War of the Rebellion: Serial 124 Page 0614 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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time these very fortifications ere the chief danger to the harbor of New York. One thousand men could have seized them all and have used their armaments for the destruction of its shipping and of the city itself. At the time that this riot took place I was engaged with Senator Morgan and Comptroller Robinson, of this State, on the subject of harbor defenses. I placed under the direction of General Wool the unorganized bodies of national volunteers still under my command, and I also ordered bodies of the militia from the interior of New York into the fortifications, to be under his control, and I made arrangements with him for their reception; but on the 12th instant, the day before the riot broke out, I was requested by General Wool to countermand my orders directing the militia to receipted to the harbor of New York. The reason for this, I understand, is that the rules of the service or the laws of the United States do not permit the War Department to accept of the services of troops for special or qualified purposes. The inability of the Government at that moment to defend its forts and public property, or to give any substantial assistance in putting down a riot while the militia of the city were supporting the national cause in another field, will best be shown by the following letter, which was communicated to my associates, Messrs. Morgan and Robinson, and too myself, the week before these outrages occurred:


New York City, June 30, 1863.


Governor of the State of New York:

SIR: Allow me to call your attention to the defenseless condition of this city. I have only 550 men to garrison eight forts. One- half of these cannot be called artillerists, being very imperfectly instructed in any part of artillery duty. The Roanoke is ordered to proceed to Hampton Roads, leaving no vessel of war in the harbor or at the depot that could be available in less than ten days. The militia of this city and Brooklyn have either been, or are being, sent to protect and defend Pennsylvania, who is now paying dear for her neglecting to take care of herself by guarding her frontier. Is it wise for New York to follow her example by neglecting to protect the city of New York, the great emporium of the country, and of more importance at the present moment to the Government than all other cities under its control? If I had a sufficient number of men to man our guns I might protect the city from ordinary ships of war, but not from iron- clad steamers. In our present condition, from want of men to man our guns, the Alabama or any other vessel of her class might without fear of injury enter our harbor and in a few hours destroy one hundred millions of property.

I have done all in my power to guard against the present condition of the city, but I have thus far been unsuccessful. I have called the attention of the mayor as well as others again and again to the defenseless condition of the city. The mayor can do but little, from the fact that the militia have been ordered to defend Pennsylvania. We ought to have one or two iron-clad steamers and several gunboats to guard the harbor. These, with men to man the guns of our forts, would be sufficient to protect and defend the city.

The company of artillery raised for the forts in this harbor, which I requested Your Excellency to turn over to me, has been sent to Pennsylvania. The condition of the city is an invitation to rebels to make the effort to assail it.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,



While this deplorable riot has brought disgrace upon the great city in which it occurred, it is due to the character of its population to say that they were able to put it down without aid from any other quarter; to save their city, and to rescue their own and the Government property from the violence of a mob, at a critical moment when they had sent their armed men to save the national capital from falling into