Thursday, November 24, 2016

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: December 20, 1862

Last accounts from Fredericksburg state that the enemy are retiring toward the Potomac and Washington. We have got some of their pontoon bridges, and other things left behind. It is now very cold, with a fair prospect of the Potomac freezing over. Let them beware!

But we were in a bad way: our army, instead of numbering 200,000 as the Federal journals report, did not exceed 50,000 men; and not half that number went into action. The Secretary of War had ordered several regiments from Gen. S. Jones, in Western Virginia; now sent to North Carolina.

There is no mail yet from beyond Goldsborough, and the news from North Carolina seems vague and unsatisfactory. They say we beat the enemy at Kinston; yet they have destroyed a portion of the railroad between Goldsborough and Wilmington. They say the Federals are retreating on Newbern; yet we know they made 500 of our men prisoners after they crossed the Neuse. It is reported that our loss is small, and the enemy's large; and that our 3000 men fought successfully their 18,000. However, we have sent some 15,000 reinforcements.

It is reported that the Federals are evacuating Nashville; but reports from the West are not always reliable.

A communication has been received by Secretary Seddon from S. B. M., of Vicksburg, proposing to purchase shoes, blankets, etc. in the United States, and sell them to. the government for cotton or for Confederate notes. This was referred to the Quartermaster-General, who favors it. Now what will Mr. Secretary do? Better wait till the President returns!

The late Secretary of War, Mr. Randolph, has formed a partnership with Mr, G. A. Myers. To-day a paper was sent in by them to the new Secretary, containing the names of ten clients, all Jews and extortioners, who, it appears, at the beginning of the war, and before Virginia had fully seceded, joined several Virginia companies of artillery, but did not drill with them. They hired substitutes for a small sum, all, as the memorial sets forth, being foreigners of the class subsequently exempted by act of Congress. And these counselors demand the exemption of the Jew extortioners on the ground that they once furnished substitutes, now out of the service! And it is probable they will carry their point, and gain large fees. Substitutes now are worth $2000—then, $100.

A dispatch from Charleston to-day says: “Iron steamer Columbia, formerly the Giraffe, of Liverpool, with cargo of shoes, blankets, Whitworth guns, and ammunition, arrived yesterday.” I suppose cargoes of this nature have been arriving once a week ever since the war broke out. This cargo, and the ship, belong to the government.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 218-9

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