Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 3, 1863

We have no further news from the army, except the usual skirmishing. A number of our wounded arrived last evening. An officer reports that, from what he could see of the enemy's conduct, the soldiers do not come to the point with alacrity. He thinks they fight with reluctance, and are liable to be routed any hour by inferior numbers.

Troops were sent up in special trains last night, and also this morning. These are some of the regiments which Gen. D. P. [sic] Hill had in North Carolina; and hence the complaints of Gov. Vance, that his State did not have its just proportion of the protection of the government. Of Longstreet's movements, I am not advised. But there will be news enough in a few days.

The President's health is still precarious, and he is still threatened with the loss of his remaining eye.

The Vice-President was in my office yesterday, and told me his health is quite as good as usual. One would suppose him to be afflicted with all manner of diseases, and doomed to speedy dissolution; but, then, he has worn this appearance during the last twenty years. His eyes are magnificent, and his mind is in the meridian of intellectual vigor.

There has been some commotion in the city this afternoon and evening, but no painful alarm, produced by intelligence that the enemy's cavalry, that cut the road at Trevillian's depot, had reached Ashland and destroyed the depot. Subsequent rumors brought them within eight miles of the city; and we have no force of any consequence here. The account was brought from Ashland by Mr. Davis, who killed his horse in riding eighteen miles in one hour and a half.

Later in the day a young man, sixteen years old (Shelton), reached the city from Hanover on a United States horse, the enemy having foraged on his father's farm and taken his blooded steed. He says, when he escaped from them (having been taken prisoner this morning) 1500 were at his father's place, and three times as many more, being 6000 in all, were resting a short distance apart on another farm; but such ideas of numbers are generally erroneous. They told him they had been in the saddle five days, and had burnt all the bridges behind them to prevent pursuit. It was after this that they cut the road at Ashland. They professed to have fresh horses taken from our people, leaving their own. I think they will disappear down the Pamunky, and of course will cut the Central and York River Roads, and the wires. Thus communication with Lee's army is interrupted!

The Fredericksburg train, of course, failed to arrive to-day at 6 P.M.; and it is rumored there were 700 of our wounded in it, and that a great battle was fought yesterday by Lee. These are rumors.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 306-7

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