Bloomberg News

Drunk Mobs Wrecked Confederate Capital: Lewis Lapham

February 01, 2013

'The Man Who Saved the Union'

"The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant, In War and Peace," by H.W. Brands. Source: Doubleday via Bloomberg

Robert E. Lee’s army was being forced to withdraw from the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, by the approaching forces of Ulysses Grant.

(To listen to the podcast, click here.)

The residents panicked, packed up what they could carry and tried to flee through clogged streets, closely followed by looters.

When warehouses were broken into, people were outraged to find plenty of food and clothing stowed away by speculators, who had created the shortages from which most suffered.

As the news spread, stores of liquor were liberated by the angry townsfolk, and while fires devoured the capital, drunken mobs shattered windows and wrecked everything in their path.

I spoke with H.W. Brands, author of “The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace,” on the following topics:

1. Brilliant General

2. Visualize Battlefield

3. War’s Logistics

4. Financial Acumen

5. Memoirs

To buy this book in North America, click here.

(Lewis Lapham is the founder of Lapham’s Quarterly and the former editor of Harper’s magazine. He hosts “The World in Time” interview series for Bloomberg News.)

Muse highlights include Zinta Lundborg on Best Weekend and Jeremy Gerard on theater.

To contact the writer on the story: Lewis Lapham in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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