Thursday, April 6, 2017

Diary of John Hay: February 12, 1864

Received orders from the General to go to St. Augustine with despatches for Col. Osborne to move his force, except two companies, to Picolata. (Seymour asked last night for the 54th Mass. without delay. “One company is enough for St. Augustine.” “Cool for a subordinate,” said Q. A.) I went over to Halliwell and transferred my blasphemy business to him, and made ready at once to go to the Helen Getty. I concluded to go by way of Fernandina to get near my base of supplies. . . .

My first day's operations in Jacksonville were such as to give me great encouragement. I enrolled in all sixty names — some of them men of substance and influence. The fact that more than fifty per cent. of the prisoners of war were eager to desert and get out of the service shows how the spirit of the common people is broken. Everybody seemed tired of the war. Peace on any terms was what they wanted. They have no care for the political questions involved. Most of them had not read the oath, and when I insisted on their learning what it was, they would say listlessly: — “Yes, I guess I'll take it.” Some of the more intelligent cursed their politicians and especially South Carolina; but most looked hopefully to the prospect of having a government to protect them after the anarchy of the few years past. There was little of what might be called loyalty. But what I build my hopes on is the evident weariness of the war, and anxiety for peace.

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 166-7; Tyler Dennett, Editor, Lincoln and the Civil War in the diaries and letters of John Hay, p. 161-2; Michael Burlingame, Editor, Inside Lincoln's White House: The Complete Civil War Diary of John Hay, p. 162.

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