Monday, November 28, 2022

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: September 21, 1864

Cloudy and somber.

We have authentic intelligence of the defeat of our forces under Gen. Early, near Winchester. Two generals, Rhodes and Godwin, were killed. We lost some guns, and heavily in killed and wounded. The enemy have Winchester, and Early has retreated, bringing off his trains, however. This has caused the croakers to raise a new howl against the President, for they know not what.

Mr. Clapman, our disbursing clerk (appointed under Secretary Randolph), proposed, to-day, to several in his office—jestingly, they supposed—revolution, and installing Gen. Lee as Dictator. It may be a jest to some, but others mean in earnest.

I look for other and more disastrous defeats, unless the speculators are demolished, and the wealthy class put in the ranks. Many of the privates in our armies are fast becoming what is termed machine soldiers, and will ere long cease to fight well having nothing to fight for. Alas, the chivalry have fallen! The lagging land proprietors and slave-owners (as the Yankees shrewdly predicted) want to be captains, etc. or speculators. The poor will not long fight for their oppressors, the money-changers, extortioners, etc., whose bribes keep them out of the service.

Mr. Foote openly advocates a convention; and says the other States will have one certainly: and if Virginia declines to unite in it, she will be “left out in the cold.” This is said of him; I have not heard him say it. But I believe a convention in any State or States, if our disasters continue, will lead to reconstruction, if McClellan be elected. If emancipation, confiscation, etc. be insisted on, the war will never terminate but in final separation.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 288-9

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