From Winchester we have many accounts, in the absence of official reports (Gen. Lee being too busy in the saddle to write), which have exalted our spirits most wonderfully. The number of prisoners taken, by the lowest estimate is 5000, — the others say 9000, — besides 50 guns, and an immense amount of stores. Our own loss in storming the fortifications was only 100 killed and wounded! Milroy, they say, escaped by flight — but may not have gotten off very far, as it seems certain that our one-legged Lieut.-Gen. Ewell (fit successor of Jackson) pushed on to the Potomac and surrounded, if he has not taken, Harper's Ferry, where there is another large depot of supplies. The whole valley is doubtless in our possession — the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad — and the way is open into Maryland and Pennsylvania. It is believed Hooker's army is utterly demoralized, and that Lee is going on. This time, perhaps, no Sharpsburg will embarrass his progress, and the long longed-for day of retributive invasion may come at last.
Col. Gorgas, Chief of Ordnance (Northern born), recommends that the habit of issuing twenty cartridges extra to each of our men be discontinued, and suggests that they be given three cartridges per month, and all over that to be issued upon requisition of the commanding general, on the eve of battle. But might they not, if this were adopted, be liable to be caught sometimes without enough ammunition? He says there is a deficiency of lead.
There is a rumor that the Secretary of the Navy sent an ironclad out yesterday, at Savannah, to fight two of the enemy's blockading squadron, and that after an engagement of thirty minutes, our ship struck her colors. If this be so, the people will wish that the Secretary had been on the boat that surrendered.
A man by the name of Jackson a short time since obtained a passport through our lines from Judge Campbell, and when a negro was rowing him across the Potomac, drew a pistol and made him take him to a Federal gun-boat in sight. He was heartily received, and gave such information to the enemy as induced them to engage in a raid on the Northern Neck, resulting in the devastation of several counties. These facts I got from the President's special detective, Craddock. Craddock also informs me that my communication to Col. Johnston was laid before the President, who called in the Secretary of State and the Secretary of War, to consult on some means of regulating the passport business, etc. He says prompt measures will be adopted immediately.
Craddock also informs me that a Jew named Cohen, in this city, has been co-operating with his brother living in the North, obtaining passports both ways for bribes — and bribing the officials that granted them, much to our detriment. This, perhaps, has alarmed the President; but if the business of selling passports be lucrative, I despair of his being able to put an end to it.
I see the enemy have destroyed the President's house, furniture, etc., in Mississippi.
I have good reason to suppose that the package marked “important,” etc., sent from the President's office yesterday to the Secretary of War, was the substance of a conversation which took place between Mr. Ould and Mr. Vallandigham. What Mr. V. revealed to Mr. O., perhaps supposing the latter, although employed here, friendly to ultimate reconstruction, there is no means of conjecturing. But it was deemed “highly important.”
SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 352-3