Friday, March 10, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: March 10, 1863

No war news of importance.

Just at this time there is a large number of persons passing to and from the North. They are ostensibly blockade-runners, and they do succeed in bringing from the enemy's country a large amount of goods, on which an enormous profit is realized. The Assistant Secretary of War, his son-in-law, Lt.-Col. Lay, the controlling man in the Bureau of Conscription, and, indeed, many heads of bureaus, have received commodities from Maryland, from friends running the blockade. Gen. Winder himself, and his Provost Marshal Griswold (how much that looks like a Yankee name!), and their police detectives, have reaped benefit from the same source. But this intercourse with the enemy is fraught with other matters. Communications are made by the disloyal to the enemy, and our condition — bad enough, heaven knows! — is made known, and hence the renewed efforts to subjugate us. This illicit intercourse, inaugurated under the auspices of Mr. Benjamin, and continued by subsequent Ministers of War, may be our ruin, if we are destined to destruction. Already it has unquestionably cost us thousands of lives and millions of dollars. I feel it a duty to make this record.

To day we have a violent snow-storm — a providential armistice.

It has been ascertained that Hooker's army is still near the Rappahannock, only some 20,000 or 30,000 having been sent to the Peninsula and to Suffolk. No doubt he will advance as soon as the roads become practicable. If Hooker has 150,000 men, and advances soon, Gen. Lee cannot oppose his march; and in all probability we shall again hear the din of war, from this city, in April and May. The fortifications are strong, however, and 25,000 men may defend the city against 100,000 — provided we have subsistence. The great fear is famine. But hungry men will fight desperately. Let the besiegers beware of them!

We hope to have nearly 400,000 men in the field in May, and I doubt whether the enemy will have over 500,000 veterans at the end of that month. Their new men will not be in fighting condition before July. We may cross the Potomac again.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 271-2

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