A Group Of New York Bootblacks At City Hall Park – July 1863
A group of eight bootblack boys line up near City Hall for this stereoview photograph.
Taken by the pioneering stereoview firm of E. & H.T. Anthony of 501 Broadway, the view is entitled, “Brigade Of De Shoe Black, City Hall Park.” There is no date attached to the photo, yet, the timing of this photograph is of historical significance. How do we know?
The fence behind the boys is covered with broadsheets advertising several theatrical productions.
From the information on the advertisements we can narrow down the date the photo is from. Continue reading
80 Years After The Civil War Ended, Confederate Ammunition Killed Two Soldiers
7 Strange Facts Concerning The Civil War
Tens of thousands of books have been written about the American Civil War. The book that I recently read was not a penetrating analysis of a battle or biography of a soldier. Rather it was a book containing some unusual stories about the Civil War. Well written and researched, I think a small portion of the book is worth sharing here.
In no particular order here are 7 quick stories from the book The Civil War Strange & Fascinating Facts by Burke Davis, Fairfax Press (1982) (previously published as Our Incredible Civil War, 1960): Continue reading
Confederate Civil War Veteran Walter Williams in 1954 At Age 111
Austin, TEX – March 28, – Sports Race Fans: 111-year-old confederate veteran Walter Williams and his wife, sprightly 84-year-old Ella Mae, were paraded past the stands today at the National Sports Car Races at Bergstrom Air Force base. He flew here from his home in East Texas but Mrs. Williams decided she would come by auto. Williams was made honorary commander for the day (AP Wirephoto) 1954
When Walter Williams died on December 19, 1959 at the reported age of 117, he was the last surviving veteran of the American Civil War (1861-1865).
Now if you have doubts that Walter Williams was really 117-years-old when he died, you are not alone. Scripps-Howard reporter Lowell Bridwell had his doubts and investigated Williams’ claim.
in September of 1959, Bridwell reported he could not find a shred of evidence corroborating Williams’ service or his age. On the contrary, Bridwell found evidence that Williams was younger than he said. Bridwell discovered there were no records at the National Archives showing that Williams had served in the Confederate Army. But In Williams home state of Mississippi, their war archives listed a Walter Washington Williams as serving in the army a a private.
Walter Williams said he had used several different middle initials when he was younger.
Williams claimed that he was born in 1842. The 1860 U.S. census shows that Williams was age 5 in 1860 meaning he was born in November 1854.
If Williams had joined the army at the end of the war in 1864-1865 he would have been nine-years-old. Continue reading
July 13, 1863 The Civil War Draft Riots Begin + Related Book Recommendations
“The Battle in Second Avenue” from John Shea’s 1886 book, The Story of a Great Nation
If you’ve watched Martin Scorcese’s 2002 film The Gangs of New York, you saw a vivid depiction of what the Civil War Draft Riots may have looked like. In reality the tumult was probably a lot worse than what was portrayed on the screen. It was the most violent civil disorder in 19th century American history.
Protesting the conscription act, mobs of citizens went on a multi-day rampage of killing and looting. The riots were quelled after four or five days. The estimated number of people killed was 105. The number of injuries was in the hundreds.
In a November 26, 1938 New Yorker story, journalist Meyer Berger wrote about combing through the original blotters at the West Forty-Seventh Street Police Station. Berger came across the station’s last riot related arrest which occurred on July 30, 1863. Fergus Brennan, 35 was charged with being a leader of the rioters. He was held on $2,000 bail by Justice Kelly.
There are several books which cover the draft riots in detail. Among the best are: July 1863 by Irving Werstein (Julian Messner, 1957); The New York City Draft Riots by Iver Bernstein (Oxford University Press, 1990); The Second Rebellion by James McCague (Dial Press, 1968); The Devil’s Own Work The Civil War Draft Riots of 1863 by Barnet Schecter (Walker & Co., 2006) and The Armies of the Streets: The New York City Draft Riots of 1863 by Adrian Cook (University of Kentucky, 1974).