Wednesday, July 17, 2013

NY Draft Riots - The Police Save the Mayor's House

Further confirmation of the riot and its proportions meantime had reached headquarters, and the men were being rapidly organized, formed into companies, and put under different commanders. About 4 P. M. word was received that Mayor Opdtke's house, in Fifth Avenue, was being attacked. Inspector Carpenter at once took command of a force of two hundred. Before leaving he addressed his men, telling them they " had to meet and to put down a mob ; to take no prisoners ; to strike quick and strike hard."

A speedy march was taken to and up Broadway, and when the force reached Bond Street a body of rioters was seen marching down and near to Amity. They bore a huge board banner, inscribed " No Draft," and desecrated the American flag by bearing it in their midst. The two forces sighted each other unexpectedly. The rioters, fresh from the attempted sacking of Mayor Opdyke's house, had marched from Fourteenth Street down Broadway, armed with clubs, pitchforks, iron bars, swords, and many with guns and pistols. Every colored man they met had been abused and mercilessly beaten. Terror seized pedestrians and' storekeepers ; the former hurried out of the way ; the latter hastily closed and barred doors and windows. Vehicles turned to the right and left, and to a thousand vile-visaged and lawless men the undisputed right of way was surrendered. The intention of this gang, openly avowed,, was to enter the Lafarge House, where colored servants were employed, and do havoc to them and it.

Most fortunately, police protection was at hand. Quick as thought, on the first glimpse of them, Inspector Carpenter gave the successive orders, just in front of the La-Farge, " By the right flank ! Company, front ! Double quick, charge !" and, with upraised clubs, in splendid order did they obey. Inspector Carpenter, with reckless but characteristic courage, was far ahead of his \ command, and, for a moment, among the mob single and alone. He had the first blow, drew the first blood, selecting for his victim a powerfully built ruffian, defiantly brandishing his club ; a terrific blow upon his head from the Inspector, and he was left to the attention of others, while Mr. Carpenter, with the men now beside him, went in for a literal fulfillment of his order on leaving headquarters.

The mob, bewildered at the sudden meeting, staggered at the outset by the determined onset of the police, were unable to rally for effective fight. The clubs flew rapidly and surely upon devoted heads, a score lay prostrate upon the street, two were killed, the " No Draft " banner captured and destroyed, and the " Stars and Stripes " made prize of and carried in the ranks of those who, by word or deed, would never dishonor them. In five minutes the victory was complete, and the ruffians, save those who lay in the streets, dispersed in all directions, leaving strewn around weapons, villainous and of all descriptions. The contest was witnessed by thousands, cheers greeted the police on their charge, and after the fight they were renewed with double earnestness.

 This was the first regular fight with the mob. The force did not know how many they were meeting, nor did they care ; and nobly was their courage vindicated. Inspector Carpenter incurred a risk for which he might have paid the penalty of his life, and it is wonderful he did not ; but he escaped uninjured, and left record on heads and bodies which will be long borne and remembered. Immediately reforming his men, and cool as though naught had happened, he marched to the Mayor's house, Fifth Avenue ; but finding all quiet, returned to headquarters. Reports of the fight on Broadway had reached there, and, on the appearance of himself and force with the captured flag, they were greeted with enthusiastic cheers.

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