Our Police Protectors
History of New York Police
Chapter 8, Part 2

By Holice and Debbie


Just as these forces were defeated, Sergeant McCredie, of the Fifteenth, arrived at Forty-third Street and Third Avenue with his fourteen men. He was joined by ten men from the Twenty-eighth, under Sergeant Wolfe, and by the scattered men from the other precincts, until his force embraced altogether forty-four stout locusts. With this force, small as it was, McCredie--who was deservedly christened by his comrades "Fighting Mac"--began a furious onslaught on the rabble that filled the avenue. He met with an obstinate resistance; but discipline and courage enabled him and his gallant boys to forced their way to Forty-sixth Street, where they hoped Captain Porter and his me still held their ground. Disappointed in this expectation, the little storming party found itself hemmed in on all sides by masses of infuriated men. Stones rained in on them. Their charges were fiercely resisted. Of the fourteen men from the fifteenth station, nine were badly wounded before the force was dispersed. Officer Bennett was knocked down three times before he ceased fighting. The last time, he lay senseless. In this condition, he was stripped to his drawers, and savagely beaten. At last his seemingly dead body was taken by strangers to St. Luke's Hospital, and laid in the dead-house. His grief-stricken wife, coming to claim the supposed remains, fell on them in a transport of grief. But in a moment she sprang to her feet, almost delirious with joy. Her husband's heart still beat. Restoratives were used, and Bennett recovered, though only after three days in insensibility, and a long illness.

Officer Travis, of the same precinct, was also taken to St. Luke's. In trying to escape the crowd he was confronted by a fellow with a pistol. He captured the weapon, but before he could use it, was knocked down and beaten almost to a jelly. His jaw and right have were broken. The mob stripped him naked before they left him. Officer Phillips had a terrible run for life. He disarmed a rioter of a musket, but had not time to use it. he was stabbed twice with a knife by a woman, and would have been killed but for the interference of some citizens who appeared to have influence with the mob. His life was saved by a young German woman, who hid him between two mattresses while the rioters searched her house from roof to cellar. Officer Sutherland was knocked down with a brick and beaten insensible. Officers Mingay, Broughton and Gabriel were very badly beaten, and Officer Terence Kiernan, after terrible usage, only escaped with his life through the intercession of Mrs. Eagan, whose husband had helped to save Superintendent Kennedy. The off platoon of the Fifteenth Precinct, under Roundsman Thacher, was sent to reinforce McCredie, but arrived only in time to be roughly handled. Officer Bodine was beaten insensible and stripped, Officer Gibbs was left for dead in the street. Officers Foster and Didway were shockingly mangled.

In this fight the men of the Twenty-eighth also suffered severely. Sergeant Wolfe, who was the last to retreat, was cut about the head; Officer Seibert had an arm, and Officer Holley a finger broken; Officers Dapke, Polhamus, Bryan, Bassford, Knight, and Bolman were more or less badly beaten.

These were not the only collisions between bodies of Police and the Forty-sixth Street mobs. A force had been ordered to the scene from the eighteenth Precinct, Sergeant Vosburgh in command. It was unable to effect a junction with Captain Porter, and after a brief, but courageous straggle, was forced to retreat. Officer Wynne was severely beaten and stabbed; Officers Larne and Sanderson were beaten and had their clothes nearly torn off. The thirteenth's boys had a similar experience. At noon, Captain Thomas Steers, with Sergeants Bird and smith and twenty-five men, started to the aid of Captain Porter. They got as far as Thirty-fifth Street, but could penetrate no further through the turbulent crowd. They therefore retired to the Twenty-first precinct station house, then in East Thirty-first Street, where Sergeant Forshay was in command. The rioters had been threatening to destroy the building, but decamped, afraid to encounter the increased force brought by Captain Steers.

Having thus defeated the Police in detail, the mob dispersed itself over the city, plundering and burning in all directions, and above all, committing frightful atrocities on negroes wherever they were found. Some of the cooker scoundrels among the insurrectionists saw that for any lasting success, arms were absolutely necessary. To secure them, a portion of the mob, about half-past one o'clock, gathered about the large gun factory at Twenty-first Street and Second Avenue, where a great quantity of arms was known to be in storage. This movement had been anticipated. Early in the afternoon, Sergeant Banfield, with a squad, had, by order of Captain John Cameron, of the Eighteenth Precinct, taken possession of the building. Later on they were relieved by the Broadway Squad of thirty-two men under Sergeant Burdick, and Roundsmen Ferris and Sherwood. The men reached the factory singly or in pairs, escaping the notice of the rioters, who, as three o'clock approached, had swelled to thousands in number. Every Policeman was armed with a carbine, and stationed at a window.

At last the battle began. A whirlwind of stones, bricks and bullets was launched against the doors and windows. The defenders dared not show themselves. The fire of the mob was not returned. Then an effort was made to burn the building, but without success, and the attack was renewed with greater fury than ever. Presently one of the rioters assailed the office door with a sledge-hammer. His compatriots awaited the result of his efforts, and at last a panel went crashing in. The man stooped to crawl into the aperture, when the single report of a carbine was heard, and he fell back with a bullet through his skull. The rioters hesitated, but only for a moment. The attack was once again renewed, and Sergeant Burdick sent to Captain Cameron for aid. He was told that none could be afforded. "Then I cannot hold the factory," he send word. "Draw off your men," was the response. These messages were carried by Sergeant Buckman, of the Eighteenth, in disguise, and at great risk.

The mob had now been held in check almost four hours, but longer resistance was impossible. The only means of retreat, however, which was not cut off, lay through a hole in the rear wall of the building, twelve by eighteen inches in size, and eighteen feet from the ground. Through this they squeezed their way, gaining the street through a stone yard. They had hardly got clear of the factory when the rioters gained access to it. subsequently they had to escape from the Eighteenth Precinct station house in plainclothes. They did picket duty about the Central Office all Monday night.

So far, we have found the mob victorious at every point. There is now to be a complete change, and from this time forward, the Police, aided by the military, will be found inflicting a series of crushing defeats on the disturbers of the public peace. The first of these were inflicted by a force of two hundred men, under Inspector Daniel Carpenter, at the corner of Broadway and Amity Street. The telegrams sent to all the precincts ordering the concentration of the entire Police force at headquarters, by three o'clock, caused a considerable number of men to muster there.

Telegrams were not pouring in announcing deeds of destruction in every quarter. Buildings on Broadway and Lexington Avenue were being sacked and burned; Police stations were besieged, and, despite the efforts of Fire Chief Decker and his men, the colored orphan Asylum, on Fifth Avenue, was wrecked and burned, the poor little inmates escaping with their lives by a back way.

Towards four o'clock it was announced that a vast crowd was coming down Broadway to attack Police Headquarters. This was the moment for action. Drill Officer T. s. Copeland, from the available forces, quickly organized a band of two hundred men, which he himself joined as second in command to Inspector Carpenter. There were included details from the First, Seventh, Eighth, fourteenth, Fifteenth and Twenty-seventh precincts. Carpenter made his men a brief speech. "We are going to pub down a mob," he said; "take nor prisoners, but strike quick and hard." Then the force marched up Broadway. The rioters were met near amity Street. They bore a national ensign, and a standard of plants with the words "No Draft." They were armed with clubs, pitchforks, crowbars, swords, guns, and pistols.

In a minute the opposing bodies stood but a few feet apart.

"By the right flank, company front, double quick, charge!" shouted

Carpenter, and in a moment he and his men were upon the lawbreakers. He drew the first blood, fracturing the skull of a ringleader. His men obeyed his orders literally, striking quick and hard on all sides. The crowd wavered, broke, and in a moment fled, leaving their banners in the hands of the Police, and the pavement strewn with their wounded and dying comrades. The Police marched onto Mayor Opdyke's house on fifth Avenue, which had been threatened, but finding all quiet, marched back to Headquarters. The Amity Street battle decided the fortunes of the city. After it, the defeat of the rioters was only a question of time and hard fighting. It was demonstrated that they could not stand up before regular discipline. Among those who won distinction in the fight were Roundsmen Connor of the First; Sergeants McConnell and Garland of the Seventh; Sergeants Wade and O'Connor of the Eighth; Sergeant Mackey of the Fourteenth; Sergeant Roe and Officer Barhebt of the Fifteenth--both of whom captured ringleaders in the riot; and Sergeant Bennett and Officers Doyle, Thompson and Rhodes of the Twenty-seventh. Doyle knocked down the rioters' standard-bearer, and Thompson captured the National flag from their hands.

Carpenter, after the Amity Street battle, took a very short rest. Shortly before eight o'clock Sergeant Copeland organized another battalion of two hundred men, including one hundred men of the Brooklyn Police--then a part of the Metropolitan force--under inspector John s. Folk. With this body, Inspector Carpenter started to the relief of the "Tribune" building, which had been threatened all day and was finally attacked by the rioters, whose wrath was especially virulent against Horace Greeley, as an abolitionist and advocate of the war. All day a dangerous looking crowd loitered about Printing House Square. To provide against emergencies, all the newspaper offices were supplied with arms from the Islands by the Steamboat Squad, Patrolmen Blackwell seeing to the safe delivery thereof with great prudence and judgment. All day Captain Thomas W. Thorne, of the Twenty-sixth Precinct, or City Hall Police, kept five of his men in citizens' dress in the crowd to watch its intentions. Captain Bryan of the Fourth, with his Sergeants, Rode and Williams, and only half his men, had had his hands full all day rescuing people from gangs of ruffians, and protecting their property, but towards evening he assigned Sergeant Williams, Roundsman Webb, and four officers, to detective duty about the newspaper offices.

About seven o'clock there was a good deal of rioting in the First Ward, and the First Precinct Police and those of the Twenty-sixth, under Captain Warlow, started to quell it. Sergeant cherry and McCleary, of the First, ran ahead of the main body, and, falling in with a mob in New Street, were severely beaten. The rioting was speedily suppressed, however, when the main force came up, and the Police were leisurely returning towards the City Hall, when, in front of the old post-office on Nassau Street, they were informed that the "Tribune" office was being sacked. They approached the scene on a run, and reached it simultaneously with a platoon under Captain Bryan from the Fourth. Sergeant Snodgrass of the Second Precinct had also, by mingling in the crowd, learned of the premeditated attack in time to joint he other Police parties with the reserve of the Second. He was accompanied by Sergeants Esterbrook and Cornwell, Sergeants Kelly who had been out on guard all day, remaining in charge of the station.

The several bodies of Police charged the rioters together from different points. Captain Thorne, of the Twenty-sixth, was knocked down with a blow of a club. Officer Cowen brought his locust down on the skull of the man who struck the blow. The rioters fell stunned and bleeding on all sides. Many of the Police were hurt too, Officer Welling, of the First, receiving a bullet in the shoulder. The fight was obstinate to Franklin Street. Then the mob took to flight in all directions. The portion of it that rushed up Centre and Chatham Streets was pursued by the officers who had dispersed it, and dreadfully punished; but by far the greater section fled across the open space in front of City Hall. Theirs was a terrible fate. Just at this moment, Inspector Carpenter, with his two hundred men, were wheeling into the square. Grasping the situation at a glance, the Inspector formed his men full company front, and charging the fleeing rabble, inflicted such chastisement as they deserved, scattering and driving them in all directions, few escaping without grievous bruises, and many receiving desperate wounds.

Quiet being restored, Carpenter took up his headquarters at the City hall. A fire, which the rioters had started in the "Tribune" building, was extinguished. A handful of men from the Twenty-sixth had already cleared the building of those who had entered it to sack it, Officer McWaters having a desperate encounter with a burly ruffian at the entrance. Sergeant Devoursney, taking command about the building, prevented any crowd from re-assembling about it.

Several members of the Twenty-sixth Precinct deserve especial recognition for their conduct in this engagement. Sergeant Devoursney, alone and in uniform, confronted the entire crowd, and delayed its attack on the "Tribune" Building a considerable time. Officer McCord, being in plain clothes, was struck by a comrade in mistake. Officer Gardner was wounded in the leg with a brick. The wounded were all attended by police Surgeon Kennedy, who proved eminently brave, skillful and efficient in relieving the sufferers in the cause of duty.

No sooner was quiet secured about the City hall then Carpenter's force was weakened by the withdrawal of Inspector Folk and his men to Brooklyn, where the aspect of affairs was considered threatening. No actual rioting, however, took place there, thanks to Mr. Folk's energetic and judicious arrangements. Carpenter and his men, however, had their hands full. First of all, a report came in that negro houses were being burned in the Sixth Precinct, and the inhabitants ill-used. Captain John Jourdan was sent with his own men to suppress this disturbance. He had been fighting the rioters all day. with Sergeants Walsh and McGiven, he dispersed a mob at No. 41 Baxter Street at three P. M. Roundsman Ryan was knocked down and badly hurt, but continued to fight vigorously. At six P. M. six hundred rioters, who attacked a house at Baxter and Leonard Streets tenanted by twenty colored families, were dispersed by the Captain and Sergeants Walsh, Quinn, and Kennedy, and the first and second platoons. The fight was very bitter. On their way to headquarters, at six o'clock, the men had been obliged to punish another mob which assailed them. Roundsman Hopkins was here badly wounded with a stone. After the Printing House Square affair, Captain Jourdan and his command suppressed an attempt by about a thousand men to sack Nos. 104 and 105 Park Street, houses occupied by colored people.

Captain Jourdan returned to City hall in time to participate in inspector Carpenter's tour of the Fourth Ward, in the course of which he suppressed four riotous crowds who were burning Negro dwellings. Fifty men were left to protect the "Tribune" building; the rest of his force accompanied the Inspector. Captain Bryan was the guide throughout this expedition. His station house had been attacked, when only Sergeant Rode and eight men were in it, by five hundred rioters. The attack had been successfully resisted. Sergeants Rode and Delaney, too, had dispersed a marauding crowds in front of a negro boarding house. Inspector Carpenter was accompanied, among others, by Captain Green and Sergeants Finney, Robinson, and Webb to the Third; Captain Sebring of the Ninth; Captain Davis of the Tenth; Captain Steers of the Thirteenth; captain Brower of the Seventeenth; Captain Slott, and Sergeants Aldis, Potter and Murphy of the Twenty-second; Captain Dickson and Sergeant Groat of the Twenty-eighth--Sergeant O'Connor had been so badly wounded in the fight before the City Hall that he had to cease doing duty; Captain Sleight of the Twenty-ninth; and Captain B. G. Lord and the men of the Sanitary Corps. Captain John J. Mount and the men of the Eleventh Precinct also took part--the most active part-- in this expedition. They were detached to protect the persons and property of the colored residents of Roosevelt Street and New Bowery. They had much serious fighting, being stoned from the roofs, and Officer McMahon, was madly injured with a brick. An incident of this tour will serve to show the ferocity of the rioters. Three colored men took refuge on the roof of a house. The rioters set it on fire, and the poor fellows were obliged to suspend themselves by their hands from the copings of the gable walls. The Police searched in vain for ladders, and the men were at last obliged to drop to the ground, sustaining shocking injuries.

After this effective rout of the Fourth Ward Carpenter and his men had one more exploit to perform that busy Monday. At eleven P.M., word was received that a new and great mob was marching down Broadway to raid the "Tribune" office. Carpenter at once massed his men close to the east gate of the Park, facing three companies to the west, whence the rioters were expected to come, and the balance to the east. The Police were concealed by the darkness, and the rioters were allowed to approach within a hundred yards, before Carpenter gave the word "Up guards and at them" the Police went in with a rush. Their opponents were five to one, but the shock was irresistible, and in a few minutes the park was for the second time strewn with wounded men, while a discomforted remnant fled up Broadway.

At midnight Carpenter and his brave but wearied followers were relived by the arrival of inspector James Leonard with three hundred and fifty men, Capt. Thorne of the Twenty-sixth Precinct being second in command, and the battalion including details from the Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, Fourteenth, Sixteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-ninth Precincts. Inspector Leonard remained in charge at the City Hall until the following Friday, when the riots were at an end. To his energy and judgment are, in a measure, attributable the suppression of all disorder on the down-town districts of the city. He had, before taking charge at this point, headed a troop which defeated a mob about nine P. M. on Monday at Broadway and Bond Street--only a block or two distant from the scene of Carpenter's first victory.

At the City hall the Inspector's resources were taxed to the utmost. Before daybreak on Tuesday, he sent a platoon to protect the residences of Negroes at Leonard and York Streets; he dispersed a mob which was sacking a provision store on Greenwich Street near Cortlandt; he sent a squad to guard Brooks Brothers' clothing store on Catharine Street; and others to protect the hotels in Fulton and Cortlandt Streets. Towards morning he learned that a mob was proceeding to Fulton Ferry to oppose the landing of marines from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and incidentally to burn Fulton Market. He sent a large party to meet this mob; the result was a short, sharp fight, ending in the rout of the rioters. So many parties did Inspector Leonard send out in sundry directions, that by nine o'clock, A. M., he was left along at City Hall. He went to headquarters at once to represent in person the need for a strong force about Printing House Square. He was given two hundred men, with whom he hastened back to his post. He found an excited crowd rapidly growing in numbers. Every Negro who came insight was chased and beaten, and dire threats were heard on all sides. By noon, the situation was such that Mr. Leonard, taking a hundred men, cleared the Park and Printing House Square, hastening the movements of the obstinate by argument with the locust. This process had to be repeated a number of times; but by far the most exciting event of the day in this vicinity occurred at eight P. M., when a mob beset a company of regular troops at Broadway and chambers Street, and by threats and demonstrations of violence attempted to prevent the men from proceeding. Seeing that an attack was imminent, Inspector Leonard, accompanied only by Sergeant Polly of the eleventh Precinct, and one patrolman, forced his way into the heart of the crowd, and, in order to direct attention from the soldiers, seized two of the leaders of the mob and began dragging them towards the City Hall. The officers' aim was gained; but they nearly forfeited their lives. The rioters turned their full fury against the three brave men, who, each holding fast to a prisoner, faced the enemy with uplifted clubs.

Shouts of "Kill them; give them what Kennedy got!" arose on all sides; but, happily, the officers' determination rendered the ruffians rather unwilling to face them. At last, however, a rush was made. Up and down went the clubs with terrific regularity, a rioter going down under every blow. The prisoners were placed in front, and were shockingly cut ands bruised by the missiles aimed by their friends at the Police. At last, intelligence of the fight reached the force in the City Hall. Seventy-five men instantly turned out to rescue their brave commander. In a few seconds, they were by his side. Then the prisoners, badly beaten men, were cast aside, and Carpenter headed a charge on the mob which sent it fleeing in all directions, while heaps of injured men marked the track along which the Police had moved. This defeat seemed to break down the riot in this part of the city. Captain Mount and the men of the eleventh precinct guarded the Cortlandt Street hotels all Tuesday night, but no attack was made. The sixteenth's force, under Captain Hedden, dispersed mobs during the evening at Thomas Street and West Broadway. The next day some slight encounters took place, and great vigilance had to b e exercised; but this was the last of Inspector Leonard's pitched battles.

He, however, remained on duty at the Hall until Friday, when, with his officers and men, he was recalled. During his command there, as is recorded, he had rendered invaluable services to that section and the lower portion of the city. he had immense interest to guard, and that he acted the part of a brave and zealous officer goes without saying.

The Colored Orphan Asylum was burned down about four o'clock in the afternoon of Monday, July 13. A mob of some three thousand had attacked the asylum. The asylum at that terrible moment held within its walls two hundred colored children, besides the officers and matrons. The main building was four stories, with wings of three stories. Superintendent William E. Davis hurriedly fastened the doors, and, while the mob were breaking them in, the children were collected, and taken from the building by the rear door before the mob had battered down the barricaded doors. The building was first ransacked and pillaged--everything portable was carried away--and then the torch of the incendiary was applied. Chief engineer Decker, upon reaching the scene, tried by argument to draw off the miserable rabble. He forced his way into the building, was assaulted, thrice knocked down, and finally driven out. Having been joined by ten firemen, he determined upon making another effort to save the asylum. Assistant Engineers Lamb and Lewis swelled the ranks of the little band of heroic firemen, and then they pushed through the crowds and penetrated into the building. The work of demolition had progressed on all sides. The furniture had been broken and piled in different parts of the house, while fires had already been kindled on the first and second floors. The firemen scattered and extinguished these incipient fires, at the imminent risk of their lives, the building being still filled with rioters. Meantime, some of the latter, despite the efforts of the little band of firemen, had succeeded insetting fire to the loft. To save the structure was now an impossibility, and the firemen and the mob alike were driven forth by the rapidly-spreading flames. In a little time the asylum was wrapped inflames, and within an hour or so only a small portion of the walls remained standing.

After their escape from the building the poor little orphans were conducted to the Twentieth Precinct, where they were taken care of by Captain Walling, and were subsequently removed to Blackwell's Island. The loss to the society was estimated at eighty thousand dollars.

There were ten precincts in Brooklyn, forming a portion of the Metropolitan Police. Its movements in this city on the first day of the riots are recorded as follows:

At half-past ten o'clock on Monday, Inspector John S. folk received a dispatch from the New York headquarters directing him to call in his reserves, and to hold them in immediate readiness. They were on drill at Fort Green at the time, and forthwith he ordered them to their respective precincts.

At five o'clock P. M., a dispatch was received from Commissioner Bergen to send his whole force to New York, if, in the Inspector's opinion, it would be safe for them to leave Brooklyn. Inspector Folk lost no time in reporting himself at the Mulberry Street headquarters with upwards of two hundred men. They were retained at headquarters for action in case of emergency. About eight P. M. word was received that the Tribune building was being threatened by the mob, and Inspector Folk, acting upon instructions, joined his force to that of inspector Carpenter. On reaching the park, the mob were met in their flight from Printing House Square, and received severe handling by Carpenter and Folk. The latter and his men were on the left of the wing, and he completed the rout and discomfiture of the mob. This duty over, and with parting cheers from Inspector Carpenter's men, Inspector Folk, under instructions, took up the march to Brooklyn. Reaching Fulton Ferry, he learned that two Negroes had just been murdered on the stocks, close by. After maneuvering his men and dispersing some evil-disposed bodies of loungers, he returned to Brooklyn, to protect his own threatened territory.

So well had Inspector Folk handled his forces, that the riotously-disposed were met wherever they showed any symptoms of disorder, and summarily dispersed before they had time to organize their forces, much less to inflict injury.

On Wednesday evening the elevators in the Basin were fired. The incendiaries, who were a gang of laborers, mingled with the crowd, and so could not be singled out by Inspector Folk and his command, who were promptly on the spot.

Inspector Folk was a faithful and gallant officer, and to his constant vigilance in Brooklyn, that city owed its immunity from the horrors which had convulsed New York. He and his command lent the most valuable aid to the New York Police in their desperate and valiant battle with the mob during a week of riot.



Our Police Protectors, History of the New York Police, Published for the benefit of the Police Pension Fund, by Augustine Costello, Published by Author, 1885.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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