The Home Front: 1861 to 1865

The Military Draft

When did the first soldiers arrive?

They came on Thursday afternoon, July 15, and were greeted like saviors by the people of New York City. The mob had defied, and sometimes beaten, the Metropolitan Police and the local militia, but it could not confront men who had just come from the killing fields at Gettysburg. The crowds subsided on Friday, and the entire city started to breathe a little easier. To say that business returned as usual on Monday morning would be an enormous contraversion of the facts, however.

Dozens of buildings had been destroyed entirely. Dozens, perhaps scores, of others bore quiet testimony to the rioters’ fury. The official death toll came to 117 persons, and almost twice as many wounded, but most scholars who have studied the event believe that it was considerably more, that as many as five hundred persons may have been killed during those terrible days in July 1863. It was, quite simply, the worst urban uprising in American history.


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