Thursday, July 20, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: June 12, 1863

A beautiful, bright warm summer day — and yet a little somber.

The surprise of Stuart, on the Rappahannock, has chilled every heart, notwithstanding it does not appear that we lost more than the enemy in the encounter. The question is on every tongue —  have our generals relaxed in vigilance? If so, sad is the prospect!

But Vicksburg is the point of intensest interest and anxieties. Gen. Johnston writes from Canton, Mississippi, on the 5th inst., in reply to the Secretary, that he regrets such confidence is reposed in his ability to save Vicksburg, and fears that such expectations will be disappointed. Grant is receiving reinforcements daily— while he (Johnston) is not to have more troops. He does not state the number he has, but he says it seems to him that the relief of Vicksburg is impossible. Pemberton will hold out as long as he can; but if Grant's line be not broken, the fall of Vicksburg is only a question of time. Grant's force (he continues) is more than treble his; and Grant has constructed lines of circumvallation, and blocked up all the roads leading to his position. To force his lines would be difficult with an army twice as numerous as the one he (Johnston) commands. He will try to do something in aid of the besieged — but it seems a desperate case. He has not wagons and provisions enough to leave the railroads more than four days. The track to Vicksburg is destroyed. It was his intention at first to unite all the troops in his command — but it was impracticable. So much for these lugubrious tidings. Nothing but a miracle can save Vicksburg!

The Governors of Alabama and Mississippi unite in urging the government to suppress both the foreign and border traffic. I fear it is too late!

There is a street rumor that the enemy have appeared on the Chickahominy, and on the James River. If this be so, it may be to embarrass Lee; or it may be a determined and desperate assault on this city. We shall know very soon. But never before were we in such doubt as to the designs of the enemy; and never before have they evinced such apparent vigor and intrepidity. Yet, they know not what Lee is doing to call them home.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 345-6

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