I pulled these articles together for the other forum, and thought I would also post them here. If this doesn't make it to the 2006 version I can always do it again. The question involved sources for bread riots in the Confederacy.
CHARLESTON MERCURY, March 23, 1863, p. 1, c. 3
Novel Impressment.--Fifteen or twenty women, the leader of whom carried a revolver, in Atlanta, on Wednesday, went around to a number of grocery stores, seizing bacon, meal, and vegetables, paying such prices as they thought proper. They were dispersed by the police. The Confederacy says the women were only imitating the example set them by Government officials.
CHARLESTON MERCURY, March 25, 1863, p. 2, c. 1
Another Female Food Riot took place in Salisbury, N. C., on the 18th. The women concerned in it compelled the merchants to share with them their stock of flour, and also robbed several families of the stock laid in for home use. Salt, snuff and molasses was also taken.
WEEKLY COLUMBUS [GA] ENQUIRER, April 7, 1863, p. 3, c. 1
The Women Rising.—A crowd of women, some of them armed with revolvers and bowie-knives, entered the store of Rosenwald & Bro., on Triangular block, this morning, and took forcible possession of several pieces of calico.—The proprietor demurred to this seizure, and rushed upon the woman who had the bowie-knife, and took it from her—also re-captured two bolts of calico in possession of the invaders. He has lost but one piece of goods, he thinks. The scene in Second street was, we learn, quite exciting for the time it was in progress—but the women shortly dispersed and the usual quiet of the neighborhood was resumed.
We know nothing of the cause of the outbreak, but sincerely deplore the circumstances. It is all wrong, decidedly wrong—and it behooves our authorities to take such action as will supply the destitute women of the vicinity, and thus prevent, for the future, any such raids upon private property. These women probably need clothing as well as food, and their wants should be supplied from public contributions, in the absence of employment that will yield sufficient remuneration for their toil! Men of wealth, open your coffers and let the poor be clothed and fed, before they become desperate and help themselves to what their hands can find.—Macon Confed, 1st.
MEMPHIS DAILY APPEAL [JACKSON, MS], April 13, 1863, p. 2, c. 6
A Bold Experiment.
From the Richmond Examiner.]
The reader will find in the report of evidence in the police court, the true account of a so-called riot in the streets of Richmond. A handful of prostitutes, professional thieves, Irish and Yankee hags, gallows birds from all lands but our own, congregated in Richmond, with a woman huckster at their head, who buys veal at the toll-gate for a hundred and sells the same for two hundred and fifty in the morning market, undertook the other day to put into private practice the principles of the commissary department. Swearing that they would have goods "at government prices," they broke open half a dozen shoe stores, hat stores, and tobacco houses, and robbed them of everything but bread, which was just they thing they wanted least. Under the demagogue's delusion that they might be "poor people," "starving people," and the like, an institution of charity made a distribution of rice and flour to all who would ask for it. Considering the circumstances, it was a vile, cowardly and pernicious act; but the manner in which it was received exhibits the character of this mob. Miscreants were seen to dash the rice and flour into the muddy street, where the traces still remain, with the remark that "if that was what they were going to give, they might go to h-ll." It is greatly to be regretted that this most villainous affair was not punished on the spot. Instead of shooting every wretch engaged at once, the authorities contented themselves with the ordinary arrest, and hence the appearance of the matter in the police report of the morning.
If it were the only thing of this sort which has appeared in Southern cities, it would not be worth attention. But as the reader has already seen from our columns, some two weeks ago there was one in Atlanta, immediately followed by one in Mobile; which was succeeded by another in Salisbury; then in Petersburg; and the very next day by this in Richmond. Now if these were unconcerted tumultuous movements, caused by popular suffering, they would not, could not, have this regular gradation of time from one city to another in the line of travel from the South to North. It is impossible to doubt that the concealed investigators in each case were the same. Having done the work in one city, they took the cars to the next. That they are emissaries of the Federal government it is equally difficult to doubt. For some time past the Northern press has teemed with intimations of some wonderful secret machinery which was at work to overthrow the South. This is what they meant. No doubt the next arrival of Northern newspapers will be filled with lies about these thief saturnalia, which will shame Munchausen. As three hundred Yankee prisoners went off by flag of truce on yesterday, the whole story, with all the additions which malice and invention can supply, has already got as far as Old Point.
No doubt either that they will be represented as "bread riots!" Bread riots! while this and every other city of the South has always had large appropriations for the poor uncalled for; when labor is so scarce that everything in human shape that is willing to work can make from two to four dollars in the day; when seamstresses refuse two dollars and a half, with board, because the said board does not include tea and butter! Plunder, theft, burglary, and robbery, were the motives of these gangs, foreigners and Yankees the organizers of them.
One thing is certain, that if any exhibition of the sort appear again, it must be put down in such a manner that it will never be repeated. There would never have been but one if the magistrates and citizens of the town in which they occurred had done their duty. A most contemptible notion, that such disturbance is a shame, which must be hidden, (as well try to hide the sun!) led them to coax and wheedle the audacious miscreants engaged in it. That course ensured their recurrence. It always does so. When an individual permits himself to be black-mailed by a scoundrel, he is always bled again and again till he is exhausted; so too a community which permits itself to be bullied by its criminal population, must expect to find it bolder every day until it rules all. We know that a street rabble, of which a cowardly king was afraid, once got such possession of Paris; that it produced an anarchy of blood and horror which lasted two years; lasted till the mob met a Corsican lieutenant who was not afraid of it or aught; when it vanished in a whiff of powder smoke and never was heard of again. Times of revolution and war are always fertile in this species of crime, and unless checked properly it becomes exceedingly dangerous to the public cause. There is only one way to check it properly. The opportunity to do so should not be avoided, or approached reluctantly, but eagerly sought and pursued to its very utmost extent of availability.
It is useless to dwell on this truth. For citizens who have arms in their hands and yet permit their money and property to be ravished form them by cowardly burglars and thieves, because they are incited to come in a gang of fifty in broad day light, instead of by twos or threes at midnight, we have no sympathy. If the officers of the law, with the ample decision and energy to do more than arrest highway robbers and disperse a mob of idlers at their heels, whose presence there deserved immediate death quite as well, no words or arguments can furnish them with the pluck they lack.
MEMPHIS DAILY APPEAL [JACKSON, MS], April 15, 1863, p. 2, c. 4
A Mob in Columbus.
An event which we had been long expecting, transpired in this city on this morning. A company of women, led on and encouraged by a few vagabonds whose presence is a pestilence in any community, and especially so in ours, congregated near the new bridge in the upper part of the city, organized themselves into a "seizing" party and proceeded down Broad street for the purpose of making impressments of private property on their own account.
The company numbered about sixty-five viragoes, some of whom were armed with pistols and knives, all cursing and swearing, and threatening what they intended to do in case speculators or merchants refused to grant their reasonable requests. They proceeded down nearly the whole length of the business part of the street, when they came to a halt in front of Mr. George A. Norris' dry goods store, entered it and commenced helping themselves to whatever they wanted, when the police was called in and the mob dispersed. A competent guard has since been furnished by Major Humphreys, of the ordnance department, and no further apprehension is felt.
One man, a graceless vagabond, by the name of Brooks, generally known as "Shanghai" Brooks, who accompanied the mob to the store, and who stood outside the door encouraging the Amazons in their seizures, was arrested and is now in jail. What disposition will be made of his case we are not advised.
This is some of the legitimate fruits of what Governor Brown is pleased to call "impressments" for the benefit of the people." It began in this State with the functionary, two years ago, in Atlanta, or other markets in Georgia, where salt was selling at ten and twelve dollars per sack, and has culminated as we witnessed in Columbus this morning.--Columbus Sun.
MOBILE REGISTER AND ADVERTISER, November 19, 1862, p. 2, c. 2
The ladies of Cartersville, Ga., know how to deal with the extortioners. A mass meeting of the dear creatures went into a store in that place the other day and seized such goods as they wanted.
MOBILE REGISTER AND ADVERTISER, April 16, 1863, p. 1, c. 4
Calico or Burst.—Some women in our city and from Girard, Ala., concluded they could no longer wear homespun frocks, and devised a movement to obtain the pretty colored fabrics free of cost. So at an early hour yesterday morning, they assembled at the west end of the upper bridge, and after choosing a Captain and Lieutenants filed over the bridge to Broad street, down Broad street until they arrived at the store of Mr. George A. Norris into which they marched, and upon being asked what they wished, they cried cloth, caliker or bust—by hokey. After a parley of a few moments, in which Mayor Wilkins had something to say to these seizers, they departed from the store and dispersed to their homes quicker than they left them, especially after hearing the order of the Mayor to the police, to arrest every woman of them who did not behave herself properly, and put them in jail.
We wish it distinctly understood that this was no bread demonstration, but a concocted plan on the part of a few women to get a new frock without buying it.
The whole affair did not occupy the public mind an hour, as the parties soon left the streets satisfied that they had attempted a job larger than they bargained for.—[Columbus Sun, 11th.
MONTGOMERY WEEKLY ADVERTISER, April 15, 1863, p. 1, c. 3
We transfer to our columns, from the Richmond Examiner, an article commenting in terms of merited severity on the recent demonstrations which have been made in Richmond, Salisbury, and Atlanta, and believe with it that exhibitions of the sort witnessed in those cities should be put down in such a manner than they will not be likely to occur again. They have been denominated "Bread Riots," but it appears from the conduct of those engaged that bread is the article they need least. We have no doubt that some persons of good character have been induced to participate in these movements, but the leaders and instigators are professional thieves, prostitutes and gallows birds of every hue and nationality. Many of those implicated are doubtless in the pay of the Yankee Government; others have had their fears and passions excited by the gloomy and discontented in our own country, who have been constantly holding up a picture of starvation and final submission, while others again, intent on theft and burglary, have eagerly seized upon a diseased popular sentiment in the hope that it can be made to yield them a rich harvest.
In every instance where these so-called "bread riots" have occurred it will be found on investigation that the parties mainly responsible for the movement, are either those who have no need of public assistance or those who have been fed by the hand of charity until they have learned to disregard the rights of property, and to look upon the allowance meted out to them by the benevolence of their fellows as only a small portion of what they have a right to demand. Their followers are not all, however, of the same stamp. Wearied and worn by the cares and duties incident to the present condition of the country, some of the more ignorant among the people may have been induced to lend their aid to a measure which involves them in lasting disgrace, and for these poor dupes no feelings but those of pity can be entertained, but for the guilty ringleaders there should be no sympathy and no mercy.—They have chosen to take advantage of the peculiar situation of the country to accomplish their own purposes, and should be treated no more leniently than other malefactors.
These demonstrations in themselves considered are comparatively unimportant, but the influence of example is contagious, and unless they are properly met and sternly rebuked at the outset they may lead to other movements which will endanger the safety of the Confederacy. The very worst spirit of agrarianism is developed in these outbursts, and every man and woman interested in preserving society from anarchy, and in preventing the spread of a sentiment of utter lawlessness is morally bound to use all necessary efforts to put a stop to such exhibitions in future.
That much inconvenience and some suffering have been experienced by the poorer classes during the past year, no one will deny, but we believe it capable of demonstration that the poor of the south have been better cared for, and their wants more fully supplied by the benevolent, than the poor of any other country ever were. Cases may have occurred in our cities, where parties have suffered for food, but those cases we have reason to believe, have been very few, and will bear no comparison to the thousands which daily occur in the heart of the great city of New York, or in the manufacturing districts of England. There it is not uncommon to see hundreds destitute of food, and without the means of procuring any; but in the Confederacy, thousands and tens of thousands of dollars have been given freely by the charitable to aid in supplying the wants of those who are straitened in their means of subsistence. Free markets have been established in nearly all the cities of the South, and all who were in need have been invited to partake of the public bounty. Thousands have availed themselves of the invitation, and we doubt not in many instances have fared better than they did before the war. If others have not, they alone are to blame; but they should have sense enough to know that any violent demonstration on their part, looking to a forcible seizure of property belonging to their neighbors, but will be almost certain to result disastrously to those who have been content to accept the proffered hand of charity.
In this connection it may be well to call the attention of the citizens to the importance of organizing on a proper basis the Free Market of this city. The institution now in existence has been freely sustained, and we believe none of our poor have suffered for food, but it is too much of a tax upon the time and attention of one man, and measures should be taken to relieve him. It is now settled, that the Free Market must be sustained, and no time ought to be lost in effecting an organization. There should be in every ward of the city, persons whose duty it is to examine into the claims of those seeking assistance, and award it to those really needing it. In this way charity could be properly dispensed, and the pestilent agitators who have created unhealthy excitements in our sister cities, could be exposed and their machinations defeated.
MONTGOMERY WEEKLY ADVERTISER, April 15, 1863, p. 2, c. 5
From the Richmond Whig.
In deference to the weak suggestion of authorities who are scarcely less afraid to acknowledge a disagreeable truth than the despotism at Washington, the papers of this city forbore to make mention of the riot which occurred on Thursday morning last.
When Fort Donelson fell, the news was kept back from the people for nearly a week, and to repeated inquiries made at the War Office, the answer was given that the Government was in possession of no intelligence. this was to have been expected from the person then at the head of the War Department, but under the new regime the people had a right to expect, and did expect, courage and common sense. To suppose that in a city containing nearly a hundred thousand people, every tongue and every pen could be checked, in obedience to the request of any human being whatever, and because the newspapers were silent—to believe, for an instant, that the throng of "special correspondents" would pass over the most precious item that has fallen into their nets since the war began—to hope that the courts would close their doors and investigate crime in secret session—to dream that passengers leaving by the cars, farmers going out on horseback, women in buggies and hucksters in chicken carts, would one and all be stricken dumb, or, retaining possession of their speech, would refuse to tell their wives, children, friends, neighbor, and gossips the marvelous story of the great "bread" riot—the breaking open of stores—the calling out of the military—the appeals of old citizens—the repeated reading of the riot act by the Mayor—the eloquent harangues of the President in a furniture wagon to a crowd of innocent men, squares away from the scene of female burglarism in broad daylight, suppose that all this could be suppressed by any agency conceivable, much less the meek silencing of the papers, is, to say the very least of it, the silliest expectation that ever entered the brains of men outside of strait-jackets.
This timidity, or want of common sense, or whatever else it may be called, must be regarded as by far the worst part of the business. The riot itself is as nothing compared to it. If the authorities who rule this Confederacy are so pusillanimous as to fear the truth, whatever it may be, or so deficient in intellect as to suppose that such a thing as a female riot could occur in Richmond, at any time of the day or night, and not be known outside of the city limits, then are we just as badly off as if we were starving. We are not starving, nor are we on the verge of it; but the ostrich system of hiding the head behind a leaf whenever danger is near, or thought to be near, does obtain in our councils; and there, and there only, is the only real trouble perceptible in this whole matter.
Happily, these daylight burglaries are undergoing judicial investigation; a great part of the stolen goods has been reclaimed; the ringleaders are being arrested; they will be tried and punished; a full account of the affair, from its obscure origin to its disgraceful culmination, will be made public; and the exaggerations that have gone to the country will be counteracted.
MONTGOMERY WEEKLY ADVERTISER, April 15, 1863, p. 3, c. 1
The Mobile papers correct the statement made in a recent article of the Richmond Examiner, concerning a woman riot in the former city. There has yet been no such disgraceful occurrence in Mobile.
MONTGOMERY WEEKLY ADVERTISER, April 22, 1863, p. 1, c. 6
The New York Tribune, of the 8th, gives a flourishing account of a great "bread riot in Richmond," for the particulars of which it is indebted to Col. Stewart, of the 22d Indiana Regiment, an U. S. Officer, just released by the Confederates. Col. S. says he witnessed the riot from his prison window. The rioters were composed of 3,000 women, who were armed. They broke upon 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 go. Jeff Davis and other high officials made speeches to the infuriated women, and told them they should have what they wanted, when they became calm.
SAVANNAH [GA] REPUBLICAN, April 13, 1863, p. 1, c. 1
Amazonians.—On Thursday and Friday last, feeble outbreaks of females armed with pistols and bowie knives, headed by a few vagabonds, were made in Augusta, Milledgeville and Columbus, in this State, for the purpose of helping themselves to merchandize at what they considered fair prices—all of which were promptly suppressed by the proper authorities.
The Columbus Sun, alluding to the affair in that city, says:
This is some of the legitimate fruits of what Gov. Brown is pleased to call "impressments" for the benefit of the people! It began in this State with that functionary, two years ago, in Atlanta, or other markets in Georgia, where salt was selling at ten and twelve dollars per sack, and has culminated in just such riots and lawless outbreaks as we witnessed in Columbus this morning.
SAVANNAH [GA] REPUBLICAN, April 30, 1863, p. 2, c. 3
Famine at the South.
In spite of all the efforts of Confederate journals North and South to conceal the fact, or deprive it of importance, no doubt remains that very serious bread riots have taken place in Richmond and other southern towns. In these riots the women have been the leaders; and that fact alone proves that absolute hunger must have been the cause of them. Women do not get up street riots, break open provision shops, and pillage bakeries and flour stores from political sympathies, nor from resentment against high prices. When their children are in peril of starvation, they become capable of anything. Nothing short of that extremity can have provoked the demonstrations admitted by the Rebel papers to have taken place in Richmond, in Raleigh, in Salisbury and many other Southern towns.
In each of these cases the rioters were women—"mostly soldiers' wives," say the North Carolina papers, that give account of the latest transactions. And these papers, more honest than those at Richmond, candidly admit that the women were prompted by hunger, their spirit sharpened, perhaps, by "hatred against speculators." The women armed themselves with hatchets and axes, broke upon stores that were not willingly opened to them, and took barrels of salt, flour and molasses, which they had hauled to the market house and divided equally between those who needed it. This was a real hunger riot, and no cloak for indiscriminate robbery, as pretended in Richmond. The Raleigh, N.C., Standard, in giving an account of it, exclaims with feeling, and with despair: "Bread riots have commenced, and where they will end God only knows."
We do not wish nor expect to create hopes of advantage over the rebellion by the mere representations of scarcity of provisions in the South. The best reliance—as it is, indeed, the only one—that a wise and powerful government should have, is the arm of military power delivering irresistible blows upon the enemy in the field. But it is certainly sound policy to consider the physical condition of the enemy we are contending with, and take advantage of any moment of weakness and exhaustion that may come upon him. That time with the Rebels we surely believe is now. We have cumulative evidence that a scarcity of food never before paralleled exists in the South, that is weakening the Rebel army, disturbing the Rebel rulers, and upturning the most inveterate traditions and usages of Southern society. This is the time, then, to press our armies upon the enemy, and still further disturb and disorganize his agriculture. Two months hence it may be too late. He may have then harvested his crops and passed the point of famine.—N. Y. Times.
DAILY TIMES [LEAVENWORTH, KS], September 16, 1863, p. 2, c. 3
Memphis, Sept. 11.
Refugees lately arrived within our lines bring exciting reports of the terrible condition of affairs in the Southwest.
One man, who left Mobile on the 5th, states there was a terrible riot of soldiers' wives in Mobile on the 4th. About six hundred women and children collected at Spring Hill, armed with clubs and hatchets, and marched through the principal streets, carrying banners inscribed, "Bread or Blood," "Bread or Peace," and other like inscriptions. Being soldiers' wives, the proceedings were winked at by the soldiers, who made but a feeble resistance. Several stores were broken open. One merchant, a Jew, struck one of the women. Some policemen present arrested the Jew and beat him severely.
Many citizens left town, among them my informant, who says the riot was increasing when he left.
DAILY TIMES [LEAVENWORTH, KS], January 31, 1864, p. 2, c. 5
A Union Spy in the South.
Condition of the Cotton States.
A correspondent of the Cincinnati Commercial gives a long and interesting account of the experiences of a Union spy who has been traveling since the third of August through the rebel states. . . . "Wherever he went he found the most intense suffering prevailing among the soldiers' families. Thousands drag out a miserable existence upon the paltry pittance derived from the government, for the manufacture of army clothing, at which about one dollar per day in Confederate money can be realized. Bread riots are frequent, yet the newspapers do not mention them, lest the intelligence reach their soldiery. They are not confined to one or two places, but are universal in every city and town throughout the South, where the poor, starving families can be collected together. The spy witnessed many of these riots, which he describes as extremely harrowing to the feelings of the humane. To such an extreme are the unfortunate families of soldiers driven that the women in towns and cities, as a last resort, take to a life of prostitution. So general is this that the name of "war widows" has become synonymous with a life of debauchery.
DAILY CONSTITUTIONALIST [AUGUSTA, GA], April 23, 1864, p. 1, c. 2
The Provision Mob in Savannah.
The investigation of the disgraceful emute of Tuesday attracted a large crowd at the Mayor’s Court yesterday morning. The first case called was that of Mary Welsh, who was charged with taking bacon from the store of Mr. John Gilliland, on Market square. Police officer Meace testified that he had arrested the accused with bacon in her possession. Several witnesses identified her as one of the women who entered Mr. G’s store on Tuesday, and took bacon.—She was turned over to the Magistrate for prosecution.
Anne McGlin and Julia McLane were charged with disorderly conduct in the streets. Both of these women were in the crowd who entered the store and helped themselves to their contents. Policeman Dowd and Lieut. Reilly, and Sheriff Cole, were the witnesses called. It was proven that Mrs. McClane had taken no part in the proceedings, having been a mere spectator. She was discharged. Mrs. McGlinn, when arrested, had a small quantity of rice in her possession, which she said had been given her by Mr. McIntire.
No one appearing to prosecute them, and as there was no evidence that they had committed an offence, the Mayor, in consideration that they were the wives of soldiers in the army, and having been confined all night in the guard house, discharged them from custody. Each of these women had from two to three children, and as no evidence of any guilt had been proven against them, the Mayor warned them against the illegal proceedings of the previous day, and stated that as all of those who had appeared before him had been receiving support from the Justices of the Inferior Court, in food, wood, money, &c., as he was determined to punish all who violated the laws, and their names should be stricken from the books of the Court. The laws, he said, must be sustained at all hazards, and at every sacrifice. The occurrence of yesterday was disgraceful to the city. That there was great distress among the poor of the city, as he well knew, but no circumstances could justily [sic?] resort to riots and attempts at robbery. Nor must the impression be allowed to prevail that provision for the needy had not been made for the needy.
Since his coming into office in October last, between twenty and thirty thousand dollars had been appropriated by council to purchase provisions and fuel for gratuitous distribution amongst the poor. Aid has also been furnished by the State, and private charity has contributed generously. A recourse to such action as going about in crowds as done yesterday, was uncalled for and unjustifiable. If persisted in, they would lead to the most serious, and perhaps, fatal consequences, and he was determined to put them down, if the arm of the law could reach the perpetrators. When woman trampled upon law she forfeited those privileges as woman, they become criminals, and as such, they should be treated, if any were brought before him.
He called upon all good citizens within the sound of his voice to frown down all such attempts at riot and to aid the loyal authorities in promptly repressing them.
Mr. Welsh, the husband of the female alluded to above, has been in the Confederate navy since the commencement of the war, and has always borne a good character as a citizen and a soldier. In consequence of this and other considerations, Mr. Gilliland has resolved not to prosecute. As the matter was thus terminated without a prosecution, we trust that we will never again be called upon to chronicle an event so disgraceful to our city. As the liberality of our citizens has ever been profuse and unstinted when called upon by the really deserving, so should her fame be unblemished by internal disorder.—Savannah News.