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What Were Conditions like in Richmond during the U.S. Civil War?

During the U.S. Civil War, Richmond, Virginia, served as the capital of the Confederacy. The city’s population ballooned to more than 100,000 people as civilians and soldiers alike sought refuge there. By 1863, times had gotten tough in the Confederate capital -- a Union blockade on nearby ports had halted imports from other countries and very little food was being grown locally, as most men were off fighting. The situation reached a boiling point in April, as hundreds of women armed with axes, knives, and other weapons protested en masse, in an ugly event now called the Richmond Women’s Bread Riot. Angry women, tired of their families being deprived of food, broke into government storehouses and businesses, taking whatever they could find.

The real housewives of the Confederacy:

  • The revolt was led by Mary Jackson, a mother of four, and Minerva Meredith, whom Varina Davis, wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, described as “tall, daring, Amazonian-looking.”

  • Crying “Bread! Bread!” and “Bread or blood!” the group marched to the governor’s mansion, asking Virginia Gov. John Letcher for help. When their pleas were ignored, the hungry women took matters into their own hands.

  • The bread riot was eventually quelled when Jefferson Davis climbed on top of a wagon and threatened to have Confederate troops open fire.

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More Info: Encyclopaedia Britannica

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