Friday, June 16, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 12, 1863

The departments and all places of business are still closed in honor of Gen. Jackson, whose funeral will take place to-day. The remains will be placed in state at the Capitol, where the people will be permitted to see him. The grief is universal, and the victory involving such a loss is regarded as a calamity.

The day is bright and excessively hot; and so was yesterday.

Many letters are coming in from the counties in which the enemy's cavalry replenished their horses. It appears that the government has sent out agents to collect the worn-down horses left by the enemy; and this is bitterly objected to by the farmers. It is the corn-planting season, and without horses, they say, they can raise no crops. Some of these writers are almost menacing in their remarks, and intimate that they are about as harshly used, in this war, by one side as the other.

To-day I observed the clerks coming out of the departments with chagrin and mortification. Seventy-five per cent. of them ought to be in the army, for they are young able-bodied men. This applies also to the chiefs of bureaus.

The funeral was very solemn and imposing, because the mourning was sincere and heartfelt. There was no vain ostentation. The pall bearers were generals. The President followed near the hearse in a carriage, looking thin and frail in health. The heads of departments, two and two, followed on foot — Benjamin and Seddon first — at the head of the column of young clerks (who ought to be in the field), the State authorities, municipal authorities, and thousands of soldiers and citizens. The war-horse was led by the general's servant, and flags and black feathers abounded.

Arrived at the Capitol, the whole multitude passed the bier, and gazed upon the hero's face, seen through a glass in the coffin.

Just previous to the melancholy ceremony, a very large body of prisoners (I think 3500) arrived, and were marched through Main Street, to the grated buildings allotted them. But these attracted slight attention, — Jackson, the great hero, was the absorbing thought. Yet there are other Jacksons in the army, who will win victories, — no one doubts it.

The following is Gen. Lee's order to the array after the intelligence of Gen. Jackson's death:

Headquarters Army Northern Va.,
“May 11th, 1863.
general Orders No. 61.

“With deep grief the Commanding General announces to the army the death of Lieut.-Gen. T. J. Jackson, who expired on the 10th inst., at 3½ P.M. The daring, skill, and energy of this great and good soldier, by the decree of an all-wise Providence, are now lost to us. But while we mourn his death, we feel that his spirit still lives, and will inspire the whole army with his indomitable courage and unshaken confidence in God as our hope and our strength. Let his name be a watchword to his corps, who have followed him to victory on so many fields. Let officers and soldiers emulate his invincible determination to do everything in the defense of our beloved country.

“R. E. Lee, General.

The Letter of Gen. Lee to Gen. Jackson.

The letter written by Gen. Lee to Gen. Jackson before the death of the latter is as follows:

General: —

“I have just received your note informing me that you were wounded. I cannot express my regret at the occurrence. Could I have dictated events, I should have chosen for the good of the country to have been disabled in your stead.

“I congratulate you upon the victory which is due to your skill and energy.

“Most truly yours,
“R. E. Lee.
To Gen. T. J. Jackson.

“The nation's agony,” as it is termed in a Washington paper, in an appeal for 500,000 more men, now demands a prompt response from the people. And yet that paper, under the eye and in the interest of the Federal Government, would make it appear that “the Army of the Potomac” has sustained no considerable! disaster. What, then, constitutes the “nation's agony”? Is it the imminency of war with England? It may be, judging from the debates in Parliament, relating to the liberties the United States have been taking with British commerce. But what do they mean by the “nation?” They have nothing resembling a homogeneous race in the North, and nearly a moiety of the people are Germans and Irish. How ridiculous it would have been even for a Galba to call his people the Roman nation! An idiot may produce a conflagration, but he can never rise to the dignity of a high-minded man. Yet that word “Nation” may raise a million Yankee troops. It is a “new thing.”

The Northern papers say Charleston is to be assailed again immediately; that large reinforcements are going to Hooker, and that they captured six or eight thousand prisoners in their flight on the Rappahannock. All these fictions are understood and appreciated here; but they may answer a purpose in the North, by deceiving the people again into the belief that Richmond will certainly fall the next time an advance is made. And really, where we see such extravagant statements in the Federal journals, after a great battle, we are much rejoiced, because we know them to be unfounded, and we are led to believe our victory was even greater than we supposed it to be.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 321-3

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