Foreign and Colonial NewsThe Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1215, p. 102.
August 1, 1863
The attempt to enforce the conscription in New York has either provoked, or been made the excuse for, formidable riots. That city was for three days in the hands of a mob, which commenced with stopping the draughting, destroying the building in which it was going on, and assaulting the officers. This was but the prelude. Houses were assailed, plundered, and fired; shops sacked; the streets filled with the denizens of the back slums; and the outbreak at last took the shape of an anti-abolitionist crusade, and a hunt for unarmed negroes, and the burning down of the Coloured Orphan Asylum. The outbreak ended with a thieves' carnival.
Balloting began on Saturday, the 11th ult., and during that day the names of more than 2000 conscripts were drawn. On the morning of the 13th a mob assembled in front of the Provost Marshal's office, broke into it, destroyed the ballot-boxes, and fired the building, which, with the adjoining houses, was completely destroyed, as the firemen refused to attempt to extinguish the flames. The mob, which is said to have consisted of about 15000, persons, composed mostly of the labouring population, infuriated women, and lads of seventeen downwards, and to have been headed by a Virginian named Andrews and some three hundred other leaders, afterwards dispersed in strong bodies throughout the city, and committed atrocious outrages. The rioters burned the Armoury, the Coloured Orphan Asylum, and many houses inhabited by obnoxious persons or by negroes. They sacked the office of the New York Tribune and fired the building, which was, however, saved from destruction by the firemen. They assailed all the negroes whom they found in the streets, and murdered some fifty unhappy blacks--one of whom they hanged and burned by a fire kindled beneath him. A party of the Provost's Guard fired on the mob, but were overpowered and horribly used; and many policemen were slain or maltreated--Superintendent Kennedy saving his life with difficulty. On the following day the riots were renewed, and all the shops were closed--business being completely suspended, cabs and omnibuses having ceased to ply, and the city telegraphs having been destroyed by the mob. More houses, including the Postmaster's, were burned, and the Mayor's dwelling was assailed. There were several encounters between the soldiery or militia and the rioters, and many lives were lost. The mob seized Colonel O'Brien and hanged him on a lamppost. The disturbances spread to Staten Island, and some negroes' houses were burned in Brooklyn; but few or no further murders of blacks were committed, as the negroes had fled from the city. On the 15th the riots continued, business was again suspended, and there were several fresh collisions between the troops and mob in the upper part of New York.
During these riots the authorities had not been idle; for they had summoned a special police, had called out the militia, and had brought a considerable body of troops from Baltimore, while Governor Seymour had declared the city and county of New York to be in a state of insurrection. But the diminution of the rioting on the 15th ult. seems to have been mainly due to a proclamation and speech of the Governor of the State of New York. In his proclamation, Governor Seymour declared that the only opposition to the conscription that would be allowed was an appeal to the Courts, and that he would suppress rioting by every means in his power. In his speech, however, he said that he had applied to the Federal Cabinet at Washington, and had urged the postponement of the draught. He added that the decision of the courts on the question of the legality of the draught must be obeyed if the draught were declared legal, but that he would use his influence to prevent inequality between rich and poor.
New York papers of the 18th state that the riots had almost entirely subsided on the previous day. The wards where the greatest excitement had prevailed were filled with large forces of military, who patrolled the streets entirely unmolested by the populace. Business went on almost as generally as before the unfortunate disturbances took place, and all the cars and stages performed their trips as usual. A number of regiments had arrived from different quarters, and the authorities did not apprehend any further disturbance.
The Republican press argue that the riots in New York are really part and parcel of the Southern rebellion, while the Democratic press assert the obnoxious conditions of the draught to be the sole cause. But Americans would gladly escape the principal blame of this disgraceful riot, and lay it on the Irish.
It is officially announced that the Government will sustain the enforcement of the draught with military force.
There has been resistance to the draught in Boston, but the disturbances were promptly suppressed.
In Philadelphia and Massachusetts the draught was proceeding quietly.
General Lee's army has repassed the Potomac into Virginia at Williamsport and Falling Waters; and the movement, which appears to have been completed on the 13th or 14th ult., was said to have been effected in good order, though the Federal forces captured two guns and 2000 prisoners, including an entire brigade of infantry, which may be presumed to have composed the Confederate rearguard. General Lee, when last heard of, was at Front Royal, making his way towards Richmond.
The Confederate General Morgan's "raid" into Indiana and Ohio had not terminated, and, after crossing the Indianopolis [sic] and Cincinnati Railway at a point thirty-five miles from Cincinnati, he had reached a place called Miamisville, only seventeen miles from that city.
In Tennessee General Rosencranz [i.e., Rosencrans] was still driving General Bragg before him, and had captured 4000 prisoners.
General Dodge officially reports that he routed the Confederates under Forrest and Biffles in the neighbourhood of Corinth.
The fall of Port Hudson has followed that of Vicksburg. The fortress surrendered unconditionally on the 8th ult. The number of prisoners will not exceed 7000--one informant places them at 6000. There had been no general engagement at Port Hudson for some days previous to the surrender, all having been quiet, excepting that artillery practice was kept up on both sides. Provisions had been short with the Confederates for some time, and, their communications having been cut off, they could not obtain more supplies. There were no hopes of succour from the forces known to be in the vicinity; hence there was no alternative but surrender or starvation.
Immediately after the surrender of Vicksburg General Sherman marched against General Johnston, and is said to have defeated him after a very sanguinary engagement.
A fresh attack on the defences of Charleston commenced on the 10th ult., and a landing having been effected on Morris Island, all the Confederate works on that island, with the single exception of Fort Wagner, were captured by the Federals. According to accounts of the 12th ult., the siege at Fort Wagner was progressing; and five ironclads and fifteen gunboats were engaged in battering and bombarding the Confederate defences.
A vessel that has arrived at Falmouth reports the capture and destruction of two fine North American vessels by Captain Semmes, of the Confederate cruiser Florida. One of the vessels is said to have had bar silver on board to the value of £20,000. The crews of the two vessels were put on board the ship that brought the news to Falmouth.
President Lincoln has ordered the 2nd of August to be set apart as a day of thanksgiving for victories so effective and signal as to furnish reasonable ground for augmented confidence that the Union and the Constitution will be preserved, and that peace and prosperity will be permanently maintained.
It is semi-officially announced that the question of peace has not come before the Washington Cabinet, no condition of affairs having yet existed rendering it necessary to entertain so important a position. The Cabinet is agreed that the best way to obtain peace is to prosecute the war vigorously.
Official correspondence between Mr. Stephens and President Davis shows that the proposed mission of Mr. Stephens to Washington had for its objects the establishment of a fresh cartel for the exchange of prisoners, and to place the war upon the footing of hostilities waged by modern civilised nations.
The United States' Circuit Court has reversed the decision of the Lower Court, condemning the barque Express, the Judge deciding
Page 103that a vessel may approach a blockaded port to ascertain the state of the blockade, provided that she does so in good faith.