could be found were destroyed, and the building itself was set on fire.
Police Superintendent Kennedy
, who was driving across the town on a tour of inspection, observed the flames, and leaving his wagon at the corner of Forty-sixth and Lexington avenue, proceeded unsuspiciously and unarmed on foot to the scene of the disturbance.
Although not in uniform he was recognized.
In an instant he was set upon and beaten so brutally that when, after a race for life of several blocks, he was happily rescued from his pursuers and carried in a market wagon to the police headquarters in Mulberry street, his colleagues failed to recognize him. He was the first person assaulted in the riot.
Police Commissioner Acton
immediately realized the situation.
He assumed command, and dispatching what police were available (forty-four in number) to the scene of the riot, telegraphed to each of the thirty-two precincts covered by the Metropolitan police for the whole reserve force to be concentrated at the headquarters.
This wise step was taken just in time, for soon afterward the rioters had cut down the telegraph poles and destroyed all communication between the headquarters and the upper precincts of the city.
A futile effort had meanwhile been made to subdue the rioters in Third avenue by a force of between forty and fifty invalid soldiers, who were ordered to the aid of the deputy provost marshal from the Park barracks
These soldiers held the key of the situation in their hands.
The mob up to this period was entirely without definite organization, and destitute of leaders, and was wholly incapable of maintaining its ground against a resolute attack of disciplined troops.
But either through a mistaken sense of their own superiority, or a misguided disposition to leniency, the soldiers contented themselves with firing a harmless volley over the heads of the rioters.
The latter, who a moment before were wavering, saw their opportunity immediately.
They rushed upon the soldiers, wrested from them their yet unloaded weapons, and drove them in wild confusion down the avenue.
Two of the soldiers were beaten down, and left for dead on the pavement.
Others would doubtless have suffered a similar fate, had they not fortunately encountered in their flight the police force sent by Commissioner Acton
The mob, having tasted blood after receiving its baptism of fire, was by this time worked up into a state of uncontrollable frenzy.
Brandishing clubs and muskets above their heads, and yelling, and shouting, they rushed down the avenue like a torrent.
, who commanded the police, expecting speedy reinforcements, deployed his men in line across the street, and, as the head of the disorderly column approached, he ordered a charge.