Sunday, April 30, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: April 12, 1863

Gen. Van Dorn, it is reported, has captured or destroyed another gun-boat in the West.

Night before last another riot was looked for in this city by the mayor, and two battalions of Gen. Elzey's troops were ordered into the city. If the President could only see the necessity of placing this city under the command of a native Southern general, he might avoid much obloquy. The Smiths, Winders, and Elzeys, who are really foreigners, since the men from their States are not liable to conscription (vide Judge Campbell's decision), are very obnoxious to the people. Virginians can never be reconciled to the presence of a mercenary Swiss guard, and will not submit to imported masters.

Notwithstanding the Enquirer urges it, and Mr. Barksdale, of Mississippi, persistently advocates it, Congress still refuses to confer additional powers on the President. Twice, within the last week, Congress has voted down the proposition to clothe the President with power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus. Congress has likewise refused to reconsider the vote postponing the consideration of the bill to create a Court of Claims Judge S— was here, working for it; but was doomed to disappointment.

A few nights since a full Federal band came within a hundred yards of our men, the Rappahannock only separating them, and played “Dixie.” Our men cheered them lustily. Then they played “Yankee Doodle,” when the Yankees cheered. After this they played “Home, sweet Home!” and all parties cheered them. There may be something significant in this. The pickets have orders not to fire on each other, when no demonstration is in progress.

Our members of Congress get salaries of $2750. A cobbler (free negro), who mends shoes for my family, told me yesterday that he earned $10 per day, or $3000 per annum.

A pair of pantaloons now costs $40; boots, $60; and so on.

We have warm weather at last, and dry. Armies will soon be in motion.

Our government and people seem now to despair of European intervention. But the President says our armies are more numerous, and better armed and disciplined than at any period during the war. Hence the contest will be maintained indefinitely for independence. With these feelings the third year of the war opens. May God have mercy on the guilty men who determine more blood shall be shed. The South would willingly cease the sanguinary strife, if the invader would retire from our territory; but just as willingly will she fight hereafter as heretofore, so long as a foeman sets foot upon her soil. It must soon be seen with what alacrity our people will rush to the battle-field!

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 290-1

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