To-day I saw the memorandum of Mr. Ould, of the conversation held with Mr. Vallandigham, for file in the archives. He says if we can only hold out this year that the peace party of the North would sweep the Lincoln dynasty out of political existence. He seems to have thought that our cause was sinking, and feared we would submit, which would, of course, be ruinous to his party! But he advises strongly against any invasion of Pennsylvania, for that would unite all parties at the North, and so strengthen Lincoln's hands that he would be able to crush all opposition, and trample upon the constitutional rights of the people.
Mr. V. said nothing to indicate that either he or the party had any other idea than that the Union would be reconstructed under Democratic rule. The President indorsed, with his own pen, on this document, that, in regard to invasion of the North, experience proved the contrary of what Mr. V. asserted. But Mr. V. is for restoring the Union, amicably, of course, and if it cannot be so done, then possibly he is in favor of recognizing our independence. He says any reconstruction which is not voluntary on our part, would soon be followed by another separation, and a worse war than the present one.
The President received a dispatch to-day from Gen. Johnston, stating that Lt.-Gen. Kirby Smith had taken Milliken's Bend. This is important, for it interferes with Grant's communications.
Gov. Shorter writes that a company near Montgomery, Ala., have invented a mode of manufacturing cotton and woolen handcards, themselves making the steel and wire, and in a few weeks will be turning out from 800 to 1000 pairs of cards per week. This will be a great convenience to the people.
Gen. Whiting writes that the river at Wilmington is so filled with the ships of private blockade-runners that the defense of the harbor is interfered with. These steamers are mostly filled with Yankee goods, for which they take them cotton, in the teeth of the law. He pronounces this business most execrable, as well as injurious to the cause. He desires the President to see his letter, and hopes he may be instructed to seize the steamers and cargoes arriving belonging to Yankees and freighted with Yankee goods.
It is a difficult matter to subsist in this city now. Beef is $1 and bacon $1.05 per pound, and just at this time there are but few vegetables. Old potatoes are gone, and the new have not yet come. A single cabbage, merely the leaves, no head, sells for a dollar, and this suffices not for a dinner for my family.
My little garden has produced nothing yet, in consequence of the protracted dry weather. But we have, at last, abundant rains. To-day I found several long pieces of rusty wire, and these I have affixed horizontally to the wood house and to the fence, intending to lead the lima beans up to them by strings, which I will fasten to switches stuck between the plants. My beets will soon be fit to eat, and so will the squashes. But the potatoes do not yet afford a cheering prospect. The tomatoes, however. are coming on finely, and the cherries are nearly ripe. A lady has sent me 50 cabbage plants to set out, and two dozen red peppers. Every foot of my ground is occupied, and there is enough to afford me some exercise every afternoon.
SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 357-9