Abram Duryee was born in New York City on April 29, 1815, shortly after the close of the second war with England in which his father and two uncles took part. His paternal grandfather was a veteran of the Revolution. After attending the grammar school of Columbia College, Duryee became a mahogany importer and made a fortune. He became interested in the militia as early as 1833 and by 1849, in the course of zealous service, had been promoted to colonel. He was twice wounded during the Astor Place riots of 1849 and in 1859 resigned his commission against the protests of his comrades. Two years later, however, with civil war in prospect, Duryee recruited a regiment of volunteers known as Duryee's Zouaves, which were mustered in as the 5th New York Infantry. With them he saw action at the first battle of the war at Big Bethel, Virginia. Abraham Lincoln appointed him a brigadier general of volunteers to rank from August 31, 1861, and he was assigned to instruct recruits until his plea for active duty resulted in his assignment to the command of a brigade of James B. Rickett's division in McDowell's III Corps during the campaign of Second Manassas. Duryee was twice wounded in this campaign and at South Mountain and Sharpsburg, he was again wounded on three occasions. But as senior brigadier, Duryee commanded the division for a time after the wounding of Ricketts. Upon returning to the army after a thirty-day leave, Duryee found the regiments of his division reassigned by orders from army headquarters; a new corps commander; and John Gibbon, junior by date of commission as brigadier general, assigned to the command of Rickett's old division. Duryee felt that he had been overslaughed and, failing to obtain satisfaction through official channels, tendered his resignation, which was accepted January 5, 1863. At the close of the war he was made a major general of volunteers by brevet for gallant and meritorious service in almost every engagement in which he had smelled powder. General Duryee served as police commissioner of New York in 1873 and as dock master in 1884. He died on September 27, 1890, and was buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.