Showing posts with label Gold. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gold. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Sardis Birchard, July 30, 1864

CAMP FIVE MILES SOUTH OF HARPERS FERRY, VIRGINIA, 
July 30, 1864. 

DEAR UNCLE: – I received your letter of the 13th last night. I hardly know what to think about your bank. It seems likely enough that greenbacks may get lower as compared with gold, and perhaps all property employed in banking may depreciate correspondingly. But I am not thinking much of these things now and have no opinions on them which I think of any value. 

As to that candidacy for Congress, I care nothing at all about it, neither for the nomination nor for the election.* It was merely easier to let the thing take its own course than to get up a letter declining to run and then to explain it to everybody who might choose to bore me about it. 

We are gathering an army here apparently to drive the Rebels out of the Valley. I hope we shall be long enough about it to give the men rest and to heal their sore feet. We have had now three months of hard campaigning - marched one thousand to one thousand two hundred miles, besides [travelling] seven hundred (miles) by railroad and steamboat. Much night marching, four or five pitched battles, and skirmishing every other day. 

My health is good — perfect; bothered with boils from constant riding in hot weather, but of no importance. 

I wish you to send my letters to Mother. It will be a comfort to her to hear oftener than I have time to write. Colonel Mulligan was shot down very near me. We were side by side conversing a few moments before. My orderly was wounded, also my horse. Lieutenant Kelly had the narrowest possible escapes — several — balls grazing his head, ear, and body – Mrs. Zimmerman's brother, you know.

Sincerely,
R. B. HAYES. 
_______________ 

* Hayes had received numerous letters from friends in Cincinnati, William Henry Smith, R. H. Stephenson, E. T. Carson, and others, urging him to be a candidate. He was too busy in the field to bother about politics. But he was nominated August 6, and elected in November, without having taken any part in the canvass. 

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 488-9

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Diary of Gideon Welles: Tuesday, June 28, 1864

We have bad news from Sherman to-day. Neither Seward, Chase, nor Stanton was at the Cabinet-meeting. The President, like myself, slightly indisposed.

Mrs. General Hunter was at our house this evening and has tidings of a favorable character from her husband, who is in the western part of Virginia. Has done great mischief to the Rebels, and got off safely and well. This small bit of good news is a relief, as we are getting nothing good from the great armies.

Gold has gone up to 240. Paper, which our financiers make the money standard, is settling down out of sight. This is the result of the gold bill and similar measures, yet Chase learns no wisdom. We are hurrying onward into a financial abyss. There is no vigorous mind in Congress to check the current, and the prospect is dark for the country under the present financial management. It cannot be sustained.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 61

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Diary of Gideon Welles: Monday, June 20, 1864

A very busy and eventful week has passed without my having time to jot down incidents, much less observations and reflections. Among other matters, on representations made by attorneys, detectives, and others, I directed the arrest of Smith Brothers, in Boston. It is stated they have attempted to defraud the government in the delivery of the articles under contract. Mr. Wilson, Mr. Goodman, Mr. Eames, Mr. Watkins, Mr. Fox, Mr. Faxon, Admiral Smith, all concur in opinion as to the criminality of the Smiths. Yet they stand high in Boston as pious, sharp men, who profess great honesty and much religion. The arrest will bring down abuse and hostility upon me from many. But duty demanded action, however unpleasant.

Mr. Rice called on me early Saturday morning with a telegram received at midnight from Mrs. Smith, concerning the arrest of her husband. She is in great distress and has the earnest sympathy of Mr. Rice, who believes the Smiths innocent. He says the arrest has ruined forever the families, whether innocent or guilty. Mr. Gooch soon came in with a similar telegram, received at midnight, and went over the same story more briefly. Gooch felt bad and had slept but little. I told Mr. Rice that the parties should have the benefit of bail, or rather that I had written Mr. Wilson, authorizing bail. Colonel Olcott writes Fox, to whom these matters are specially committed, opposing bail; wants them confined in Fort Warren, where they have been sent, until he has examined their papers. He is a cormorant, searching papers, utterly reckless. I told Fox that I wished a firm but mild man; that I would not be oppressive. But Fox is violent against these men, who, he believes, are hypocrites and rascals. While I may not differ with him in that respect, they have rights in common with us all that must be respected and not rudely violated.

Preliminary measures for the arrest and trial of Henderson, Navy Agent at New York, have been taken. From the statements of Savage, Stover, and others he has been guilty of malfeasance, although standing high in the community as a man of piety and purity. It has been with reluctance that I have come to the conclusion that it was my duty to ask his removal and take measures against him. But I am left no alternative. That he, like all the Navy Agents, was getting rich at the public expense I have not doubted,  that there were wrong proceedings in this matter I fully believed, –and yet to break with old friends was and is unpleasant. My own impression is that Henderson has kept more accurate accounts than his predecessors, and I expect his books will square up faithfully, — accurate in dollars and cents, – but the wrong has been in another way. His representative, and friend, and fellow church-member Odell has looked into the subject, and says he has committed great frauds.

The gold bill, as it is called, has been finally enacted and we shall soon ascertain whether it effects any good. Chase and his school have the absurd follies of the Whigs and John Law in regard to money and finance. I have no confidence in his financial wisdom or intelligence on those subjects.

We get no good army news from Petersburg. Our troops have suffered much and accomplished but little, so far as I can learn. But there is disinclination to communicate army intelligence, as usual. Were the news favorable, it would be otherwise.

The President in his intense anxiety has made up his mind to visit General Grant at his headquarters, and left this P.M. at five. Mr. Fox has gone with him, and not unlikely favored and encouraged the President in this step, which I do not approve. It has been my policy to discourage these Presidential excursions. Some of the Cabinet favored them. Stanton and Chase, I think, have given them countenance heretofore.

He can do no good. It can hardly be otherwise than harmful, even if no accident befalls him. Better for him and the country that he should remain at his post here. It would be advantageous if he remained away from the War Department and required his Cabinet to come to him.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 53-5

Diary of Gideon Welles: Wednesday, June 22, 1864

Much sensational news concerning delay of army movements. I am inclined to think our people have learned caution from dear experience, — dear in the best blood of the country.

Gold had gone up to-day to 230. Legislation does not keep down the price or regulate values. In other and plainer terms, paper is constantly depreciating and the tinkering has produced the contrary effect from that intended by our financiers.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 55

Thursday, May 28, 2020

William M. Evarts to William H. Seward, June 10, 1862

NEW YORK, June 10, 1862.
Governor SEWARD,
Secretary of State:

MY DEAR SIR: A gentleman well-informed in the financial relations of the New Orleans banks has handed me the inclosed memorandum of what he supposes to be the probable status of the specie found under the protection of the Dutch consul at New Orleans. I send it to you, thinking it may be of some service in your investigations.

The idea of this gentleman is that the existence of an occasion for a remittance of some $800,000 to Hope & Co. has been made a cause for this deposit, without the least intention of so paying or providing for the debt, which had, doubtless, been otherwise met.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Weed yesterday at a very agreeable dinner given to him by the district attorney. He seems in excellent health and spirits.

I am, very truly, yours,
WM. M. EVARTS.

[Sub-inclosure.]

MEMORANDUM.

The Citizens' Bank was chartered by the Legislature of Louisiana about the year 1836. The State loaned its bonds to the bank to constitute or raise the capital on which it has been doing business. The bank indorsed the bonds of the State, and negotiated some $5,000,000 of them through Hope & Co., of Amsterdam, where the interest and principal are payable. It is said that $500,000 of these bonds become due and payable at Hope & Co.'s counting-house this year (1862), which, with one year's interest on the whole amount outstanding, probably constitutes the sum placed by the bank shortly before the capture of New Orleans in the hands of the consul of the Netherlands. It is almost certain that Hope & Co. have nothing at all to do with any funds intended to be applied to the payment of the bonds negotiated through them by the Citizens' Bank until they reach Amsterdam; they (Hope & Co.) acting merely as distributors of the funds when placed there with them, all risk of transmission belonging to the bank. Such, I know, was the case with the bonds negotiated by Baring Bros. & Co., issued by the State of Louisiana to the Union Bank of Louisiana. Moreover, it is very probable that the Citizens' Bank has ample funds in London to make the payment due in Amsterdam this year, and will use them for that purpose should the money seized be given up. It should not be forgotten that the Citizens' Bank, or the president, or some other person connected with the bank, has been reported as acting in some way, directly or indirectly, as fiscal agent of the Confederate Government, and that that Government may have funds in the hands of such agent, which were on deposit with the Citizens' Bank. It is even probable that a portion of the gold stolen from the mint in New Orleans at the commencement of the rebellion was deposited in the Citizens' Bank by some agent or officer of the Confederate Government. My opinion is that if the money seized should be delivered up to the consul it will find its way back into the vault of the Citizens' Bank, and that Hope & Co. will be placed in funds to meet the bonds and coupons due this year from other resources of the bank. If the money seized should be found to belong rightfully to Hope & Co., then let the Government send the equivalent amount from here to Hope & Co. by bills of exchange on London, and use the specie where it is for their own purposes.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series III, Volume 2 (Serial No. 123), p. 139-40

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Major-General William T. Sherman to Salmon P. Chase, August 11, 1862

HEADQUARTERS FIFTH DIVISION,                 
MEMPHIS, TENN., August 11, 1862.
Hon. S. P. CHASE, Secretary of the Treasury.

SIR: Your letter of August 2d, just received, invites my discussion of the cotton question.

I will write plainly and slowly, because I know you have no time to listen to trifles. This is no trifle; when one nation is at war with another, all the people of the one are enemies of the other; then the rules are plain and easy of understanding. Most unfortunately, the war in which we are now engaged has been complicated with the belief on the one hand that all on the other are not enemies. It would have been better if, at the outset this mistake had not been made, and it is wrong longer to be misled by it. The Government of the United States may now safely proceed on the proper rule that all in the South are enemies of all in the North; and not only are they unfriendly, but all who can procure arms now bear them as organized regiments or as guerrillas. There is not a garrison in Tennessee where a man can go beyond the sight of the flagstaff without being shot or captured. It so happened that these people had cotton, and, whenever they apprehended our large armies would move, they destroyed the cotton in the belief that, of course, we would seize it and convert it to our use. They did not and could not dream that we would pay money for it. It had been condemned to destruction by their own acknowledged government, and was therefore lost to their people; and could have been, without injustice, taken by us and sent away, either as absolute prize of war or for future compensation. But the commercial enterprise of the Jews soon discovered that ten cents would buy a pound of cotton behind our army, that four cents would take it to Boston, where they could receive thirty cents in gold. The bait was too tempting, and it spread like fire when here they discovered that salt, bacon, powder, firearms, percussion caps, etc., were worth as much as gold; and, strange to say, this traffic was not only permitted but encouraged. Before we in the interior could know it hundreds, yea thousands, of barrels of salt and millions of dollars had been disbursed, and I have no doubt that Bragg's army at Tupelo, and Van Dom’s at Vicksburg, received enough salt to make bacon, without which they could not have moved their armies in mass, and from ten to twenty thousand fresh arms and a due supply of cartridges have also been got, I am equally satisfied. As soon as got to Memphis, having seen the effect in the interior, I ordered (only as to my command) that gold, silver, and Treasury notes were contraband of war, and should not go into the interior, where all were hostile. It is idle to talk about Union men here: many want peace, and fear war and its results, but all prefer a Southern, independent government, and are fighting or working for it. Every gold dollar that was spent for cotton was sent to the seaboard to be exchanged for banknotes and Confederate scrip, which will buy goods here and are taken in ordinary transactions. I therefore required cotton to be paid for in such notes, by an obligation to pay at the end of the war, or by a deposit of the price in the hands of a trustee—viz., the United States quartermaster. Under these rules cotton is being obtained about as fast as by any other process, and yet the enemy receives no “aid or comfort.” Under the “gold” rule the country people who had concealed their cotton from the burners, and who openly scorned our greenbacks, were willing enough to take Tennessee money, which will buy their groceries; but now that trade is to be encouraged and gold paid out, I admit that cotton will be sent in by our own open enemies, who can make better use of gold than they can of their hidden bales of cotton.

I may not appreciate the foreign aspect of the question, but my views on this may be ventured. If England ever threatens war because we don't furnish her cotton, tell her plainly if she can't employ and feed her own people to send them here, where they can not only earn an honest living, but soon secure independence by moderate labor. We are not bound to furnish her cotton. She has more reason to fight the South for burning that cotton than us for not shipping it. To aid the South on this ground would be hypocrisy which the world would detect at once. Let her make her ultimatum, and there are enough generous minds in Europe that will counteract in the balance. Of course her motive is to cripple a power that rivals her in commerce and manufactures that threaten even to usurp her history. In twenty more years of prosperity it will require a close calculation to determine whether England, her laws and history, claim for a home the continent of America or the isle of Britain. Therefore, finding us in a death struggle for existence, she seems to seek a quarrel to destroy both parts in detail.

Southern people know this full well, and will only accept the alliance of England in order to get arms and manufactures in exchange for their cotton. The Southern Confederacy will accept no other mediation, because she knows full well that in old England her slaves and slavery will receive no more encouragement than in New England.

France certainly does not need our cotton enough to disturb her equilibrium, and her mediation would be entitled to a more respectful consideration than on the part of her present ally. But I feel assured the French will not encourage rebellion and secession anywhere as a political doctrine. Certainly all the German states must be our ardent friends, and, in case of European intervention, they could not be kept down.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

SOURCES: William T. Sherman, Memoirs of General William T. Sherman, by Himself, Volume 1, p. 266-8; Manning F. Force, General Sherman, 92-4.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: January 4, 1864

On Saturday, resolutions were unanimously adopted by the Senate complimenting Gen. Lee. This is his opportunity, if he be ambitious,—and who can see his heart? What man ever neglected such an opportunity?

The weather is dark and threatening. Again the rumor is circulated that ex-Gov. Letcher is to be Secretary of War. I don't believe that.

Major Tachman claims $5000 in gold and $1600 paper, because after raising two regiments in 1861 he was not made a brigadier-general. He says he expended that much money. I thought this Polish adventurer would give the government trouble.

Custis commenced his school to-night, with three scholars,—small beginnings, etc.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 124

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: December 19, 1863

Bright and cold. A resolution passed Congress, calling on the President to report the number of men of conscript age removed from the Quartermaster's and Commissary's Departments, in compliance with the act of last session. The Commissary-General, in response, refers only to clerks—none of whom, however, it seems have been removed.

Capt. Alexander, an officer under Gen. Winder, in charge or Castle Thunder (prison), has been relieved and arrested for malfeasance, etc.

Gen. C. J. McRae, charged with the investigation of the accounts of Isaacs, Campbell & Co., London, with Major Huse, the purchasing agent of Col. J. Gorgas, Chief of Ordnance, reports irregularities, overcharges, etc., and recommends retention of gold and cotton in this country belonging to I., C. & Co.

Mr. ——— informed me to-day that he signed a contract with the Commissary-General last night to furnish meat on the Mississippi in Tennessee, in exchange for cotton. He told me that the proposition was made by the Federal officers, and will have their connivance, if not the connivance of Federal functionaries in Washington, interested in the speculation. Lieut.-Col. Ruffin prefers trading with the enemy at New Orleans.

It is rumored that Mr. Seddon will resign, and be succeeded by Gov. Letcher; notwithstanding Hon. James Lyons asserted in public (and it appears in the Examiner to-day) that Gov. L. told Gen. J. R. Anderson last year, subsequent to the fall of Donelson, "he was still in favor of the Union."

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 117

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Diary of Gideon Welles: Wednesday, May 18, 1864

Selected the Visitors to the Naval Academy, although we have not yet the appropriation bill, but we can no longer delay, if there are to be Visitors. Congress is very dilatory in necessary business, and yet impatient of delay in others.

Mr. Seward called on me this afternoon at a late hour in reference to alleged misconduct of the Marigold, which is charged with firing a gun at a blockade-runner within six hundred yards of Morro Castle. As Temple, Fleet Captain of the East Gulf Squadron, had left me but a few moments previously, I sent for him, there having been no report of the case. While waiting for Temple, Mr. S. informed me that a forged proclamation had been published by sundry papers in New York, among others by the World and Journal of Commerce, imposing a fast on account of the failures of Grant and calling for a draft of 300,000 men. Seward said he at once sent on contradicting it and had ordered the English steamer to be delayed. He then had called on Stanton to know whether such a document had passed over the regular telegraph. Stanton said there had not. He (S.) then ordered that the other line should be at once seized, which was done. Seward then asked if the World and Journal of Commerce had been shut up. Stanton said he knew of their course only a minute before. Seward said the papers had been published a minute too long; and Stanton said if he and the President directed, they should be suspended. Seward thought there should be no delay.

Gold, under the excitement, has gone up ten per cent, and the cotton loan will advance on the arrival of the steamer at Liverpool with the tidings. It seems to have been a cunningly devised scheme, — probably by the Rebels and the gold speculators, as they are called, who are in sympathy with them.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 34-5

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: December 10, 1863

No news from any of the armies, except that Longstreet has reached Bristol, Va.

Yesterday, in Congress, Mr. Foote denounced the President as the author of all the calamities; and he arraigned Col. Northrop, the Commissary General, as a monster, incompetent, etc.—and cited * * * *

I saw Gen. Bragg's dispatch to-day, dated 29th ult, asking to be relieved, and acknowledging his defeat. He says he must still fall back, if the enemy presses vigorously. It is well the enemy did not know it, for at that moment Grant was falling back on Chattanooga! Mr. Memminger has sent to Congress an impracticable plan of remedying the currency difficulty.

To-day I saw copies of orders given a year ago by Gen. Pemberton to Col. Mariquy and others, to barter cotton with the enemy for certain army and other stores.

It is the opinion of many that the currency must go the way of the old Continental paper, the French assignats, etc., and that speedily.

Passports are again being issued in profusion to persons going to the United States. Judge Campbell, who has been absent some weeks, returned yesterday.

The following prices are quoted in to-day's papers:

"The specie market has still an upward tendency. The brokers are now paying $18 for gold and selling it at $21; silver is bought at $14 and sold at $18.

"Grain.—Wheat may be quoted at $15 to $18 per bushel, according to quality. Corn is bringing from $14 to $15 per bushel.

"flour.—Superfine, $100 to $105; Extra, $105 to $110.

"Corn-meal.—From $15 to $16 per bushel.

"country Produce And Yegetables.—Bacon, hoground, $3 to $3.25 per pound; lard, $3.25 to $3.50; beef, 80 cents to $1; venison, $2 to $2.25 ^poultry, $1.25 to $1.50; butter, $4 to $4.50; apples, $65 to $80 per barrel; onions, $30 to $35 per bushel; Irish potatoes, $8 to $10 per bushel; sweet potatoes, $12 to $15, and scarce; turnips, $5 to $6 per bushel. These are the wholesale rates.

"groceries.—Brown sugars firm at $3 to $3.25; clarified, $4.50; English crushed, $4.60 to $5; sorghum molasses, $13 to $14 per gallon; rice, 30 to 32 cents per pound; salt, 35 to 40 cents; black pepper, $8 to $10.

"liquors.—Whisky, $55 to $75 per gallon; apple brandy, $45 to $50; rum, proof, $55; gin, $60; French brandy, $80 to $125; old Hennessy, $180; Scotch whisky, $90; champagne (extra), $350 per dozen; claret (quarts), $90 to $100; gin, $150 per case; Alsop's ale (quarts), $110; pints, $60."

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 113-4

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: December 7, 1863

Cold and clear. Gen. Longstreet telegraphs to-day from Rutledge, Tenn., some fifty miles northeast of Knoxville, and says he will soon need railroad facilities. He is flying from superior numbers, and may be gathering up supplies.

Governor Vance writes distressfully concerning the scarcity of provisions in certain counties of North Carolina, and the rudeness of impressing agents.

Lieut.-Gen. Hardee telegraphs from Dalton that 5000 cavalry, besides two brigades of Buckner's command, are with Longstreet, and that other troops ought to be sent him (H.) to compensate for these detachments.

Mr. L. S. White obtained another passport yesterday to go to Maryland, on the recommendation of Col. Gorgas, Chief of Ordnance.

There was a quorum in Congress to-day; but the message was not sent in.

A five-dollar gold piece sold at auction on Saturday for $140— $28 in Confederate notes for one of gold.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 112

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: November 28, 1863

It rained last night. To-day there is an expectation of a battle near Chancellorville, the battle-ground of June last. Meade is certainly advancing, and Pickett's division, on the south side of the James River, at Chaffin's Farm, is ordered to march toward Lee, guarding the railroad, and the local defense men are ordered out.

My son Custis goes with his battalion to Chaffin's Farm in the morning.

There are rumors of six or eight thousand of the enemy marching up the line of the James River against Petersburg, etc. We have also a rumor of Gen. Rosser having captured the wagon train of two divisions of the enemy in Culpepper County.

From Bragg not a word since his dispatch from Ringgold, Ga., and nothing from Longstreet.

Gen. Whiting writes that a large number of Jews and others with gold, having put in substitutes, and made their fortunes, are applying for passage out of the country. They fear their substitutes will no longer keep them out of the army. Gen. W. says they have passports from Richmond, and that the spy who published in the North an account of the defenses of Wilmington, had a passport from Richmond. The government will never realize the injury of the loose passport system until it is ruined.

Never have I known such confusion. On the 26th inst. the Secretary ordered Gen. Pickett, whose headquarters were at Petersburg, to send a portion of his division to Hanover Junction, it being apprehended that a raid might be made in Lee's rear. Gen. P. telegraphs that the French steam frigate was coming up the river (what for?), and that two Federal regiments and three companies of cavalry menaced our lines on the south side of the river. The Secretary sent this to Gen. Elzey, on this side of the river, asking if his pickets and scouts could not get information of the movements of the enemy. To-day Gen. E. sends back the paper, saying his scouts could not cross the river and get within the enemy's lines. So the government is in a fog—and if the enemy knew it, and it may, the whole government might be taken before any dispositions for defense could be made. Incompetency in Richmond will some day lose it.

Three o'clock P.M. The weather is clear, and Lee and Meade may fight, and it may be a decisive battle.

I met Mr. Foote, of Tennessee, to-day. He asked me if I did not think our affairs were in a desperate condition. I replied that I did not know that they were not, and that when one in my position did not know, they must be bad enough.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 107-8

Friday, August 2, 2019

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: November 21, 1863

We have further reports from the West, confirming the success of Longstreet. It is said he has taken 2200 prisoners, and is probably at Knoxville.

The President left the city this morning for Orange Court House, on a visit to Gen. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia.

We are a shabby-looking people now — gaunt, and many in rags. But there is food enough, and cloth enough, if we had a Roman Dictator to order an equitable distribution.

The Secretary of War is destined to have an uncomfortable time. After assuring the Legislature and the people that provisions in transitu would not be impressed, it is ascertained that the agents of the Commissary-General are impressing such supplies, and the Secretary is reluctant to interfere, the Commissary-General being understood to have the support of the President.

A committee of the Grand Jury yesterday submitted a paper to the President, on the subject of provisions — indicating the proximity of famine, and deprecating impressments. The President sent it to the Secretary, saying Mr. Seddon would no doubt take measures to keep the people of Richmond from starving; and directing the Secretary to "confer" with him. But to-day he is off to the army, and perhaps some may starve before any relief can be afforded.

A genteel suit of clothes cannot be had now for less than $700. A pair of boots, $200—if good. I saw to-day, suspended from a window, an opossum dressed for cooking, with a card in its mouth, marked "price, $10." It weighed about four pounds. I luxuriated on parsnips to-day, from my own little garden.

A dollar in gold sold for $18 Confederate money, to-day. Our paper is constantly depreciating; and I think it is past redemption, unless we adopt Mr. Moseley's plan, and cause some six or eight hundred millions to be canceled, and fix a maximum price for all commodities necessary for the support of life. Congress will never agree upon any measure of relief. But if the paper money be repudiated, nevertheless we shall have our independence, unless the Southern people should become mad, divided among themselves. Subjugation of a united people, such as ours, occupying such a vast extent of territory, is impossible. The tenure of its occupation by an invading army would always be uncertain, and a million would be required to hold it.

A hard rain commenced falling this evening, and continued in the night. This, I suppose, will put an end to operations in Virginia, and we shall have another respite, and hold Richmond at least another winter. But such weather must cause severe suffering among the prisoners on Belle Isle, where there are not tents enough for so large a body of men. Their government may, however, now consent to an exchange. Day before yesterday some 40,000 rations were sent them by the United States flag-boat — which will suffice for three days, by which time I hope many will be taken away. Our Commissary-General Northrop has but little meat and bread for them, or for our own soldiers in the field. It must be confessed they have but small fare, and, indeed, all of us who have not been "picking and stealing," fare badly. Yet we have quite as good health, and much better appetites than when we had sumptuous living.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 101-2

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Diary of Gideon Welles: Saturday, April 16, 1864


Had a long telegram at midnight from Cairo, respecting Rebel movements in western Kentucky, — at Paducah, Columbus, Fort Pillow, etc. Strange that an army of 6000 Rebels should be moving unmolested within our lines. But for the gunboats, they would repossess themselves of the defenses, yet General Halleck wants the magnanimity and justice to acknowledge or even mention the service.

There is still much excitement and uneasy feeling on the gold and currency question. Not a day but that I am spoken to on the subject. It is unpleasant, because my views are wholly dissimilar from the policy of the Treasury Department, and Chase is sensitive and tender — touchy, I may say — if others do not agree with him and adopt his expedients. Mr. Chase is now in New York. He has directed the payment of the May interest, anticipating that throwing out so much gold will affect the market favorably. It will be likely to have that effect for a few days but is no cure for the evil. The volume of irredeemable paper must be reduced before there can be permanent relief. He attributes to speculators the rise in gold! As well charge the manufacturers with affecting the depth of water in the rivers, because they erect dams across the tributaries! Yet one cannot reason with our great financier on the subject. He will consider it a reflection on himself personally and claims he cannot get along successfully if opposed.

I remarked to Senator Trumbull, whom I met when taking my evening walk last Thursday, and was inquired of, that I could hardly answer or discuss his inquiry in regard to the gold excitement, because in a conversation which we had a year or two since, when one of the bills was pending, —  the first, I believe, — I had said to him I was a hard-money man and could indorse no standards but gold and silver as the measure of value and regretted and distrusted the scheme of legal paper tenders. Chase heard of that conversation and claims I was embarrassing the Treasury.

This sensitiveness indicates what I fear and have said, viz. Chase has no system on which he relies, but is seeking expedients which tumble down more rapidly than he can construct them. He cannot stop what he and others call “the rise of gold,” but which is really the depreciation of paper, by the contrivances he is throwing out. The gold dollar, the customs certificates, the interest-bearing Treasury notes, etc., etc., are all failures and harmful and will prove so. The Secretary of the Treasury found a great and rich country filled with enthusiasm in a noble cause and full of wealth, with which they responded to his call, but their recourses and sacrifices were no evidence of financial talent on the part of the Secretary who used them. The Secretary is not always bold, and has not enforced taxation; he is not wise beyond others, and has not maintained the true measure of value; he resorts to expedients instead of abiding by fixed principles. By multiplying irredeemable paper and general inflation, his “ten forty” five-per-cents may be taken, but at what cost to the country! He is in New York and may negotiate a loan; but if he does, it will be with the banks and, I presume, at six per cent. If so, the banks will not be able to help the speculators, and they, being cramped, will suffer, and perhaps fail. The fancy stocks will be likely to fall under this operation, and the surplus money may seek government securities, but under the inflation how expensive to the country!

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 12-4

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Diary of Gideon Welles: Thursday, April 14, 1864


The Baltimore American of this morning contains my report in relation to the ironclads and Du Pont. A synopsis, very brief, has been sent out by the agent of the news papers, but the Press only to a limited extent publishes even the megre abstract.  I believe the N.Y. Tribune does not publish it or take any notice of it. Du Pont and his satellites have been busy, and Greeley and others take such a partisan, personal view of all questions that no honest or fair treatment can be expected of them in a case like this. Without ever looking at facts, Greeley has always vigorously indorsed Du Pont and had his flings at the Navy Department.

Gold is reported at 190 to-day; that is, it requires one hundred and ninety dollars of Treasury notes, Chase's standard, to buy one hundred dollars in gold, paper has so depreciated.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 11-2

Diary of Gideon Welles: Friday, April 15, 1864

Chase and Blair were neither of them at the Cabinet-meeting to-day, nor was Stanton. Seward takes upon himself the French tobacco question. He wishes me to procure some one to investigate and report on the facts of the case of the Sir William Peel. I told him I thought Charles Eames as good a counsellor on prize matters as any lawyer whom I knew, and if referred to me I should give the case to Eames.

The gold panic has subsided, or rather abated. Chase is in New York. It is curious to see the speculator's conjectures and remarks on the expedients and subterfuges that are resorted to. Gold is truth. Its paper substitute is a fiction, sustained by public confidence in part because there is a belief that it will ultimately bring gold, but it has no intrinsic value and the great increase in quantity is undermining confidence.

The House passed a resolution of censure on Long for his weak and reprehensible speech. It is a pity the subject was taken up at all. No good has come of it, but I hope no harm. Lurking treason may feel a little strengthened by the failure to expel.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 12

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Diary of Gideon Welles: Tuesday, April 12, 1864

To-day have a letter from Admiral Lee respecting the exportation of French tobacco from Richmond. This is an arrangement of Mr. Seward to which I have always objected, but to which the President was persuaded to yield his assent some months ago. The subject has lingered until now. Admiral Lee says the French naval vessels and transports are at the Roads and about to proceed up the James River, and inquires if he shall keep an account of their export.

I took the dispatch to the Cabinet-meeting to ascertain from Mr. Seward what his arrangements were, but he was not present. When the little business on hand was disposed of, I introduced the subject to the President, who told me he had seen the dispatch to me and also one to Mr. Stanton from General Butler. He saw them both at the telegraph office, and after he got home he had sent for Fred Seward and Mr. Stanton. They appear neither of them to think the subject of much consequence, but after Stanton had returned to the War Department and read Butler's dispatch, he sent the President word that Mr. Seward ought to give the subject attention. The President had therefore told Fred Seward to telegraph his father, who is in New York, to return.

It is curious, that the President who saw Adl Lee’s dispatch to me should have consulted the Secretary of War and Assistant Secretary of State without advising me, or consulting me on the subject. He was annoyed, I saw, when I introduced the topic. The reason for all this I well understood. He knew full well my opposition to this whole proceeding, which I had fought off two or three times, until he finally gave in to Seward. When, therefore, some of the difficulties which I had suggested began to arise, the President preferred not to see me. It will not surprise me if this is but the beginning of the trouble we shall experience.

At the Cabinet-meeting, Chase, after presenting his weekly exhibit, showing our national debt to be over sixteen hundred millions, said he should have to request the Navy Department and also that of the Interior to make no farther calls on the Treasury for coin. I told him he must provide for foreign bills which stood different from any others, and if he had paid the Interior or any other Department than the State and Navy, which had foreign bills, and possibly the War Department some foreign purchases, I thought it not right; that I had experienced great difficulty in making California payments, but had met them, because I supposed all domestic bills were treated alike.

Chase did not meet the point squarely, but talked on other subjects, and answered some questions of the President's about the daily custom receipts, and explained the operations of his gold dollar certificates, etc. I brought him back to the Navy matter by asking him how our paymasters and agents were to draw abroad, — by what standard of value. He said the legal-tender standard. “What is that standard,” I inquired, “in Nassau, in Rio, in China, or London?”

He made me no other answer than that he was anxious to reduce the price of gold, and that something must be done to effect it. Talked of taxing bank circulation and driving it out of existence. I told him that might be a step in the right direction, perhaps, provided he did not increase his paper issues, but that if he issued irredeemable Treasury paper instead to an unlimited amount, there would be no relief; that by reducing the amount of paper and making it payable in specie on demand he would bring his legal tenders and gold nearer to equality. The President remarked that something must be done towards taxing the bank paper; said he did not fully comprehend the financial questions in all their bearings; made some sensible inquiries of Mr. Chase concerning his issues, which were bought for custom-house purposes.

Mr. Usher made some inquiries and suggestions about bringing down the price of gold and compelling banks and others to disgorge that were worthy an old Whig of thirty years gone by. His ideas were crude, absurd, and ridiculous. He evidently has never given the subject attention.

Mr. Grimes and Mr. Hale had a round in the Senate yesterday. The former had the best of the debate, but still did not do himself, the Department, and the service full justice.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 9-11

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Captain Charles Wright Wills: June 12, 1864

June 12, 1864.

It commenced raining before daylight, and has not ceased an instant all day. We are lucky in the roads where it can't get very muddy, but so much rain is confoundedly disagreeable. The only source of consolation is the knowledge that the Rebels fare much worse than we do. They have neither tents nor oilcloths. For once our corps is in reserve. The 16th and 17th united their lines in front of us this morning. The 17th A. C. especially is using ammunition with a looseness. They are just getting their hands in. The rain is real cold. If it were not for hearing the musketry and artillery firing we wouldn't know there was an enemy within 50 miles. This is said to be the Georgia gold country. I could just pick up some beautiful specimens of quartz and a flinty stone (maybe quartz also) in which the isinglass shines, and in some places I have picked off sheets two inches square. No forage here. Four deserters came in to-day.

They say that Johnston had an order read to his troops that Wheeler had cut the railroad in our rear, and destroyed our supply trains. The troops all cheered it heartily, but hardly had they got their mouths shut when our locomotives came whistling into Big Shanty, one mile from their lines. The deserters say it disgusted them so much they concluded they'd quit and go home. I wish Sherman would attack them now, for we would be sure to get what trains and artillery they have here.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 258-9

Friday, October 19, 2018

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: October 16, 1863

No battle had occurred in Northern Virginia up to 10 o'clock yesterday morning, although there is a constant stream of prisoners being sent to this city daily, taken by our cavalry. At last accounts Meade's army was retreating toward Washington City, hotly pursued by Lee. They were near Manassas, the first battle-field of the war.

There is nothing new from the West, except some skirmishing of cavalry in Central and Western Tennessee, wherein our men have had the advantage, though sometimes falling back before superior numbers.

At Charleston a brisk cannonading is kept up between the batteries; and it is said more hostile transports are arriving, which may indicate active operations on land. Our 700-pounder Blakely No. 2 is there.

Judge Campbell is giving passports rapidly, sometimes binding the Jews not to engage in private operations, but to confine themselves, while in the United States, to the purchase of supplies for the Confederate States service! Some, however, are willing to go on these terms to avoid conscription, but will realize profit by selling information to the enemy.

Judge Hastings, of California, proposes to return thither and publish a pamphlet describing newly discovered gold mines, and organizing companies to work them, which shall be secessionists; and when organized, he will fall upon and destroy the United States troops, march into Arizona, and from thence pour reinforcements into Texas. The Secretary, in the absence of the President, sends a copy of this scheme to Lieut.-Gen. E. K. Smith, trans-Mississippi Department, and gives some encouragement to the judge; abstaining, however, for the present, from devoting any money to the project.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 72

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: October 7, 1863

We have not a particle of news from the army to-day. It may be an ominous calm.

A Mr. Livingstone, from Georgia I believe, has been extensively engaged in financial transactions during the last week. He drew upon the house of North & Co., Savannah, and purchased some $35,000 in gold. After obtaining some $350,000 from the brokers here, he obtained a passport (of course!) and fled into the enemy's lines.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 65