Thursday, July 12, 2018

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: September 30, 1863

Still nothing additional from Lee's or Bragg's army; but from abroad we learn that the British Government has prevented the rams built for us from leaving the Mersey.

Gen. Pemberton is here, and was closeted for several hours today with the Secretary of War.

Capt. J. H. Wright, 56th Georgia, gives another version of the surrender of Cumberland Gap. He is the friend of Gen. Frazer, and says he was induced to that step by the fear that the North Carolina regiments (62d and 63d) could not be relied on. Did he try them?

A Mr. Blair, Columbus, Miss., applies for permission to bring drugs from Memphis, and refers, for respectability, to President Davis and Gov. Letcher. His letter gives a list of prices of medicines in the Confederate States. I select the following: Quinine, per oz., $100; calomel, $20; blue mass, $20; Opium, $100; S. N. bismuth, $100; soda, $5; borax, $14; oil of bergamot, per lb., $100; indigo, $35; blue-stone, $10.

Boots are selling in this city at $100 per pair, and common shoes for $60. Shuck mattresses, $40. Blankets, $40 each; and sheets, cotton, $25 each. Wood is $40 per cord.

I submitted a proposition to the Secretary (of a quartermaster) to use some idle government wagons and some negro prisoners, to get in wood for the civil officers of the government, which could be done for $8 per cord; but the quartermasters opposed it.

But to-day I sent a letter to the President, suggesting that the perishable tithes (potatoes, meal, etc.) be sold at reasonable rates to the civil officers and the people, when in excess of the demand of the army, and that transportation be allowed, and that a government store be opened in Richmond. I, told him plainly, that without some speedy measure of relief there would be much discontent, for half the families here are neither half-fed nor half-clad. The measure, if adopted in all the cities, would be a beneficent one, and would give popular strength to the government, while it would be a death-blow to the speculators and extortioners. It will be seen what heed the government will give it.

Gen. Wise has his brigade in South Carolina.

The markets.—The quantity of produce in our markets continues large, and of good quality, but the prices remain as high as ever, as the following quotations will show: butter, $4; bacon, $2.75 to $3 per pound; lard, $2.25 per pound; beef, $1 to $1.25; lamb, $1 to $1.25; veal, $1 to $1.50; shote, $1.25 to $1.75; sausage, $1; chickens, $2.50 to $7 per pair; ducks, $5 per pair; salt herrings, $4 per dozen; cabbage, $1 to $1.50; green corn, $1.50 to $2 per dozen; sweet potatoes, $21 to $26 per bushel; Irish potatoes, 50 to 15 cts. per quart; snaps, $1 per quart; peas, 75 cts. to $1.25 per quart; butter-beans, $1 to $1.50 per quart; onions, $1.25 per quart; egg-plant, $1 to $2 a piece; tomatoes, 50 cts. to $1 per quart; country soap, $1 to $1.50 per pound.”

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 56-7

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