People are often surprised about how much Civil War history took place in New York City. Yes, with the major exception of the 1863 draft riots there was no fighting here, but the municipality was integral to the Union war effort on a number of political and economic levels. One should actually say municipalities, as Brooklyn was an independent city until 1898. If you look closely and know what you are looking at, you can see Brooklyn’s one-time independence reflected within the language of the many plaques and monuments sprinkled throughout our fine borough. Even militarily New York City was important, what with Governors Island, Fort Lafayette, the harbor defenses, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard right here. New York City was crucial to putting down the Rebellion. It was to Governors Island, for instance, that Major Anderson sailed after surrendering Fort Sumter. New York was important in the postwar period also. The Grants called New York City home after leaving the White House, and are buried there. The widowed Varina Davis moved to Manhattan, where she was active in political and social life until her death in 1906. And they are just a few names I am coming up with off the top of my head. One of my projects this winter is to create my own catalog of Civil War-related things to see and do in the five boroughs and beyond. Look for it soon. In the meantime here is a short list from NYCGO.
(painting by Seth Eastman, U.S. Army Center for Military History)