This political cartoon published in the June 7, 1862, edition of Harper's Weekly depicts suffering in South. Confederate President Jefferson Davis stands on a street corner in Richmond, next to a poster declaring "A Day of Fasting [and] Prayer." He fingers his prayer beads, though he has Satan-like horns on his head. Gaunt citizens in threadbare clothing and a half-starved dog look on.
* The bread riot in Richmond was not an isolated affair. Before and after, people in the Confederate capital would read about similar revolts in Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus and Macon in Georgia, as well as in Salisbury and High Point in North Carolina and in Mobile, Ala.
* Local officials in those cities tackled the problem of poor relief in much the same way. But the stark reality was that Southerners could not afford to buy food because prices in 1863 were almost 10 times higher than they were in 1861. As one scholar has noted, a nation of farmers was, indeed, going hungry.
* The situation would only intensify as the Confederate transportation network broke down and as Union armies occupied more of the South's arable land.
* The bread riots of 1863 underscored how desperate the situation had become on the Confederate homefront. They also highlighted the slow but steady demoralization that profoundly affected the Southern cause.
Encyclopedia Virginia is a publication of Virginia Humanities (virginiahumanities.org). The entry on the Richmond Bread Riot was contributed by Mary DeCredico, a history professor at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. (encyclopediavirginia.org)