Friday, July 5, 2013

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: Wednesday, July 8, 1863

I am glad to copy the following order of Gen. Lee:

“CHAMUERSBURG, PA., June 27lh, 1863.

“General Orders No. 73.

“The commanding general has observed with marked satisfaction the conduct of the troops on the march, and confidently anticipates results commensurate with the high spirit they have manifested. No troops could have displayed greater fortitude, or better performed the arduous marches of the past ten days. Their conduct in other respects has, with few exceptions, been in keeping with their character as soldiers, and entitles them to approbation and praise.

“There have, however, been instances of forgetfulness on the part of some, that they have in keeping the yet unsullied reputation of the army, and that the duties exacted of us by civilization and Christianity are not less obligatory in the country of the enemy than in our own.

“The commanding general considers that no greater disgrace could befall the army, and through it, our whole people, than the perpetration of the barbarous outrages upon the innocent and defenseless, and the wanton destruction of private property, that have marked the course of the enemy in our own country. Such proceedings not only disgrace the perpetrators and all connected with them, but are subversive of the discipline and efficiency of the army and destructive of the ends of our present movements. It must be remembered that we make war only upon armed men, and that we cannot take vengeance for the wrongs our people have suffered without lowering ourselves in the eyes of all whose abhorrence has been excited by the atrocities of our enemy, and offending against Him to whom vengeance belongeth, without whose favor and support our efforts must all prove in vain.

“The commanding general, therefore, earnestly exhorts the troops to abstain with most scrupulous care from unnecessary or wanton injury to private property; and he enjoins upon all officers to arrest and bring to summary punishment all who shall in any way offend against the orders on this subject.

“R. E. Lee, General.”

We have no additional news from the battle-field, except the following dispatch from Winchester:

“Our loss is estimated at 10,000. Between 3000 and 4000 of our wounded are arriving here to-night. Every preparation is being made to receive them.

“Gens. Scales and Pender have arrived here wounded, this evening. Gens. Armistead, Barksdale, Garnett, and Kemper are reported killed. Gens. Jones, Heth, Anderson, Pettigrew, Jenkins, Hampton, and Hood are reported wounded.

“The Yankees say they had only two corps in the fight on Wednesday, which was open field fighting. The whole of the Yankee force was engaged in the last three days’ fighting. The number is estimated at 175,000.

“The hills around Gettysburg are said to be covered with the dead and wounded of the Yankee Army of the Potomac.

“The fighting of these four days is regarded as the severest of the war, and the slaughter unprecedented; especially is this so of the enemy.

“The New York and Pennsylvania papers are reported to have declared for peace.”

But the absence of dispatches from Gen. Lee himself is beginning to create distrust, and doubts of decisive success at Gettysburg. His couriers may have been captured, or he may be delaying to announce something else he has in contemplation.

The enemy's flag of truce boat of yesterday refused to let us have a single paper in exchange for ours. This signifies something — I know not what. One of our exchanged officers [sic] says he heard a Northern officer say, at Fortress Monroe, that Meade’s loss was, altogether, 60,000 men; but this is not, of course, reliable. Another officer said Lee was retiring, which is simply impossible, now, for the flood.

But, alas! we have sad tidings from the West. Gen. Johnston telegraphs from Jackson, Miss., that Vicksburg capitulated on the 4th inst. This is a terrible blow, and has produced much despondency.

The President, sick as he is, has directed the Secretary of War to send him copies of all the correspondence with Johnston and Bragg, etc., on the subject of the relief of Pemberton.

The Secretary of War has caught the prevailing alarm at the silence of Lee, and posted off to the President for a solution — but got none. If Lee falls back again, it will be the darkest day for the Confederacy we have yet seen.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 372-4

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