The Siege of Petersburg greatly affected the lives of its residents. Lavish lifestyles in the years just prior to the Civil War gave way to a bitter struggle for survival. The men were gone--some never to return--and food was in short supply. Corn became "coffee" and blackberry leaves "tea." A chicken cost $50 (in Confederate dollars).
The story of how the people of Petersburg lived before, during and immediately after the Civil War is eloquently told in the Siege Museum, located in the Exchange Building, built in 1839 as a commodities market. A 20 minute film, narrated by Joseph Cotten, is shown every half hour. Joseph Cotten was a native of Petersburg and a famous film star. The film tells of the significance of Petersburg prior to the Civil War and captures beautifully the historic importance of Petersburg during the Civil War.