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Henry O'Brien (alternatively listed in some records as H.J., H.F. or Henry F. O'Brien) (d. July 14, 1863) was the colonel of the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment who was killed during the New York Draft Riots in 1863. As commander of the Fire Zouaves, he rallied around 150 infantry against approaching rioters in front of Oliver's Livery Stable near the East River. As police under Inspector Daniel C. Carpenter[1] began withdrawing after fighting with rioters on Second Avenue, O'Brien arrived with two companies at 34th Street and Second Avenue.

After a brief skirmish with the rioters, the mob retreated and O'Brien left his command and walked up the avenue entering a nearby drugstore. However, after a few moments, he was attacked by a group of rioters which had reorganized as he left the building. Severely beaten and mutilated by the crowd, he was kicked and hit with stones as he lay on the street. After an hour, he continued to be harassed with rioters putting a stick down his throat. Although local residents attempted to help, rioters attacked bystanders attempting to bring him food and water. He was eventually taken by rioters to his nearby home where he was tortured to death and mutilated beyond recognition. After rioters had left, his body was allowed to be transferred to Bellevue Hospital.


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  • Asbury, Herbert. The Gangs of New York. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1928. ISBN 1-56025-275-8
  • Barnes, David M. The Draft Riots in New York, July, 1863: The Metropolitan Police, Their Services During Riot Week. New York: Baker & Godwin Printers and Publishers, 1863.
  • Berger, Meyer. Meyer Berger's New York. New York: Fordham University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8232-2328-0
  • Hoehling, Adolph A. Disaster: Major American Catastrophes. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1973.

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