Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 9, 1863

The papers contain the following order from Gen. Lee:

“headquarters Army Northern Virginia,
“May 7th, 1803.

“general Orders No. 59.

“With heartfelt gratification, the General Commanding expresses to the army his sense of the heroic conduct displayed by officers and men, during the arduous operations in which they have just been engaged.

“Under trying vicissitudes of heat and storm, you attacked the enemy, strongly intrenched in the depths of a tangled wilderness, and again on the hills of Fredericksburg, fifteen miles distant, and by the valor that has triumphed on so many fields, forced him once more to seek safety beyond the Rappahannock. While this glorious victory entitles you to the praise and gratitude of the nation, we are especially called upon to return our grateful thanks to the only Giver of victory for the signal deliverance He has wrought.

“It is, therefore, earnestly recommended that the troops unite on Sunday next in ascribing to the Lord of hosts the glory due unto His name.

“Let us not forget in our rejoicing the brave soldiers who have fallen in defense of their country; and while we mourn their loss, let us resolve to emulate their noble example.

“The army and the country alike lament the absence for a time of one to whose bravery, energy, and skill they are so much indebted for success.

“The following letter from the President of the Confederate States is communicated to the army as an expression of his appreciation of its success:

“‘I have received your dispatch, and reverently unite with you in giving praise to God for the success with which He has crowned our arms.

“‘In the name of the people, I offer my cordial thanks to yourself and the troops under your command for this addition to the unprecedented series of great victories which your army has achieved.

“‘The universal rejoicing produced by this happy result will be mingled with a general regret for the good and the brave who are numbered among the killed and wounded.’

“R. E. Lee, General.

The losses on either side are not yet relatively ascertained. Ours, in killed, wounded, and prisoners, will probably reach 10,000. We have taken about 10,000 prisoners; the enemy's killed and wounded is thought to be 15,000 to 20,000. We have taken about fifty guns — and it is said 40,000 small arms, in good order. They did not have leisure to destroy them as on former occasions. It was a complete and stunning defeat.

Gen. Jackson remains near Fredericksburg, and is doing well since the amputation of his (left) arm. The wound was received, during the battle by moonlight, from his own men, who did not recognize their beloved general.

A letter was received to-day from Gen. Whiting at Wilmington, who refuses to permit the “Lizzie” to leave the port, unless ordered to do so. He intimates that she trades with the enemy. And yet Mr. Benjamin urges the Secretary to allow her to depart! Commodore Lynch also writes that the detention of the “Lizzie” is a prudential measure, as it is the only steamer in port that could conduct our unfinished gun-boat to a place of safety, should the enemy's fleet make a sudden attack on the city.

The President (who still absents himself from the Executive Office, his health being precarious) writes the Secretary to consult Gen. Lee before detaching Gen. Jenkins's cavalry brigade from the West. It would have been better if Gen. Lee's advice had been taken in regard to Gen. Longstreet.

The men from the garrison at Drewry's Bluff, and the crew from the steamer Richmond, were taken away to man the batteries around the city. The President requests the Secretary to order them back at the earliest moment practicable. It would be an ugly picture if our defenses at Drewry's Bluff were surprised and taken by a sudden dash of the enemy up James River.

The raid of the enemy's cavalry, after all, did little or no permanent injury to the roads or canal. They are all in operation again.

It is said Lincoln has called for 500,000 more men. Numbers have now no terror for the Southern people. They are willing to wage the war against quadruple their number.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 316-8

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