Gen. French writes that the enemy at Suffolk and Newbern amounted to 45,000; and this force now threatens Weldon and Wilmington, and we have not more than 14,000 to oppose them. With generalship that should suffice.
All the Virginia conscripts are ordered to Gen. Wise, under Major-Gen. Elzey. The conscripts from other States are to be taken to Gen. Lee. If the winter should allow a continuance of active operations, and the enemy should continue to press us, we might be driven nearly to the wall. We must help ourselves all we can, and, besides, invoke the aid of Almighty God!
We have nothing fresh from Bragg — nothing from Vicksburg — and that is bad news.
I like Gen. Rains. He comes in and sits with me every day. Col. Lay is the active business man of the bureau. The general is engaged in some experiments to increase the efficiency of small arms.
He is very affable and communicative. He says he never witnessed more sanguinary fighting than at the battle of the Seven Pines, where his brigade retrieved the fortunes of the day; for at one time it was lost. He was also at Yorktown and Williamsburg; and he cannot yet cease condemning the giving up of the Peninsula, Norfolk, etc. Gen. Johnston did that, backed by Randolph and Mallory.
We have all been mistaken in the number of troops sent to the rescue of North Carolina; but four or five regiments, perhaps 3000 men, have gone thither from Virginia. A letter from Gen. Lee, dated the 5th inst., says he has not half as many men as Burnside, and cannot spare any. He thinks North Carolina, herself, will be able to expel the Federals, who probably meditate only a marauding expedition. And he supposes Bragg's splendid victory (what did he suppose the next day?) may arrest the inroads of the enemy everywhere for a season. At this moment I do not believe we have 200,000 men in the field against 800,000 1 But what of that, after seeing Lee beat 150,000 with only 20,000 in action! True, it was an ambuscade.
SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 234-5