Saturday, July 13, 2013

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: Thursday, July 16, 1863

This-is another blue day in the calendar. Nothing from Lee, or Johnston, or Bragg; and no news is generally bad news. But from Charleston we learn that the enemy are established on Morris Island, having taken a dozen of our guns and howitzers in the sand hills at the lower end; and that the monitors had passed the bar, and doubtless an engagement by land and by water is imminent, if indeed it has not already taken place. Many regard Charleston as lost. I do not.

Again the Enquirer, edited by Mitchel, the Irishman, is urging the President to seize arbitrary power; but the Examiner combats the project defiantly.

Mr. Secretary Seddon, who usually wears a sallow and cadaverous look, which, coupled with his emaciation, makes him resemble an exhumed corpse after a month's interment, looks to-day like a galvanized corpse which had been buried two months. The circles round his eyes are absolutely black! And yet he was pacing briskly backward and forward between the President's office and the War Department. He seems much affected by disasters.

The United States agent of exchange has sent a notice to our agent that the negroes we capture from them in battle must be exchanged as other soldiers are, according to the cartel, which said nothing about color; and if the act of Congress in relation to such soldiers be executed, the United States would retaliate to the utmost extremity.

Captains H. W. Sawyer and John Flinn, having been designated by lot for execution in retaliation for two of our captains executed by Gen. Burnside for recruiting in Kentucky, write somewhat lugubriously, in bad grammar and execrable chirography, that, as they never served under Burnside, they should not be made to suffer for his deed. They say we have two of Burnside's captains at Atlanta (and they give their names) who would be the proper victims.

I saw a paper to-day, sent to the department, with a list of the United States officers at Memphis who are said to have taken bribes; among them is Col. H____r, of Illinois, Provost Marshal General (Grant's staff); Col. A____, Illinois, ex-Provost Marshal; Capt. W____, Illinois, Assistant Provost Marshal; Capt. C____ (Gen. Herbert's staff), and “Dan Ross,” citizen of Illinois, procurer.

On the 9th instant Gen. D. H. Hill (now lieutenant-general, and assigned to Mississippi) asks if troops are to be sent to cover Lee's retreat; and fears, if the enemy establish themselves at Winchester, they will starve Lee to death. Speaking of the raid of the enemy to the North Carolina Railroad, he said they would do the State infinite service by dashing into Raleigh and capturing all the members of the legislature. He also hits at the local newspapers here. Their mention of his name, and the names of other officers in the campaign round Richmond, informed the enemy that we had no troops at Goldsborough and Weldon, and hence the raid. And, after all, he says the enemy were not more numerous than our forces in the recent dash at Richmond. He says it was no feint, but a faint.

To-day an order was issued for the local troops to deliver up their ammunition. What does that mean?

And to-day the President calls for the second class of conscripts, all between eighteen and forty-five years of age. So our reserves must take the field!

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 380-1

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