Radical media, politics and culture.

New York Draft Riot Re-Enactment Sat & Sun Nov 1 & 2

Anonymous Comrade writes:

"It’s the “Gangs of New York” for real, or really playing… This weekend a crew of hardcore re-enactors will try to put on the Draft Riots of 1863 at the Richmondtown Restoration in Staten Island. The riot starts at 2pm, Saturday and Sunday.

This is really kind of frightening, especially for Staten Island... And it’s not on the program online. What’s on the official program is something like this, from a re-enactors’ website:
The Staten Island Historical Society will host a Civil War Weekend at Historic Richmondtown, New York City's historic village. We are particularly interested in groups that can do recruitment, hospital and drilling demos with a concentration on New York/New Jersey history. There will be period living history demonstrations. Participation requires pre-reservations. Normal amenities will be provided as well as a Saturday evening meal cooked and served on the site. Contact: Angela Russo, Historic Richmondtown, 441 Clarke Ave., Staten Island, NY 10306-1198, (718) 351-1611 ext. 280, email sihs-arusso @si.rr.com.
(This is more or less what the Richmondtown website says, at http://www.historicrichmondtown.org/index.html.)
However, this evening I read in the local ad-rag that they are in fact planning to re-enact the Draft Riots. Some excerpts from the story in “The Source” Oct 30-Nov 5:

“You’ve never studied the Civil War like this before… yadda yadda. While the riots started in Manhattan, they also spilled over to Staten Island, primarily in the Stapleton and Tompkinsville areas. There were lynchings, looting, rioting, etc. [In the history of the Unitarian church, it has been said, the principals deemed it wise to leave town during this strife, since they were active in the abolitionist movement.] At the center of the reenactment of the riots will be the Daybreak B’hoys, a group from Lower Manhattan that has a wealth of experience in such things.”

Some details from this gang’s website – probably too much:

“This year, our specific portrayal will be that of Company A, 25th New York Volunteers, who were known as the "Tenth Ward Rangers." As implied by their name, this company was recruited in New York City's 10th ward, which encompassed the Lower East Side and a good portion of the Bowery. Although in the service of the United States army, loyalty to the union's cause did not come easy to the 25th. Their first Colonel, James E. Kerrigan, had attended Fordham University for a short time before enlisting in the army during the Mexican War, at age 17. Returning from the war, he became affiliated with Hose Co. 14 of the New York Fire Department, and entered public life in 1854 when he was elected as the thirteenth council district's representative. In 1855, he was imprisoned as an accomplice to the murder of the famed Bill "The Butcher" Poole, but released when the investigation yielded no firm connections. The following year, he sailed to Nicaragua with a group of fifty men, hoping to take part in one of the many "filibustering campaigns" in which speculators hoped to capture land in Central America and sell it to the United States government, though he was unsuccessful in his endeavors. Upon his return to New York, he endorsed Martin Gilmartin as his successor to the council seat, snubbing Pat Mathews who also coveted the position. As was common in the era, election day of 1856 saw widespread violence on behalf of the candidates. Kerrigan's supporters, known as the "Molly Maguires" went up against Mathews and his Bowery Boys, turning the Elizabeth Street polling place into a scene of chaos. Kerrigan himself was said to have brandished a pistol, many shots were exchanged, and dozens injured. In the end, though, Kerrigan's men emerged victorious, and Gilmartin won the council election.”

The riots will take place at 2pm this Saturday and Sunday on Center Street in the middle of the restoration.

I’m going Sunday with my video camera.

Located in the heart of Staten Island, Historic Richmond Town is a 15-minute drive from all bridges and a 30-minute ride from the Staten Island ferry on the S74 bus. FROM THE STATEN ISLAND FERRY: Take the S74 bus from the terminal to Richmond Road and St. Patrick's Place. BY BUS FROM BROOKLYN: Take the S53 bus at 4th Avenue and 95th Street to Clove Road/Targee Street. Walk one block to Richmond Road and transfer to the S74 bus. Take the S74 bus to St. Patrick’s Place FROM THE VERRAZANO NARROWS BRIDGE: Follow New Jersey West route to Richmond Road/Clove Road exit. Exit, proceed to second traffic light and turn left on Richmond Road. About 4.5 miles ahead, at end of Richmond Road, make left onto Arthur Kill Road. Go one block, make left at light (The Parsonage) onto Clarke Avenue. Parking lot is just ahead on the left.FROM THE BAYONNE BRIDGE: Exit at Staten Island Expressway/Goethals Bridge sign. Keep right and take first exit, Richmond Avenue. Turn right onto Richmond Avenue and continue to Arthur Kill Road. Turn left onto Arthur Kill Road. Proceed approximately 1.5 miles and turn right onto Clarke Avenue (just beyond cemetery). Parking lot is just ahead on the left. FROM THE GOETHALS BRIDGE: Take Staten Island Expressway to Richmond Avenue exit. Turn left at traffic light and right at light onto Richmond Avenue. Continue to Arthur Kill Road. Turn left onto Arthur Kill Road. Proceed approximately 1.5 miles and turn right onto Clarke Avenue (just beyond cemetery). Parking lot is just ahead on the left. FROM THE OUTERBRIDGE CROSSING: Take Korean War Veterans Parkway to Richmond Avenue North exit. Turn right onto Arthur Kill Road. After passing cemetery, at traffic light turn right onto Clarke Avenue. Parking lot is just ahead on the left.

Click here for a map.