphed.
The importance of our coup can hardly be overestimated. The suddenness and vigor of the blow took the snap
right out of the murdering thieves at the start, and effectually demoralized whatever of organization they had in
the lower part of the city. The Tribune, Times, and Post would inevitably have gone as a consequence even of their
partial success; and speculation stops aghast when reflecting on the possible havoc and destruction of the massed
and hoarded wealth collected below Canal Street.
The officers in command were Captain Thorne, 26th (City Hall) Precinct, and Captain Warlow, 1st Precinct,
accompanied by Captain Bryan, 4th Precinct, as an amateur volunteer. Let their names and those of their
gallant officers and men be held in grateful remembrance.
One of our special artists, who was detailed to sketch the progress of the riot, thus describes the
sketches he furnished, which are reproduced on pages 484 and 485:
MASSACRE OF A NEGRO IN CLARKSON STREET.
One of the first victims to the insane fury of the rioters was a negro cartman residing in Carmine
Street. A mob of men and boys seized this unfortunate man on Monday evening, and having
beaten him until he was in a state of insensibility, dragged him to Clarkson Street, and hung him
from a branch of one of the trees that shade the sidewalk by St. John's Cemetery. The fiends did
not stop here, however. Procuring long sticks, they tied rags and straw to the ends of them, and
with these torches they danced round their victim, setting fire to his clothes, and burning him
almost to a cinder. The remains of the wretched negro hung there till near daylight on Tuesday
morning, when they were removed by the police. This atrocious murder was perpetrated within ten
feet of consecrated ground, where the white headstones of the cemetery are seen gleaming through
the wooden railing.
THE MURDER OF COLONEL O'BRIEN
As I arrived at the corner of Thirty-fourth Street and Second Avenue, the rioters were dragging the
body of a man along the sidewalk with a rope. It was difficult to obtain any information from the
by-standers, who were terror-struck by the savage fury of the mob. I ascertained, however, that the
body was that of Colonel O'Brien of the Eleventh New York. There was not a policeman or soldier
within view of whom inquiry could be made. "What did they kill him for?" I asked a man
leaning against a lamp-post. "Bedad I suppose it was to square accounts," replied he. "There
was a woman and child kilt there below a while ago by the sojers, and in coorse a sojer had to suffer." The brutal roughs who surrounded the body
fired pistols at it occasionally, and pelted it with brickbats and paving-stones. The tenacity of life
of this unfortunate victim is said to have been remarkable, and those who entered the yard where
the body lay some hours later state that breathing was even then perceptible.
SACKING OF A DRUG-STORE
Sated with blood, the rioters now turned their attention to plunder. A drug-store close by where
Colonel O'Brien lay was completely riddled by them, the doors and windows being smashed in
with clubs and stones. Women hovered upon the skirts of the crowd, and received the articles as
they were thrown or handed from the store. One fellow rushed out with a closely-packed valise,
which he opened in the street. The clothes and other things contained in it were eagerly seized
and contended for by boys and women standing around. There were a number of letters in it, and
some documents with seals, which were probably of value to the owner; but these were savagely
torn and trampled under foot by the disappointed plunderers. A woman sat upon the steps near by,
and read out portions of one of the letters amidst the jeers of her ribald
companions. Another passed me waving in triumph a large parchment
manuscript of many pages.
ATTACK UPON THE CLOTHING-STORE OF MESSRS. BROOKS BROTHERS
From the first of the riot clothing appeared to be a great desideratum among the roughs composing
the mob. On Monday evening a large number of marauders paid a visit to the extensive clothing-store of Messrs. Brooks Brothers, at the corner of
Catharine and Cherry streets. Here they helped themselves to such articles as they wanted, after
which they might be seen dispersing in all directions, laden with their ill-gotten booty.
THE GERMAN TAILORS
Away up in the Avenues the German tailors were sad sufferers, in consequence of the demand
for confiscable apparel. I saw an able-bodied ruffian emerging from a tailor's shop with the breast
of his shirt crammed full of pieces of dry-goods of all colors. His arms and shoulders were laden
with clothing. He had a new soft hat stuck upon the top of his greasy cap, while in one hand he
carried a "nest" of hats of assorted sizes, and a bunch of gorgeous, many-colored ties fluttered from his
arm as he ran. "Why did they riddle that shop?" I asked of a woman who was standing by. "Sure
the owner is a Jarman," was the reply. Here an Irishman of the non-combative type chimed in,
saying, "No, it wasn't that at all; it's becase the boys wanted the clothes. But it's a shame to stale
them, any how, and no good ever come of the likes." "Begorra that's thrue for you, Frank Tully,"
remarked his companion; and thereupon they both expressed themselves greatly in favor of virtue,
and opposed to the scenes of violence passing around us. On returning down the Avenue, a quarter of
an hour later, I recognized the virtuous Frank Tully and his friend, in an alley-way, busily engaged
in trying on some new trowsers, which did not look as if they had been just bought and paid for.
A GORILLA AT LARGE
During the entire withdrawal of the police and military from large districts of the city many
highway robberies must have been perpetrated. Coming down Third Avenue, I passed a group of young
rowdies who were amusing themselves with snapping their pistols. One threw his revolver high
into the air, and caught it by the barrel as it came down, bragging at the same time that it was both
loaded and cocked. A few steps further on I found myself face to face with a fearful-looking desperado, who came suddenly upon me round a corner.
"Hello me buck!" cried he; "don't be in a hurry, now. Hand over your cane; and fork out all
Fortunately he was somewhat drunk, and he grasped in his right hand a bundle of
"greenbacks," which seemed to embarrass him a little.
As he still pressed upon me, however, I turned to the young pistoliers, saying,
"Boys, here's a fellow wants to draft me; are we going to stand that?"
This created a diversion in my favor; and when I saw that the attention of the young rowdies was
attracted to the money in the desperado's hand I improved the opportunity and proceeded up a
bystreet, at an accelerated pace. Had I struck him with my stick, which was my first impulse, I
should most assuredly have fallen a victim to the blind fury of the young pistoliers. Probably the
right owner of the "greenbacks" fared much worse than I did, independent of the loss of his money.
THE DEAD SERGEANT
On Thursday there was a great deal of fighting going on between the military and the rioters, in
the neighborhood of Twentieth Street and First Avenue. Passing through Twenty-second Street,
I saw a dead sergeant lying on the sidewalk. From his uniform I judged that he belonged to the
Fourteenth New York Cavalry. He was killed by a bullet fired from one of the houses in the vicinity,
and then barbarously beaten and mangled by the mob. As he lay there, with a cloth thrown by
some decent person over his face, to hide his ghastly wounds, ill-looking women came now and then
to look at him, jesting over the unconscious remains, and pointing them out to their infant children with fiendish glee. The little boys amused
themselves by lifting up his hands, and then letting them fall to the ground with heavy "thud."
Others performed savage dances around the body, jumping round it, and over it, and even upon it.
Dropping shots were coming from the windows and roofs of houses not far distant, so that I did
not prolong my stay in that part of the city. It was any thing but safe ground. As I was
crossing a street not far below where the dead sergeant lay I heard the word "Fire!" and on turning round
saw that a platoon of soldiers were firing down the street right in the direction of where I stood. I
believe they were aiming high, to reach the windows of some distant houses, which accounts for
On page 484 we illustrate one of the severest fights which took place between the mob and the
troops on 16th inst., the
FIGHT IN SECOND AVENUE
This is faithfully described in the Times as follows: At five o'clock last evening intelligence was sent to
Police Head-quarters that the mob, between First and Second avenues, in the neighborhood of Twenty-ninth
Street, had renewed their operations in great force, and that they were robbing and plundering all the stores in
A military force was speedily sent to the spot; but when they arrived there they found the rioters were too strong
for them, and after contesting the field for half an hour they were ordered to withdraw. A sergeant who had
command of a portion of the military force was shot, and afterward most brutally beaten to death. His body lay
in the street for three hours. The military and police were powerless to suppress the mob, from the fact that
almost every house between First and Second avenues, in the vicinity of Twenty-second and Twenty-third streets,
was filled by assassins, and from all the windows and house-tops shots, stones, and brickbats were thrown with
great rapidity. Fifteen members of the Fifth Company, Seventh Regiment, are reported killed by stones and
The military force were compelled to withdraw until reinforced. At about nine o'clock Captain Putnam of the
United States Army, aided by Lieutenant Chase and Sergeant Greenman, with a force of Regulars of about 700
men, repaired to the scene. They drove the rioters from their hiding-places, took the body of the Sergeant away,
and soon after the scene of disturbance was transferred to Thirty-first Street and Second Avenue.
Here the battle was terrible. The insurgents had gained the windows and housetops of nearly all the buildings in
that vicinity. For a time they held control of the neighborhood. Muskets and pistols were fired by the mob upon
the military and citizens in the streets. Quite a number were injured, and two quiet and unoffending citizens are
known to have been killed by the rioters. Captain Putnam, in charge of the military, when all hope of stopping
the proceedings in any other way was gone, ordered his men to sweep the streets and then turn their fire on the
houses occupied by the rioters. The order was promptly obeyed, and eleven persons, all of whom were ringleaders
among the rioters, were shot dead. The stones and brickbats then flew thicker and faster among the soldiers.
The order was given to turn their fire upon the buildings. A volley was fired, and the returning echo brought
shots from guns and pistols discharged from all parts of the adjoining houses. All kinds of missiles were thrown, and
many soldiers were seriously injured thereby. An order then came to take all rioters in and upon the buildings.
The promptness with which this was obeyed did great credit to the soldiers.
The tenement houses, which were filled with rioters, were taken by storm. The resistance, of course, was
desperate, and the mob fought against the military for half an
hour with a fury and desperation worthy of a better cause.
At the end of that time the mob were overpowered and dispersed. Thirty-five of them were taken prisoners, and
at least half as many more were killed while resisting the officers.
Officers Putnam, Chase, and Greenman acted with the greatest coolness and decision throughout the whole affair,
and to them, and the brave soldiers under them, the credit is due of suppressing one of the most serious and vindictive
mobs which have prowled through our city for the last four days.
The rioters at twelve o'clock last night were in a quiet state. The prisoners taken were conveyed to Police
Headquarters, and the dead and wounded were properly cared for by the soldiers and police.
The triumph of the authorities over the lawless mob in Second Avenue last night was most decisive and complete.
|On March 3, 1863,
Congress passed the Enrollment Act which
authorized a military draft in the Union states.
It sparked intense opposition and spawned riots
across the North in the summer of 1863, with the
worst being in New York City. The Democratic
leadership in the city and state of New York,
including Governor Horatio Seymour, bitterly
denounced the draft.
Some of the
criticism was based on the belief that it was an
unconstitutional violation of civil liberties. The
bulk of the resistance, though, was grounded in
the racist revulsion against being forced to fight
in a war to free black slaves. Democratic
politicians and newspapers convinced their
constituents, including many Irish immigrants,
that emancipation meant that the freedmen would
move North to take their jobs and marry their