Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 15, 1865

Moderated last night; this morning sleety and dangerous.

Gen. Lee was in the city yesterday, walking about briskly, as if some great event was imminent. His gray locks and beard have become white, but his countenance is cheerful, and his health vigorous.

The papers say Wheeler has beaten Kilpatrick (Federal cavalry general) back five miles, somewhere between Branchville and Augusta. So he did once or twice when Sherman was marching on Savannah, and he took it while Bragg remained at Augusta. The news of a victory by Beauregard over Sherman would change the face of affairs in that quarter, and nothing less will suffice.

It is surprising that the Federal authorities do not seem to perceive that in the event of a forced reconstruction of the Union, and a war with any European power, the South would rise again and join the latter. Better recognize a separate nationality, secure commercial advantages, and have guarantees of neutrality, etc.

Scouts report Gen. Thomas (Federal), with 30,000 men, encamped in the vicinity of Alexandria, Va., awaiting fair weather to march upon Richmond from that direction. The number is exaggerated no doubt, but that Richmond is to be subjected to renewed perils, while Congress is wasting its time in idle debate, is pretty certain.

The Senate passed a bill yesterday abolishing the Bureau of Conscription, and I think it will pass the House. The President ought to have abolished it months ago—years ago. It may be too late.

Col. St. John, Chief Mining and Niter Bureau, has been nominated as the new Commissary-General.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 422-3

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 16, 1865

Cloudy; rained yesterday and last night.

We have no important news from South Carolina, except the falling back toward Columbia of our troops; I suppose before superior numbers. Branchville is evacuated.

The roads will not admit of much movement in the field for some days. But pretty heavy cannonading is heard down the river.

Congress did nothing yesterday; it is supposed, however, that the bill recruiting negro troops will pass—I fear when it is too late.

Meantime the President is as busy as a bee making appointments and promotions, and many meritorious men are offended, supposing themselves to be overslaughed or neglected.

The published letter taking leave of Mr. Secretary Seddon rasps Congress severely, and is full of professions of esteem, etc. for the retiring Secretary. The members of Congress reply with acrimony.

The quartermaster at Charlotte, N. C., dispatches the Secretary of War that he has there some millions in specie, government funds, besides specie of the banks for safe keeping. He also desires the removal of the "Foreign Legion" there, paroled prisoners taken from the enemy and enlisting in our service. They are committing robberies, etc.

I saw Gen. Lee at the department again this morning. He seems vigorous, his face quite red, and very cheerful. He was in gray uniform, with a blue cloth cape over his shoulders.

Exchange of prisoners has been resumed, and many of our men are returning from captivity. Gen. Grant has the matter under his control.

Gen. Pillow has been appointed commander of prisons in place of Gen. Winder, deceased.

Only 4 pounds bacon were issued as meat ration to detailed men this month.

I learn that some 2000 of our men, confined at Point Lookout, Md., as prisoners of war, during the last two months, offered to take the oath of allegiance, which was refused, because it would reduce the number to exchange.

By the last flag of truce boat a negro slave returned.

His master took the oath, the slave refused. He says "Massa had no principles."

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 423-4

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 17, 1865

Frosty morning, after a rain last night.

We have no authentic war news this morning, from any quarter. Congress is at work in both Houses on the Negro bill. It will pass, of course, without some unforeseen obstacle is interposed.

A letter from Gen. Lee to Gen. Wise is published, thanking the latter's brigade for resolutions recently adopted, declaring that they would consent to gradual emancipation for the sake of independence and peace. This is a strong indication (confirmatory) that Gen. Lee is an emancipationist. From all the signs slavery is doomed! But if 200,000 negro recruits can be made to fight, and can be enlisted, Gen. Lee may maintain the war very easily and successfully; and the powers at Washington may soon become disposed to abate the hard terms of peace now exacted.

How our fancies paint the scenes of peace now which were never appreciated before! Sitting by our cheerless fires, we summon up countless blessings that we could enjoy, if this war were only over. We plan and imagine many things that would be bliss to us in comparison with the privations we suffer. Oh, what fine eating and comfortable clothes we shall have when we enjoy another season of repose! We will hunt, we will "go fishing," we will cultivate nice gardens, etc. Oh for peace once more! Will this generation, with their eyes open, and their memories fresh, ever, ever go to war again?

There is a dark rumor that Columbia, S. C., has been taken possession of by the enemy; but I hardly believe it, for Gen. Beauregard would fight for it.

Gen. Beauregard telegraphs from Columbia, S. C., yesterday, that Gen. Pillow proposes to gather troops west of that point, and Gen. B. approves it. The President hesitates, and refers to Gen. Cooper, etc.

Eleven o'clock A.M. Raining again; wind east.

Mr. Hunter looks rather cadaverous to-day; he does not call on the new Secretary often.  Gen. B. is a formidable rival for the succession—if there should be such a thing.

To-day my son Thomas drew his rations. I have also had another load of coal from Lieut. Parker, C. S. N., out of his contract, at $30, a saving of nearly $100! that will take us through the winter and spring. We also bought another bushel of black beans at $65.

Alas! we have news now of the capture of Columbia, S. C., capital of the State. A dark day, truly! And only this morning—not three short hours ago—the President hesitated to second Beauregard's desire that Gen. Pillow—although not a "red tapist"—should rouse the people to the rescue; but Gen. Cooper must be consulted to throw obstacles in the way! This will be a terrible blow; and its consequences may be calamitous beyond calculation. Poor South Carolina! her day of agony has come!

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 424-5

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 18, 1865

Rained last night; but this is as lovely a morning as ever dawned on earth. A gentle southern breeze, a cloudless sky, and a glorious morning sun, whose genial warmth dispels the moisture of the late showers in smoky vapors.

But how dark and dismal the aspect of our military affairs! Columbia fallen and Charleston (of course) evacuated. My wife wept, my daughter prayed, upon hearing the news. South Carolina was superior to all the States in the estimation of my wife, and she regarded it as the last stronghold. Now she despairs, and seems reckless of whatever else may happen in Sherman's career of conquest.

A dispatch to Gen. Bragg states that Thomas's army (the ubiquitous) is landing at Newbern, N. C.! This is to cut Lee's communications and strike at Raleigh perhaps.

The people are stunned and sullen; sometimes execrating the President for retaining a cabinet in which the country has no confidence, etc.

One hundred for one is asked for gold.

The President was at work very early this morning making appointments in the army. But that does no good to the cause, I fear. A sufficient number of men must be placed in the ranks, or there will be no military success.

The Senate has passed a bill abolishing the "Bureau of Conscription," and it is now before the House. That is one step in the right direction. Hon. J. Goode yesterday made a speech in favor of its abolition, in which he said 150,000 men had been "handled" by the bureau during the last twelve months, and only 13,000 had been sent to the army! But it did not pass—no vote was taken; it is to be hoped it will pass to-day.

It is rumored that the "money-printing machine" was lost at Columbia, including a large amount of "treasure"—if Confederate Treasury notes be worthy that appellation.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 425-6

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 19, 1865

Another bright and glorious morning. I hear of no news whatever from the South—although I know that important events are transpiring—and the reticence of the government is construed very unfavorably. Hence if Beauregard has fought a battle, it is to be apprehended that he did not gain the day; and if this be so, South Carolina lies at the conqueror's feet.

I thought I heard brisk cannonading in the distance (down the river) this morning, but am not certain. I saw Mr. Hunter going briskly toward the Executive department. He does not come often now to the War Office.

The new Secretary has a large audience of members of Congress every morning.

The President and three of his aids rode out this afternoon (past our house), seemingly as cheerful as if each day did not have its calamity! No one who beheld them would have seen anything to suppose that the capital itself was in almost immediate danger of falling into the hands of the enemy; much less that the President himself meditated its abandonment at an early day, and the concentration of all the armies in the Cotton States!

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 426

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 20, 1865

Another morning of blue skies and glorious sunshine. Sherman is reported to be marching northward, and to have progressed one-third of the way between Columbia and Charlotte, N. C.; where we had "millions of specie" a few days ago.

Some of the lady employees, sent by Mr. Memminger to Columbia last year, have returned to this city, having left and lost their beds, etc.

Grant's campaign seems developed at last. Sherman and Thomas will concentrate on his left, massing 200,000 men between Lee and his supplies, effectually cutting his communications by flanking with superior numbers. It is probable Charleston, Wilmington, and Richmond will fall without a battle; for how can they be held when the enemy stops supplies? and how could the garrisons escape when once cut off from the interior?

And yet Congress has done nothing, and does nothing, but waste the precious time. I fear it is too late now! It is certainly too late to raise recruits for service in the campaign now in active operation, a fact which our politician leaders seem to be unconscious of. Even our furloughed troops cannot now rejoin their regiments from their distant homes.

Then, if Lee must evacuate Richmond, where can he go? No one knows!

My belief is that the only chance for Lee—and a desperate one—is to beat Grant immediately, before the grand junction can be formed.

Letters are beginning to come in from the South, advocating the abandonment of Richmond, and the march of Lee's army into East Tennessee and Northern Georgia, and so on down to Montgomery, Ala., etc. etc.; concentrating in the Cotton States. What an ugly programme! How many would then follow the fortunes of this government? How many heads of bureaus, etc. would abandon it? How would it be possible for those with families on their hands to get transportation? A great many other questions might be asked, that few could answer at this time.

Charleston was evacuated on Tuesday last—nearly a week ago—so says the Examiner, and no one doubts it.

Mr. Hunter seems more depressed to-day than I have ever seen him. He walks with his head down, looking neither to the right nor the left.

I shall expect soon to hear of a battle. Beauregard must have nearly 50,000 men—such as they are, poor fellows! The rich have generally bribed themselves out of the service through the complicated machinery of the "Bureau of Conscription."

Senator Brown, of Mississippi, I am sorry to see, often retards legislation by motions to postpone; and the Senate listens to him, not knowing what to do. Hours now are worth weeks hereafter.

The President has made Wm. M. Browne—one of his aids, an Englishman and a Northern newspaper reporter—a brigadier-general. This does not help the cause. Mr. B. knows no more about war than a cat; while many a scarred colonel, native-born, and participants in a hundred fights, sue in vain for promotion.

Governor Clarke (Mississippi) telegraphs the President that nothing keeps the negroes from going to the enemy but the fear of being put in the Federal army; and that if it be attempted to put them in ours, all will run away, etc.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 426-8

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 21, 1865

Another bright and glorious morning.

Charleston fell on Thursday night last. A large number of heavy guns fell into the hands of the enemy. The confidential telegraph operators remained with the enemy. They were Northern men; but it is the policy of those in possession of this government to trust their enemies and neglect their friends.

Congress passed yesterday a bill abolishing the "Bureau of Conscription" in name-nothing more, if I understand it. The bill was manipulated by Judge Campbell, who has really directed the operations of the bureau from the beginning.

The negro bill also passed one House, and will pass the other to-day.

Also a bill (in one House) abolishing provost marshals, except in camps of the army.

These measures may come too late. The enemy is inclosing us on all sides with great vigor and rapidity. A victory by Beauregard would lift up the hearts of the people, now prone in the dust.

Mr. D. H. London (on the street) is smiling this morning. He says there is no doubt but that we shall be speedily recognized by France, and that Gen. Lee has gone South to checkmate Sherman. I fear some one has been deceiving Mr. London, knowing how eager he is for a few grains of comfort. He is a rich man.

A dispatch was sent from the department to Gen. Lee this morning, at his headquarters, supposed to be near Petersburg. Gold was selling at $60 for $1 yesterday. This may be a "dodge" of the brokers, who want to purchase; or it may be the government selling specie.

A gentleman from South Carolina reports that the Georgians (militia and reserves, I suppose) refused to enter South Carolina in obedience to Gen. Beauregard's orders, and that Gen. B. has not exceeding 10,000 reliable men. If this be so, Sherman may march whither he chooses! This is very bad, if it be true, and more and more endangers the capital.

Surgeon-General S. P. Moore's estimates for the year's expenses of his bureau are $46,000,000.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 428-9

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 22, 1865

Bright and frosty. A fine February for fruit. Yesterday the Senate postponed action on the Negro bill. What this means I cannot conjecture, unless there are dispatches from abroad, with assurances of recognition based upon stipulations of emancipation, which cannot be carried into effect without the consent of the States, and a majority of these seem in a fair way of falling into the hands of the Federal generals.

The House passed the bill to abolish quartermasters and commissaries in a modified form, excepting those collecting tax in kind; and this morning those officers in this city under forty-five years of age advertise the location of their places of business as collectors of tax in kind, Capt. Wellford, a kinsman of Mr. Seddon, among the rest, the very men the bill was intended to remove! Alas for Breckinridge and independence!

The following dispatch has just been received from Gen. R. E. Lee :

HEADQUARTERS, February 22d, 1865.

 

From dispatches of Gen. Bragg of 21st, I conclude he has abandoned Cape Fear River. He says he is embarrassed by prisoners. Enemy refuses to receive or entertain propositions. I expect no change will be made by Gen. Grant. It is his policy to delay. Have directed prisoners to be sent to Richmond by rail or highway, as may be most practicable; if wrong, correct it.

 

R. E. LEE.

This looks like the speedy fall of Wilmington, but not of Richmond.

To-day is the anniversary of the birth of Washington, and of the inauguration of Davis; but I hear of no holiday. Not much is doing, however, in the departments; simply a waiting for calamities, which come with stunning rapidity. The next news, I suppose, will be the evacuation of Wilmington! Then Raleigh may tremble. Unless there is a speedy turn in the tide of affairs, confusion will reign supreme and universally.

We have here now some 4000 or 5000 paroled prisoners returned by the Federal authorities, without sufficient food for them, and soon there may be 10,000 Federal prisoners from Wilmington, which it seems cannot be exchanged there. Is it the policy of their own government to starve them?

Mr. Burgwyn, of North Carolina, writes to the President (11th inst.) that some 15,000 bales of cotton are locked up in Wilmington, belonging to speculators, awaiting the coming of the enemy, when the city will certainly fall into their hands. He says Gen. Bragg's orders regarding its removal are wholly disregarded; and he implores the President to prevent its falling into the enemy's hands, and disgracing his State as Georgia was disgraced by the cotton taken at Savannah. He says these speculators have an understanding with the enemy. The President indorses, simply, "For attention.—J. D."

I bought quarter ounce early York cabbage-seed to day at $10 per ounce.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 429-30

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 23, 1865

Raining; the most inclement February for years.

It is stated that Gen. J. E. Johnston has been replaced in command of the army in front of Sherman; a blunder, for Beauregard's friends will raise a clamor.

Grant's men fired salutes yesterday in honor of the DAY—22d—and had the Richmond papers read to them by order of Gen. Grant—accounts of the fall of Charleston. Our government will continue this fatal policy of allowing easy communication between Richmond and the enemy, begun by Mr. Benjamin, and continued by his successors! It will ruin us, and would destroy any cause. Next, our papers will announce the fall of Wilmington.

Three preachers—Hoge, Burroughs, and Edwards have sent in a proposition to the President, to take the stump and obtain subscriptions of rations for the troops. The President marks it "special," and refers it to the Secretary "for attention and advice." Humbugged to the end! These men might fight, but they won't. They will speak two words for the soldiers, and one for themselves. I believe two of them are Northern men. What idiocy! If they meddle at all in the carnival of blood, I would put them in the ranks. Gen. Bragg says he is greatly outnumbered by the enemy's two corps near Wilmington. Of course he will evacuate.

There is no money (paper) in the Treasury. Mr. Trenholm, seeing Mr. Memminger abused for issuing too much paper money, seems likely to fall into the opposite error of printing too little,

leaving hundreds of millions of indebtedness unpaid. This will soon rouse a hornet's nest about his ears!

Gold is arriving from Charlotte, N. C., and I suppose from other places. Its accumulation here, when known to the enemy, as it certainly will be, only endangers the city more and more.

Mr. Harman, of Staunton, suggests that every house in Virginia be visited, and one third the subsistence for man and beast be bought at market price. He says that would subsist the army.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 430-1

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 24, 1865

Rained all day yesterday; cloudy and cool this morning. We have no news-only rumors that Wilmington has been abandoned, that A. P. Hill's corps (Lee's army) has marched into North Carolina, etc.

Yesterday the Senate voted down the bill to put 200,000 negroes in the army. The papers to-day contain a letter from Gen. Lee, advocating the measure as a necessity. Mr. Hunter's vote defeated it. He has many negroes, and will probably lose them; but the loss of popularity, and fear of forfeiting all chance of the succession, may have operated on him as a politician. What madness! "Under which King, Benzonian?"

The President and Gen. Breckinridge rode out to Camp Lee yesterday, and mingled with the returned prisoners, not yet exchanged. They made speeches to them. The President, being chilled, went into a hut and sat down before a fire, looking ill and wan.

The Bureau of Conscription being abolished, the business is to be turned over to the generals of reserves, who will employ the reserves mainly in returning deserters and absentees to the army. The deserters and absentees will be too many for them perhaps, at this late day. The mischief already effected may prove irremediable.

A dispatch from Gen. Lee, this morning, states that Lieut. McNeill, with 30 men, entered Cumberland, Maryland, on the 21st inst., and brought off Gens. Crook and Kelly, etc. This is a little affair, but will make a great noise. We want 300,000 men in the field instead of 30. However, this may be the beginning of a new species of warfare, by detached parties. Our men, of course, have the best knowledge of the country, and small bands may subsist where armies would starve. The war can be prolonged indefinitely, if necessary, and probably will be, unless there should be some relaxation of the stringency of measures on the part of the United States Government.

The markets are now almost abandoned, both by sellers and purchasers. Beef and pork are sold at $7 to $9 per pound, and everything else in proportion. Butter, from $15 to $20.

The President walked down to his office after 11 o'clock this morning, very erect, having heard of Lieut. McNeill's exploit.

Another dispatch from Gen. Lee says detachments of Gen. Vaughan's cavalry a few days ago captured two of the enemy's posts in Tennessee beyond Knoxville, with 60 prisoners, horses, etc.

The following letter from Gen. Lee, on the subject of putting negroes into the army, clearly defines his views on that important subject:

HEADQUARTERS CONFEDERATE STATES ARMIES,

February 18th, 1865.

 

HON. E. BARKSDALE, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, RICHMOND.

 

SIR—I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 12th inst., with reference to the employment of negroes as soldiers. I think the measure not only expedient, but necessary. The enemy will certainly use them against us if he can get possession of them; and as his present numerical superiority will enable him to penetrate many parts of the country, I cannot see the wisdom of the policy of holding them to await his arrival, when we may, by timely action and judicious management, use them to arrest his progress. I do not think that our white population can supply the necessities of a long war without overtaxing its capacity and imposing great suffering upon our people; and I believe we should provide resources for a protracted struggle not merely for a battle or a campaign.

 

In answer to your second question, I can only say that, in my opinion, the negroes, under proper circumstances, will make efficient soldiers. I think we could at least do as well with them as the enemy, and he attaches great importance to their assistance. Under good officers, and good instructions, I do not see why they should not become soldiers. They possess all the physical qualifications, and their habits of obedience constitute a good foundation for discipline. They furnish a more promising material than many armies of which we read in history, which owed their efficiency to discipline alone. I think those who are employed should be freed. It would be neither just nor wise, in my opinion, to require them to serve as slaves. The best course to pursue, it seems to me, would be to call for such as are willing to come with the consent of their owners. An impressment or draft would not be likely to bring out the best class, and the use of coercion would make the measure distasteful to them and to their owners.

 

I have no doubt that if Congress would authorize their reception into service, and empower the President to call upon individuals or States for such as they are willing to contribute, with the condition of emancipation to all enrolled, a sufficient number would be forthcoming to enable us to try the experiment. If it proved successful, most of the objections to the measure would disappear, and if individuals still remained unwilling to send their negroes to the army, the force of public opinion in the States would soon bring about such legislation as would remove all obstacles. I think the matter should be left, as far as possible, to the people and to the States, which alone can legislate as the necessities of this particular service may require. As to the mode of organizing them, it should be left as free from restraint as possible. Experience will suggest the best course, and it would be inexpedient to trammel the subject with provisions that might, in the end, prevent the adoption of reforms suggested by actual trial.

 

With great respect,

Your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE, General.

_______________

SEE ALSO: General Robert E. Lee to John C. Breckinridge, February 22, 1865

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 431-3

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 25, 1865

Raining.

There are more rumors of the evacuation of Wilmington and even Petersburg. No doubt that stores, etc. are leaving Petersburg; but I doubt whether it will be evacuated, or Richmond, either. Grant may, and probably will, get the Danville Railroad, but I think Lee will disappoint him in the item of evacuation, nevertheless; for we have some millions in gold—equal to 300,000,000 paper—to purchase subsistence; and it is believed Virginia alone, for specie, can feed the army, Then another army may arise in Grant's rear.

From the published accounts in the enemy's journals, we learn that Charleston fell on the 18th inst. They say one-third of the city was burned by us. I presume they saw the ruins of the old fire; and that most of the citizens, except the destitute, had left the town. All the cotton was destroyed by the inhabitants. They say an explosion killed several hundred of our people. They boast of capturing 200 guns, and a fine lot of ammunition—the latter, it seems to me, might have been destroyed.

I hear the deep booming of guns occasionally—but still doubt the policy or purpose of evacuating Petersburg.

Mr. Hunter's eyes seem blood-shotten since he voted against Lee's plan of organizing negro troops. He also voted against displacing the brood of quartermasters and commissioners.

The papers are requested to say nothing relative to military operations in South and North Carolina, for they are read by Gen. Grant every morning of their publication. The garrisons of Charleston and Wilmington may add 20,000 men to our force opposing Sherman, and may beat him yet.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 433-4

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 26, 1865

Cloudy and cool; rained all night. No news from the South, this morning. But there is an ugly rumor that Beauregard's men have deserted to a frightful extent, and that the general himself is afflicted with disease of mind, etc.

Mr. Hunter is now reproached by the slave-owners, whom he thought to please, for defeating the Negro bill. They say his vote will make Virginia a free State, inasmuch as Gen. Lee must evacuate it for the want of negro troops.

There is much alarm on the streets. Orders have been given to prepare all the tobacco and cotton, which cannot be removed immediately, for destruction by fire. And it is generally believed that Lieut.-Gen. A. P. Hill's corps has marched away to North Carolina. This would leave some 25,000 men to defend Richmond and Petersburg, against, probably, 60,000.

If Richmond be evacuated, most of the population will remain, not knowing whither to go.

The new Secretary of War was at work quite early this morning. The "Bureau of Conscription" and the Provost Marshal's office are still "operating," notwithstanding Congress has abolished them both.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 434

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 27, 1865

Bright and windy. The Virginia Assembly has passed resolutions instructing the Senators to vote for the negro troops bill—so Mr. Hunter must obey or resign.

It is authoritatively announced in the papers that Gen. J. E. Johnston has taken command of the army in front of Sherman (a perilous undertaking), superseding Beauregard.

Grant is said to be massing his troops on our right, to precipitate them upon the South Side Railroad. Has Hill marched his corps away to North Carolina? If so, Richmond is in very great danger.

The Examiner to-day labors to show that the evacuation of Richmond would be fatal to the cause The Sentinel says it has authority for saying that Richmond will not be given up. "Man proposes—God disposes." It is rumored that Fayetteville, N. C., has fallen into the hands of the enemy.

I saw Col. Northrop, late Commissary-General, to-day. He looks down, dark, and dissatisfied. Lee's army eats without him.

I see nothing of Lieut.-Col. Ruffin. He always looks down and darkly. Gen. Breckinridge seems to have his heart in the cause— not his soul in his pocket, like most of his predecessors.

I saw admiral Buchanan to-day, limping a little. He says the enemy tried to shoot away his legs to keep him from dancing at his granddaughter's wedding, but won't succeed.

Robert Tyler told me that it was feared Governor Brown, and probably Stephens and Toombs, were sowing disaffection among the Georgia troops, hoping to get them out of the army; but that if faction can be kept down thirty days, our cause would assume a new phase. He thinks Breckinridge will make a successful Secretary. The President and Gen. Lee were out at Camp Lee to-day, urging the returned soldiers (from captivity) to forego the usual furlough and enter upon the spring campaign now about to begin. The other day, when the President made a speech to them, he was often interrupted by cries of "furlough!"

The ladies in the Treasury Department are ordered to Lynchburg, whither the process of manufacturing Confederate States notes is to be transferred.

A committee of the Virginia Assembly waited on the President on Saturday, who told them it was no part of his intention to evacuate Richmond. But some construed his words as equivocal. Tobacco, cotton, etc. are leaving the city daily. The city is in danger.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 434-5

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 28, 1865

Raining; warm. The Northern papers announce the capture of Wilmington. No doubt the city has fallen, although the sapient dignitaries of this government deem it a matter of policy to withhold such intelligence from the people and the army. And wherefore, since the enemy's papers have a circulation here at least their items of news are sure to be reproduced immediately.

The Governor of Mississippi has called the Legislature of the State together, for the purpose of summoning a convention of the people. Governor Brown, of Georgia, likewise calls for a convention. One more State calling a convention of all the States may be the consequence—if, indeed, rent by faction, the whole country does not fall a prey to the Federal armies immediately. Governor Brown alleges many bitter things in the conduct of affairs at Richmond, and stigmatizes the President most vehemently. He denounces the President's generalship, the Provost Marshals, the passport system, the "Bureau of Conscription," etc. etc. He says it is attempted to establish a despotism, where the people are sovereigns, and our whole policy should be sanctioned by popular favor. Instead of this it must be admitted that the President's inflexible adherence to obnoxious and incompetent men in his cabinet is too well calculated to produce a depressing effect on the spirits of the people and the army.

T. N. Conrad, one of the government's secret agents, says 35,000 of Thomas's army passed down the Potomac several weeks ago. He says also that our telegraph operator in Augusta, Ga., sent all the military dispatches to Grant!

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 435-6

General Robert E. Lee to Congressman Ethelbert Barksdale, February 18, 1865

HEAD-QUARTERS CONFEDERATE STATES ARMIES,        
February 18, 1865.
HON. E. BARKSDALE,
        House of Representatives, Richmond.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 12th instant, with reference to the employment of negroes as soldiers. I think the measure not only expedient but necessary. The enemy will certainly use them against us if he can get possession of them; and as his present numerical superiority will enable him to penetrate many parts of the country, I cannot see the wisdom of the policy of holding them to await his arrival, when we may, by timely action and judicious management, use them to arrest his progress. I do not think that our white population can supply the necessities of a long war without overtaxing its capacity and imposing great suffering upon our people; and I believe we should provide resources for a protracted struggle not merely for a battle or a campaign.

In answer to your second question, I can only say that in my opinion the negroes, under proper circumstances, will make efficient soldiers. I think we could at least do as well with them as the enemy, and he attaches great importance to their assistance. Under good officers and good instructions, I do not see why they should not become soldiers. They possess all the physical qualifications, and their habits of obedience constitute a good foundation for discipline. They furnish a more promising material than many armies of which we read in history, which owed their efficiency to discipline alone. I think those who are employed should be freed. It would neither be just nor wise, in my opinion, to require them to serve as slaves. The best course to pursue, it seems to me, would be to call for such as are willing to come with the consent of their owners. An impressment or draft would not be likely to bring out the best class, and the use of coercion would make the measure distasteful to them and to their owners.

I have no doubt that if Congress would authorize their reception into service, and empower the President to call upon individuals or States for such as they are willing to contribute, with the condition of emancipation to all enrolled, a sufficient number would be forthcoming to enable us to try the experiment. If it proved successful, most of the objections to the measure would disappear, and if individuals still remained unwilling to send their negroes to the army, the force of public opinion in the States would soon bring about such legislation as would remove all obstacles. I think the matter should be left, as far as possible, to the people and to the States, which alone can legislate as the necessities of this particular service may require. As to the mode of organizing them, it should be left as free from restraint as possible. Experience will suggest the best course, and it will be inexpedient to trammel the subject with provisions that might, in the end, prevent the adoption of reforms suggested by actual trial. With great respect,

Your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE, General.

SOURCE: Thomas Nelson Page, Robert E. Lee: Man and Soldier, p. 589-90

Monday, May 27, 2024

Diary of Private Theodore Reichardt, Monday, October 21, 1861

Battle of Ball's Bluff. Gen. Stone crossed the Potomac near Conrad's Ferry, across Harrison's Island, with Col. Baker's brigade, this morning. (Forty-second New York, Fifteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts Regiments, and a piece of artillery, of Capt. Vaughan's battery. The rest of the battery stayed on Harrison Island.) By seven o'clock in the evening, the whole division of Gen. Banks left Darnestown, going to Edwards Ferry. Our battery started about nine o'clock. Arriving at Poolesville, we heard of the disastrous result. Our troops had withdrawn from Ball's Bluff. Col. Baker's corpse was brought into town.

SOURCE: Theodore Reichardt, Diary of Battery A, First Regiment Rhode Island Light Artillery, p. 24-5

Diary of Private Theodore Reichardt, Tuesday, October 22, 1861

Arrived at Edwards Ferry by six o'clock A. M. Two thousand men were already landed on the Virginia shore, opposite the ferry, others were continually crossing on canal boats. Since daylight, rain fell incessantly. On the Virginia side, skirmishing was going on all day. At five o'clock both lines of battle advanced. brisk fight commenced. Two brass howitzers of Rickett's battery, First United States Artillery, did good execution, being in position on the Virginia shore. While the fight continued, the Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania, Col. Geary, the Twenty-ninth, Col. Mury, and Van Allen's cavalry, were sent as reinforcements across the Potomac. Fighting ceased an hour afterwards. Capt. Vaughan went to the enemy's lines, under a flag of truce, to see about some of his wounded men in the hands of the rebels. Gen. McClellan arrived at night.

SOURCE: Theodore Reichardt, Diary of Battery A, First Regiment Rhode Island Light Artillery, p. 25

Diary of Private Theodore Reichardt, Wednesday, October 23, 1861

A clear day. The enemy in great force around Leesburg. We can see the church steeples of that place. Skirmishing kept up all day. In the evening our battery received orders to embark and cross the river,—Capt. Tompkins, having come back from Harper's Ferry, with the right section, the evening before,—three guns were already loaded on a canal boat, together with Company C, First Maryland Regiment, and started; but the current of the stream being too strong, and losing half of the oars, they had to return again. Orders awaited us already to disembark immediately, and return to camp. All the troops withdrew from the Virginia shore before daylight, eight thousand men in all.

SOURCE: Theodore Reichardt, Diary of Battery A, First Regiment Rhode Island Light Artillery, p. 25-6

Diary of Private Theodore Reichardt, Thurday, October 24, 1861

After all the troops had been withdrawn, the rebel pickets held the line close to the river, and fired a shot once in a while. Rickett's, ours, and Captain Bess' batteries, were drawn up in one line. Our battery is detached to General Williams' brigade.

SOURCE: Theodore Reichardt, Diary of Battery A, First Regiment Rhode Island Light Artillery, p. 26

Diary of Private Theodore Reichardt, Friday, October 25, 1861

Remained the same, at Edwards Ferry.

SOURCE: Theodore Reichardt, Diary of Battery A, First Regiment Rhode Island Light Artillery, p. 26

Diary of Private Theodore Reichardt, Saturday, October 26, 1861

General Williams' brigade and our battery marched off to Muddy Branch in the morning. Arrived there, in camp of the Twenty-eighth New York, in the afternoon.

SOURCE: Theodore Reichardt, Diary of Battery A, First Regiment Rhode Island Light Artillery, p. 26

Diary of Private Theodore Reichardt, Sunday, October 27, 1861

Established our camp.

SOURCE: Theodore Reichardt, Diary of Battery A, First Regiment Rhode Island Light Artillery, p. 26

Diary of Private Theodore Reichardt, Monday, October 28, 1861

Commenced to build a stable for horses, three hundred feet long. Captain Bess, our chief of artillery. Our battery remained at Muddy Branch up to the twenty-seventh of November. Little is to be said of this period. Drill as usual. Received the news of the taking of Beaufort, South Carolina, and the capture of Slidell and Mason. Captain Reynolds visited the battery for the last time, having been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the Rhode Island artillery, and transferred to another department.

SOURCE: Theodore Reichardt, Diary of Battery A, First Regiment Rhode Island Light Artillery, p. 26

Diary of Private Theodore Reichardt, Wednesday, November 27, 1861

The battery left Muddy Branch, with the understanding to go into winter-quarters near Poolesville.

We were told that we should have many drills together with Battery B, no longer Captain Vaughan's battery, who, having had disagreements, left the service. We marched by nine o'clock in the morning. The weather was very unpleasant, raining and freezing all day. Passed through Poolesville at four o'clock, and commenced to pitch tents by five o'clock. Our camp is next to Battery B's, commanded by Lieutenant Perry. We had a good reception by the men, who treated all of us to coffee.

SOURCE: Theodore Reichardt, Diary of Battery A, First Regiment Rhode Island Light Artillery, p. 26-7

Diary of Private Theodore Reichardt, Thursday, November 28, 1861

Thanksgiving day. Governor Sprague furnished twenty turkeys for us.

SOURCE: Theodore Reichardt, Diary of Battery A, First Regiment Rhode Island Light Artillery, p. 27

Diary of Private Theodore Reichardt, Friday, November 29 & Saturday, November 30, 1861

A stable for the horses commenced on.

SOURCE: Theodore Reichardt, Diary of Battery A, First Regiment Rhode Island Light Artillery, p. 27

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: February 5, 1865

In the evening we move about four miles across an almost impassable swamp and go into camp. The seventy thousand are now making a terrible stride in South Carolina, moving through the swamps, the favorite haunts of the slave hunter and his blood hounds. But the tables are turning; other hounds will soon yelp down here—Sherman's fierce hounds of war,—they will go sweeping on their path for freedom and law, making John C. Calhoun restless in his tomb.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 294

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: February 6, 1865

We move early this morning; our Division is moving by itself upon a lone road, General Corse having orders to move across the country and form a junction with the corps now moving from Pocataligo. The roads are desperate; we only succeed in getting about eight miles to-day.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 294

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: February 7, 1865

We cross Black Water swamps and go into camp at Hickory Hill, making a distance of ten miles.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 294

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: February 8, 1865

We cross Whippie Swamp about noon to-day and go into camp for the night.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 294

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: February 9, 1865

The roads still continue desperate, and in consequence we move slowly. In the evening we cross the little Saltkatchie swamp.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 294

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: February 10, 1865

We move early this morning, but very slow; these swamps prove to be terrible obstacles to Sherman's seventy thousand. We soon come to the great Saltkatchie swamp at Beaufort's Bridge: we find the swamp all flooded, about one mile wide, and the bridge in the middle. Weak commanders would have faltered; things indeed look frightful, but General Corse gave the command forward. The Seventh led, and into the great Swamp the Fourth Division passed, and through it they waded, the water, winter cold, ranging from waist to neck deep. It did seem that some of the men would perish; that they would be left in that great swamp; but all passed safely through, and gaining a footing on the opposite side, drove the enemy far away, who were all the while disputing our passage. The ammunition train is now ordered to move across (the ammunition being raised out of water's reach); about midway they swamp, and the soldiers of Corse's Division are compelled to go back into the swamp and carry the ammunition boxes out to land.

Remaining here until the trains are crossed, we move forward and join the corps at Midway, on the South Carolina Railroad. Then began the movement on Orangeburg. We notice that Black Jack is at the head of the Fifteenth Corps, having arrived from his campaign on the northern line and assumed command at Pocataligo. We also find that the mounted portion of the Seventh are now (as the boys say) members of his staff. We cross the South Fork of the Edisto River at Halmond's bridge and move to Poplar Springs to support the Seventeenth Army Corps, moving straight to Orangeburg, which is taken by a dash of the Seventeenth.

From Poplar Springs we cross the North Edisto River at Skilling's bridge, and on the fifteenth we

find the enemy in strong position at Little Congaree bridge, but the gallant Logan, with his thundering Fifteenth, soon ousts them, when we move across and go into camp in front of Columbia. During the night our camp is shelled from a battery on the east side of the Congaree, above Grundy, causing considerable stir in the Fifteenth Corps' camp.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 294-6

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: February 16, 1865

This morning we move our camp and shift around more to the left. Brisk skirmishing is now going on along the river, with some cannonading. In the evening we again move our position more to the left. The capitol of South Carolina is now in full view. The Saluda river being pontooned, we cross this evening, which throws us between two rivers, the Saluda and the Broad, which two form a junction at Columbia and make the Congaree.

During the night, under cover of Stone's Brigade, of the Fifteenth Corps, which was crossed in the afternoon, a pontoon bridge was laid across the Broad River, three miles above Columbia. On the morning of the seventeenth, Colonel Stone, of the Twenty-fifth Iowa, commanding Third Brigade, First Division, Fifteenth Corps, moves towards the city. At eleven o'clock the Mayor comes out and makes a formal surrender of the city to Col. Stone. In anticipation of General Howard, with the army of the Tennessee, entering the city, General Sherman's orders are to spare all dwellings, colleges, asylums, and harmless private property.

General Logan, who stood at the end of the pontoon bridge when the last pontoon was laid, says to Howard, with his black eyes flashing: "I will now move into this hell of treason. But say the word and I will sweep this city from the earth." It is now past noon. Generals Sherman and Howard have rode into the city. The Fifteenth Corps is now moving across Broad river. The Seventh is ordered to stay back and guard the train.

It is now night; the wind is raging furiously; the heavens are all aglow; Columbia is enveloped in flames; her beautiful architecture is crumbling; her gorgeous mansions are falling; the work and labor of a century is being destroyed.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 296-7

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: February 18, 1865—4 a.m.

The Seventh cross Broad River and go into camp near the doomed city. We can now see the great conflagration. Oh! how terrible those sweeping elements, causing innocent ones to cry as they behold their childhood's place of play crumbling into ashes. But such is war! Terrible in its legitimate vengeance, powerful in its tread, it hearkens not to the cries for mercy. The question is now asked, "Who will be held responsible for the burning of the capitol of South Carolina." The impartial historian will tell the world that Wade Hampton burned his own city of Columbia by filling the streets with lint, cotton and tinders, and setting fire to it, which was spread by the raging wind. But it matters not with the seventy thousand who will be charged with the burning of South Carolina's capitol, for this great army who had swept a continent thus far, smiled and felt glad in their hearts when they beheld this city laid low in ashes, where rebellion was born, and where pampered and devilish treason first lifted its mad head and made its threats against the Union and freedom.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 297-8

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: February 23-26, 1865

Heavy rains fall, swelling the rivers and making the roads almost impassable. Passing through Camden, we arrive at Cheraw on the 2d of March. Colonel Perrin is now in command of the mounted portion of the regiment, and Major Johnson the non-mounted portion. We remain in camp here one day and two nights. From this point an expedition of cavalry and mounted infantry was sent down to Florence, which was joined by Colonel Perrin and the mounted portiou of the Seventh, but it encountered both cavalry and infantry, and returned having only broken up in part the branch road from Florence to Cheraw.

Leaving Cheraw, and after crossing the Pedee river we are again put in motion, moving towards Fayetteville, North Carolina.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 298

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: March 11, 1865

We arrive at Fayetteville, and while approaching, the advance was for awhile engaged in skirmishing with Wade Hampton's cavalry, that covered the rear of Hardee's retreating army.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 298

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: March 12, 1865

The army tug Davenson reaches Fayetteville from Wilmington to-day. We remain here until the 14th, when we again move.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 298

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: March 14, 1865

We proceed to the Cape Fear river one mile below town where we remain until noon waiting for the 17th Army Corps to cross, after which General Corse leads his division upon the long pontoon bridge. After crossing we move on and go into camp two miles from the river.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 298-9

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: March 15, 1865

The 4th Division take the advance this morning. The advance encounter Hampton's cavalry, but by a little skirmishing they are soon scattered. We move only ten miles to-day, going into camp for the night one mile from South river, where the rebels are said to be in force.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 299

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: March 16, 1865

By advancing this morning we discover that the rebels have all made their exit from South river. General Corse again takes the advance. The South river bottoms are overflowed. The bridge across the main channel having been damaged is now repaired, but the troops are compelled to wade the bottoms which are about knee deep. Our advance encounters rebels all day—Butler's and Wade Hampton's cavalry. We go into camp at 3 o'clock P. M. It is now raining. Everything looks frightful in these swamps where the men of war are tramping. Mud and water everywhere.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 299

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: March 17, 1865

The 4th Division still moves in the advance. We take the main Goldsboro road this morning. The roads are desperate, the troops are compelled to corduroy the roads almost entirely with rails. We march about seven miles and go into camp at Clinton cross roads. Being now in close [proximity] to Johnson's rebel army we are ordered to throw up fortifications and remain here the remainder of the day and night to wait for the left wing to move up.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 299

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: March 18, 1865

9 o'clock A. M. we move.

The roads still desperate—corduroying almost every step. A great many refugees are now following the army, seeking to be freed from the Davis tyranny; they are enduring much suffering. We go into camp tonight about sun down. We are now about twenty-six miles from Goldsboro, North Carolina.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 299-300

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: March 19, 1865

To-day we reach Falling Creek, where the mounted portion of the Seventh is thrown forward to the river bridge, where they encounter the enemy in a brisk shirmish, which for dash and vim elicits the compliments of "Black Jack." Advancing, General Slocum discovered that Johnson with his army was strongly posted in the vicinity of Bentonville.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 300

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: March 20, 1865

We advance early this morning. The Seventh are soon deployed on the skirmish line, and are soon skirmishing, for on such occasions the Seventh with their sixteen-shooters are always called upon. The Fifteenth Corps gaining position, we commence throwing up breastworks within cannon range of the enemy's works. By 4 o'clock p. M. Johnson finds himself confronted with a complete and strong line of battle.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 300

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Daniel L. Ambrose: March 21, 1865

This morning the armies are menacing each other face to face, each remaining behind their works. The design of Sherman is to hold him there until Schofield and Terry can advance from Kingston, North Carolina. Skirmishing has been going on all day. In the evening the Seventh is ordered forward on the skirmish line, and moving forward under the command of Major Johnson, into a creek bottom, we provoked a fierce fire from the enemy stationed on the opposite side. In this encounter Privates Jacob Groch and Gotleib Burkhardt, of Company H, were wounded. Other noble men were also wounded, but we have been unable to obtain their names.

It is now raining and night has let her curtains fall. We are ordered to dig rifle-pits and remain on the line all night. It is a dark night, a cold March rain is falling upon the tired soldiers. The chilling winds make mournful music through the branches of the tall pines. The rebels are entrenched close to our lines and until three o'clock in the morning there is a continual firing. The Seventh pumped the death dealing elements from their sixteen-shooters with such a vim that it made the enemy think that the whole army was on the line of battle. Three o'clock in the morning the firing ceased, and at the first gray dawn of morning light the enemy is discovered to be gone and on the retreat. Thus ends our battle near Bentonville, North Carolina, which proves to be our last encounter with the rebel army in the war for the Union.

After the battles around and in the vicinity of Bentonville, we move towards Goldsboro, where we arrive March 20th. As we move into Goldsboro we are reviewed by General Sherman, thus ending our campaign in the Carolinas,—a campaign that will furnish history with many startling events—events that will tell of privations endured, and of a fortitude developed in Sherman's seventy thousand that had never been developed before by the world in all its martial history.

This evening some of the soldiers who were wounded at Allatoona, join the regiment, having been at Goldsboro waiting our arrival for some days. We are glad to see our genial friend and boon companion, the gallant Captain Hackney, lately commissioned for his bravery at Allatoona. We notice that he has a beautiful mark on his beautiful face, the compliment of a rebel's whizzing minie. But as Grace Greenwood says, this will be his patent of nobility. While here three companies lately recruited for the Seventh join the regiment from Illinois, which are lettered and officered as follows: Company B, Captain Hugh J. Cosgrove, First Lieutenant George H. Martin, Second Lieutenant M. D. F. Wilder; Company D, Captain William A. Hubbard, First Lieutenant John H. Gay, Second Lieutenant William M. Athey; Company G, Captain S. W. Hoyt, First Lieutenant Andrew J. Moore, Second Lieutenant W. J. Hamlin.

To make room for these new companies orders are issued to consolidate old Company B with Company A, Captain Sweeny commanding; old Company D with Company C, Captain Roberts commanding; old Company G, with Company I, Captain Norton commanding.

SOURCE: abstracted from Daniel Leib Ambrose, History of the Seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, p. 300-2

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Speech of Ralph Waldo Emerson,* Saturday Evening, November 18, 1859

MR. CHAIRMAN AND FELLOW-CITIZENS: I share the sympathy and sorrow which have brought us together. Gentlemen who have preceded me have well said that no wall of separation could here exist. This commanding event, which has brought us together—the sequel of which has brought us together, eclipses all others which have occurred for a long time in our history, and I am very glad to see that this sudden interest in the hero of Harper's Ferry has provoked an extreme curiosity in all parts of the Republic, in regard to the details of his history. Every anecdote is eagerly sought, and I do not wonder that gentlemen find traits of relation readily between him and themselves. One finds a relation in the church, another in the profession, another in the place of his birth. He was happily a representative of the American Republic. Captain John Brown is a farmer, the fifth in descent from Peter Brown, who came to Plymouth in the Mayflower, in 1620.1 All the six have been farmers. His grandfather, of Simsbury, in Connecticut, was a captain in the Revolution.2 His father, largely interested as a raiser of stock, became a contractor to supply the army with beef, in the war of 1812, and our Captain John Brown, then a boy, with his father, was present, and witnessed the surrender of General Hull.3 He cherishes a great respect for his father, as a man of strong character, and his respect is probably just. For himself, he is so transparent that all men see him through. He is a man to make friends wherever on earth courage and integrity are esteemed—(applause)—the rarest of heroes, a pure idealist, with no by-ends of his own. Many of you have seen him, and every one who has heard him speak has been impressed alike by his simple, artless goodness, joined with his sublime courage. He joins that perfect Puritan faith which brought his fifth ancestor to Plymouth Rock, with his grandfather's ardor in the Revolution. He believes in two articles—two instruments shall I say?—the Golden Rule and the Declaration of Independence; (applause) and he used this expression in conversation here concerning them, "Better that a whole generation of men, women, and children should pass away by a violent death, than that one word of either should be violated in this country." There is a Unionist—there is a strict constructionist for you! (Applause and laughter.) He believes in the Union of the States, and he conceives that the only obstruction to the Union is Slavery, and for that reason, as a patriot, he works for its abolition. The Governor of Virginia has pronounced his eulogy in a manner that discredits the moderation of our timid parties. His own speeches to the court have interested the nation in him. What magnanimity, and what innocent pleading, as of childhood! You remember his words “If I had interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or any of their friends, parents, wives, or children, it would all have been right. No man in this court would have thought it a crime. But I believe that to have interfered as I have done, for the despised poor, I have done no wrong, but right."

It is easy to see what a favorite he will be with history, which plays such pranks with temporary reputations. Nothing can resist the sympathy which all elevated minds must feel with Brown, and through them the whole civilized world; and, if he must suffer, he must drag official gentlemen into an immortality most undesirable, and of which they have already some disagreeable forebodings. (Applause.) Indeed, it is the reductio ad absurdum of Slavery, when the Governor of Virginia is forced to hang a man whom he declares to be a man of the most integrity, truthfulness, and courage he has ever met. Is that the kind of man the gallows is built for? It were bold to affirm that there is within that broad Commonwealth, at this moment, another citizen as worthy to live, and as deserving of all public and private honor, as this poor prisoner.

But we are here to think of relief for the family of John Brown. To my eyes, that family looks very large and very needy of relief. It comprises his brave fellow-sufferers in the Charlestown jail; the fugitives still hunted in the mountains of Virginia and Pennsylvania; the sympathizers with him in all the States; and I may say, almost every man who loves the Golden Rule and the Declaration of Independence, like him, and who sees what a tiger's thirst threatens him in the malignity of public sentiment in the Slave States. It seems to me that a common feeling joins the people of Massachusetts with him. I said John Brown was an idealist. He believed in his ideas to that extent that he existed to put them all into action; he said "he did not believe in moral suasion; he believed in putting the thing through." (Applause.) He saw how deceptive the forms are. We fancy, in Massachusetts, that we are free; yet it seems the Government is quite unreliable. Great wealth,—great population, men of talent in the Executive, on the Bench,—all the forms right, and yet, life and freedom are not safe. Why? Because the Judges rely on the forms, and do not, like John Brown, use their eyes to see the fact behind the forms.

They assume that the United States can protect its witness or its prisoner. And, in Massachusetts, that is true, but the moment he is carried out of the bounds of Massachusetts, the United States, it is notorious, afford no protection at all; the Government, the Judges, are an envenomed party, and give such protection as they give in Utah to honest citizens, or in Kansas; such protection as they gave to their own Commodore Paulding, when he was simple enough to mistake the formal instructions of his Government for their real meaning. (Applause.) The State Judges fear collision between their two allegiances; but there are worse evils than collision; namely, the doing substantial injustice. A good man will see that the use of a Judge is to secure good government, and where the citizen's weal is imperilled by abuse of the Federal power, to use that arm which can secure it, viz., the local government. Had that been done on certain calamitous occasions, we should not have seen the honor of Massachusetts trailed in the dust, stained to all ages, once and again, by the ill-timed formalism of a venerable Bench. If Judges cannot find law enough to maintain the sovereignty of the State, and to protect the life and freedom of every inhabitant not a criminal, it is idle to compliment them as learned and venerable. What avails their learning or veneration? At a pinch, they are of no more use than idiots. After the mischance they wring their hands, but they had better never have been born. A Vermont Judge Hutchinson, who has the Declaration of Independence in his heart, a Wisconsin Judge, who knows that laws are for the protection of citizens against kidnappers, is worth a court house full of lawyers so idolatrous of forms as to let go the substance. Is any man in Massachusetts so simple as to believe that when a United States Court in Virginia, now, in its present reign of terror, sends to Connecticut, or New York, or Massachusetts, for a witness, it wants him for a witness? No; it wants him for a party; it wants him for meat to slaughter and eat. And your habeas corpus is, in any way in which it has been, or, I fear, is likely to be used, a nuisance, and not a protection; for it takes away his right reliance on himself, and the natural assistance of his friends and fellow-citizens, by offering him a form which is a piece of paper. But I am detaining the meeting on matters which others understand better. I hope, then, that in administering relief to John Brown's family, we shall remember all those whom his fate concerns, all who are in sympathy with him, and not forget to aid him in the best way, by securing freedom and independence in Massachusetts.

R. W. Emerson.
_______________

*Delivered in Tremont Temple, on Saturday evening, November 18, at a meeting held for the relief of the family of John Brown.

1 Blog Editor’s Note: This statement is inaccurate. Mayflower Passenger Peter Brown, had four documented children, by his first wife Martha he had two daughters, Mary and Priscilla, and by his second wife Mary he had a daughter, Rebecca, and a child of unidentified sex born before 1633 and had died by 1647. Mary married Ephraim Tinkham and by him had nine children, Priscilla married William Allen, they had no known children, and Rebecca married William Snow and had eight children. Neither the Tinkham nor Snow surnames appear in John Brown’s early New England ancestry, Therefore John Brown could not have been a descendant of Mayflower passenger Peter Brown. See Robert S. Wakefield, Editor, Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, Vol. 7: Peter Brown, Second Edition, p. 3-8 & Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Vol. 1, p.259-61.

2 Blog Editor’s Note: John Brown’s paternal grandfather, John Brown, was a Captain in the Eighth Company, Eighteenth Regiment of Connecticut Militia during the Revolutionary War and died while on duty in New York. His maternal grandfather, Gideon Mills was a Minute Man at the Lexington Alarm and subsequently became a Lieutenant of the Connecticut Militia during the Revolutionary War. See Louise Pearsons Dolliver, Historian General, Lineage Book of the Charter Members of the Daughters of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Vol. 22, p. 92 and Elizabeth Gadsby, Historian General, Lineage Book National Society of the Daughters of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Vol. 27, p. 198-9

3 Blog Editor's Note: “In the War of 1812, Owen Brown contracted to furnish beef to Hull's army, which with his boy John he followed to or near Detroit. Though John was but twelve years old, in after years he recalled very distinctly the incidents of the long march, the camp life of the soldiers and the attitude of the subordinate officers toward their commander. From conversations that he overheard he concluded that they were not very loyal to General Hull. He remembered especially General Lewis Cass, then a captain, and General Duncan McArthur. As late as 1857 he referred to conversations between the two and among other officers that should have branded them as mutineers. How much of this has foundation in fact and how much is due to erroneous youthful impression, must of course remain a matter of conjecture.” See Fred J. Heer, Publisher, Ohio Archaeological and Historical Publications, Vol. 30, p. 218

SOURCE: James Redpath, Editor, Echoes of Harper’s Ferry, p. 67-71;

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Diary of Private W. J. Davidson, Tuesday, May 26, 1863

Still at our camps near Jackson doing absolutely nothing, living on the shortest possible commons. Had dress-parade yesterday for the first time in four weeks, and on Sunday a sermon from the lips of the Reverend Colonel Fountain E. Pitts. The news from all quarters is cheering; the victory of our Vicksburg friends is complete, and the loss of the enemy is estimated at fifteen thousand (15.000); we hear of John Morgan's work on the Cumberland, Lee's victory over Hooker in Virginia, while “Old Pap" Price is said to be stirring the enemy up lively on the other side of the Mississippi. Kirby Smith, we also hear, has bagged a whole army of "blue coats" in Western Louisiana Altogether, we feel quite confident, and while the feeling lasts we will be able to endure all sorts of privations, short rations not excepted.

SOURCE: Edwin L. Drake, Editor, The Annals of the Army of Tennessee and Early Western History, Vol. 1, p. 214

Diary of Private W. J. Davidson, May 28, 1863

This morning at four o'clock we left our camp of the last four days, and came to our present abiding place, in a thick grove, about two miles east of Canton. We are well situated as far as shade and wood are concerned, but the water is very bad; in fact, all that we have had for the last four weeks was hardly fit for swine to wallow in. Yesterday our hearts were gladdened by the arrival in camp of some of our Tennessee friends who, hearing that we had been engaged at the battle of Raymond, and being ignorant of the casualties, had come on to render any needed assistance to their sons and friends. The party was composed of Messrs. Goodloe Woods, the father of "Our Jeems"; R. S. Woodard, the father of Galen and James (or "Daddy,” as we call him); W. H. Webb, James' father; D. P. Holman, "Bud's dad"; and R. P. Ferney, the father of our gallant Captain. Their presence seemed to have brought a new ray of sunshine into camp, and cheered the boys greatly.

SOURCE: Edwin L. Drake, Editor, The Annals of the Army of Tennessee and Early Western History, Vol. 1, p. 214

Diary of Private W. J. Davidson, May 31, 1863—Noon

Yesterday morning the brigade left Canton, heading northwest. We made twenty miles and encamped for the night in a grove convenient to water, badly broken down by the march. Our division is now composed of five or six brigades of infantry and cavalry, under acting Major General Walker, and it is in fine fighting spirits. Nothing of interest on the route yesterday, except the crossing of the Big Black on a pontoon at 3 o'clock, P. M. To-day we have made about eight miles, and are now halted in a hot lane awaiting orders. The Forty-first Tennessee is the advance guard for the division. We have passed the little town of Benton, and are in eight miles of Yazoo City; by day after to-morrow we expect to meet the enemy. Besides our own, there are two other columns marching on the enemy, each said to be fourteen thousand strong, the whole under command of General Joseph E. Johnston. It is thought to be his intention to fall upon the enemy's rear at three points, while the Vicksburg garrison assails from the front. I expect some bloody work, but we are confident of the result.

SOURCE: Edwin L. Drake, Editor, The Annals of the Army of Tennessee and Early Western History, Vol. 1, p. 214-5

Diary of Private W. J. Davidson, June 1, 1863

Camp near Yazoo City.—The division arrived here after dark last night. The troops suffered greatly from heat, thirst, and fatigue. Two of our brigade dropped dead, and some fainted, while more than half are straggling into camp this morning. We traveled all yesterday without water except what we could get through charity of the citizens on the route.

SOURCE: Edwin L. Drake, Editor, The Annals of the Army of Tennessee and Early Western History, Vol. 1, p. 215

Diary of Private W. J. Davidson, June 6, 1863

Left our camp yesterday, and moved to our present stoping place, four miles southwest of Yazoo City. We are on half rations of corn bread and poor beef.

SOURCE: Edwin L. Drake, Editor, The Annals of the Army of Tennessee and Early Western History, Vol. 1, p. 215

Diary of Private W. J. Davidson, June 9, 1863

Still at our camp of the 6th inst., with plenty of wood and abundance of good spring and lake water; no improvement in the rations. Yesterday I went to Yazoo and bought rice, sugar and molasses, upon which the mess is living high. No news of the enemy, but cannonading is heard every day in the direction of Vicksburg. Heavy bodies of troops are arriving every day at Jackson, and it is thought that we will make an advance before long. The health of our brigade is pretty good.

SOURCE: Edwin L. Drake, Editor, The Annals of the Army of Tennessee and Early Western History, Vol. 1, p. 215

Diary of Private W. J. Davidson, June 14, 1863

Left camp in the vicinity of Yazoo yesterday morning at daylight, and after a hard day's march nearly due south, arrived at the Big Black, which we crossed on a pontoon bridge last night at eight o'clock. This march of twenty-eight miles was the hardest yet made. We bivouaced on the south bank, and spent the rest of the night cooking rations, against leaving at daylight.

SOURCE: Edwin L. Drake, Editor, The Annals of the Army of Tennessee and Early Western History, Vol. 1, p. 215

Diary of Private W. J. Davidson, June 16, 1863

On Sunday evening left Big Black and moved to Church, occupying our old camping ground of May 20th, where we are resting and waiting orders. Occasional cheering reports come in from our beseiged friends, one of which is to the effect that the enemy attacked Vicksburg again on Friday, and was repulsed and driven five miles from the field; our loss said to be seven hundred. From some causes we are placed under greater restrictions now than ever, and are not allowed to go outside of the guard line without a pass. Yesterday two men of Comb's Tennessee Battalion, who had fallen out of ranks at Yazoo, came up and were immediately arrested, tried, and had one side of their heads shaved, all in the space of a few hours. Rations still short, consisting of beef and meal.

SOURCE: Edwin L. Drake, Editor, The Annals of the Army of Tennessee and Early Western History, Vol. 1, p. 215-6

26th Missouri Infantry.

Organized in Missouri at large September to December, 1861. Attached to Dept. of Missouri to February, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Army of Mississippi, to April, 1862. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, Army of Mississippi, to November, 1862. 3rd Brigade, 7th Division, Left Wing 13th Army Corps (Old), Dept. of the Tennessee, to December, 1862. 3rd Brigade, 7th Division, 16th Army Corps, to January, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 7th Division, 17th Army Corps, to September, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 17th Army Corps, to December, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 15th Army Corps, to August, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 15th Army Corps, to April, 1865. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 15th Army Corps, to August, 1865.

SERVICE.—Duty in Missouri till February, 1862. Operations against New Madrid, Mo., February 28-March 15, and against Island No. 10, Mississippi River, March 15-April 8. Pursuit and capture at Tiptonville April 8. Expedition to Fort Pillow, Tenn., April 13-17. Moved to Hamburg Landing, Tenn., April 18-22. Advance on and siege of Corinth, Miss., April 29-May 30. Pursuit to Booneville May 31-June 12. At Clear Creek till August, Moved to Jacinto August 5. March to Iuka, Miss., September 18-19. Battle of Iuka September 19. Battle of Corinth October 3-4. Pursuit to Ripley October 5-12. Grant's Central Mississippi Campaign November, 1862, to January, 1863. At Memphis, Tenn., till March, 1863. Expedition to Yazoo Pass and operations against Fort Pemberton and Greenwood March 13-April 5. Moved to Milliken's Bend, La., April 13. Movement on Bruinsburg and turning Grand Gulf April 25-30. Battle of Port Gibson, Miss., May 1 (Reserve). Raymond May 12. Near Raymond May 13. Jackson May 14. Champion's Hill May 16. Big Black Crossing May 17. Siege of Vicksburg, Miss., May 18-July 4. Assaults on Vicksburg May 19 and 22. Surrender of Vicksburg July 4. Moved to Jackson July 13-15. Siege of Jackson July 15-17. At Vicksburg till September 12. Moved to Helena, Ark., September 12; to Memphis, Tenn., September 30, and march to Chattanooga, Tenn., October 3-November 19. Operations on Memphis & Charleston Railroad in Alabama October 20-29. Chattanooga-Ringgold Campaign November 23-27. Tunnel Hill November 23-24. Mission Ridge November 25. Pursuit to Graysville November 26-27. Moved to Bridgeport, Ala., December 3; to Larkinsville, Ala., December 22, and to Huntsville, Ala., January 17, 1864. Duty there till June, 1864. Demonstration on Dalton February 22-27. Tunnel Hill, Buzzard's Roost Gap and Rocky Faced Ridge February 23-25. Railroad guard duty between Chattanooga and Allatoona, Ga., till November. March to the sea November 15-December 10. Ogeechee River December 7-9. Siege of Savannah December 10-21. Campaign of the Carolinas January to April, 1865. Salkehatchie Swamps, S.C., February 2-5. South Edisto River February 9. North Edisto River February 11-12. Columbia February 15-17. Cox's Bridge, Neuse River, N. C., March 19-20. Battle of Bentonville March 20-21. Occupation of Goldsboro March 24. Advance on Raleigh April 10-14. Occupation of Raleigh April 14. Bennett's House April 26. Surrender of Johnston and his army. March to Washington, D.C., via Richmond, Va., April 29-May 20. Grand Review May 24. Moved to Louisville, Ky., June. Duty there and at Little Rock, Ark., till August. Mustered out Companies "A," "B," "C," "D," "E," "F" and "G" November 4, 1864, to January 9, 1865. Regiment mustered out August 13, 1865.

Regiment lost during service 6 Officers and 112 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 183 Enlisted men by disease. Total 303.

Frederick H. Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, Part 3, p. 1332-3

26th Missouri Enrolled Militia Infantry.

Duty in District of Southwest Missouri; Operations against Marmaduke December 31, 1862, to January 25, 1863. Marmaduke's attack on Springfield, Mo., January 8, 1863. Skirmish at Stockton, Mo., July 11, 1863. Scout from Cassville to Huntsville and Berryville, Ark., July 18-26, 1863 (Detachment). Raid on Melville, Mo., June 14, 1864.

Frederick H. Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, Part 3, p. 1333

27th Missouri Infantry.

Organized at St. Louis, Mo., September 2, 1862, to January 8, 1863. On duty at Chillicothe, Mo., and as Provost Guard at St. Louis during organization of Regiment. Ordered to Rolla, Mo., January 10, 1863. Attached to District of Rolla, Dept. of Missouri, to March, 1863. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 15th Army Corps, Army of the Tennessee, to June, 1865.

SERVICE.—Duty at Rolla, Mo., till March 1, 1863. Ordered to Join Army of the Tennessee before Vicksburg, Miss., arriving there March 20. At Milliken's Bend, La, till April. Expedition to Greenville. Black Bayou and Deer Creek April 2-14. Deer Creek April 8 and 12. Demonstration on Haines and Drumgould's Bluffs April 29-May 2. Moved to join army in rear of Vicksburg, Miss., via Richmond and Grand Gulf May 2-14. Jackson, Miss., May 14. Siege of Vicksburg, Miss., May 18-July 4. Assaults on Vicksburg May 19 and 22. Advance on Jackson, Miss., July 4-10. Siege of Jackson July 10-17. At Big Black till September 27. Moved to Memphis, thence march to Chattanooga, Tenn., September 27-November 21. Operations on Memphis & Charleston Railroad in Alabama October 20-29. Cherokee Station October 21 and 29. Cane Creek October 26. Tuscumbia October 26-27. Chattanooga-Ringgold Campaign November 23-27. Lookout Mountain November 23-24. Mission Ridge November 25. Ringgold Gap, Taylor's Ridge, November 27. March to relief of Knoxville, Tenn., November 28-December 8. Garrison duty at Woodville and Scottsboro, Ala., till May, 1864. Atlanta (Ga.) Campaign May 1 to September 8. Demonstration on Resaca May 8-13. Battle of Resaca May 13-15. Advance on Dallas May 18-25. Battles about Dallas, New Hope Church and Allatoona Hills May 25-June 5. Operations about Marietta and against Kenesaw Mountain June 10-July 2. Brush Mountain June 15-17. Assault on Kenesaw June 27. Nickajack Creek July 2-5. Chattahoochie River July 6-17. Battle of Atlanta July 22. Siege of Atlanta July 22-August 25. Ezra Chapel, Hood's 2nd Sortie, July 28. Movement on Jonesboro August 25-30. Battle of Jonesboro August 31-September 1. Lovejoy Station September 2-6. Operations against Hood in North Georgia and North Alabama September 29-November 3. Ship's Gap, Taylor's Ridge, October 16. March to the sea November 15-December 10. Clinton November 22. Statesboro December 4. Ogeechee River December 7-9, Siege of Savannah December 10-21. Fort McAllister December 13. Campaign of the Carolinas January to April, 1865. Reconnoissance to Salkehatchie River, S. C., January 25. Hickory Hill, S.C., February 1. Salkehatchie Swamps February 2-5. South Edisto River February 9. North Edisto River February 11-12. Columbia February 15-17. Battle of Bentonville, N. C., March 20-21. Occupation of Goldsboro. March 24. Advance on Raleigh April 10-14. Occupation of Raleigh April 14. Bennett's House April 26. Surrender of Johnston and his army. March to Washington, D.C., via Richmond, Va., April 29-May 20. Grand Review May 24. Moved to Louisville, Ky., June. Mustered out June 13, 1865. Companies "F," "G" and "I" transferred to Consolidated Battalion, 31st and 32nd Missouri Infantry.

Regiment lost during service 2 Officers and 35 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 139 Enlisted men by disease. Total 176.

Frederick H. Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, Part 3, p. 1333