By Monday, July 20, one week after New York’s draft riot merchants began collecting relief measures for that city’s Negro victims.
Poor white laborers who did not wish to be drafted and risk their lives on the battlefield for the purpose of ending the institution of slavery had taken out their frustrations on the city’s blacks. Many innocent Negroes had been beaten or lynched, and the city’s Colored Orphan Asylum had been sacked and burned. Black owned or operated businesses also had been looted.
On Saturday July 18, 1863 six thousand Union troops, led by the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Colored Infantry, frontally assaulted Battery Wagner on Morris Island in Charlestown Harbor and its 1785 Confederate defenders.
By July 18, 1863 Confederate General John Hunt Morgan was about to complete the first week of his abortive raid into the American North. Hunt and approximately 2500 cavalry left Kentucky on July 11, crossing the Ohio River into Indiana where his troopers plundered Corydon, the former capital.
Hunt’s 1000 mile raid spread great fear throughout the American North; martial law was declared in Cincinnati and other Northern cities. Yet Union forces successfully prevented Morgan from re-crossing the Ohio River, constantly forcing him toward the northeast.
On July 14, 1863, as George Meade’s Union troops occupied empty Confederate entrenchments north of the Potomac, Abraham Lincoln wrote Meade a letter noting “…I am very-very grateful to you for the magnificent success you gave the cause of the country at Gettysburg; and I am sorry now to be the author of the slightest pain to you. But I was in such deep distress myself that I could not restrain some expression of it….Your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed immeasureably [sic]….”
On Monday, July 13, 1863 rioting broke out in New York City. A new Federal draft law had just taken effect, and there was great resentment over its provisions for substitutions and the purchase of exemptions. A mob of Irish and other foreign laborers stormed the draft headquarters and quickly began to loot many business establishments.
By Monday, July 13, 1863 with Lee fortifying his position north of the Potomac River it seemed that the Union Army of the Potomac was finally moving into position to attack him. However, during the night Lee crossed the Potomac into the safety of Northern Virginia.
On Friday, July 10, 1863 Union troops landed on the south end of Morris Island near Charlestown, South Carolina. This constituted the first step of a siege that would last until September; Federal troops first had to subdue Fort Wagner, one of the main defenses protecting Charlestown Harbor, if Charlestown was to be taken.
A concerned Jefferson Davis, writing earlier to General Joseph Johnston, urged that the enemy “may yet be crushed and the late disaster be repaired by a concentration of all forces.”
On July 8, 1863 when news of Vicksburg’s surrender reached Port Hudson, Louisiana, the last Confederate garrison on the Mississippi, Confederate General Franklin Gardner realized that further resistance was futile and, after receiving terms from Union General Nathaniel Banks, surrendered unconditionally his force of approximately 7000 Confederate troops.
Lee’s battered Army of Northern Virginia retreated from Gettysburg, moving south toward Hagerstown, Maryland. Unfortunately, except for skirmishing by cavalry, Meade’s victorious Army of the Potomac did not vigorously pursue Lee even though heavy rains on July 4 had swollen the Potomac River, isolating the Confederates on the north side of the river.
From Lincoln and the Union War Department George Meade received multiple messages urging him to pursue Lee, given that the Confederates could not immediately cross the Potomac.