Regarding the drought, we've read accounts of people suffering starvation and begging for food from Texas to Alabama. In my book that qualifies as severe. Charges of arson were common, as many Southern cities and towns experienced devastating fires during 1859 and 1860. If there's been a study of this, I'm unaware of it.
Note that the charge levied against the "Breckinridge-Yancey" party was made in a Georgia newspaper. I've read many such attacks in Alabama newspapers which supported the Bell-Everett ticket or Senator Douglas and the National Democratic Party. These were NOT taken lightly and always denied vehemently by Breckinridge-Lane supporters. By the way, why do you suppose Joseph Lane of Oregon was chosen as Breckinridge's running mate?
From our perspective secession was okay because the Southern states voted to leave the Union and we can defend their actions today. However, in 1860 most Southerners didn't believe Abraham Lincoln would win the election, nor did they expect to be facing the question of secession as a serious choice. Our ancestors didn't take it lightly nor should we. Many, like Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, were emotionally overwhelmed by the idea. Others, like Robert E. Lee, thought it one of the worst outcomes that could occur from the election of 1860. On Jan. 23, 1861, he wrote the following to his son --
I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It was intended for “perpetual union,” so expressed in the preamble...
Sometimes I get the impression that people believe the First National flag was on display at Breckinridge rallies in 1860. Truth is, whether they supported Breckinridge, Bell or Douglas, Southerners of all political stripes believed they were supporting the Constitution and the Union, and that abolitionists were attempting to destroy both. The motto across the top of the "Tuscaloosa Independent Monitor" always read, "THE UNION - IT MUST BE PRESERVED". The "Tallapoosa Times" carried a patriotic emblem of people cheering beneath Old Glory on every issue, even the one that informed readers of hostilities at Fort Sumter.
The Alabama Volunteer Corps was created by the state legislature in response to John Brown's attack on Harpers Ferry. Below is an image of the buttons ordered for the AVC.
Just remember that although a lot had happened to create this crisis, in 1860 even more was yet to come.