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Bread Riot

April 2, 1863

New Page 2

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 following statement: 

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.

The Bread Riot in Richmond.
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.

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