Thursday, June 8, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 4, 1863

This morning early the tocsin sounded, and the din, kept up for several hours, intensified the alarm. The presence of the enemy would not have produced a greater effect. But, in truth, the enemy were almost in sight of the city. Hon. James Lyons told me they were within a mile and a half of his house, which is about that distance from the city. Thousands of men, mostly old men and employees of the government, were instantly organized and marched to the batteries.

But the alarm subsided about 10 A.M. upon information being received that the enemy were flying before Gen. Wise down the Peninsula.

After this the following dispatch was received from Gen. Lee:

milford, May 3d, 1863.
president Davis.

“Yesterday Gen. Jackson, with three of his divisions, penetrated to the rear of the enemy, and drove him from all his positions, from the Wilderness to within one mile of Chancellorville. He was engaged at the same time, in front, by two of Longstreet's divisions.

This morning the battle was renewed. He was dislodged from all his positions around Chancellorville, and driven back toward the Rappahannock, over which he is now retreating.

"Many prisoners were taken, and the enemy's loss, in killed and wounded, large.

"We have again to thank Almighty God for a great victory.

"I regret to state that Gen. Paxton was killed. Gen. Jackson severely, and Generals Heth and A. P. Hill slightly, wounded.

“R. E. Lee, General.

Enough is known to raise the spirits of all. Gen. Lee gives thanks to God “for a great victory;” and he never misleads, never exaggerates.

My son Custis got a musket and marched in one of the companies — I have not learned which — for the defense of the city. It is a sultry day, and he will suffer.

The President was driven out in a light open carriage after the reception of Gen. Lee's dispatch, and exhibited the finest spirits. He was even diverted at the zeal of the old men and boys marching out with heavy muskets to the batteries.

Brig.-Gen. Pryor, who has been under arrest (I know not for what offense), volunteered in a company of horse, and galloped away with the rest in pursuit of the enemy.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 307-8

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