Food Shortages

Food shortage during the Civil War affected many Southerners on the home front. Some parts of the South had an abundance of foodstuffs, other parts of the Confederacy experienced severe deprivation. As the war continued and conditions grew worse, Southerners’ winter of discontent turned into years of unhappiness and sacrifice. Southerners consumed milk, corn, butter, meal and an occasional piece of meat.

Agriculture suffered as farms and plantations were neglected when men left home to fulfill their military obligations to the confederacy. The inability of families to cultivate and harvest crops was a constant reminder of how their world had been turned upside down.

As poverty spread across the region, white southerners turned to their neighbors, friends and families for help. In response to the lack of food, desperate citizens rioted in several towns and cities.

The Union blockade of southern ports added to the shortages in the South. Making a bad situation worse was the hoarding of food by speculators, who hoped to reap huge profits by selling items at inflated prices.

As Union soldiers invaded, the Southern people were helpless to prevent them from taking chickens, sheep, turkeys, pigs, hogs, calves and other property. Foraging, however, was not limited to Northern troops. As the war dragged on, the basic need to survive forced Confederate soldiers to engage in the practice as well. Confederate soldiers experienced food shortages, due to food spoilage, inadequate or disrupted supply lines, bad weather, the destruction of crops, and Union occupation of food.

Food shortages had an enormous impact on the Civil War, reducing the ability of the South to wage war. Desperate families on the home front begged their men to abandon the cause and come home.

Source: Food Shortages
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