Regiment Name: 5th Regiment, New York Infantry
Soldier's Rank In: Colonel
Soldier's Rank Out: Colonel
Film Number: M551 roll 40
Just after the start of Civil War, Duryée raised a new regiment, the 5th New York Volunteers, in less than a week. He became its colonel on May 14, 1861. It was one of the several Zouave units that were formed in the mid-19th century. "Duryée's Zouaves", as they became known, fought at Big Bethel. Duryée was appointed brigadier general, on August 31, 1861, to rank from that date. President Abraham Lincoln submitted the nomination to the U.S. Senate on December 21, 1861 and the Senate confirmed the nomination on February 3, 1862. Duryée was given command of a brigade in the division under General James B. Ricketts. He later fought in the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Second Battle of Bull Run, and several others. At the Battle of Antietam, he succeeded Ricketts as division commander, when the latter replaced General Joseph Hooker as corps commander. He was not afraid to be in the thick of the action; he was wounded at Second Bull Run, South Mountain, and Antietam.
After Antietam, Duryée went on a short leave of absence, and, when he returned, was disheartened to find his brigade under the command of Brig. Gen. John Gibbon, who was his junior by date of rank. He resigned on January 5, 1863, after the army rejected his claims to his old command. Despite this, on July 20, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Duryée for appointment to the brevet grade of major general of volunteers, to rank from March 13, 1865, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination on July 26, 1866. He was also elected by the 71st New York Infantry Regiment as their colonel and as Brigadier General by the 4th New York Brigade, both of which he declined.
In 1873, Duryée was appointed New York City Police Commissioner. During his tenure as police commissioner, on January 13, 1874, Duryée led a force of 1,600 policemen to suppress a labor protest in Tompkins Square Park. Although there were no notices in sight to inform the crowd that the meeting's permit had been revoked, Commissioner Duryée led a squad of patrolmen into the crowd and ordered protestors to disperse. Police immediately began to attack the crowd using batons and mounted police charges. Samuel Gompers later described the scene in his memoirs, writing that "mounted police charged the crowd on Eighth Street, riding them down and attacking men, women, and children without discrimination. It was an orgy of brutality. I was caught in the crowd on the street and barely saved my head from being cracked by jumping down a cellarway." 46 protestors were arrested by the police, and ten were later arraigned on charges of assault and battery against police officers, aiding and inciting riot, or with charges of "meeting and talking wildly in the streets." Speakers for the New York Committee of Safety, the organizers of the Tompkins Square protest, condemned Commissioner Duryée for having "charged his police upon inoffensive workingmen like so many 'bulldogs.'" Duryée defended the police's use of force: "It was the most glorious sight I ever saw the way the police broke and drove the crowd. Their order was perfect as they charged with their clubs uplifted."
In 1884, Duryée served as dockmaster.
Abram Duryée died in New York and is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn.