150th Anniversary Of The New York City Draft Riots

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

“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).

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5 thoughts on “150th Anniversary Of The New York City Draft Riots

  1. penelope agramonte

    I love your blog! The pictures and the history, I cannot say thank you enough. Please keep up the good work, the city’s history is fascinating and I for one am very interested! Thank You

    1. B.P. Post author

      Hi Penelope
      It is I who thank you. I really appreciate your kind words. It means a lot to me to hear back that there are people like you who care and are willing to tell me.

  2. R Young

    I love your web site. I read B.P.’s “intro” about who the site was made for. Me. Thanks!!!! Really though… I love trivia and want to et you know that your hard work on keeping this site up is definitely appreciated. This is great.

    1. B.P. Post author

      Thank you for those kind words. Sometimes I feel no one really understands the site, it takes up too much time, and I say “what’s the point in continuing to do it?” Your note makes a big difference. Really. Thanks again.


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