Gen. Lee mentions, in his recent correspondence, an instance of the barbarity of some of the Yankee soldiers in the Abolition Army of the Potomac. They thrust into the Rappahannock River a poor old negro man, whom they had taken from his master, because he had the small-pox; and he would have been drowned had he not been rescued by our pickets. It is surmised that this dreadful disease prevails to an alarming extent in the Yankee army, and probably embarrasses their operations. Our men have all been vaccinated; and their recklessness of disease and death is perhaps a guarantee of exemption from affliction. Their health, generally, is better than it has ever been before.
The government at Washington has interdicted the usual exchange of newspapers, for the present. This gives rise to conjecture that Lincoln experiences grave difficulties from the adverse sentiment of his people and his armies regarding his Emancipation Proclamation. And it is likely he has met with grave losses at sea, for the invading army in North Carolina has retired back on Newbern. But the season for naval enterprises is not over, and we are prepared to expect some heavy blows before April.
The revelations in the intercepted dispatches captured with Mr. Sanders, whose father is a notorious political adventurer, may be most unfortunate. They not only show that we even were negotiating for six war steamers, but give the names of the firms in Europe that were to furnish them. The project must now be abandoned. And Louis Napoleon will be enraged at the suspicions and imputations of our Secretary of State regarding his occult policy.
Gen. Rains has invented a new primer for shell, which will explode from the slightest pressure. The shell is buried just beneath the surface of the earth, and explodes when a horse or a man treads upon it. He says he would not use such a weapon in ordinary warfare; but has no scruples in resorting to any means of defense against an army of Abolitionists, invading our country for the purpose, avowed, of extermination. He tried a few shell on the Peninsula last spring, and the explosion of only four sufficed to arrest the army of invaders, and compelled them to change their line of march.
SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 245-6