Illustrations of the Riots in New YorkThe Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1217, p. 169.
August 15, 1863
The Coloured Orphan Asylum.
The disturbances on Monday, July 13--the first day of the outbreak in New York--culminated in an outrage which fitly crowned the day's excesses. The Coloured Orphan Asylum, a large plain building situated in Fifth-avenue, was fired about five o'clock in the afternoon. The infuriated mob, eager for any outrage, were turned that way by the simple suggestion that the building was full of coloured children. A few policemen who attempted to make a stand were instantly overpowered, several being severely or fatally injured. While this was going on a few of the less evil-disposed gave notice to the inmates to quit the building. The sight of the helpless creatures stayed for a moment even the insensate mob; but the orphans were no sooner out than the work of demolition commenced. First the main building was gutted and then set on fire. While it was burning the large wing adjoining, used as a dormitory, was stripped inside and out. The fire-engines were there in great numbers, but were not permitted to work, except upon the adjacent buildings. Eyewitnesses of the dastardly outrage state that they saw scores of half-intoxicated Irishwomen, staggering along under burdens of bedding and clothing, shrieking as they reeled along, "Hooray for Jeff. Davis!" "Death to the Naygurs!"
A messenger brought information to the 7th Regiment armoury, at six o'clock on Wednesday evening, July 15, that the mob was in great strength in First-avenue, between Eighteenth and Nineteenth streets, apparently organising, preparatory to moving on a marauding expedition. Colonel Winslow, of the 5th Regiment (Duryea Zouaves), then in command at the armoury, immediately ordered a detachment of volunteers under arms. The locality abounds in tenement houses, where the class of persons live of which the mob is composed, and into these buildings the mass of the rioters took refuge on the appearance of the soldiers. From the roof and windows of every house the mob at once opened an attack, delivering a brisk and persistent fire upon the military of musketry and pistols as well as a volley of bricks and other missiles. To this assault the soldiers replied, and the howitzers raked the avenue up and down with canister, of which ten rounds were discharged. It is estimated that this fire killed as many as thirty persons, and the effect was a partial dispersion of the rioters, although some of the more bold among them lurked behind the corners of the buildings, whence they would sally out, discharge their guns, and again go to cover. The infantry force, meantime, although un-uniformed, and just enrolled for the emergency, stood gallantly up to the work, loading with rapidity and firing with precision at the rioters wherever they showed themselves--at window, or upon roof, or at the street corners. The mob in this instance, however, clearly had the small force of soldiers at an advantage. Colonel Winslow had not men enough to make a charge upon the buildings, and as many as ten of his little command, after twenty minutes' fighting, had already fallen, several of them being killed outright. He reluctantly, therefore, ordered a retreat, which was conducted with veteran coolness, not withstanding the fact that, as the soldiers marched through Nineteenth-street, they were followed for some distance by the howling mob, who were left masters of the field.