Bread Riots

18thVirginia

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#41
The Bread Riots are interesting to me because we read a lot about the elite Southern women of the planter aristocracy and their lives during the Civil War. Since many are based on excerpts the diaries of girls, they often seem somewhat frivolous to me. We have a lot of threads where we read about this wealthy Southern woman or that elite Confederate wife and her loyalty to the ideals of the slave owning South. We also have mentions, usually not in Ladies Tea, of the yeoman farmer's wives whose letters from home encouraged their soldier husbands to desert.

But, looking farther into the lives of the soldier wives, we find that they were dealing with huge new bureaucracies that the average farmer and family had not been in contact with prior to the Civil War. With the advent of conscription, the farm wife was confronted by a bureaucracy that controlled her husband's life. Mothers and wives wanted exemptions for their sons and husbands and became the ones writing letters to governors and the War Department, begging that their loved one was needed to keep the family from starvation. One of the aristocratic women mentioned that the farm wife class were now subscribing to newspapers, writing letters and that some were even learning to read and write so they could write letters.

These women suddenly had to deal with bureaucrats who could impress their mules, horses, corn for the War Department and other bureaucrats who were agents for the Tax in Kind, which was greatly resented by the small farmer and family. Stephanie McCurry indicates that these women wrote letters, thousands of letters, to their governors and to the War Department and that it was quite a political awakening for a group of women who had no political rights and started with no skills in the public arena.

It seems to me that we get a sense of how inflation, the Tax in Kind, conscription, impressment, the passage of exemption laws made a difference in the lives of the ordinary yeoman farmer from the words of the soldier's wives and mothers.

A group of Georgia women wrote to inform Governor Brown:

"They can speculate of soldiers' wives make fortunes of them. Just look at the women and children that are begging bread husband in the war or perhaps dead." This was class injustice on a grand scale, they insisted, and it was enough to turn them against the war. "Those that brought the war on us is at home," they raged, "and our boys are fighting for there property. It has been an unholy war from the beginning," they concluded, "the rich is all at home makeing great fortunes"-the rich didn't care "what becomes of the poor class of people so that they can save there neggroes."

Stephanie McCurry. Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South (Kindle Locations 2225-2228). Kindle Edition.

These women were unhappy that merchants wouldn't sell food to them at lower than the price in the marketplace and that they wouldn't accept Confederate money for the exchange.
 
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18thVirginia

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#42
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My Only Support, Library of Congress

From the Rockingham area of North Carolina, 522 women signed a petition that stated:

"Men who promised our Husbands, Sons and Brothers when they volunteered to do much to supply their places now turn a deaf ear to our entreaties and leave us prey to the merciless speculators and extortioners who have monopolized much of the produce of the county." "This is the voice of the women of North Carolina appealing to the Chief Executive of our state for justice and protection."

Stephanie McCurry. Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South (Kindle Locations 2247-2249). Kindle Edition.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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#43
Yes, there's sometimes flak referring to it as a ' Rich man's war ', maybe because the implication to that would mean some of the men would rather have been home ensuring families did not suffer from the extreme lack faced by most than fighting. But it was a lot of the time for the reasons stated- maybe not deliberately but it turned out that way because men who could made an awful lot of money compounding an already dreadful situation. Ba enough the Blockade and other measures were successful keeping goods from the Southern housewife- hence food from children but to have one's own ' side' complicitous in the torment was outrageous. Not that the North did not have charletons- it did in triplicate, it also had ample supplies to offset if need be.

The Northern army accepted black troops while at the same time turning away the soldier's wife and children, leaving them sometimes literally drifting. Appalling. It was a ridiculously callous war waged on women and children by both sides- the poorer classes suffered despite all the talk of patriotism. Crazy.
 

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#44
Yes, there's sometimes flak referring to it as a ' Rich man's war ', maybe because the implication to that would mean some of the men would rather have been home ensuring families did not suffer from the extreme lack faced by most than fighting. But it was a lot of the time for the reasons stated- maybe not deliberately but it turned out that way because men who could made an awful lot of money compounding an already dreadful situation. Ba enough the Blockade and other measures were successful keeping goods from the Southern housewife- hence food from children but to have one's own ' side' complicitous in the torment was outrageous. Not that the North did not have charletons- it did in triplicate, it also had ample supplies to offset if need be.

The Northern army accepted black troops while at the same time turning away the soldier's wife and children, leaving them sometimes literally drifting. Appalling. It was a ridiculously callous war waged on women and children by both sides- the poorer classes suffered despite all the talk of patriotism. Crazy.
What the North had was more men and more mechanization on individual farms. In the South, the planters were less interested in mechanization--they had slaves. Also, when the conscription ages were extended in the South to 45, it encompassed a group of men who were more likely to have large families. If you consider that a woman in the 1860s was likely to have a child born every 2-2 1/2 years, even with high rates of infant mortality, by age 45 the Southern male now going off to war was likely to be a head of household with a passel of children at home.

Since we know that a smaller percentage of Northern men served in the military, there were likely more males in a woman's extended family to help her out while husband was off serving. I remember hearing a friends' grandfather who was a minister for his entire life talk about WWII, when he was in his late 40s, living in western Kansas and being a full-time pastor. But the middle-aged guy who ran the local gas station had to go out and help on the family farm as his nephews were gone to the war, so this little pastoral grandfather pumped gas for the duration of WWII. The farm woman in Wisconsin may have had brothers, brothers-in-law, nephews who could help her out with planting and harvesting. With the increased age of conscription and increased numbers of eligible males needed, the Southern farm wife who was also a soldier's wife had far less assistance available to her.
 

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#46
Yes, there's sometimes flak referring to it as a ' Rich man's war ', maybe because the implication to that would mean some of the men would rather have been home ensuring families did not suffer from the extreme lack faced by most than fighting. But it was a lot of the time for the reasons stated- maybe not deliberately but it turned out that way because men who could made an awful lot of money compounding an already dreadful situation. Ba enough the Blockade and other measures were successful keeping goods from the Southern housewife- hence food from children but to have one's own ' side' complicitous in the torment was outrageous. Not that the North did not have charletons- it did in triplicate, it also had ample supplies to offset if need be.

The Northern army accepted black troops while at the same time turning away the soldier's wife and children, leaving them sometimes literally drifting. Appalling. It was a ridiculously callous war waged on women and children by both sides- the poorer classes suffered despite all the talk of patriotism. Crazy.
The words of Southern yeoman farmer soldier's wives/mothers certainly support your contentions:

"Those that brought the war on us is at home," they raged, "and our boys are fighting for there property. It has been an unholy war from the beginning," they concluded, "the rich is all at home makeing great fortunes"-the rich didn't care "what becomes of the poor class of people so that they can save there neggroes."

Stephanie McCurry. Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South (Kindle Locations 2226-2228). Kindle Edition.
 

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#47
The words of Southern yeoman farmer soldier's wives/mothers certainly support your contentions:

"Those that brought the war on us is at home," they raged, "and our boys are fighting for there property. It has been an unholy war from the beginning," they concluded, "the rich is all at home makeing great fortunes"-the rich didn't care "what becomes of the poor class of people so that they can save there neggroes."

Stephanie McCurry. Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South (Kindle Locations 2226-2228). Kindle Edition.
Poor white people used to understand what the war was over.
 

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#48
They did indeed.

As a poor woman complaining of starvation in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, wrote to the president, "it is folly for a poor mother to call on the rich people about here[.] there hearts are of steel[.] they would sooner th[r]ow what they have to spare to their dogs than give it to a starving child. "

Drew Gilpin Faust. Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War (Kindle Locations 3143-3145). Kindle Edition.
 

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Poor white people used to understand what the war was over.
The poor women in Richmond may have had an even better understanding. While even in the North the women who worked at sewing uniforms and tents were often paid at wages even lower than those pre-war and they complained mightily to the Federal Government, the seamstresses in Richmond were often paid by piecework in producing the necessary materials for the War.

Richmond was the location of elites who saw themselves as inheritors of the grand aristocratic traditions of early Virginia. Even Jefferson and Varina Davis were never quite accepted in Richmond society--they were too Western. So was it a surprise that the Confederate government hired young, needy aristocrats to sign Confederate money and bonds? Well, perhaps not, but the wages they were paid, $65 a month for signing their name over and over every day, compared to the $11 a month that a private in the Army received created quite a contrast for those poor women trying to survive while husbands and sons were off fighting for this new government.

By the end of the war, Drew Gilpin Faust says that these aristocratic Treasury workers were making $250 a month, while the seamstresses earned $1.50 for a pair of pants, $1.00 f0r a shirt, $4.00 for a coat. Women who sewed in a government factory might make $6-12 a week, while those who performed dangerous work in an arsenal made $1.00 a day. (Drew Gilpin Faust, Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the Civil War, Kindle 1213.)
 

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#50
The poor women in Richmond may have had an even better understanding. While even in the North the women who worked at sewing uniforms and tents were often paid at wages even lower than those pre-war and they complained mightily to the Federal Government, the seamstresses in Richmond were often paid by piecework in producing the necessary materials for the War.

Richmond was the location of elites who saw themselves as inheritors of the grand aristocratic traditions of early Virginia. Even Jefferson and Varina Davis were never quite accepted in Richmond society--they were too Western. So was it a surprise that the Confederate government hired young, needy aristocrats to sign Confederate money and bonds? Well, perhaps not, but the wages they were paid, $65 a month for signing their name over and over every day, compared to the $11 a month that a private in the Army received created quite a contrast for those poor women trying to survive while husbands and sons were off fighting for this new government.

By the end of the war, Drew Gilpin Faust says that these aristocratic Treasury workers were making $250 a month, while the seamstresses earned $1.50 for a pair of pants, $1.00 f0r a shirt, $4.00 for a coat. Women who sewed in a government factory might make $6-12 a week, while those who performed dangerous work in an arsenal made $1.00 a day. (Drew Gilpin Faust, Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the Civil War, Kindle 1213.)
Wow, I did not know that.
 
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#51
There were similar raids made by the women of Highpoint and Greensboro, NC towards the end of the war. On one occasion in Greensboro, there seems to have been a plan of coordinated attack with two groups approaching stores in different areas. Women were arrested.
In April of 1865, Greensboro started to fill up with the troops from both Appomattox and Bennett's Place. Tens of thousands of people were converging there and the atmosphere was tense as there were undispersed supplies there that had been stockpiled. People were also hoping to obtain salt, a commodity that had been rationed. The local authorities had to place troops as a guard of the warehouses.
At some point during the later part of the war,as the story goes, my ancestor's sister in Randolph County had to deal with marauding deserters who stole her old mule; but were otherwise held at bay as she and her youngest brother were armed.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#52
No way, you have a family story? Please do not feel I'm looking for ' agenda'. I see you're a Private ( and welcome to the forum ), I'm just completely and utterly besotted with other people's ancestor stories. It's quite a problem since it can be a little nosy..... . LOVE them- yours is wonderful because it involves 2 civilians holding off soldiers ( do not care if they were Union or Confederate ) . AND they were young?

It's a positive thing to think citizens in general stood up for themselves. Yes, the thread is about the Bread Riots. Believe me, had the shortages occurred in the North with food in warehouses we would be copying the same stories about ' Bread Riot, Boston '. It's just generally a mistake to raise folks as Americans then expect them to behave otherwise in matters where outside control is being forced upon them.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#53
There's yet another aspect to this story which bears thinking about. With all the shortages, taxation, Confederate money v. United States currency the wealthy bought and sold enslaved people right up until Appomattox. Yes, I can provide proof. Newspapers are not always held to be documented proof but in this case? Advertisements of estate liquidations inclusive of enslaved men, women and children ' at auction ' would not be in newspapers of April, 1865 unless that auction were held. From 1861 to 1865 there are advertisements for auctions and sales of enslaved human beings. One author describes this as men, women and children being sold " Right up until the sounds of the Union guns ". There was apparently a ' market' for ( shiver ) hence the money for these awful things.

One, an auction advertised as the largest ever attracted the attention of Horace Greeley. We therefore and thankfully have it extremely well documented. It was 1864, by which time women and children, poor and middle class were starving. A wealthy, wealthy young man went through his inherited money, required cash, ' sold' these humans, pocketed over a hundrend thousand dollars and lounged over to Europe with American greenbacks in his wallet. So these shortages of money and supplies existed at one level- at quite another people with huge amounts of money existed as if the war were not taking place.

These' sales' are not written of very much. It's taking some time but have a thread to get into it. Looking for documentation on greenbacks being exchanged rather than Confederate bills. This young man did not wait out the rest of the war in Europe by paying his way in Confederate script. So- some members of society were forced to deal in the script, others did not have to.
 
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#54
My ancestor, as I had mentioned I believe in other posts, was a 14 year old substitute. His oldest grandson was my grandfather's brother who passed away a couple of years ago at age of 94. Though near the end his mind was slipping, I was able to spend time with him and asked questions about his family and some of our families lore. I have an unusually detailed memory, but details can become fuzzy. Long before the internet or any history of the problem outliers and deserters posed for Randolph county during the CW. My online genealogy research revealed that my ancestor was the son of the father's second wife, and it seems he may have been a substitute for an older brother who had a family, My questions along this line however led to identifying two additional people- another older half-brother and his sister Delphina.
The story as I related in the earlier post, did not include one detail that I am unsure of- that the aid Delphina received was likely from this older brother. He had a habit of deserting each year after the campaigning season, only to return each following Spring- I assume by his own initiative as there is no record of his arrest by the provost marshals or home guard (unlike his younger brother, the substitute, and their cousin who was released from prison in Richmond with a group of other deserters to help man the defenses around Richmond as part of a unit composed of others facing possible execution. This cousin would be captured and later died at Elmira. Another interesting detail is that as a result of my ancestor/ great-great GF being put forward as a substitute, a schism occurred and these two lines of the family have had no contact for almost three generations. My grandfather's generation thought this family was unrelated to us, though they lived near our family's original settlement and not even that far from our new post-war homestead. Delphina never married, her beau like all too many in our area (NC had fewer than half her men return) died in the war. She was one of the exceptions of the other line of Holders who did stay in touch with my GGGF and lived in our neighborhood and was buried near the farm my uncle lived on for almost eighty years. She died before the other grand-kids were old enough to have direct knowledge or memories of her.
The original homestead was near Franlinville and the Coffins were related to our in-laws there.
https://randolphhistory.wordpress.com/tag/civil-war/
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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My ancestor, as I had mentioned I believe in other posts, was a 14 year old substitute. His oldest grandson was my grandfather's brother who passed away a couple of years ago at age of 94. Though near the end his mind was slipping, I was able to spend time with him and asked questions about his family and some of our families lore. I have an unusually detailed memory, but details can become fuzzy. Long before the internet or any history of the problem outliers and deserters posed for Randolph county during the CW. My online genealogy research revealed that my ancestor was the son of the father's second wife, and it seems he may have been a substitute for an older brother who had a family, My questions along this line however led to identifying two additional people- another older half-brother and his sister Delphina.
The story as I related in the earlier post, did not include one detail that I am unsure of- that the aid Delphina received was likely from this older brother. He had a habit of deserting each year after the campaigning season, only to return each following Spring- I assume by his own initiative as there is no record of his arrest by the provost marshals or home guard (unlike his younger brother, the substitute, and their cousin who was released from prison in Richmond with a group of other deserters to help man the defenses around Richmond as part of a unit composed of others facing possible execution. This cousin would be captured and later died at Elmira. Another interesting detail is that as a result of my ancestor/ great-great GF being put forward as a substitute, a schism occurred and these two lines of the family have had no contact for almost three generations. My grandfather's generation thought this family was unrelated to us, though they lived near our family's original settlement and not even that far from our new post-war homestead. Delphina never married, her beau like all too many in our area (NC had fewer than half her men return) died in the war. She was one of the exceptions of the other line of Holders who did stay in touch with my GGGF and lived in our neighborhood and was buried near the farm my uncle lived on for almost eighty years. She died before the other grand-kids were old enough to have direct knowledge or memories of her.
The original homestead was near Franlinville and the Coffins were related to our in-laws there.
https://randolphhistory.wordpress.com/tag/civil-war/
That is FULL of fascinating aspect of the war I had no clue about- all wrapped up in an awesome family tale, good Grief! The ' going home after the campaign, go back later thing ' makes an awful lot of sense although I'm sure the Confederate Amy did not think so! It's a little hysterical really, the battles are over for the year- might as well go sleep in a bed, come back in the Spring. Plus it solved a problem for them, how to take care of their families and their duty as a soldier, right? Kind of grnius. As the war went on all thoughts of shooting anybody for desertion had to have vanished! Too hard to get men. What a waste to shoot them!

So sorry you lost someone at Elmira, talk about a waste. Conditions did not have to be that bad- there was no insane and cruel commandant like Andersonville had, no need for the death toll to have gotten so high in any of them for that matter. We had someone albeit more distant survive Andersonville AND the Sultana disaster, crazy, you wonder where fate leaves off and luck begins.

Did not know that about NC, half their men- how tragic! And entire generation and more gone, how awful- like the British of WWI. Delphine deserved a better future after her stubborn holdoff with the soldiers.

Great family story, does tie in with the shortages and one family's resolve to find a way to have their family intact for part of the year. Thanks very much for sharing! Will look at the links- we look into how women fared on some of those huge places alone when all the men were gone.
 

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