Saturday, June 10, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 6, 1863

The excitement has subsided, as troops come pouring in, and many improvised cavalry companies go out in quest of the fox — who has vanished we know not exactly whither.

It is believed we have taken 15,000 or 20,000 prisoners, and that the enemy's killed, wounded, and prisoners must reach the appalling number of 40,000.

On Sunday, the enemy opposite Fredericksburg sent over a flag, asking permission to bury their dead. This was granted. But when they came — two corps under Gen. Sedgwick came over and fell upon our few regiments in the vicinity. So goes the story. Then, it is said, when Gen. Lee ordered two of our divisions to drive Sedgwick back, the men, learning the enemy with the flag of truce had given no quarter to their comrades, refused to fight unless permitted to retaliate in kind. This was promised them; and then their charge was irresistible, never pausing until the Yankees were hurled back across the river. No prisoners were taken. However this may be, Gen. Lee sends the following to the President:

“[Received by telegraph from Guiney's Depot.]

Headquarters, 10 o'clock A M.,
“May 5, 1863.
To his Excellency, President Davis.

“At the close of the battle of Chancellorville, on Sunday, the enemy was reported advancing from Fredericksburg in our rear.

“Gen. McLaws was sent back to arrest his progress, and repulsed him handsomely that afternoon. Learning that this force consisted of two corps, under Gen. Sedgwick, I determined to attack it, and marched back yesterday with Gen. Anderson, and uniting with Gens. McLaws and Early in the afternoon, succeeded by the blessing of Heaven in driving Gen. Sedgwick over the river. We have reoccupied Fredericksburg, and no enemy remains south of the Rappahannock in its vicinity.

R. E. Lee, General.

Another dispatch from Gen. Lee says Hooker is still on this side of the river, at United States Ford, fortifying.

Gen. Longstreet is now closeted with the Secretary of War. No doubt his entire corps will immediately rejoin Lee.

Jackson was wounded (his arm has been amputated) before the great battle was fought, by our own men, in the gloom of the evening, supposing him a Federal officer. He was recounoitering in front of the line.

S. S. H—— writes to the department, proposing to send an emissary to the North, to organize secret societies to destroy the enemy's stores, ships, railroad bridges, etc. by an unexplained process.

Tillman, Griffin & Co. write to Judge Campbell to obtain them permission to trade with Mexico. Does this mean trading cotton with the enemy? 1 know not whether the request was granted.

Mr. Benjamin, Secretary of State, writes to the Secretary to day for permission for some of his Louisiana friends to leave the country in a government steamer.

It is said that the government at Washington is ordering their troops from North Carolina and other places on the Southern seaboard towards Washington, and to reinforce Hooker — or Hooker's army. I think Hooker himself will go the way of all general flesh that fails.

The President sent to the War Department fifty-five letters today, written to him on various subjects, but mostly asking appointments. He had read them, and several had indorsed on them, in his own hand, what he wished done in the premises. So he has not lost his sight. He still attends to business at his dwelling, and has not been in his office for more than a month.

Secretary Seddon is gaunt and emaciated, with long straggling hair, mingled gray and black. He looks like a dead man galvanized into muscular animation. His eyes are sunken, and his features have the hue of a man who had been in his grave a full month. But he is an orator, and a man of fine education — but in bad health, being much afflicted with neuralgia. His administrative capacity will be taxed by the results.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 310-2

No comments: