Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: December 14, 1862

Yesterday was a bloody day. Gen. Lee telegraphs that the enemy attacked him at 9 A.M., and as the fog lifted, the fire ran along the whole line, and the conflict raged until darkness (6 P.M.) put an end to the battle. The enemy was repulsed at all points, he continued, thanks be to God! But we have to mourn, as usual, a heavy loss. Lee expects another blow at Buniside to-day.

It is understood that Gens. Hood, Texas, was wounded; T. R. R. Cobb, Georgia, and a brigadier from South Carolina were killed. A dispatch says that where our generals fell, the colonels could no longer restrain their regiments; and the men ran into the ranks of the enemy, and, animated with a spirit of desperation, slaughtered the foe in great numbers with their bayonets, pistols, and knives.

Preparations are being made here for the reception of the wounded. The request was to provide for a large number.

Last night, at nine o'clock, a number of regiments which had been encamped among the fortifications northwest of the city, were marched down to Drewry's Bluff. It is probable Gen. Smith has heard of the enemy's approach from that quarter. I hope he may prove the right man in the right place.

It is rumored that we were repulsed yesterday, this side of Suffolk.

At this critical moment the President is away.

A dispatch from Gen. Lee says Gen. Wade Hampton dashed into Dumfries, the other side of the Rappahannock, and in the rear of the enemy, capturing some wagons, and taking a few men. This seems most extraordinary. If he be not taken himself, the diversion must have a good effect; but if he be taken, it will be considered a wild and desperate sally, boding no good to the cause. But Lee knows what he is about.

From the dispositions of our troops (few in number) in the vicinity of Richmond, at this moment, it seems to me that Gen. Smith is putting the city to great hazard. There are not a thousand men to guard the approach from the head of York River; and if a dozen of the enemy's swift transports were to dash up that river, the city could be surprised by 5000 men 1

Ten o'clock A.M. No dispatches from Lee have come over the wires to-day. He may have interdicted others. We got no intelligence whatever. From this I infer the battle was resumed at early dawn, and the general deems it best to have no announcements but results. If this be so, it is a day big with events — and upon its issue may depend the fate of governments. And yet our people exhibited no trepidation. The foreign portion of the population may be seen grouped on the pavements indulging in speculation, and occasionally giving vent to loud laughter, when a Jew is asked what will be the price of his shoes, etc. to-morrow. They care not which side gains the day, so they gain the profits.

But our women and children are going to church as usual, to pray for the success of the cause, and not doubting but that our army will triumph as usual on the field of combat. It is a bright and lovely Sabbath morning, and as warm as May.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 212-3

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