The Senate has passed a new Conscription Act, putting all residents between the ages of eighteen and fifty-live in the military service for the war. Those over forty-five to be detailed by the President as commissary quartermasters, Nitre Bureau agents, provost guards, clerks, etc. This would make up the enormous number of 1,500,000 men! The express companies are to have no detail of men fit for the field, but the President may exempt a certain class for agricultural purposes, which, of course, can be revoked whenever a farmer refuses to sell at schedule prices, or engages in speculation or extortion. Thus the President becomes almost absolute, and the Confederacy a military nation. The House will pass it with some modifications. Already the Examiner denounces it, for it allows only one owner or editor to a paper, and just sufficient printers,— no assistant editors, no reporters, no clerks, etc. This will save us, and hasten a peace.
Mr. G. A. Myers, the little old lawyer, always potential with the successive Secretaries of War, proposes, in a long letter, that the Department allows 30 to 40 foreigners (Jews) to leave the Confederate States, via Maryland, every week!
Mr. Goodman, President of the Mississippi Railroad, proposes to send cotton to the Yankees in exchange for implements, etc., to repair the road, and Lieut.-Gen. (Bishop) Polk favors the scheme.
Commissary-General Northrop likewise sent in a proposal from an agent of his in Mississippi, to barter cotton with the Yankees for subsistence, and he indorses an approval on it. I trust we shall be independent this summer.
To-day it is cool and cloudy, but Custis has had no use for fire in his school-room of nights for a week—and that in January. The warm weather saved us a dollar per day in coal. Custis's scholars are paying him $95 the first month.
I shall hope for better times now. We shall have men enough, if the Secretary and conscription officers do not strain the meshes of the seine too much, and the currency will be reduced. The speculators and extortioners, in great measure, will be circumvented, for the new conscription will take them from their occupations, and they will not find transportation for their wares.
The 2000 barrels of corn destroyed by the enemy on the Peninsula, a few days ago, belonged to a relative of Col Ruffin, Assistant Commissary-General! He would not impress that—and lo! it is gone! Many here are glad of it.
SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2, p. 138-9