Saturday, August 27, 2016

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: November 9, 1862

It is too true that Charleston, Va., and the great Kanawha salt works have been abandoned by Gen. Echols for the want of an adequate force to hold them. If the President had only taken Gen. Lee's advice a month ago, and ordered a few thousand more men there, under the command of Gen. Ed. Johnson, we should have kept possession of the works. The President may seem to be a good nation-maker in the eyes of distant statesmen, but he does not seem to be a good salt-maker.for the nation. The works he has just relinquished to the enemy manufacture 7000 bushels of salt per day — two million and a half a year — an ample supply for the entire population of the Confederacy, and an object adequate to the maintenance of an army of 50,000 in that valley. Besides, the troops necessary for its occupation will soon be in winter quarters, and quite as expensive to the government as if in the valley. A Caesar, a Napoleon, a Pitt, and a Washington, all great nation-makers, would have deemed this work worthy their attention.

Only three days ago the President wrote to the Secretary that the idea of trading cotton to the enemy must be postponed until the first of January, and perhaps indefinitely, but now he informs Mr. Randolph that he has sent the requisite authority to his friend, Gov. Pettus, to launch out in that trade.

No, the people have made the nation. It is a people's war, and it is the momentum of a united, patriotic people, which carries everything with it. Our brave men win victories under adverse circumstances, and often under incompetent officers, and the people feed and clothe the armies in spite of the shortcomings of dishonest commissaries and quartermasters. They are now sending ten thousand pairs of shoes to Lee's army in opposition to the will of the Jew Myers, Quartermaster-General, who says everything must be contracted and paid for by his agents, according to red-tape rule and regulation.

The weather continues cold, 38°, and snow still lies on the ground This must produce a cessation of hostilities, and afford Lincoln's drafted recruits opportunity for meditation.

If it be true that the Democrats have carried the day in the North, I think the war is approaching a termination.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 185-6

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