We have nothing additional from Murfreesborough, but it is ascertained that the bridges burned by the enemy on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad cannot be repaired in a month.
It really does seem that some potent and malign influence, resident at the capital, some high functionary, by some species of occultation, controlling the action of the government, a Talleyrand in the pay of both governments, and balancing or equalizing disasters between them to magnify his importance and increase his reward, has been controlling many events since the beginning of this war, and is still engaged in the diabolical work. It now appears that several regiments were withdrawn from the vicinity of Bristol, whose presence there was necessary for the protection of the railroad and the bridges. They were brought hither after Lee's defeat of Burnside, for the protection of the capital! The President was away, and Mr. Seddon was now in the War Office. But Gen. Cooper is old in office, and should have known better; and Gen. G. W. Smith certainly must have known better. Just suppose we had been beaten at Murfreesborough, and our communications cut, west and east and south! There would have been no escape.
It had even been proposed to take a large portion of Lee's men from him, so that he must be inevitably defeated on the Rappahannock, but Lee's resignation would have shocked the people unbearably. Great injury was done him by abstracting some 20,000 of his men by discharges, transfers, and details. Nothing but his generalship and the heroism of his men saved us from ruin. The disasters of Donelson, Newbern, Nashville, Memphis, Roanoke, New Orleans, Norfolk, etc. may be traced to the same source. But all new governments have been afflicted by a few evil-disposed leaders.
Our people in arms have upheld the State; they have successfully resisted the open assaults of the invader, and frustrated the occult machinations of the traitors in our midst. We have great generals, but what were they without great men to obey them? Generals have fallen, and divisions and brigades have fought on without them. Regiments have lost their field officers and continued the fight, and companies have maintained their position after all their commissioned officers were stricken down. The history which shall give the credit of their achievements to others will be a vile calumny. Our cause would have been ruined if it had not been for the bravery and heroism of the people—the privates in our armies.
There is a rumor this morning that the enemy are advancing toward Petersburg from Suffolk. If this be so, some spy, under the protection of martial law, has informed the Yankees of our defenseless condition at that place, being alarmed at the success of our brave and patriotic men in the West.
SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 230-1