This Day in Georgia Civil War History
April 02, 1863
Georgia Soldier Witnessed Richmond Bread Riot
In what became known as the Richmond Bread Riot, a group (mostly woman) gathered to protest the shortage of good and inflated prices broke into violence. Shop windows along several streets were broken and some stores were looted. Even Confederate President Jefferson Davis was alarmed enough by the mob activity to come out of his office, climb upon a wagon, and plead for the rioters to stop - even offering some cash from his own pockets. Police, with the aid of troops, eventually disperse the mob.
A Georgia soldier witnessed the Richmond Bread Riot, and described it in a letter to his family.
“… Well, I will tell you something of the scene which I witnessed today. The women, said to be soldiers’ wives, met this morning at 8 o’clock. Somewhere between 800 and 1000, as near as I could say. They came down by the capitol square, cross[ed] Main, went on Carey Street, went to a large provision store. They went in and got quantities of bacon, flour, candles, soap, brooms, beef, lard, butter and everything they could get, broke into a shoed shop by the side of it, got shoes, boot[s], any quantity. They then went on Main Street to a shoe shop, cut and pried, broke down windows’ frames, broke out glass and went in at the windows, got large quantities of shoes, calicoes, shawls and any and everything they could get and went on a great many streets and done the same. … And Jeff Davis made a speech about the wind-up of the affair. He told then that anything he had they was welcome to if they needed it, and he made a good speech and requested the crowd to disperse, which they did when he got through with his speech. …” Source: Mills Lane (ed.), “Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), p. 223.