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[286]

The draft riots in New York.

Major T. P. M Elrath.
The story of the New York draft riots of 1863 has been related with more or less completeness by every historian of the civil war. No thoroughly accurate account, however, has yet been published. The chroniclers appear to have confined their researches to surface events, and have been either ignorant of the true circumstances attending the suppression of the riots, or desirous of keeping those circumstances concealed. At that particular juncture a large portion of the city's militia force was absent at the seat of war, a fact which gave rise to the opinion that the riots had been previously planned instead of being, as it really was, a sudden and spontaneous insurrection. Through the same cause, also, the civil authorities were crippled, and the task of restoring order was thrown into the hands of the few Federal troops then stationed in the vicinity of New York. It is probable that the city was a gainer in the end by this state of things, which in the outset appeared so unfortunate. The interference which the regular troops encountered at the hands of the State officers-growing out of the jealousy of the local militia commander-doubled the period of the rioters' triumph, and coupled with his inefficiency throughout, suggests forcibly what might have been the consequence, had he been in absolute command.

Early in the summer it had been announced from Washington that a compulsory addition was to be made to the armies in the field by means of a general conscription. The quota of the city of New York was fixed at 12,500, and that of Brooklyn at 5,000. Colonel Robert Nugent, of the Sixty-ninth New York Volunteers--a captain

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