No war news to-day. But a letter, an impassioned one, from Gov. Vance, complains of outrages perpetrated by detached bodies of Confederate States cavalry, in certain counties, as being worse than any of the plagues of Egypt: and says that if any such scourge had been sent upon the land, the children of Israel would not have been followed to the Red Sea. In short, he informs the Secretary of War, if no other remedy be applied, he will collect his militia and levy war against the Confederate States troops! I placed that letter on the Secretary's table, for his Christmas dinner. As I came out, I met Mr. Hunter, President of the Senate, to whom I mentioned the subject. He said, phlegmatically, that many in North Carolina were “prone to act in opposition to the Confederate States Government.”
Yesterday the President sent over a newspaper, from Alabama, containing an article marked by him, in which he was very severely castigated for hesitating to appoint Gen. J. E. Johnston to the command of the western army. Why he sent this I can hardly conjecture, for I believe Johnston has been assigned to that command; but I placed the paper in the hands of the Secretary.
My son Custis, yesterday, distributed proposals for a night-school (classical), and has some applications already. He is resolved to do all he can to aid in the support of the family in these cruel times.
It is a sad Christmas; cold, and threatening snow. My two youngest children, however, have decked the parlor with evergreens, crosses, stars, etc. They have a cedar Christmas-tree, but it is not burdened. Candy is held at $8 per pound. My two sons rose at 5 A.m. and repaired to the canal to meet their sister Anne, who has been teaching Latin and French in the country; but she was not among the passengers, and this has cast a shade of disappointment over the family.
A few pistols and crackers are fired by the boys in the streets — and only a few. I am alone; all the rest being at church. It would not be safe to leave the house unoccupied. Robberies and murders are daily perpetrated.
I shall have no turkey to-day, and do not covet one. It is no time for feasting.
SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2, p. 119-20