We have nothing additional from Gen. Wise's expedition against Williamsburg; but it was deprecated by our people here, whose families and negroes have been left in that vicinity. They argue that we cannot hold the town, or any portion of the Peninsula in the neighborhood; and when the troops retire, the enemy will subject the women and children to more rigorous treatment, and take all the slaves.
We have news from Tennessee, which seems to indicate that Gen. Van Dorn has been beaten, losing a battery, after a sanguinary battle of several hours. Van Dorn had only cavalry — 7000. This has a depressing effect. It seems that we lose all the battles of any magnitude in the West. This news may have been received by the President in advance of the public, and hence his indisposition. We shall have news now every day or so.
Albert Pike is out in a pamphlet against Gens. Holmes and Hindman. He says their operations in Arkansas have resulted in reducing our forces, in that State, from forty odd thousand to less than 17,000. It was imprudent to publish such a statement. Albert Pike is a native Yankee, but he has lived a long time in the South.
Gov. Vance is furious at the idea of conscribing magistrates, constables, etc. in North Carolina. He says it would be an annihilation of State Rights — nevertheless, being subject to militia duty by the laws of the State, they are liable under the Act of Conscription.
Well, we are getting only some 700 conscripts per month in Virginia — the largest State! At this rate, how are we to replenish the ranks as they become thinned in battle? It is to be hoped the enemy will find the same difficulty in filling up their regiments, else we have rather a gloomy prospect before us. But God can and will save us if it be His pleasure.
SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 292-3