DARC Ethiophile Chronicles
On this day
July 13, 1863 was the Bloodiest Race Riot in History. Hostility to draft and fear of Blacks, "the cause" of the war and potential competitors in the labor market, led to "New York Draft Riots," one of the bloodiest race riots in American history. Mobs swept through streets, murdered Blacks and hanged them on lamp posts. On the Monday morning of July 13, 1863, the "Enrollment Act" (mandatory draft) takes effect, with exemption for the wealthy, which led to summer draft riots in New York and other major northern cities (Newark & Jersey City, New Jersey; Toledo, Ohio; Evansville, Illinois and Boston, Massachusetts). In New York City, earlier in the month the Provost Marshal for New York, Captain Joel B. Erhardt, orders some able-bodied men that are erecting a building to report for the draft. They attack him with crow bars and force him to flee. Registration and drafting had begun peaceably earlier in the month at the Provost Marshal's Office, but on this date thousands of workers do not report for work. Mobs armed with clubs, knives and other weapons converge on draft headquarters.
As they converge, they are joined by thousands of men and women who leave work. Telegraph poles are knocked down to disrupt communications. The police are swept aside and the draft headquarters building is set on fire. The mob goes wild, resulting in burning of a Black orphanage, lynching, 3,000 Blacks homeless, between 1,500 and 2,000 civilians dead (many of them Black) and at least 8000 wounded or maimed for life by a mob of at least 50,000. With the police overwhelmed and the mayor's house under guard, Colonel Fry brings over 100,000 regular troops to New York City, including the entire 8th Indiana Infantry Regiment from Gettysburg, to quell the riot in New York.
One mob assaults a platoon of soldiers and forces them to take cover in a foundry. Reinforcements rescue them by routing the mob with fixed bayonets. The mobs begin smashing and looting stores. Soldiers who fall victim to musket fire from the rooftops pursue them. Howitzers are rushed up and fired into the mob. Eleven of the ringleaders are killed. Troops battle in hand-to-hand combat in stairwells and on rooftops. One out of every five Black New Yorkers moves away after the riot. Following the riot, not one Black worker showed up for work on New York's docks. Of the hundreds arrested, only 19 are convicted for their roles in the riot.