Confederates come to town
By Katherine Calos
June 14, 2011
If you’d been in Richmond when the Confederates came to town in 1861, what would you have experienced? That’s the topic we’re exploring for the next segment in our Civil War series.
June was when the city population began to explode from almost 38,000 before the war to double or possibly triple that number. A census in 1860 gives a good baseline, but no accurate counts were made during the war, so we have to speculate on how many people really were here. In any case, the city changed from a place where you knew almost everybody to a place where you never knew who might be around.
And where to put them?
The new Spottswood Hotel got the luminaries like Confederate president Jefferson Davis and his family and associates. The social pecking order began to be sorted out around the Davis dinner table that summer before the White House of the Confederacy was ready. Other hotels were busy.
The State Capitol was rearranged to accommodate two legislatures. Nearby buildings housed the Confederate bureaucracy.
People with extra rooms started renting them out. Families crowded together as refugees began to arrive from areas under Union control.
Lobbyists, businessmen, job-seekers and hucksters looked for ways to profit from the new government.
Regiments of soldiers marched through the streets on their way to assignments in the field.
Crime increased. So did prices.
Those are some of the things we’re sorting out for our next package. Suggestions, questions and comments are welcome.
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