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Friday, July 14, 2017

Perhaps We Should Riot More

Apparently New Yorkers--and the Irish--didn't like the idea of being drafted in 1863.  According to the report of Captain Jenkins to Colonel Fry (July 13):

My headquarters are destroyed, and the draft in the ninth district of this State is temporarily suspended. My lists, & c., are, I think, preserved in the safe.
...
Colonel Nugent sent me a verbal message he rarely sends one in writing that if a disturbance should be made, I must suspend the draft and send for a guard. This was equivalent to directing me to take care of myself. I then asked the captain of police to give me all the force at his command, which he did, and at 10 oclock precisely I commenced to draft.
...
I heard shouts, They are coming, and the like. Instantly the windows and front of the house were broken in by paving stones. I stepped forward, but was borne back by the mass, and pushed through theback door into the back yard, and took refuge in the next building. The mob immediately took possession of the premises and set fire to them. What is the present condition of things I cannot say. I trust my papers are safe...

The city ought to be placed under martial law, with General Harvey Brown or Benjamin F. Butler as military commandant.

Message from General Wool to General-in-Chief Halleck (July 17):

I think we shall put down the riot in this city in the course of this day. We had a brush with them last night, and they were dispersed. In searching their houses, we found 70 carbines, revolv- ers, & c., and barrels of paving stones. The numbers of the rioters are very great, but scattered about in different parts of the city, where they plunder houses whenever the opportunity offers, in the absence of troops.
The several regiments which arrived yesterday afternoon and evening will, I trust, enable us to crush all these parties in the course of this day.

You'll remember Wool's being passive-aggressive after Gettysburg.  His report by to Secretary of State Stanton (July 20):

In order that you may correctly understand the course pursued to check the rioters who commenced their opposition to law, and began their depredations in this city on the 13th instant, and at one time by their killing persons, pulling down and firing buildings to such an extent as to cause many to apprehend a general conflagra- tion, I have the honor to present the following report:

The cause ascribed for this riot has been the attempt on the part of the assistant provost-marshals to make the draft on that day at the various offices in the city. The operations of enrolling and draft- ing under the conscript act have been independent of the military commander of the department, and almost entirely under the control of the Provost-Marshal-General.

On Monday morning, 13th instant, hearing of some disturbance in the upper part of this city, I saw Colonel Nugent, provost-marshal of this city, and called his attention to the subject, when he informed me that the police of the city had already attended to it, and he required no other assistance; that the trouble had already subsided, and that I need give myself no further uneasiness on the subject. I then proceeded to transact important business at the lower part of the city, after completing which, on returning to my headquarters, I was informed that the mayor wished to see me on business of moment. I called upon him, when he informed me that a serious riot existed in some of the upper wards of the city, and asked me for assistance to quell it, saying that nearly all the militia force of the city had been sent to Harrisburg, to defend Pennsylvania from the rebel invasion.

From his representations of the imminent danger, not only in regard to the threatened destruction of property and lives of citizens, but also of the property of the United States, which was very large, and required immediate protection, and believing that to protect the public property from destruction it was necessary to put down tIme rioters, I immediately complied with the request of the mayor...

The militia that could be assembled by Major-General Sandford were posted by him in the upper part of the city, at the State Arsenal and in its vicinity, ready to act there, or at any other point of danger. Upon the call of the Governor, the mayor, and myself, the veteran volunteers in the city (officers and privates), who had been mustered out of service, as well as many citizens, volunteered their services promptly, and, organizing themselves, needed only to be furnished with arms andammunition; and, as soon as furnished, they were put in positions to act efficiently, not only in defending property, but likewise in putting down the rioters.

The city police force, from the beginning, under the able chief com- missioner, superintendent, and other officers of its organization, dis- played throughout the whole riot not only a willingness, but very great efficiency in their noble exertions to quell the riot. For this. and their harmonions co-operation with the troops engaged in the same cause, they deserve the warmest thanks of every lover of law and order, and my high commendation for their whole conduct on this trying occasion.

Turns out, it was all the fault of the Irish and Germans, at least according to this letter to Seward:

We, of Brooklyn, have been saved from the mob for the present by the prompt action of the citizens forming in military companies and squads, and showing a bold front to the murderers. The Irish were ripe for revolt, and many Germans and dastardly Americans were encouraging them, and marking prominent Republicans for slaughter, but as the mob in New York gradually developed its disposition for indiscriminate pillage, American Democrats and even Copperheads began to join our ranks, not to enforce the draft (as they are all, opposed to that), but to resist the mob and save their property. So that self-interest made them patriotic for once.

We (the Republicans) accepted the new issue at once, and welcomed our new allies to the ranks and to the drill, and the very men who for years have been telling us that we ought to be hung for our opinions, and who worked that idea into the minds of the barbarian Irish until they were ready to slaughter us, are now joined hand in hand with us, and God help the Irish now, if they raise their murderous hands in Brooklyn.

And that is not all; retaliation may be the order of the day ere long. There is a limit to the patience even of Republicans; the time may come when patience will cease to be a virtue, and I for one confess that I am very nearly at that state of mind.

You men in high places may philosophically receive the abuse of a vile and hireling press, knowing that it only serves to bring you into notice and strengthen you with all good people, but we of the rank and file, who elect Presidents and Senators and Representatives, we, I say, must receive the hootings, the slander, the malice, and brutality of the vile mob, and now we are marked for slaughter in every ward and village in the North, but more particularly in New York and Brooklyn.

Do you suppose that we are to bear this much longer? Give us, then, what every good man here prays for; give us, I say, Butler and martial law. If you men in power fail to rise to the true standard, and take the responsibility of protecting us, who have made you, in our homes and firesides we may some day act for ourselves. Then we will cut the hearts out of these murderers and Copperheads, who have been so long instigating the mob to murder us.

And this this from Theodore Spencer, son of the late Chief Justice of New York's Supreme Court: 

Allow me to make a suggestion relative to the present threatening aspect of affairs in this and other Northern States. The bloodthirsty ruffians and thieves who are pillaging, murdering, firing, and stealing in the city of New Xork, are doing more mischief by their example in other places than by their devastations in New York.

Almost everywhere meetings of Germans and Irish are being held to concoct measures to resist the draft, and the evil threatens to become spread over the whole country outside of the New England States. In the meetings just held by them in this city, no opposition to the draft, if conducted according to what they considered to be the principles of justice and equity, was expressed.

The offensive feature was declared to be the privilege allowed to the rich to escape military service by the payment of the $300; a feature, they said, which was introduced into the conscription act expressly to relieve such persons, and which made even members of Congress willing to expose themselves to the draft, intending both to make a show of patriotism and to relieve themselves from it, if drafted.

Of course, it is in vain to reason with men whose interests are so deeply involved, and who are unable to pay any sum, and it is clear that the authority of the Government must be maintained; for to yield to the opposition will be to destroy the confidence of the world in the stability of our institutions, and to succumb to this Copperhead device will be to ruin the Administration.

Still, it's possible that Obama caused this somehow....

ntodd

July 14, 2017 | Permalink

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