Special to the Tribune Chronicle
From July 13th to the 16th 1863 there was a tremendous backlash to the new 'draft' laws issued by Congress and President Lincoln. The riots became the largest civilian insurrection regarding the war during its entire duration. The commutation fee of $300 was regarded by the predominantly working class Irish as insurmountable. It obviously favored the rich who could hire a replacement and force the lower class into uniform. The riots were initially to express displeasure over the new laws but quickly turned into a race riot with the white men seeking out all blacks and eventually killing an estimated 100. Many public buildings were burned or damaged by the rioters including two Protestant Churches. The mayor and Governor of New York immediately requested Federal troops to quell the riots and the President immediately ordered troops to the city.
Part of the contingent of men to be sent to New York was the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry with Company H from Trumbull County. Below is a portion of a diary from a member of the 7th who went to New York with the regiment. I think the direct excerpts from that document are more revealing as to the circumstances that the men experienced during their short trip.
Addison Halbert, a member of the 7th Ohio Volunteers maintained a diary throughout his career in the service. The following describes their trip to the big city.
August, Saturday 15, 1863
An order came for the Ohio regiments to be ready to march with 3 days rations. The boys are growling because we shall have to leave our shady camp.
August, Sunday 16, 1863
We had reveille at 4 a.m. and before 6 we were on the road. Gen. Geary (former Warren School Superintendent) made us a speech complimenting the brigade and he said he hoped we should return to the old Division again. We marched fast and at noon arrived at Rappahannock Station. We rode on platform cars with pontoon boats ... We arrived at Alexandria about 4 o'clock. We came through the town and camped.
August, Monday 17, 1863
Alexandria Va.- I went up and took breakfast with Charlie Buxton at the Mansion House. We were all glad to see Charlie and he to see us. We were paid off for two months. We got a good dinner at a restaurant. I went all over town. I saw the house where Gen. Braddock once had his Head Quarters also the hotel where Ellsworth was shot. We expect to go tomorrow. We went to the river and had a swim.
August, Tuesday 18, 1863
We have been running about town all day visiting the noted forts and other places. We know not when we shall go away. We were sorry to hear today that our Adjutant Brooks (Charles A. Brooks of Warren) was killed by the RR cars at Cleveland 0. while recruiting.
August, Wednesday 19, 1863
Burns and I bought some ham, eggs, cheese &c. and we got up a good breakfast. We then went down to the dock and saw several barge transports lying in the river. Our baggage is ordered to be put on board tonight. I bought a cap $2.00. We drew clothing today. I drew a blouse and pants. We had dress parade at 6-1/2 o'clock. Col. Creighton made us a long speech and drilled us an hour. King and I went up town in the evening.
August, Thursday 20, 1863
We pass off time as best we can being in town part of the time and around camp the rest. Col. Candy has issued an order that we shall not go to town without a pass but he cannot stop the boys. Our camp is full of hucksters selling everything.
August, Friday 21, 1863
Today has been very hot. I remained in camp this forenoon but this afternoon Burns and I went to the edge of town and read in the shade of a house. I am reading "Guy Manuering???" a very good story.
August, Saturday 22, 1963 On board the "Baltic."
We received orders to be ready to go on board the transport for New York at 2 o'clock p.m. We packed up and at 2 we marched through Alexandria. As our regt. came opposite the Provost Marshals our Col. halted us and we gave three times three and a rooster. We then marched to the dock and getting on board a tug we were soon on board the steamer Baltic. The vessel is very large and our whole brigade is on board. The 5th Mich. is now in our brigade.
August, Sunday 23, 1863
We left Alexandria at 5 am and felt glad to get off. We came down past Mt. Vernon, Ft. Washington, Dumfries, Aquia Creek &c. About 2 o'clock p.m. we struck a sand bar and the vessel was soon fast on. After trying in vain to get off word was sent to Washington (by a tug) to get help. The river is about Six miles wide here.
August, Monday 24, 1863
This morning two tugs came and when the tide came up another attempt to get the boat off was made but of no avail. The bow of the "Baltic" is raised 7 feet on the bar. The captain has sent for more help. One of the tugs went to shore and brought back a lot of melons which sold for $1.00 each. Our officers took a ride on one of the tugs.
August, Tuesday 25, 1863 On a Sand bar
Another day gone and we are still here. Four steamers came from Washington and after taking part of the troops of the "Baltic" they all hitched on to the Baltic and pulled for hours but could not move her. Most of our regt are now on board the "Forest City" a nice steamer which brought conscripts from Boston to Alexandria. This same steamer captured the "Tacony" pirated near Portland, Me. Col. Candy has sent for more rations.
August, Wednesday 26,1863
Two years ago this morning was captured at Cross Lanes. I have passed through much since and am thoughtful that I am alive and well. No attempts to get the "Baltic" off the bar has been made today. I got some water melons today from one of our tugs. Daily papers arrived today. The siege of Charleston goes on the old Fort Sumter is nearly destroyed. We are faring well on the boat. Our rations are cooked by steam.
August, Thursday 27, 1863 On board the "Baltic"
This forenoon as the Baltic was being unloaded, she broke loose from the sandbar. We are glad of it as we are going on to New York as soon as the Baltic can be made ready. We came down the river a few miles and anchored and now the boat is being loaded again. We got mail today. Abt. 5 p.m. the old Baltic weighed anchor and came down near the mouth of the Rappahannock where we anchored.
August, Friday 28, 1863
Anchor was raised at 4 o'clock am and away we sailed down the "Chesapeake" We passed the mouths of the York and James rivers. We saw Fortress Monroe in the distance. About 10 o'clock we left the Bay and came into the broad Atlantic. Very soon the boys were seen going to the side of the ship to leave their breakfast. I have escaped sickness thus far. We have had a quiet sail seeing but few ships and sometimes a few porpoises. Saw a beautiful sun set.
August, Saturday 29, 1863
We arrived at New York Harbor a 1 o'clock p.m. Our reg't. landed on Governors Island and put up our tents. This forenoon we had a very hard shower while on the Baltic. We are camped near Fort Columbus on a firm green plat. We can see New York. Brooklyn also the whole harbor with a vast amount of shipping
August, Sunday 30, 1863
The other regts landed from the "Baltic" and camped beside us. The regulars had an inspection in great style. One Co. of them has been in service 20 years. I feel dizzy from riding on the boat yet.
August 31, 1863 Monday
The 56' and 3d Mich. regts. left for Troy this morning Avery and I got an A Tent which they left and it seems better than the Ponchos. We can buy almost anything here. Low peddlers & sutlers. We dug some clams from the beach. They are very good.
September 1, 1863, Tuesday
I bought some bread, butter eggs &c. I have not felt well since coining off the boat but hope to get over it soon. The weather is very pleasant and all we have to do is to be at Roll call so we spend the day as we please. We have one pass to go to the city. I am to have one on the 7th.
September 3, 1863 Thursday
We have again begun to drill. We drill from 6 AM to 7 3/2 o'clock and and from 4 to 5 p.m. We now draw soft bread in our rations and it does much better than "hared tack". Our sutler has arrived and set up shop once more.
September, Saturday 5,1863
We drilled two hours and have passed the rest of the day as we please. WE lie in the shade and read or play ball &c.
September, Sunday 6, 1863
There was very good preaching in the Chapel this morning I should have gone to the city today if Sam had come back with the pass. We have orders to be ready to march and we have turned over to the Quarter Master all things we do not need.
September, Monday 7, 1863
We are under marching orders and have 5 days rations on hand. We expect to go today but did not for some reason. Hayes got his box today and I received some sugar, fruit, beef &c. They are very welcome.
September, Tuesday 8, 1863
New York Harbor.
We are now leaving New York on board the Baltic bound for Alexandria. Some think that we will remain on the boat and be sent south from there. We have a fine day for sailing.
The harbor is full of shipping. We have 20 days rations on board.
September, Thursday 10, 1863
We entered the Chesapeake this morn and took on a pilot. We then came on to the mouth of the Potomac and got another pilot. We came up the river over the shoals all right and anchored for the night near Dumfries Landing.
September, Friday 11, 1863
We arrived of Alexandria at 10 o'clock and soon commenced disembarking. The horses were raised in a sling over the side of the boat and lowered to another boat. We camped in the south part of town. We bought some bread and butter and I opened my can of strawberries. They were fresh and very nice.
It was not long after when the regiment was reassigned to the west under General Grant.