Thursday, August 1, 2013

July 19, 1863

July 19, 1863

---New York Draft Riots – The principal part of the crisis is apparently over, but New York is left in chaos and wholesalw destruction.  Over $1,500,000.00 worth of private property was destroyed.  Conservative estimates place the deaths at over a thousand. 

---George Templeton Strong, who observed the riots as closely and personally as anyone could, offers this shocked assessment, and a surprisingly virulent tirade against the Irish:
Not half of this memorable week has been written.  I could put down pages of incidents that the newspapers have omitted, any one of which in ordinary times be the town’s talk.  Men and ladies attacked and plundered by daylight in the streets; private houses suddenly invaded by gangs of a dozen ruffians and sacked, while the women and children run off for their lives.  Then there is the unspeakable infamy of the nigger persecution.  They are the most peacable, sober, and inoffensive of our poor, and the outrages they have suffered during this last week are less excusable---are founded on worse pretext and less provocation---than St. Bartholomew’s or the Jew-hunting of the Middle Ages.  This is a nice town to call itself a centre of civilization!  Life and personal property less safe than in Tipperary, and the “people” (as the Herald calls them) burning orphan asylums and conducting a massacre.  How this infernal slavery system has corrupted our blood, North as well as South! . . . 
I am sorry to find that England is right about the lower class of Irish.  They are brutal, base, cruel, cowards, and as insolent as base.  Choate (at the Union League Club) tells me he heard this proposition put forth by one . . . with a knot of his brethren last Monday: “Sure and if them dam Dutch would jine us we’d drive the dam Yankees out of New York entirely!”  These caitiffs have a trick, I hear, of posting themselves at the window of a tenement house with a musket, while a woman with a baby in her arms squats at their feet.  Paddy fires on the police and instantly squats to reload, while Mrs. Paddy rises and looks out.  Of course, one can’t fire at a window where there is a woman with a child!!  But how is one to deal with women who assemble around the lamp-post to which a Negro had been hanged and cut off certain parts of his body to keep as souvenirs?  Have they any womanly privilege, immunity, or sanctity? 
No wonder St. Patrick drove all the venomous vermin out of Ireland!  Its biped mammalia supply that island its full average share of creatures that crawl and eat dirt and poison every community they infest.  Vipers were superfluous.  But my own theory is that St. Patrick’s campaign against the snakes is a Popish delusion.  They perished of biting the Irish people.

---Battle of Buffington Island, Ohio – Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s plan is to cross the Ohio into West Virginia, and then to cut across to Pennsylvania and join Lee there.  It is a grandiose plan, and when Morgan discovers that Lee has already been beaten, he alters the plan, and attempts to cross at Pomeroy.  There, on the 18th, he finds Federal troops and gunboats in the river, so the Rebel troopers head 20 miles east to Buffington Island.  Facing him here are three U.S. Navy gunboats under Lt. Cmdr Leroy Fitch.  Behind him are two columns of Federal cavalry under Judah and Hobson, who have the Rebels more or less bottled up in that bend of the Ohio River.  Fitch begins the fight by shelling Morgan’s field artillery.  Judah attacks, and is driven back, and then Hobson attacks, with some success.  Soon, the Rebel line is formed into a right angle, each face to fend off the now-coordinated attack of both Judah and Hobson.  Col. Basil Duke is in command of the 700 Rebels left, as Morgan and 1,100 of his remaining riders move swiftly up a riverside path.  Duke and the rest try to cross the Ohio, but the naval gunboats rake the roads at the crossing with grape and canister.  Basil Duke surrenders his 700 men, and Morgan escapes north.  Thus ends the only Civil War battle fought in Ohio.  Union Victory.  The Federals lose 25 killed and a larger number wounded.  The Rebels lose 52 killed, over 100 wounded, and 750 captures.

Site of the Battle of Buffington Island, showing the dispositions of U.S. Naval vessels

---This evening, Morgan and his subordinate, Col. “Stovepipe” Johnson, attend to swim their riders across the Ohio River into West Virginia.  Stovepipe Johnson makes it with 300 men, but when Morgan and the remaining 750 try, the USS Moose under Fitch steams into view.  Morgan goes back to the Ohio shore, and rides on north.

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