The enemy are advancing across the Rappahannock, and the heavy skirmishing which precedes a battle has begun. We are sending up troops and supplies with all possible expedition. Decisive events are looked for in a few days. But if all of Longstreet's corps be sent up, we leave the southern approach to the city but weakly defended. Hooker must have overwhelming numbers, else he would not venture to advance in the face of Lee's army! Can he believe the silly tale about our troops being sent from Virginia to the Carolinas? If so, he will repent his error.
We hear of fighting in Northwestern Virginia and in Louisiana, but know not the result. The enemy have in possession all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi River. This is bad for us, — sugar and salt will be scarcer still. At Grand Gulf our batteries have repulsed their gun-boats, but the battle is to be renewed.
The railroad presidents have met in this city, and ascertained that to keep the tracks in order for military purposes, 49,500 tons of rails must be manufactured per annum, and that the Tredegar Works here, and the works at Atlanta, cannot produce more than 20,000 tons per annum, even if engaged exclusively in that work They say that neither individual nor incorporated companies will suffice. The government must manufacture iron or the roads must fail!
A cheering letter was received from Gov. Vance to-day, stating that, upon examination, the State (North Carolina) contains a much larger supply of meat and grain than was supposed. The State Government will, in a week or so, turn over to the Confederate Government 250,000 pounds of bacon, and a quantity of corn; and as speculators are driven out of the market, the Confederate States agents will be able to purchase large supplies from the people, who really have a considerable surplus of provisions. He attributes this auspicious state of things to the cessation of arbitrary impressments.
SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 302-3