ACWS Historical Articles - Draft Riots
Report of General Charles W Sandford, Commanding 1st Division of the New York State National Guard, of operations between June 16 and July 16, 1863, while three of his Brigades were being used in the defence of Harrisburg. The rest were being used in the Draft riots in New York City.
SPECIAL ORDERS. HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE EAST,
New York, July 13, 1863.
All the troops called out for the protection of the city are placed under the command of Major-General Sandford, whose orders they will implicitly obey.
By command of Major-General Wool:
C. T. CHRISTENSEN, Assistant Adjutant-General
With the remnant of the division, and the first of these reinforcements from General Wool, detachments were sent to all parts of the city, and the rioters were everywhere beaten and dispersed.
The north and west sides of the city were effectually cleared of rioters by detachments sent by me from the arsenal. In Broadway, Forty-second, Twenty-seventh, Twenty-eighth, Twenty-ninth, Thirtieth, Thirty-first, and Thirty-second streets, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth avenues, mobs were attacked, and in every instance defeated or dispersed.
No blank cartridges were issued to or used by any of the troops under my orders. The gas-works, in Eighteenth and Nineteenth streets, and also upon the East River, Webb's shipyards, and the various manufactories threatened by the rioters, were fully protected, and numerous fires in buildings occupied by coloured people and others obnoxious to the mob, were extinguished by the firemen after the rioters were dispersed.
In these encounters, I regret to report that Major (Henry S.) Fearing, of my staff, was very seriously wounded while gallantly leading a charge upon the mob in Forty-second street, and 1 private soldier was killed, and 22 officers and men dangerously, and 53 slightly, wounded, at the storming of the barricades erected by the rioters in Twenty-ninth street, and in other conflicts which followed.
The whole of the force remaining with me at the arsenal was kept on duty day and night during the whole period, and twenty-six detachments, at different times, were sent out to disperse the rioters and protect private and public property.
This division has always been so organised as to be ready upon any emergency to effectually suppress all riots or insurrections, and the citizens of New York know that they can safely repose under its protection. The absence of the thirteen regiments above mentioned, and of six regiments of the division which volunteered for the war, alone gave temporary success to the rioters.
As soon as our regiments could be recalled, they returned to the city, and the rioters were then entirely dispersed, but most of the regiments were kept on duty during the residue of the month of July, and some of them until the middle of August.
On the 17th of August last, I received requisitions from the mayor of the city and the police commissioners, in apprehension of a riot on the renewal of the draft, which was appointed to take place in this city on the 19th of August last, requesting me to call out the First Division to aid the civil authorities in preserving the peace and suppressing any tumult, riot, or insurrection during the draft.
In pursuance of these requisitions, the whole division was called out, and stationed by regiments and detachments in various parts of the city, from the High Bridge to the Battery, and was kept on duty until the 5th of September, and a small detachment from each regiment until the 15th of September.
In consequence of this precaution, the draft proceeded without any interruption or breach of the peace.
A division parade took place on the 1st day of October last, by request of the common council of the city, for the purpose of uniting in the reception of Rear-Admiral Lesoffsky and his officers of the Russian fleet, upon their first visit to the harbour of New York.
In consequence of the large amount of duty performed by the division during the year, the usual division parade upon the 25th of November was omitted.
The ordinary inspection parades of the several regiments and brigades took place as usual, of which returns have been heretofore transmitted to your office.
I have the honour to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CHAS. W. SANDFORD, Major General.
Brig. Gen. JOHN T. SPRAGUE,
Adjutant-General, State of New York.
The above article first appeared in the ACWS Newsletter, October-December 1998