Friday, November 18, 2016

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: December 17, 1862

A dispatch from Gen. G. W. Smith, last night, says we have repulsed the enemy from Kinston, N. C., but a dispatch this morning says a cavalry force has cut the railroad near Goldsborough, broken down the wires, and burnt the bridge. We had no letters from beyond that point this morning.

Last night large quantities of ammunition and some more regiments were sent to North Carolina. This is done because Richmond is relieved by the defeat and retreat of Burnside. But suppose it should not be relieved, and a force should be sent suddenly up the. James and York Rivers?

We have not a word from Fredericksburg, and it is probable Burnside's batteries still command the town. Lee is content and has no idea of crossing the river.

There are two notable rumors in the streets: first, that we have gained a great battle in Tennessee; and, second, that the government at Washington has arrested John Van Buren and many other Democratic leaders in the North, which has resulted in a riot, wherein 1000 have fallen, making the gutters in New York run with blood!

Gen. Lee's official report says our loss in the battle of the 13th in killed and wounded did not exceed 1200, whereas our papers said 2050 wounded have already been brought to this city.

Well, our government must have spies at Washington as an offset to Federal spies here among Gen. Winder's policemen; for we knew exactly when the enemy would begin operations in North Carolina, and ordered the cotton east of the Weldon Railroad to be burnt on the 16th inst., yesterday, and yesterday the road was cut by the enemy. I have not heard of the cotton being burnt — and I don't believe it was destroyed. Nor do I believe Gen. Smith knew that Burnside would be defeated in time to send troops from here to North Carolina.

Elwood Fisher died recently in Georgia, and his pen, so highly prized by the South for its able vindication of her rights, was forgotten by the politicians who have power in the Confederate Government. All Mr. Memminger would offer him was a lowest class clerkship. He died of a broken heart. He was more deserving, but less fortunate, than Mr. M.

It was Mr. Memminger, it seems, who refused to contribute anything to supply the soldiers with shoes, and the press is indignant. They say he is not only not a native South Carolinian, but Hessian born.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 215-6

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