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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Women with Bowie Knives during the Civil War

During the Civil War, the shortage of basic goods caused riots in some Southern towns, and, as most of the men were off to war, the looting was done by the women they had left behind. The following article appeared in the Daily Mississippian on April 8, 1863:
Another Feminine Raid.
The Macon (Ga.) Confederate says that last Tuesday a crowd of women, some of them armed with revolvers and bowie-knives, entered the store of Rosenwald & Bro., on Triangular block, and took forcible possession of several pieces of calico. The proprietor demurred to this seizure and rushed upon the woman who had the bowie-knife, and took it from her--also recaptured two bolts of calico in the possession of the invaders. The scene was quite exciting while it was in progress--but the women shortly dispersed and the usual quiet of the neighborhood prevailed.
This report in Confederate Veteran Magazine, 1922, describes an incident that took place in the same time period, and may in fact be the same one:
On April 2 and 3, 1863, there were serious bread riots in Richmond. Many of the participants were needy people who were actually in want, but they were joined by a criminal element who took advantage of the situation. One of the instigators, a market woman, wielding a bowie knife, led the mob. With hatchets they smashed doors and windows of shops and took what they pleased. From the following description of the scene in court the following day, we discern that some of the rioters used the occasion to acquire plunder. 

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