On March 18, 1863 a group of about 50 women, wives and mothers of Confederate soldiers, participated in what would become known as the Salisbury Bread Riot. These women blamed speculators for driving up the prices of necessary items during the Union blockade. Struggling to provide for their families, they gathered together against the businesses that they suspected of speculating and demanded government prices for goods. Michael Brown, one of the storeowners, recalled that when he refused to deal with them, the women attempted to break down his storeroom door with hatchets. Finally he decided to give them ten barrels of flour to leave. By the end of the day the women had obtained “twenty three barrels of flour, two sacks of salt, about half a barrel of molasses, and twenty dollars in money.” They later wrote to Governor Vance to explain their unpleasant, but justified actions. The Carolina Watchman, a local newspaper, commented on the event but did not place blame on the women. The editors instead blamed the ineffectiveness of the government to provide enough food for the families at home. This event ultimately led to better rationing of government resources to aid these soldiers’ families.
Please attend our free “Second Mondays” lecture entitled “Women Who Riot” on Monday, May 13, 2013 from 10:30am to 11:30am in the Auditorium of the Archives & History Building at 109 East Jones St., Raleigh, NC.