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The New York Herald
BALTIMORE, April 7, 1863.
Serious Bread Riot in Richmond. Three Thousand Armed Women
Attack the Government and Private Stores.
Col. Stewart, of the Second Indiana regiment, one of the fourteen United States
officers just released by the rebels, and who has just arrived here, makes the
On Thursday last he saw from his prison window to Richmond a great
bread riot, composed of about three thousand women, who were armed with clubs
and guns and stones. They broke open the government and private stores, and
took bread, clothing and whatever else they wanted. The militia were ordered
out to check the riot, but failed to do so.
Jeff. Davis and other high officials made speeches to the infuriated
women, and told them they should have whatever they needed. They then became
calm, and order was once more restored. All the other released Union officers
confirm this statement.
THE SITUATION - April 8, 1863.
The Bread Riot which took place in Richmond on Thursday is very significant of
the condition to which rebeldom is reduced. If the people of that city are
compelled to break open the public stores to obtain bread, what must be the
state of the inhabitants of those districts which produce but little food and
raise mainly cotton or tobacco? Virginia is the most fruitful grain raising
State in the South, and is the Eastern portion of it what Tennessee and Kentucky
are to the West, and if the want of food manifests itself in such a
demonstrative fashion as to bring out a hungry mob of three thousand women into
the streets of the capital, we can readily imagine how dire must be the distress
existing in the other States.
INTERESTING FROM THE SOUTH.
"THE FOOD QUESTION."
The Bread Riot in Richmond.
OUR HEADQUARTERS CORRESPONDENCE.
April 11, 1863.
A refugee from Richmond, who left that city on Tuesday, gives an interesting account of the riot of the 2d inst.
Considerable excitement had prevailed for some time in consequence of the exorbitant prices, and rumors of a popular
movement had been in circulation for several days. Females had begged in the streets and at the stores until begging did no
good, and many had been driven to robbery to sustain life. On the morning of the 2d inst. A large meeting, composed
principally of the wives and daughters of the working classes, was held in the African church, and a committee appointed to
wait upon the Governor to request that articles of food should
be sold at government rates. After the passage of sundry resolutions the meeting adjourned, and the committee proceeded
to wait upon Governor Letcher. The functionary declined to take any steps in the matter, and upon urging the case the
ladies were peremptorily ordered to withdraw. The result of the interview was soon made public, when a body of females,
numbering about three hundred, collected together and commenced helping themselves to bread, flour, meat, articles of clothing,
&c. The entire city was at once thrown into consternation.
Stores were closed, the windows barred, doors bolted, and every precaution taken against forcible entries; but hatchets and
axes in the hands of women rendered desperate by hunger made quick work, and building after building was rapidly broken
open. The destruction commenced on Carey street, above Fifteenth street, and was becoming general in that section of
the city, when the City Guard, with fixed bayonets, arrived at the scene of operations. A few individuals attempted to resist
the women, but without success. One man who struck a female was wounded in the shoulder by a shot from a revolver, and the
threatening attitude of those armed with hatchets, &c. intimidated others from attempting force. The Mayor soon
appeared, and, mounting a stool on the sidewalk, proceeded to read the Riot Act. During the reading of that document a
portion of the crowd suspended operations; but no soon had the Mayor concluded than the seizure of provisions commence again
more vigorously than before. At this juncture an attempt was made to arrest the more violent; but the party immediately
scattered, and, entering Main street, resumed operations.
Gov. Letcher then appeared, and, mounting a vehicle in the centre of the street, addressed the throng, characterizing the
demonstration as a disgrace and a stigma upon the city, and announcing that but five minutes would be given them in which
to disperse. If in that time the order was not complied with, the troops would be called upon to act. Again the crowd broke
up, and in a few moments burst into the stores of Franklin
street, But little damage was done here, however, and the riot finally subsided; but not until after the arrest of about
forty of the women, and the promise of the Governor to relieve the wants of the destitute. A large amount of bread and bacon
was carried off, and all engaged in the riot succeeded in getting a good supply of provisions. Steps have been taken to
provide for the immediate wants of some of the families; but
great suffering still prevails and is daily increasing. Another uprising is feared, and precautionary measures for its
suppression have been instituted; but great uneasiness is felt throughout the city, and merchants are adding to the strength
of doors and shutters in every possible manner. The effect of this riot upon the troops about Richmond was very demoralizing.
The authorities are much exercised over it, and the greatest vigilance is enjoined upon the police force. The leading men
of the city attempted to circulate the report that the women
were "Irish and Yankee hags," endeavoring to mislead the public concerning the amount of loyal sentiment in the city, miserably
failed. The fact of their destitution and respectability was too palpable, and the authorities are forced to admit the
conclusion that starvation alone incited the movement.
Troops are being hurried up from Richmond to Fredericksburg. There is still a large force in the vicinity
of Richmond; but these, it is believed, are about to leave for the Rappahannock. Fortifications are being thrown up on the
Rapidan river, and the force in that section is being augmented. No work is going on upon the
defenses about Richmond. Two gunboats (iron clads) are afloat in James river. The Virginia has been trying to get below the obstructions, and
now lies near DruryBluff. The third is unfinished, but is rapidly approaching completion. The iron works are worked to
their utmost in the manufacture of munitions of war; but the
iron is of miserable quality, and many of their projectiles contain pieces of stone.
The railroads have almost entirely given out, and no material is to be had for their repair. Great despondency
prevails, and the events of the next three months are awaited with most absorbing anxiety.