Yesterday I received from the agent of the City Councils fourteen pounds of salt, having seven persons in my family, including the servant. One pound to each member, per month, is allowed at 5 cts. per pound. The extortionists sell it at 70 cts. per pound. One of them was drawing for his family. He confessed it; but said he paid 50 cts. for the salt he sold at 70 cts. Profit $10 per bushel! I sent an article to-day to the Enquirer, suggesting that fuel, bread, meat, etc. be furnished in the same manner. We shall soon be in a state of siege.
Last night there was a heavy fall of snow.
The authorities of Charleston, with the concurrence of Beauregard, advise all the non-combating population to leave the city, and remove their personal property. The city will be defended to the last extremity.
What a change in the Executive Department! Before the election, the President was accessible to all; and even a member of Congress had no preference over the common citizen. But now there are six aids, cavalry colonels in rank and pay, and one of them an Englishman, who see the people, and permit only certain ones to have access to the President. This looks like the beginning of an imperial court. But what may not its ending be?
I see that Mr. Harlbut, incarcerated once as a spy, or as a writer for an Abolition paper in New York, and a Northern man himself, after being protected by Mr. Browne (the English A.D.C. of the President) and released by Mr. Benjamin from prison, has escaped to the North, and is out in a long article in the Times! He says he got a passport from Gen. Winder's Provost Marshal. Mr. James Lyons thought he had made H. a Southern man; what does he think now?
The “290” or Alabama, the ship bought in Europe, and commanded by Capt. Semmes, C. S. N., is playing havoc with the commerce of the United States. If we had a dozen of them, our foes would suffer incalculably, for they have an immense amount of shipping. I see Semmes had captured the Tonawanda, that used to lie at the foot of Walnut Street, Philadelphia; but he released her, first putting the master under bond to pay President Davis $80,000 after the war. I hope he will pay it, for I think the President will want the money.
SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 183-4