1863 September 19: Mobile Bread Riot and New York Draft Riots
From the September 19, 1863, issue of The Prescott Journal.
Terible [sic] Riot of Soldier’s [sic] Wives at Mobile.
MEMPHIS Sept. 17.—Refugees lately arrived within our lines bringing exciting reports of the terrible condition of affairs in the Southeast. One man who left Mobile on the fifth, state [sic] that there was a terrible riot of soldiers’ wives in Mobile on the 4th. About 600 women and children collected at Spring Hill, armed with knives and hatchets and marched through the principal streets, carrying banners inscribed with “Bread or Blood”, “Peace” and other inscriptions. Being soldiers’ wives, the proceedings were winked at by soldiers who made but feeble resistance.
Several stores were broken open,—one owned by a Jew, who struck one of the women. Some policemen present arrested the Jew and beat him severely. Many citizens left town, among them our informant, who says the riot was increasing when he left.
Why they have Riots in New York.
At an address recently delivered before the Young Men’s Christian Association in New York, the following startling statistics were presented:
There are in New York 100,000 German infidels ; 350,000 persons who don’t go to church ; 12,000 families without Bibles ; 60,000 children who never attend school ; 15,000 vagrant and homeless children who graduate thieves and vagabonds ; 6,200 sailors in port all the time ; a floating population of 50,000 ; all sorts of bad books in circulation, and in any quantity ; 90,281 arrests by the police last year, three fourths of which were traceable to drunkenness ; 6,000 places where liquor is sold ; 25,000 abandoned women, keeping up their end of the so called social evil, or one to every six young man [sic] in the city ; 2,500 brothels ; arrests in 1862 equaling in commitment to prison one in every twenty-two of the entire citizenship ; the cost of crime, pauperism and moral obliquity more than $3,000,000 this year ; 500,000 wretched people living in tenement houses ; 25,000 persons living under ground. Bless us ! talk of riots ! Is it not a miracle that they don’t have a riot every few minutes, instead of once every ten or fifteen years?