Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones, December 25, 1864

Christmas ! — Clear and pleasant — white frost.

All quiet below. But it is believed on the street that Savannah has been evacuated, some days ago. I have not yet seen any official admission of the fact.

We have quite a merry Christmas in the family; and a compact that no unpleasant word shall be uttered, and no scramble for anything. The family were baking cakes and pies until late last night, and to-day we shall have full rations. I have found enough celery in the little garden for dinner.

Last night and this morning the boys have been firing Christmas guns incessantly — no doubt pilfering from their fathers' cartridge-boxes. There is much jollity and some drunkenness in the streets, notwithstanding the enemy's pickets are within an hour's march of the city.

A large number of the croaking inhabitants censure the President for our many misfortunes, and openly declare in favor of Lee as Dictator. Another month, and he may be unfortunate or unpopular. His son, Gen. Custis Lee, has mortally offended the clerks by putting them in the trenches yesterday, and some of them may desert.

Many members of Congress have gone home. But it is still said they invested the President with extraordinary powers, in secret session. I am not quite sure this is so.

I append the following dispatches:

December 23d, 1864.


On the 20th, Gen. Early reported one division of the enemy's cavalry, under Gen. Custer, coming up the valley, and two divisions, under Gen. Torbert, moving through Chester Gap, with four pieces of artillery and thirty wagons.

On the 22d, Rosser attacked Custer's division, nine miles from Harrisonburg, and drove it back, capturing forty prisoners.

This morning, Torbert attacked Lomax near Gordonsville, and was repulsed and severely punished. He is retreating, and Lomax preparing to follow.

R. E. LEE.

DUBLIN, December 20th, 1864.

A dispatch from Gen. Breckinridge to-day, dated at Mount Airy, sixteen miles west of Wytheville, says he had fought the enemy for two days, successfully, near Marion. The enemy had retired from his front; but whether they were retreating to East Tennessee or not, he had not ascertained.

CHARLESTON, December 22d, 1864.


On the 16th inst, the enemy, 800 strong, occupied Pollard. After burning the government and railroad buildings, they retired in the direction they came.

They were pursued thirty miles, losing a portion of their transportation, baggage, and supplies, and leaving many dead negro troops on the road.

Our force, commanded by Gen. Liddell, acted with spirit and gallantry.

G. T. BEAUREGARD, General.

OUR INDIAN TROOPS.—Gen. Stand Watie, commanding our Indian troops in the trans-Mississippi Department, has fully clothed and armed all his men, and is in the vicinity of Fort Smith, attacking and destroying Yankee wagon trains.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2, p. 364-6

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