The Last Chapter of the Gettysburg Campaign-New York City Riots
New York City Draft Riots occurred from July 11-13, 1863 and hundreds of people were injured or killed during during the confrontations. The riots were the result of several causes and it is interesting to note that these causes were very easy to understand. Irish immigrants were being drafted to fill the ranks of the Union Armies being depleted by causalties and illness. These immigrants were unhappy about being conscripted because they did not feel obligated to fight for the freedom of blacks who were then going to take the low wage jobs they were currently doing.
Blacks in New York were targeted and the city police force was not manned or equiped to protect them. The Colored Orphan Asylum was burned to the ground but no lives were lost. About 120 civilians and at least eleven black men were lynched during the riots. Because the New York Militia had been sent off to assist the Pennsylvania Militia at Gettysburg the police force was all that was available to protect the draft offices and the city. The Police Superintendent, John Alexander Kennedy, himself was severely beaten by the mob.
During the first day of rioting the First Battalion of the Invalid Corps under Provost Marshall General Robert Nugent was employed to suport the police. Again not enough to save the PT Barnum Museum and other buildings. The New York Times defended its building with a battery of Gatling Guns it had acquire for its own defense.
Five regiments of infantry were routed to New York from Gettysburg and by the end of the riots about 4000 Union soldiers with artillery were deployed to end the conflict. There was a belief that these riots were fomented by Confederate insurgents.
In all the riots were like all wartime battle zones. If you lost a loved one it was a tragedy for your family, otherwise it was another fast dissipating event, but this one was not to be forgotten as easily except that it occurred in the shadow of Gettysburg.