As the battles of the Civil War unfolded in the Commonwealth of Virginia, young boys from neighborhoods all over Richmond were engaged in smaller battles of their own. During the war, boy gangs throughout the city regularly defended their turf from rival gangs, using any means necessary: fists, rocks, slingshots, and bricks. According to Harry Kollatz, author of True Richmond Stories: Historic Tales from Virginia’s Capital, it was more than just a handful of kids.
“ROCK BATTLE.” – From time immemorial the boys in Adams Valley, (popularly known as “Butchertown,”) and those residing on the north side of Shockoe Hill, have engaged, every successive summer, in “rock battles,” rallying under the distinctive titles of “Butcher Cats” and “Hill Cats.” Last Sunday afternoon the contending parties waged a fierce contest on Navy Hill, about one hundred boys being engaged on each side. – Stones and other missiles flew as thick, almost, as the Minie balls at the battle of Manassas, and it is wonderful that some of the belligerents were not maimed or seriously hurt. The progress of the fight was fortunately arrested by the timely arrival of officer, Chalkley, Seal, Davis, Quarles and Crone, in one direction, and officers Pleasants, Perria and others, in an opposite direction. At the sight of the police, the boys fled the field, but all of them did not make their escape. Six white boys and ten negro boys were captured and taken to the station house. The former were eventually bailed out; but the others were detained until next morning, when they were conducted to the presence of the Mayor. Richmond Whig, 9/10/1861
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