Sunday, June 11, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 7, 1863

A scout came in to-day with the vexatious intelligence that a body of hostile cavalry is still in Louisa County. And later in the day we have information that the Mattapony bridge was burned last night! Thus again is communication interrupted between Gen. Lee and the city! Our wounded cannot be brought to the hospitals here, nor supplies sent to them! It really does seem as if an organization of Union men here were co-operating with the enemy, else they never could disappear and reappear so often with impunity. Every one is asking what Gens. Elzey and Winder are doing — and echo answers, What?

There is a great pressure for passports to leave the country. Mr. Benjamin writes an indignant letter to the Secretary against Gen. Whiting, at Wilmington, for detaining a Mr. Flanner's steamer, laden with cotton for some of the nationalities — Mr. B. intimates a foreign or neutral power. But when once away from our shore, many of these vessels steer for New York, depositing large sums “for those whom it may concern.”

Mr. J. B. Campbell, attorney for J. E. Hertz (Jew), writes a long letter to “J. A. Campbell, Assistant Secretary of War,” urging the payment of the slight sum of $25,200 for ninety kegs of bicarbonate of soda seized by the agent of the department! The true value is about $250!

At two o'clock this afternoon a note was received by the Secretary of War from Lieut.-Gen. Longstreet (still in the city), stating that the President last night desired him to go to Gen. Lee immediately; but the general, during the day, has become convinced that he should not leave the city until communications are reestablished with Gen. Lee, and the city in a condition of defense against the sudden dash of one or two columns of the enemy — an event, he thinks, meditated by the Yankees! And the persistency of the Federal cavalry in hanging round the city in spite of all the generals here, and the many companies, battalions, and regiments vainly sent out in quest of them, would seem to indicate such purpose.

But the raids in the West don't seem to flourish so well. We have an official dispatch from Gen. Bragg, stating that Gen. Forrest has captured 1600 of the enemy's cavalry in a body, near Rome, Georgia.

There are amusing scenes among the horrors of war, as the following, taken from a paper to-day, shows:

Taking the Oath under Protest. — A few weeks ago a laughable incident occurred in the neighborhood of Nashville, which is worthy of record. A saucy, dashing young girl, of the Southern persuasion, was, with a number of other ladies, brought into the presence of Gen. Rosecrans, in order that their Southern ardor might be checked by the administration of the oath of loyalty. The bold, bright-eyed Juno in question, objected to take the oath, saying that her mother had taught her that it was unlady-like to swear; her sense of morality forbid her to swear, and swear she could and would not. The officer insisted that the lady must take an oath before she left his presence.

“’Well, general,’” said bright eyes, ‘if I must swear, I will; but all sins of the oath must rest on your shoulders, for I swear on your compulsion: “G-d d-m[n] every Yankee to H--1!’”

“And the defiant beauty tossed her dark curls and swept out of the presence unmolested.” —Nashville Union.

7 O'clock P.m. The report that the bridge over the Mattapony had been burned by the enemy was false — invented probably by a spy or emissary, who has enjoyed the freedom of the city under the Dogberrys and Vergises imported hither to preserve the government. A number of trains containing our wounded men, guarded by a detachment of troops, have arrived at the Fredericksburg depot. An officer just arrived from the army says we have taken 15,000 prisoners. If this be so, the loss of the enemy during the week in Virginia will not be less than 40,000. Our loss in killed and wounded is estimated at from 8 to 10,000 — we lost a few hundred prisoners. We have taken, it is said, 53 guns, and lost 14.

I think the reports to-day of squadrons of the enemy's cavalry seen in the surrounding counties are not reliable — they were probably our own men in quest of the enemy.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 312-4

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