Friday, November 16, 2012
Part II According to Rhodes, in his "History of the United States," Vol. IV.
In New York, the most violent riot ever in the United States took place as citizens protested against Lincoln's political maneuver coupled with his initiation of the draft. On July 13, 1863, in New York City, a riot broke out and raged for 3 days in what historian Burke Davis called "the nearest
approach to revolution" during the entire war.
Mobs surged through the streets, burned buildings, and destroyed the drum from which the names of 1,200 New Yorkers had been drawn for military service. There were no soldiers to check the violence, due to the concentration of all available troops at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, so
policemen and militia units had to face the rioters alone.
The angry mob burned fine homes, business buildings, the draft office, a Methodist church, a Negro orphanage, and many other buildings. A Negro was hung, then burned as people danced around the burning body. More than thirty Negroes were killed - shot, hung, or trampled to death. It had been reported that Negroes were hung from the lamp posts along the streets. The mobs grew to an estimated strength of between 50,000 and 70,000.
For three days they swarmed through the streets, setting up barricades on First, Second, and Eighth Avenues, where sometimes a force of only 300 policemen would have to
face 10,000 attackers at a time. Some troops filtered into town, and the crowds took to alleys and rooftops where they killed soldiers with bricks and guns. The gangs caught the colonel of a militia unit, stomping and beating him to death. After dragging him to his home, men, women, and
children danced around his body. Eventually, enough troops arrived to put an end to the rioting. Casualties were heavy -nearly 2,000 people were dead from the melee.
Chaotic conditions in the North were in sharp contrast to those in the beleaguered Southland where one might have expected that the exigencies of war would necessitate curtailment of basic privileges, yet never was the
writ of habeas corpus suspended during the lifetime of the Confederate States of America. Many soldiers in the U.S. Army, especially in the Western theater, laid down their arms due to Lincoln's issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation. They refused to fight after finding that the federal government had implied that the war was, from that point, to be fought over the issue of slavery.