Sunday, July 14, 2013

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: Friday, July 17, 1863

At last we have the authentic announcement that Gen. Lee has recrossed the Potomac! Thus the armies of the Confederate States are recoiling at all points, and a settled gloom is apparent on many weak faces. The fall of Charleston is anticipated. Subjugation is not apprehended by the government; for, if driven to an interior line of defense, the war may be prolonged indefinitely, or at least until the United States becomes embroiled with some European power.

Meantime we are in a half starving condition. I have lost twenty pounds, and my wife and children are emaciated to some extent. Still, I hear no murmuring.

To-day, for the second time, ten dollars in Confederate notes are given for one in gold; and no doubt, under our recent disasters, the depreciation will increase. Had it not been for the stupidity of our Dutch Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Memminger, there would have been no financial difficulties. If he had recommended (as he was urged to do) the purchase by the government of all the cotton, it could have been bought at 7 cents per pound; and the profits alone would have defrayed the greater portion of the expenses of the war, besides affording immense diplomatic facilities and advantages. But red-tape etiquette, never violated by the government, may prove our financial ruin beyond redemption. It costs this government five times as much to support an army as it does the United States; and the call for conscripts is a farce, since the speculators (and who is not one now?) will buy exemptions from the party who, strangely, have the authority to grant them.

The last accounts from Jackson state that Burnside is reinforcing Grant, and that heavy .skirmishing is going on daily. But all suppose that Johnston must retreat. And Bragg is in no condition to face Rosecrans.

Whether Lee will come hither or not, no one knows; but some tremble for the fate of Richmond. Lee possibly may cross the Potomac again, however, if Meade detaches a heavy force to capture Richmond.

What our fate would be if we fall into the hands of the invader, may be surmised from the sufferings of the people in New Orleans.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 381-2

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