Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: November 17, 1862

A profound sensation has been produced in the outside world by the resignation of Mr. Randolph; and most of the people and the press seem inclined to denounce the President, for they know not what. In this matter the President is not to blame; but the Secretary has acted either a very foolish or a very desperate part. It appears that he wrote a note in reply to the last letter of the President, stating that as no discretion was allowed him in such matters as were referred to by the President, he begged respectfully to tender his resignation. The President responded, briefly, that inasmuch as the Secretary declined acting any longer as one of his constitutional advisers, and also declined a personal conference, no alternative remained but to accept his resignation.

Randolph's friends would make it appear that he resigned in consequence of being restricted in his action; but he knows very well that the latitude allowed him became less and less circumscribed; and that, hitherto, he was well content to operate within the prescribed limits. Therefore, if it was not a silly caprice, it was a deliberate purpose, to escape a cloud of odium he knew must sooner or later burst around him.

A letter from Gen. Magruder, dated 10th inst., at Jackson, Mississippi, intimates that we shall lose Holly Springs. He has also been in Mobile, and doubts whether that city can be successfully defended by Gen. Forney, whose liver is diseased, and memory impaired. He recommends that Brig.-Gen. Whiting be promoted, and assigned to the command in place of Forney, relieved.

A letter from Gen. Whiting, near Wilmington, dated 13th. inst., expresses serious apprehensions whether that place can be held against a determined attack, unless a supporting force of 10,000 men be sent there immediately. It is in the command of Major-Gen. G. A. Smith.

More propositions to ship cotton in exchange for the supplies needed by the country. The President has no objection to accepting them all, provided the cotton don't go to any of the enemy's ports. How can it be possible to avoid this liability, if the cotton be shipped from the Mississippi River?

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 190-1

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