Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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DURYEE, Abram, soldier, born in New York City, 29 April 1815. He is of Huguenot descent, and his grandfather served in the Revolutionary war, being at one time a prisoner in the old sugarhouse on Liberty Street. His father and two of his uncles served as officers in the war of 1812. Young Duryee was graduated at the Crosby Street high school, and trained to mercantile life, accumulating a fortune as a mahogany merchant in New York. He entered the New York state militia in 1833, and served in the 142d regiment, Five years later he joined the 27th regiment (now the 7th) as a private, and rose gradually until he became its colonel in 1849, holding that office for fourteen years. During the Astor place riots he commanded his regiment and was twice wounded, and he also participated in the subsequent police, City hall, sixth ward, and " deadrabbit" riots with the 7th.
In April 1861, he raised in less than a week the 5th New York volunteers, a regiment best known as " Duryee's zouaves." His command was engaged at Big Bethel, the first battle of the war, and after the fight he was made acting brigadier general, superseding General E. W. Pierce. In August 1861, he received his commission as brigadier general and was given command of a brigade in General James B. Ricketts's division. He participated in the battles of Cedar Mountain, Thoroughfare Gap, second Bull Run, and Charttilly, and with the Army of the Potomac was at South Mountain and Antietam, where he commanded General Ricketts's division when the latter succeeded General Hooker as corps commander. He then obtained a short leave of absence, and on his return to the army found that his brigade had been given to an inferior in rank. His claims for the old position were ignored, and in consequence he resigned in January 1863. At the close of the war he received the brevet of major general. Subsequently he was elected colonel of the 71st regiment, and brigadier general of the 4th New York brigade, but both of these honors he declined. Besides his own regiment, the 165th (2d Duryee zouaves) and the 4th regiments in the National Guard bore his name. In 1873 he was appointed police commissioner in New York City, which office he held for many years. At the time of the communistic gathering in Tompkins square during January 1874, with a small force of police he attacked the crowd, captured their banners, and drove them from the square.
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