Monday, April 3, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: March 29, 1863

No news. Yet a universal expectation. What is expected is not clearly defined. Those who are making money rapidly no doubt desire a prolongation of the war, irrespective of political consequences. But the people, the majority in the United States, seem to have lost their power. And their representatives in Congress are completely subordinated by the Executive, and rendered subservient to his will. President Lincoln can have any measure adopted or any measure defeated, at pleasure. Such is the irresistible power of enormous executive patronage. He may extend the sessions or terminate them, and so, all power, for the time being, reposes in the hands of the President.

A day of reckoning will come, for the people of the United States will resume the powers of which the war has temporarily dispossessed them, or else there will be disruptions, and civil war will submerge the earth in blood. The time has not arrived, or else the right men have not arisen, for the establishment of despotisms.

Everything depends upon the issues of the present campaign, and upon them it may be bootless to speculate. No one may foretell the fortunes of war — I mean where victory will ultimately perch in this frightful struggle. We are environed and invaded by not less than 600,000 men in arms, and we have not in the field more than 250,000 to oppose them. But we have the advantage of occupying the interior position, always affording superior facilities for concentration. Besides, our men must prevail in combat, or lose their property, country, freedom, everything, — at least this is their conviction. On the other hand, the enemy, in yielding the contest, may retire into their own country, and possess everything they enjoyed before the war began. Hence it may be confidently believed that in all the battles of this spring, when the numbers are nearly equal, the Confederates will be the victors, and even when the enemy have superior numbers, the armies of the South will fight with Roman desperation. The conflict will be appalling and sanguinary beyond example, provided the invader stand up to it. That much is certain. And if our armies are overthrown, we may be no nearer peace than before. The paper money would be valueless, and the large fortunes accumulated by the speculators, turning to dust and ashes on their lips, might engender a new exasperation, resulting in a regenerated patriotism and a universal determination to achieve independence or die in the attempt.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 281-2

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