This is a continuation of the diary of Benjamin H. Ellicott of Baltimore during the events of the Civil War in 1863. During the latter half of July, the famous draft riots broke out in New York City, and later in the month, Ellicott describes a scene of violence in Baltimore. Meanwhile, Lee and his army become elusive, and the second blockade of Charleston is begun.1

The New York City draft riots of 1863 were appropriately called an insurrection and took an enormous toll, even worse that those of the late 1960s and 1970s. The draft was in fact the last straw for Irish workingmen who could not afford the $300 required for hiring a substitute, and who had been antagonized against blacks by demagogic politicians for many years. Adding insult to injury was the fact that many immigrants were automatically signed up for the draft when they arrived, whereas blacks, not being considered citizens, were not drafted.

page 160 of Ellicott's Diary
page 160 of Ellicott’s Diary

Wednesday July 15th 1863.  Since the 12th much rain has fallen hereabouts and on last Sunday night it poured down in such torrents that the streams were all overflowed – The Railroad between this and Washington was broken down and washed away at several of the Culverts and Bridges – The fine stone Bridge and a large portion of the embankment at Laurel being completely swept out – causing a serious interruption to travel since then. None of the other Roads hence appear to have suffered so seriously.

The public attention and solicitude which turned, for some days past, almost exclusively towards the position and movements of the Two great Armies now in Maryland, as well as the Surrender of Vicksburg, has been diverted to the Riotous demonstrations made against the Draft in New York City under the Conscription Law. Soon after commence [sic] of the drawing in the 9th District of that City on Monday morning, a large crowd had assembled at 677 Third Avenue – the place of drawing, and an attack was made upon the Provost Marshall – Jenkins – who was badly beaten2 – all the furniture of the office, the wheel and all the apparatus of Draft were destroyed together with all the enrollment Books, blanks and other papers – and a jug of I_perctur [?-something flammable I presume] being emptied onto floor it was fired, and the building was soon in flames – The Rail Road tracks being torn up and the Telegraph destroyed several engines [fire engines] were upon the ground but the crowd would not permit them to work all who interfered in any manner were beaten by the crowd. Six families were thus turned out of their homes from this house and 20 or 30 of the Police were more or less injured – From this commencement this mob proceeded to other sections of the city their number being increased by the Workmen collected from various manufacturing and other establishments, and committed the greatest excesses upon various individuals – beating some almost to death and robbing – Killing some Policemen – beating every negro that appeared in sight, and destroying the furniture before setting fire to the many Houses both great and small which they burned during Monday and that night other Crowds assembled in like manner at the place of Draft in other Districts of the City, and destroyed all the apparatus, papers &c of the D__[?] Provost Marshalls and beat those officers and their assistants, unless they were so lucky as to escape, and burned the Buildings – in some instances the whole block on which these were located, suffered the same fate, as the engines were not permitted to play upon the fire.

When Superintendent Kennedy appeared upon the scene of action in the 19th Ward, with a small police force as escort, the crowd which had merely jeered and hooted the police, now made an attack on the Superintendent and those with him. All the police were quickly put to flight – except Sergt. Brackets who strove to defend him – Kennedy was, however, soon knocked down and terribly beaten, and Brackett was driven against a fence. coolly folding his arms he told them “He didn’t think he could whip them all ; and if they were not ashamed of so cowardly an action they might go ahead and “stone him” and “kill him” as they were vociferating “His coolness made him friends, and he was allowed to go unharmed Superind’t Kennedy is very seriously injured

Supt. John Alexander Kennedy
Supt. John Alexander Kennedy

John Alexander Kennedy (1803-1873) was an Irish immigrant who came to NYC by way of Baltimore. He started out as a schoolteacher and ended up as superintendent of the NYC police. He was stabbed over 70 times and never fully recovered from the attack. But he did not resign until 1870, when he became president of a “street-railroad company,” and then became collector of assessments until he died, age 70.3

Several collisions occurred between parties of Military – Militia Marines and regulars, in most of which the Mob were victorious routing and beating the Soldiers and in one or Two instances disarming them. A Negro who shot a white man was caught, and beat almost to death where his throat was cut, and his body hung on a tree where a fire was built under it – The armory in 22nd Avenue was sacked and burned – A large number of buildings in various sections of the City were burned on yesterday, and during last night, the Mob being in the ascendancy up to the latest advices – Business of every Kind was suspended, and the most atrocious robberies have been committed upon individuals seized on the streets by ruffians who take their watches, money &c and then finish by beating them – Mayor Opdyke’s house was attacked but the mob there were driven off — It is said to have been sacked afterwards4

The Tribune office was attacked and partially sack’d  Greely himself made a narrow escape from a mob that discovered him to be dining at a Hotel . The house was surrounded but he was assisted by the Police and a friend who got him off by a back entrance to a carriage.5

A detachment of troops with Two pieces of ordnance, under Col O’Brien, charged onto rioters at 9 O’clk. this morning in 13th Street. Three rounds of blank cartridges being fired from the cannon – The mob partially dispersed threathening [sic] to come back with arms – subsequently Col O’Brien was captured by the fiends, and beaten to a jelly his throat being cut also and his head gashed.6

The Post Office, Custom House and all public buildings were guarded by Troops with Cannon. Gov. Seymour and Mayor Opdyke have both issued proclamations – and the former has addressed a large portion of the mob, counseling them to disperse – submission to the Laws &c &c – Maj Genl Wool has given the military Command of the City to Genl Harvey Brown who recommends the recall from the Army of all the New York Regiments that can be spared therefrom. Many of the streets have been barricaded against the military by the Mob, who had procured arms, by some means, late in the day

It is stated now that Genl Lee has succeeded in crossing the Potomac with his Army and all of his wagons – ammunition &c  His rear guard was captured and the Commander thereof Genl Pettigrew is said to have been Killed –

Genl Meade is said to have crossed over a large portion of his Army upon pontoon bridges at or near to Harpers Ferry endeavoring to flank Lee – In addition to Vicksburg, Port Hudson is said to have surrendered on the 8th Inst. – and an attack upon the batteries on Morris Island was made on the 11th and 12th Inst. Since the reported surrender of Vicksburg Genl Sherman is said to have attacked and defeated Genl Johnston taking from him 2000 Prisoners &c  A large force of Feds are said to have landed on Stone and James Islands for an attack upon Charleston  The Premium on Gold has fallen to 27 1/2 pr ct. 7

John Morgan
Gen. John Morgan

No pursuit was attempted by Meade’s forces, altho in close proximity – further than to capture the rear guard as before said. Since John Morgan crossed the Ohio River about 35 Miles below Louisville he has marched his force of 5000 Cavalry with 6 or 8 pieces of Artillery through a portion of Indiana destroying Railroads & Bridges and had proceeded into Ohio, where he had reached Georgetown in Brown County at last accounts – tearing up Railways & burning bridges in his track – He was said to be hemmed in by the Military sent for that purpose who would surely capture him. (Left: John Hunt Morgan (1825-1864), of “Morgan’s Raid.”)

The President has issued his Proclamation requesting that the People of States shall observe 6th day of Aug. next as a day of Prayer and Thanksgiving for the great successes accorded to the Federal Armies – and Governor Bradford has issued his Proclamation recommending to the People of Maryland to observe Sunday 19th Inst. as a day of fasting, prayer, and thanksgiving for their deliverance from Reb. Invasion &c. The Premium on Gold is 25 1/2 pr ct.

Friday July 17th – From the clouds of yesterday came another heavy rain during last night, and it is very damp and quite raw this morning –

The Reports from N. York state that up to Noon yesterday the Mob appeared to have subsided insomuch that the Riot was supposed to be quelled. It appears, however, to have broken out again in the evening with renewed violence, and a reenactment of the same scenes of destructiveness, robbery and barbarism – especially to the Negroes – and renewal of conflicts with the Military and the Police – cannon were used freely, loaded with canister, which proved exceedingly destructive to crowds of Men, women & children, who blocked up the streets at many points, and severe and bloody conflicts, in which the Military & Police also suffered severely in Killed and wounded were fought at the several places indicated.8

Riotous demonstrations were made in Boston yesterday but a military force was at hand  The Military with the Police succeeded in dispersing the Mob very soon – and the streets being patroled order and quiet was maintained during the day.

At Troy 400 to 500 men said to be from the Iron Foundries and Nail works marched through the streets at 10.30 P.M. on the 15th to the Times Office which they gutted – proclaiming that the Draft should not take place. Father Harermaus addressed the mob advising them to keep the peace and to go home – They then broke away, visited the colored church where Father Harermaus again address them and implored them to desist. Through his efforts the church was saved, but the Mob next proceeded to the Jail broke it open and released all the Prisoners – The Steamer Francis S Kiddy employing colored waiters on board was warned away from the Dock and quickly slipped off to Albany  At Albany the Steamer from N. York moved into the stream from her Dock owing to the rumors that she was to be set on fire – At Staten island the Mob of 4 or 500 men had undisputed sway, it is said, and citizens with their families were leaving for places of safety. Several places being fired & others threaten’d

Genl Morgan’s forces on Wednesday night had advanced to West Union – Adams County – Ohio – 84 Miles S W. of Columbus and nearly opposite to Marysville Ky.

The latest Southern Papers admit the great and serious disasters that have recently befallen the confederacy but their tone is as defiant as ever – Their loss at Gettysburg is not given but it is admitted to be severe, while it is also claimed that 4000 Feds. were made Prisoners. After the fall of Vicksburg a portion of the Fed Army advanced on Joe Johnston’ position near to Jackson, fighting was Kept up with varying success up to Sunday morning 12th when the Feds were shelling the City – Five Fed Gunboats and Transports reached Brandon on James River on Sunday last 12th Inst. The Premium on Gold has not varied being 25 1/2 and 26 pr ct. to-day.

Saturday July 18th – The rain of yesterday threatens to be renewed to-day – but it is cooler than for many days past, and therefore more pleasant.

The report from New York this morning indicate subsidence of the Mob to some extent altho some desperate conflicts had occurred between the Rioters and the Military resulting in considerable loss of life on both sides – many outrages, also, were committed which the Newspapers do not particularize – There seems to be apprehension that the renewal of the Draft will cause renewed riotous disturbances under more efficient organizations.

Besides reiteration [?] of successful attacks made on the Reb. batteries on Morris Island it is now reported that the Feds. have taken possession of Charleston S. C. that Genl Sherman was pursuing Genl Jose Johnson and that he was fighting at Jackson, Miss.

Riotous demonstrations against the conscription at Portland, Buffalo, Boston, Troy, Hartford and other places seem to have been put down by the Police and Military – but altogether the darkness of uncertainty, and the utter extinction of the Republic casts a gloom over the prospects for the future . Premium on Gold to-day is 25 pr. ct.

Sunday July 19th – The Sun came out clear and bright this morning but was soon obscured again by clouds and it is nearly as warm as ever portending much injury to the wheat and Rye that has been harvested, and still remaining in the field –

A large number of Fed. Troops whose Term of service has expired have been passing through on their way home from other positions than the Army of the Potomac, which is said to be posted mainly at or near Berlin on this side of the Potomac, they are also returning, more directly to their homes  Wherefore an efficient pursuit of Lee’s Army up the Valley of Virginia, has been impeded if not entirely prevented – as he is moving leisurely on to Richmond, or in that direction  Seventeen Thousand Men, according to the Fed. statement, are said to have left the Army of the Potomac in this way And as the Term of the Troops who volunteered for Two years on the call for the 300 Thousand men, after the first Bull run Battle, now expires about the same time as that of the call for 300,000. Nine months Volunteers, and the Draft of 300000. men for the same period made last July. The Fed Army must be reduced at all points in about equal, if not larger proportions, with the Army of the Potomac –

Monday July 20th – It is clear and warm this morning – The Reports from New York state all riotous demonstrations have ceased and that quiet has been restored by means of the address made to Bishop Hughes to a large collection of his Irish countrymen on Friday last, and also by the judicious disposition of the large and constantly increasing military forces in the City . Maj. Genl Wool has been superseded by Maj. Genl Dix and Genls Canby and Kilpatrick have been appointed to command in place of Genl Brown and Sanford by the Fed. Government,

Gen. John Ellis Wool
Gen. John Ellis Wool

Gen. John Ellis Wool (1784-1869) was “superseded” because, despite his acknowledged competence, he was in his 70s and considered too old for this work. He disagreed.

. . . It being the intention no doubt to keep a large force as a permanent Guard in New York, and most probably to put it under Martial law – When we shall see the true position of Gov. Seymour as to his defense of the rights of his State, which will be thereby overridden still more conclusively than they have been by the utter contempt of the Courts of his State in the Habeas Corpus writ on Col. Burke, and in Judge McG_? decision made on the Conscription Law – from which the U. States have made no appeal, thereby acknowledging the Judgment of that Court against the Constitutionality of that Law to be valid, but still persisting in carrying it into Execution against the promise of the Governor made to the People since the commencement of the Riots there.9

Later accounts from the attack on Charleston inform us that the Feds after the fights of the 6th & 7th & 8th Inst. when they had as they claimed, possessed themselves of two thirds of Morris Island, and of Fort Wagner or Cumings [?] Point Battery, were then driven out of the latter by the Rebs. and altho the Monitor fleet and Iron clads had bombarded Fort Sumter for 3 days and had, as it is stated made a breach in its walls, still no assault had been made thereupon by the Feds. but the loss of the Rebs. both in men and officers, especially of the latter, had been considerable – further accounts thence are looked for with much interest – Two, if no more, of the Iron clad Gunboats, or the Monitors, are said to have withdrawn from the fight on account of injuries received.

Tuesday, July 21st – Clear and more pleasant to day than for many days past —  The regulations under Maj. Genl Schenck’s order of 30th June imposing Martial Law in this City has been modified to day so far, that the requirement for Passes for all Persons coming to or leaving the City has been rescinded this day – It is now stated that the rear guard of the Reb. Army under Genl Lee left Martinsburg on Saturday morning last – The main thereof is moving down the Valley by way of Strasburg to Staunton Whence there is railway communication with Richmond by the Virginia Central R. Road

Gen. Joseph E. Johnston
Gen. Joseph E. Johnston

Genl Morgan, on Sunday, attempted to cross the Ohio near Crolyville but was prevented by the Gunboats – 150 Rebs were Killed and 1300 taken Prisoners with their artillery – The residue of his band is said to be scattered through the mountains of Ohio – Since the surrender of Vicksburg Genl Sherman is said to have beaten & pursued Genl Johnston towards and to have taken Jackson.

Genl. Joseph E. Johnston (1807-1891) was a less than successful Confederate General, perhaps because of his disputes with President Davis, but more likely because of his personality.

The Richmond Papers, however, of a later date state that a severe battle was fought there on the 12th Inst. when the Feds were repulsed with a loss of 4 or 500 Killed & wounded, Genl Osterhaus being Killed. The premium on Gold went up to 29 but subsequently fell back to 25 1/2 pr ct. to day. most probably because the demand for the Boston Steamer of tomorrow was filled up

Wednesday July 22nd 1863 – Clear and very pleasant to-day . The War News is not full to-day by any means. Very Sharp if not desperate fighting is stated to have been going on at Charleston on the 12th & 13th Inst. in which the Feds are said to have been repulsed with much loss, but the fight had not concluded at last accounts.  The contest at Jackson between Grant and Johnstons’ forces seems to have been in the same predicament. There had been more or less fighting between those Armies for several days and shelling of the Town by the Feds when they made an assault which was repulsed with a large loss, but the fight was expected to be renewed again.

Genl Gregg’s expedition or reconnaissance in rear of Lee’s Army seems to have resulted in a more disastrous manner than was first announced and is admitted to have been the most disastrous Cavalry fight of the War – Rumor places the Fed. loss at nearly the whole of his command, but the Feds only admit 4 to 500 Killed.10

In view of Gov. Bradford’s proclamation directing or recommending that services be held in the churches on Sunday last 19th July commemorating the deliverance of Maryland from the recent Invasion of the Rebs. Bishop Whittingham prepared a selection of Services for the occasion, and directed these together with certain Hymns and Psalms to be read for the Morning Services by all the Ministers in lieu of regular Lessons &c  It is said that Revd Mr Rankin of St Luke’s objected to this direction or order of the Bishop – and on last Saturday Maj Genl Schenck requested all the Episcopal Clergymen to meet at his Head quarters but no response was returned to this except by a note from Mr Rankin stating that he was too ill to do so in person – Whereupon he was put under arrest as is understood from the complaint of Bishop Whittingham made to Genl Schenck – and now lies very ill from a paralysis in his own House –

Barnum's Hotel in Baltimore
Barnum’s Hotel in Baltimore

Barnum’s City Hotel was taken possession of by the Officers of Col. Fish this morning and the chief Attachies [?] of the House are said to be under Arrest. Various reports are in circulation as to the cause of the proceeding, which has excited much comment and speculation in the City as this is a more extended seizure of private Property than has occurred heretofore. As large numbers of the wounded from the Gettysburg fights are still arriving in the City, daily, it may be deemed necessary to have these extensive Buildings for an Hospital – One Report of this proceeding, apparently authoritatively states that a Young man who came to the Hotel a few days ago put a package into the hands of [sic] to be placed in the Iron Safe of the Office for safe Keeping, and he having been arrested on the charge of being a Confederate Spy the Papers were then found and the Employees were arrested as accomplices &c When the Military appeared Zenos Barnum handed over all his Keys, it is said, and desired a search of all his books & Papers to be made, but he was informed that there was no charge against him –

There was reason for authorities to be suspicious of goings-on at Barnum’s City Hotel. In 1861, when Lincoln was visiting Baltimore, “The Baltimore Plot” was hatched at the hotel, to assassinate the president. One of the suspected conspirators, Cipriano Farrandini, worked at Barnum’s Hotel as a barber and hairdresser. Ferrandini was accused, but never indicted.

Thursday July 23rd . Clear and warm to-day – The news of the day is rather meagre other than the reported debate in the British Parliament which tends strongly towards a Recognition of the Southern Confederacy. We have no further news from the great contest Known to have taken place at Charleston – but it is stated that Joe Johnston has retreated from Jackson, Miss – in face of the large force that was to have captured him. The movements of Genl Lee are so obscured that it is impossible to say what has become of him exactly – It is surmised however that Genl Meade will find him before long – The Iron clad Monitor Passaic is said to have passed Cap[e] May in tow of a steamer on Monday afternoon – supposed to be disabled at Charleston

It is understood to day that the young man St Clair who deposited the package in Barnum’s Hotel safe has not yet been captured but the package and the employees of the Hotel who were taken in custody by Military authorities, are yet in custody and in the Military Prison at the Gilmor House

From a pistol shot which I heard when in the Rotunda of the Exchange at the Post office, this evening, I was called to the entrance on Exchange place where I saw a crowd collected over the body of some person lying on the pavement in front of one of the Government Warehouses there, and of some one standing above and kicking and beating the same with a sword or bayonet, the crowd increased rapidly and rushed into the Warehouse leaving the street almost bare on the instant – Very soon afterwards Policemen brought out a Negro Soldier and took him off – Upon inquiring I was told that the Negro had shot a white soldier at the Centre Market and was pursued by a Sailor who had overtaken & Knocked him down at this point when the Negro fired upon him – Another version of this case is that a squad of Negro Soldiers were in search of stragglers from their Camp, when they encountered this Negro near the Hanover Market, and when they were about to take him in charge he shot the Negro Officer and ran down Lombard St pursued by some of the Soldiers – and firing on his pursuers, his shot missed them but struck one of a party of Sailors, who then pursued, overtook, and Knocked down the Negro where I saw him lying when he again fired &c.

Another affray occurred to day between a party of Negro and White Soldiers because a Negro Officer required his salute to be returned by the Whites, when several Negroes were badly beaten. Gold about 26 % Premium.

Saturday July 25th – Yesterday and to day have been oppressively hot but the nights are pleasant. No War News of moment or of a reliable character is afloat to day. A Steamer express from Charleston is said to have passed Fortress Munroe [?] on its [way] to Washington yesterday but she has brought us News for the Public  Altho it is know[n] that fighting must have occurred there since our latest advices from that point.

What follows is the strongest expression of opinion that Ellicott allowed himself so far, perhaps a sign of the stress he was under.

The Barricades that have obstructed all the streets of this City for several weeks past, have just been removed  There is about the smallest possible amount of business doing here just now, outside of that required for the purposes of Government and even that is not sufficient to enliven the Streets to any great extent. People seem to be awaiting the Stuck [?] coming events that loom up before the dullest vision ; they are shorn of their strength & powerless to throw off the incubus now upon them, they are more ready to bear, and even writhe under, than to resist the grossest imposition of despotic Authority – One portion calling it Loyalty and the other Prudence to do so, until those who would oppose the loss of their own and their country’s rights are borne down beneath ruthless power. This appear[s] to be the posture of affairs here as well as elsewhere in the Fed. States. Although some spasmodic cases of resistance to the Conscription have occurred in different quarters, besides the recent Riots in New York, the violent opposition thereto has subsided in a great measure, and, in all probability, the conscription will be enforced. If so, further resistance to the Administration would seem to be futile. The abnegation of the Constitution, if not the open violations of that compact by the National Authorities, under the plea of Military necessity, or of preserving the Union, has already virtually resolved the States back again upon their sovereign Rights and constituted them the only legal Governments now existing, yet with this plain proposition before him and the utter contempt of the authority of his State or of the processes issued therefrom, by the Fed. Authorities, the Governor of the great State of New York stands by and sees the foundation of his Official Authority swept from under his feet – and he may soon become as the Governor of Maryland or of Missouri –

Monday – July 27th – On Saturday night a heavy fall of rain set in which continued for several hours – its main force of it appears to have been confined to the City and its immediate vicinity. The Streets, Lanes and alleys, being overflown – The temperature of yesterday was not improved thereby, and towards evening heavy clouds collected from which another Gust deluged the Street, for a short period. The Temperature of to day is but little improved by these two Gusts, and still more rain has fallen to-day – noth [?] a Continuously warm temperature –

The Reported return of the Army of the Potomac to Berlin and vicinity on this side of that River, and of the threatening attitude of Lee above Harpers ferry is flatly contradicted this morning by the statement of Lee’s retreat up the Valley towards Staunton [?] so rapidly that Meade can scarcely come in contact with his rear, even with his indomitable Cavalry.

The intelligence from Charleston is up to the 22nd Inst. up to which time the Feds had been bombarding the Rebs on Morris Island continuously for several days – On the 19th Inst. another assault was made upon Fort Wagner which was repulsed by the Rebs. with heavy loss to the Feds. 2000 of whom are stated to be Killed, wounded, and missing – 800 being buried, under a Flag of Truce sent to the Rebs  Several raids of Fed Cavalry have been made into the interior of N. Carolina, Western Virginia, Mississippi &c with considerable success in breaking Railways, burning Bridges, and the destruction of a large amount of private Property – arson & pillage following their footsteps – and from these much damage has been done to the Rebs – The Premium on Gold to-day is 27 1/2 pr ct.

Ellicott is describing what is now known as the Second Battle of Charleston Harbor. It was at this event that the 54th Mass. Inf., the first all black regiment, was decimated in its attack on Fort Wagner.

Tuesday July 28th – Despite all the rain that has fallen the Temperature is oppressively warm to day with another fall of rain –

The War News gives details of the 2nd assault upon Fort Wagner on the 18th that made on the 11th Inst. is said to have failed because of the tardiness of the support to the 7th Connecticut who had gained the parapet and within the ditches contending with the Garrison unsuccessfully on that occasion – In that assault only one Brigade under Gen’l Strong was engaged in this a whole Division of three full Brigades took part in the action  Three fourths of Morris Island being in the possession of the Feds. 5 Batteries had been erected at a distance of 800 to 100 yds from Wagner in all containing 9-30 p ct and 4-20 pound Parrots – 10 – 10in. Mortars on the left and 2 – 0 pd Parrotts -10-10 in men’s and 3 full batteries of light Artillery on the right —

I confess myself unable to translate the description of munitions described by Ellicott here.

From 12 1/2 Oclk p.m. until one hour after Sunset, all these Batteries, together with the whole Fleet of Monitors Gunboats – Ironsides Frigate &c the latter laying about one Mile off hurled their heaviest shot and shells around, upon, and within the Fort which responded with only two or three of its Guns – Fort Sumter, Cummings Point Battery and Battery [sic] occasionally firing at the Vessels – one of the Two Guns fire[d] from Fort Wagner being directed against the Fleet, the other against the Land Batteries  Finding that the Fort would not surrender to this terrible bombardment an assault was determined upon – Just as darkness began to close upon the scene of the afternoon Gen’l Strong’s Brigade consisting of the 54th Massachusetts, Negro Regiment, in the front, and 5 other White Regiments were ordered to advance – As they advanced a tremendous fire from all there Forts and Batteries swept the beach and the Guns of Sumter & Cumming Point enfiladed it on the left – In the midst of this shower of shot and shell the portions of the 54th Mass 4th [? or 11th?] Con. and 48th N. York. reached the Fort gained the parapet and maintained a hand to hand fight for nearly half an hour. The Rebs fought with the utmost desperation, and so did the larger portion of Genl Strong’s Brigade as long as there was an officer to command it. When this Brigade made the assault Gen’l Strong rode gallantly at its head, when it fell back major Plimpton of the 3rd N. Hampshire was the highest commissioned officer in command. Genl Strong, Col’s Shaw, Hatfield, Barton, Green and Jackson all had fallen. The 54th Mass. (Negroes) came out under command of Lieut Higginson a mere boy – The first Brigade having failed it was now the time of the 2nd commanded by Col. Putnam to make the assault. But the task was too hard – He led his men through the same terrible ordeal into the Fort and held one half of it for some time, but he fell there urging on his men who almost without Officers, also, were obliged to fall back as best they could and the darkness was by this time so intense that many of the Feds, it is supposed, fell by the hands of their comrades  More than half the time they were in the Fort the fight was simply a hand to hand conflict without order and by the light of exploding bombs and cannon – On the 22nd Inst the bombardment of this and the other Forts was in progress from the Fed fleet of Monitors &c

The latest accounts show that Lee’s Army has passed through the Gaps near to Port Royal, and his main body is now at or near to Culpepper C. House. Ewell’s Corps, it is said, having gone to Strasburg – A Despatch from Newbern N.C. states that 2000 Negroes gathered up during the late raid into that State, with their Guard – missed the Road and were all gobbled up by the Rebs.

Gen’l John Morgan is said to have been captured with the remainder of his Party near to Ganesville Ohio on the [blank] Inst. – But a small portion succeeded in crossing the O. River –

By way of Havana we learn that the Notables or Councils appointed by Gen’l Forey to form a Provisional Government for the Mexicans proclaimed Mexico to be an Empire on the 10th Inst. and that the Grand Duke Maximilian of Austria was chosen to be Emperor thereof – In the event of his declining to accept the nomination then the Emperor Napoleon should then select an Emperor for them.

Gen. Forey led the French forces in their attack on Mexico City. This “French Intervention” lasted until 1867.

By an order of Gen’l Schenck to Col. Birney? he with a military force proceeded to Campbell’s Negro Jail in Pratt Strand – let out all the Slaves therein Confined about 40[?] in all men & women The men were enlisted at once into one of the Negro Regiments, and the women were set at large.

Thursday July 30th . The Rains that have prevailed for so long still continue, and very heavy showers have fallen both yesterday and today – There is some improvement in the quality and Temperature of the Air this evening – more pleasant than it has been for some weeks past.

But little of War News is published to day. The Fed loss from the assault must have been about 2000 men, killed, wounded and missing, at Fort Wagner on the 18th or 19th Inst. The Feds acknowledge a loss of 1500, but the Rebs say that between 6 & 700 of their dead were buried by themselves from the ditches &c which would give, by the usual proportion of wounded, a larger number, and they say also that they have 200 Fed Prisoners – The assaulting force appears to have been 9 to 10 000, about 6000 of whom were actually engaged and the Rebs had 12 or 1300 men in the Fort. – Since that terrible engagement we have learned no more of the operations thereat than that the bombardment of Fort Wagner by the Fleet of Monitors &c was under way as late as the 26th Inst. The injuries done to the Monitors or other vessels have not been detailed – Several of them are known, however, to have been very seriously crippled –

End of July 1863.


  1.  July 15th begins on page 160 of the fourth volume of Ellicott’s diary. For previous articles on the Civil War Diary of Benjamin H. Ellicott, click on the tag in the right column for “Civil War.” These entries come from the four volumes of diaries, held by the Hunterdon County Historical Society in Collection 110, Box 2. Note that I have tried to preserve both Ellicott’s spelling and his somewhat haphazard punctuation. There are several illegible words in this volume. If anyone can supply the words that I have not been able to read, please do so in the comments section.
  2. Wikipedia identifies Robert Nugent as the Provost Marshall for NYC on July 13, 1863, and makes no mention of Jenkins.
  3. From Wikipedia; I have not found information on Sgt. Brakett.
  4. Mayor George Opdyke was the author of the well-known genealogy of the Opdycke family of Hunterdon County. He deserves a post of his own.
  5. For an interesting view of Horace Greeley, see “Poor Horace Greeley.” The mob never burned down the New York Times building because the staff had somehow gotten ahold of a Gattling gun, and made use of it. Another item not mentioned by Ellicott is the attack on the Colored Orphan Asylum at 44th and Fifth Avenue. The police were able to evacuate the 233 children before the building was burned down.
  6. Col. Henry O’Brien was with the 11th NY vol. inf. and was one of the draft recruiters.
  7. Note: The famous “Sherman’s March to the Sea” did not begin until Nov. 14, 1864.
  8. By July 16, there were several thousand Federal troops in the city. After a last outbreak that evening, the riots ended. The draft was resumed on August 19th, without incident.
  9. This is confusing. There was a Col. Burke of Baltimore who was arrested for failing to carry out a writ of habeus corpus ordering him to arrest some Baltimore police commissioners who had been placed in his custody by Gen. Scott. How this would affect the governor of New York is hard to say. See NYTimes, Aug. 15, 1861. As for Judge McC__? I have not been able to find information on the case he ruled on.
  10. I am guessing that Ellicott is referring to David McMurtrie Gregg (1833-1916), a Union General. He was active in the Battle of Gettysburg, but Wikipedia says nothing about this “disastrous Cavalry fight.”