Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 16, 1863

It appears, after the consultation of the generals and the President yesterday, it was resolved not to send Pickett's division to Mississippi, and this morning early the long column march through the city northward. Gen. Lee is now stronger than he was before the battle. Gen. Pickett himself, with his long, black ringlets, accompanied his division, his troops looking like fighting veterans, as they are. And two fine regiments of cavalry, the 2d and 59th North Carolina Regiments, passed through the city this morning likewise.

A letter was received from Gen. Beauregard to-day, again protesting against the movement of so many of his troops to Mississippi; 5000 on the 5th, and more than 5000 on the 10th instant. He makes an exhibit of the forces remaining in South Carolina and Georgia — about 4000 infantry, 5000 cavalry, and 6000 artillery, some 15,000 in all. He says the enemy is still on the coast, in the rivers, and on the islands, and may easily cut his communications with Savannah; and they have sufficient numbers to take Charleston, in all probability, without passing the forts. He says information of his weakness is sure to be communicated to the enemy — and I think so too, judging from the number of passports “allowed” by Judge Campbell and Mr. Benjamin!

There is some purpose on the part of Gen. Lee to have a raid in the enemy's country, surpassing all other raids. If he can organize two columns of cavalry, 5000 each, to move in parallel lines, they may penetrate to the Hudson River; and then the North will discover that it has more to lose by such expeditions than the South. Philadelphia, even, may be taken.

To-day, the regular train on the Fredericksburg road came back to the city, the conductor being in a terrible fright, and reporting that the enemy were again at Ashland. But it turned out that the troops there were our men! It is not probable the enemy's cavalry will soon approach Richmond again.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 325-6

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