Showing posts with label The Peninsula. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Peninsula. Show all posts

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: Sunday, February 7, 1864

 The tocsin is sounding at 9 A.M. It appears that Gen. Butler is marching up the Peninsula (I have not heard the estimated number of his army) toward Richmond. But, being in the Secretary's room for a moment, I heard him say to Gen. Elzey that the “local defense men” must be relied on to defend Richmond. These men are mainly clerks and employees of the departments, who have just been insulted by the government, being informed that no increased compensation will be allowed them because they are able to bear arms. In other words, they must famish for subsistence, and their families with them, because they happen to be of fighting age, and have been patriotic enough to volunteer for the defense of the government, and have drilled, and paraded, and marched, until they are pronounced good soldiers. Under these circumstances, the Secretary of War says they must be relied upon to defend the government. In my opinion, many of them are not reliable. Why were they appointed contrary to law? Who is to blame but the Secretaries themselves? Ah! but the Secretaries had pets and relatives of fighting age they must provide for; and these, although not dependent on their salaries, will get the increased compensation, and will also be exempted from aiding in the defense of the city—at least such has been the practice heretofore. These things being known to the proscribed local troops (clerks, etc.), I repeat my doubts of their reliability at any critical moment.

We have good news from the Rappahannock. It is said Gen. Rosser yesterday captured several hundred prisoners, 1200 beeves, 350 mules, wagons of stores, etc. etc.

Nevertheless, there is some uneasiness felt in the city, there being nearly 12,000 prisoners here, and all the veteran troops of Gen. Elzey's division are being sent to North Carolina.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 144-5

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 8, 1864

The air is filled with rumors—none reliable. It is said Gen. Lee is much provoked at the alarm and excitement in the city, which thwarted a plan of his to capture the enemy on the Peninsula; and the militia and the Department Battalions were kept yesterday and to-day under arms standing in the cold, the officers blowing their nails, and “waiting orders,” which came not. Perhaps they were looking for the “conspirators;” a new hoax to get “martial law.”

A Union meeting has been held in Greensborough, N. C. An intelligent writer to the department says the burden of the speakers, mostly lawyers, was the terrorism of Gen. Winder and his corps of rogues and cut-throats, Marylanders, whose operations, it seems, have spread into most of the States. Mr. Sloan, the writer, says, however, a vast majority of the people are loyal.

It is said Congress is finally about to authorize martial law. My cabbages are coming up in my little hot-bed—half barrel. Gen. Maury writes from Mobile that he cannot be able to obtain any information leading to the belief of an intention on the part of the enemy to attack Mobile. He says it would require 40,000 men, after three months' preparation, to take it.

Gov. Brown, of Georgia, says the Confederate States Government has kept bad faith with the Georgia six months’ men; and hence they cannot be relied on to relieve Gen. Beauregard, etc. (It is said the enemy are about to raise the siege of Charleston.) Gov. B. says the State Guard are already disbanded. He says, moreover, that the government here, if it understood its duty, would not seize and put producers in the field, but would stop details, and order the many thousand young officers everywhere swelling in the cars and hotels, and basking idly in every village, to the ranks. He is disgusted with the policy here. What are we coming to?

 Everywhere our troops in the field, whose terms of three years will expire this spring, are re-enlisting for the war. This is an effect produced by President Lincoln's proclamation; that to be permitted to return to the Union, all men must first take an oath to abolish slavery!

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 145-6

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 10, 1864

 Gen. Lee wrote to the Secretary of War, on the 22d of January, that his army was not fed well enough to fit them for the exertions of the spring campaign; and recommended the discontinuance of the rule of the Commissary-General allowing officers at Richmond, Petersburg, and many other towns, to purchase government meat, etc. etc. for the subsistence of their families, at schedule prices. He says the salaries of these officers ought to be sufficient compensation for their services; that such allowances deprived the officers and soldiers in the field of necessary subsistence, and encouraged able-bodied men to seek such easy positions; it offended the people who paid tithes, to see them consumed by these non-combating colonels, majors, etc., instead of going to feed the army; and it demoralized the officers and soldiers in the field.

This letter was referred to the Commissary-General, who, after the usual delay, returned it with a long argument to show that Gen. Lee was in “error,” and that the practice was necessary, etc.

To this the Secretary responded by a peremptory order, restricting the city officers in the item of meat.

Again the Commissary-General sends it back, recommending the suspension of the order until it be seen what Congress will do! Here are twenty days gone, and the Commissary-General has his own way still. He don't hesitate to bully the Secretary and the highest generals in the field. Meantime the Commissary-General's pet officers and clerks are living sumptuously while the soldiers are on hard fare. But, fortunately, Gen. Lee has captured 1200 beeves from the enemy since his letter was written.

And Gen. Cobb writes an encouraging letter from Georgia. He says there is more meat in that State than any one supposed; and men too. Many thousands of recruits can be sent forward, and meat enough to feed them.

The President has issued a stirring address to the army.

The weather is still clear, and the roads are not only good, but dusty—yet it is cold.

They say Gen. Butler, on the Peninsula, has given orders to his troops to respect private property—and not to molest noncombatants.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 146-7

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: December 15, 1863

Bright, beautiful day—but, alas! the news continues dark. Two companies of cavalry were surprised and taken on the Peninsula day before yesterday; and there are rumors of disaster in Western Virginia.

Foote still keeps up a fire on the President in the House; but he is not well seconded by the rest of the members, and it is probable the President will regain his control. It is thought, however, the cabinet will go by the board.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 115-6

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: October 1, 1863

We have a rumor to-day that Meade is sending heavy masses of troops to the West to extricate Rosecrans, and that Gen. Hooker is to menace Richmond from the Peninsula, with 25,000 men, to keep Lee from crossing the Potomac.

We have absolutely nothing from Bragg; but a dispatch from Gen. S. Jones, East Tennessee, of this date, says he has sent Gen. Ranseur [sic] after the rear guard of the enemy, near Knoxville.

A letter from W. G. M. Davis, describes St. Andrew's Bay, Florida, as practicable for exporting and importing purposes. It may be required, if Charleston and Wilmington fall — which is not improbable.

Nevertheless, Bragg's victory has given us a respite in the East, and soon the bad roads will put an end to the marching of armies until next year. I doubt whether the Yankees will desire another winter campaign in Virginia.

The papers contain the following account of sufferings at Gettysburg, and in the Federal prisons:
“A lady from the vicinity of Gettysburg writes: ‘July 18th— We have been visiting the battle-field, and have done all we can for the wounded there. Since then we have sent another party, who came upon a camp of wounded Confederates in a wood between the hills. Through this wood quite a large creek runs. This camp contained between 200 and 300 wounded men, in every stage of suffering; two well men among them as nurses. Most of them had frightful wounds. A few evenings ago the rain, sudden and violent, swelled the creek, and 35 of the unfortunates were swept away; 35 died of starvation. No one had been to visit them since they were carried off the battle-field; they had no food of any kind; they were crying all the time “bread, bread! water, water!” One boy without beard was stretched out dead, quite naked, a piece of blanket thrown over his emaciated form, a rag over his face, and his small, thin hands laid over his breast. Of the dead none knew their names, and it breaks my heart to think of the mothers waiting and watching for the sons laid in the lonely grave on that fearful battle-field. All of those men in the woods were nearly naked, and when ladies approached they tried to cover themselves with the filthy rags they had cast aside. The wounds themselves, unwashed and untouched, were full of worms. God only knows what they suffered.

“‘Not one word of complaint passed their lips, not a murmur; their only words were “Bread, bread! water, water!” Except when they saw some of our ladies much affected, they said, “Oh, ladies, don't cry; we are used to this.” We are doing all we can; we served all day yesterday, though it was Sunday.’ This lady adds: ‘There were two brothers — one a colonel, the other a captain — lying side by side, and both wounded. They had a Bible between them.’ Another letter from Philadelphia says: ‘There are over 8000 on the island (Fort Delaware), the hospitals crowded, and between 300 and 400 men on the bare floor of the barracks; not even a straw mattress under them. The surgeon says the hundred pillows and other things sent from here were a God-send. Everything except gray clothing will be thankfully received, and can be fully disposed of. It is very difficult to get money here. I write to you in the hope that you may be able to send some comforts for these suffering men. Some two or three thousand have been sent to an island in the East River, most of them South Carolinians, and all in great destitution. Your hearts would ache as mine does if you knew all I hear and know is true of the sufferings of our poor people.’

“Another writes: Philadelphia, July 20th, 1863. ‘I mentioned in my last the large number of Southern prisoners now in the hands of the Federal Government in Fort Delaware, near this city. There are 8000, a large portion of whom are sick and wounded; all are suffering most seriously for the want of a thousand things. Those in the city who are by birth or association connected with Southern people, and who feel a sympathy for the sufferings of these prisoners, are but few in number, and upon these have been increasing calls for aid. Their powers of contribution are now exhausted. I thought it my duty to acquaint you and others in Europe of this state of things, that you might raise something to relieve the sufferings of these prisoners. I believe the government has decided that any contributions for them may be delivered to them. There is scarcely a man among them, officers or privates, who has any money or any clothes beyond those in which they stood when they were captured on the battlefield. You can, therefore, imagine their situation. In the hospitals the government gives them nothing beyond medicines and soldier's rations. Sick men require much more, or they perish; and these people are dying by scores. I think it a matter in which their friends on the other side should take prompt and ample action.’”

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 57-9

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Diary of William Howard Russell: July 4, 1861

“Independence Day.” Fortunate to escape this great national festival in the large cities of the Union where it is celebrated with many days before and after of surplus rejoicing, by fireworks and an incessant fusillade in the streets, I was, nevertheless, subjected to the small ebullition of the Washington juveniles, to bell-ringing and discharges of cannon and musketry. On this day Congress meets. Never before has any legislative body assembled under circumstances so grave. By their action they will decide whether the Union can ever be restored, and will determine whether the States of the North are to commence an invasion for the purpose of subjecting by force of arms, and depriving of their freedom, the States of the South.

Congress met to-day merely for the purpose of forming itself into a regular body, and there was no debate or business of public importance introduced. Mr. Wilson gave me to understand, however, that some military movements of the utmost importance might be expected in a few days, and that General McDowell would positively attack the rebels in front of Washington. The Confederates occupy the whole of Northern Virginia, commencing from the peninsula above Fortress Monroe on the right or east, and extending along the Potomac, to the extreme verge of the State, by the Baltimore and Ohio Railway. This immense line, however, is broken by great intervals, and the army with which McDowell will have to deal may be considered as detached, covering the approaches to Richmond, whilst its left flank is protected by a corps of observation, stationed near Winchester, under General Jackson. A Federal corps is being prepared to watch the corps and engage it, whilst McDowell advances on the main body, To the right of this again, or further west, another body of Federals, under General McClellan, is operating in the valleys of the Shenandoah and in Western Virginia; but I did not hear of any of these things from Mr. Wilson, who was, I am sure, in perfect ignorance of the plans, in a military sense, of the General. I sat at Mr. Sumner's desk, and wrote the final paragraphs of a letter describing my impressions of the South in a place but little disposed to give a favorable color to them.

SOURCE: William Howard Russell, My Diary North and South, Vol. 1, p. 378-9

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Major-General George G. McClellan to Edwin M. Stanton, May 4, 1862

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, May 4.
(Received 12 m.)
Hon. E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:

Yorktown is in our possession.
GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-General, Commanding

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 11, Part 3 (Serial No. 14), p. 133

Major-General George G. McClellan to Edwin M. Stanton, May 4, 1862 – 9 a.m.

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
May 4, 1862 9 a.m. (Received 4.15 p.m.)
Hon. E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:

We have the ramparts; have guns, ammunition, camp equipage, &c. Hold the entire line of his works, which the engineers report as being very strong. I have thrown all my cavalry and horse artillery in pursuit, supported by infantry. I move Franklin and as much more as I can transport by water up to West Point to-day. No time shall be lost. Gunboats have gone up York River. I omitted to state that Gloucester is also in our possession. I shall push the enemy to the wall.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Major-general.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 11, Part 3 (Serial No. 14), p. 134

Friday, September 8, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: July 24, 1863

Nothing from Lee, or Johnston, or Beauregard, or Bragg — but ill luck is fated for them all. Our ladies, at least, would not despair. But a day may change the aspect; a brilliant success would have a marvelous effect upon a people who have so long suffered and bled for freedom.

They are getting on more comfortably, I learn, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Only about 25 of the enemy's troops are said to be there, merely to guard the wires. . In the Revolutionary war, and in the war of 1812, that peninsula escaped the horrors of war, being deemed then, as now, too insignificaut to attract the cupidity of the invaders.

The Secretary of the Treasury sent an agent a few weeks ago with some $12,000,000 for disbursement in the trans-Mississippi country, but he has returned to this city, being unable to get through. He will now go to Havana, and thence to Texas; and hereafter money (if money it can be called) will be manufactured at Houston, where a paper treasury will be established.

Gen. Jos. E. Johnston has recently drawn for $20,000 in gold.

A letter from the Commissary-General to Gen. Lee states that we have but 1,800,000 pounds of bacon at Atlanta, and 500,000 pounds in this city, which is less than 30 days' rations for Bragg's and Lee's armies. He says all attempts to get bacon from Europe have failed, and he fears they will fail, and hence, if the ration be not reduced to ¼ pound we shall soon have no meat on hand. Gen. Lee says he cannot be responsible if the soldiers fail for want of food.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 386-7

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: June 29, 1863

There is no confirmation of the report of the fall of Vicksburg, but it may be so; nor is it certain that we have advanced to Harrisburg, but it is probable.

Gen. D. H. Hill writes (on Saturday) from Petersburg that 40,000 of the enemy could not take Richmond; but this may be fishing for the command. He says if Gen. Dix comes this way, he would make him a subject of the cartel of exchange which he (Dix) had a hand in negotiating.

J. M. Botts writes, from his farm in Culpepper, that our men are quartered on his premises, and do as much injury as a hostile army could. He is neutral. They pay him ten cents per day for the grazing of each horse.

The Commissary-General is again recommending the procuring of bacon from within the enemy's lines, in exchange for cotton. Why not get meat from the enemy's country for nothing?
Hon. R. M. T. Hunter writes to the Secretary of War to let the Quartermaster-General alone, that he is popular with Congress, and that his friends are active. It might be dangerous to remove him; the President had better commission him a brigadier-general. He says Judge Campbell wants the President to go to Mississippi; this, Mr. H. is opposed to. Mr. H. is willing to trust Johnston, has not lost confidence in him, etc. And he tells the Secretary to inform the President how much he (H.) esteems him (the President).

The New York Times publishes an account of one of their raids on the Peninsula, below this city, as follows:

“Within the past three days a most daring raid has been made into one of the richest portions of the enemy's country, and the success was equal to the boldness of the undertaking.

“The expedition, which was conducted by both land and water, was commanded by Col. Kilpatrick. It started from the headquarters of Gen. Keyes on Wendesday, and returned yesterday. In the interim the Counties of Matthews and Gloucester were scoured. All the warehouses containing grain were sacked, the mills burned, and everything that could in any way aid the rebels were destroyed or captured. Three hundred horses, two hundred and fifty head of cattle, two hundred sheep, and one hundred mules, together with a large number of contrabands, were brought back by the raiders.

“The rebel farmers were all taken by surprise. They had not expected a demonstration of the kind. Not only were they made to surrender everything that could be of the least use to us, but they were compelled to be silent spectators to the destruction of their agricultural implements.”

No doubt we shall soon have some account in the Northern papers of our operations in this line, in their country.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 364-5

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: June 28, 1863

By order of Brig.-Gen. G. W. Custis Lee, the department companies were paraded to-day, armed and equipped. These, with the militia in the streets (armed by the government today), amounted to several thousand efficient men for the batteries and for guard duty. They are to rendezvous, with blankets, provisions, etc., upon the sounding of the tocsin. I learn that 8000 men in the hospitals within convenient reach of the city, including those in the city, can be available for defense in an emergency. They cannot march, but they can fight. These, with Hill's division, will make over 20,000 men; an ample force to cope with the enemy on the Peninsula. It has been a cool, cloudy day (we have had copious rains recently), else the civilians could not have stood several hours exercise so well. A little practice will habituate them by degees to the harness of war. No one doubts that they will fight, when the time for blows arrives. Gen. Jenkins has just arrived, with his brigade, from the south side of the James River.

I was in the arsenal to-day, and found an almost unlimited amount of arms.

We get not a word from Gen. Lee. This, I think, augurs well, for bad news flies fast. No doubt we shall soon hear something from the Northern papers. They are already beginning to magnify the ravages of our army on their soil: but our men are incapable of retaliating, to the full extent, such atrocities as the following, on the Blackwater, near Suffolk, which I find in the Petersburg Express:

“Mr. Smith resided about one mile from the town, a well-to-do farmer, having around him an interesting family, the eldest one a gallant young man in the 16th Virginia Regiment. When Gen. Longstreet invested Suffolk a sharp artillery and infantry skirmish took place near Mr. Smith's residence, and many balls passed through his house. The Yankees finally advanced and fired the houses, forcing the family to leave. Mrs. Smith, with her seven children, the youngest only ten months old, attempted to escape to the woods and into the Confederate lines, when she was fired upon by the Yankee soldiers, and a Minie-ball entering her limb just below the hip, she died in thirty minutes from the loss of blood. The children, frightened, hid themselves in the bushes, while Mr. Smith sat down upon the ground by his wife, to see her breathe her last. After she had been dead for some time, the Yankee commander permitted him to take a cart, and, with no assistance except one of his children, he put the dead body in the cart and carried it into the town. On his arrival in town, he was not permitted to take the remains of his wife to her brother's residence until he had first gone through the town to the Provost Marshal's office and obtained permission. On his arrival at the Provost Marshal's office, he was gruffly told to take his wife to the graveyard and bury her. He carried her to her brother's, John R. Kilby, Esq., and a few friends prepared her for burial; Mr. Kilby not being allowed to leave the house, or to attend the remains of his sister to the graveyard.

“Nor did the cruelty of the fiends stop here. Mr. Smith was denied the privilege of going in search of his little children, and for four days and nights they wandered in the woods and among the soldiers without anything to eat or any place to sleep. The baby was taken up by a colored woman and nursed until some private in the Yankee army, with a little better heart than his associates, took it on his horse and carried it to town. Mr. Smith is still in the lines of the enemy, his house and everything else he had destroyed, and his little children cared for by his friends.

“Will not the Confederate soldiers now in Pennsylvania remember such acts of cruelty and barbarism? Will not the Nansemond companies remember it? And will not that gallant boy in the 16th Regiment remember his mother's fate, and take vengeance on the enemy? Will not such a cruel race of people eventually reap the fruit of their doings? God grant that they may.”

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 362-4

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: June 27, 1863

An officer of the Signal Corps reported, yesterday, the force of Gen. Keyes, on the Peninsula, at 6000. To-day we learn that the enemy is in possession of Hanover Junction, cutting off communication with both Fredericksburg and Gordonsville. A train was coming down the Central Road with another installment of the Winchester prisoners (some 4000 having already arrived, now confined on Belle Island, opposite the city), but was stopped in time, and sent back.

Gen. Elzey had just ordered away a brigade from Hanover Junction to Gordonsville, upon which it was alleged another raid was projected. What admirable manoeuvring for the benefit of the enemy!

Gen. D. H. Hill wrote, yesterday, that we had no troops on the Blackwater except cavalry. I hope he will come here and take command.

Gen. Whiting has arrested the Yankee crew of the Arabian, at Wilmington. It appears that she is owned by New Yorkers, sailed from New York, and has a Yankee cargo!

Capt. Maury writes from London that R. J. Walker, once a fire-and-fury Mississippi Senator (but Yankee-born), is in Europe trying to borrow £50,000,000 for the United States. Capt. Maury says the British Government will not willingly let us have another “Alabama;” but that it is also offended at the United States for the atrocities of Wilkes, and this may lead to war. The war, however, would not be intended as a diversion in our behalf.

Nothing is heard to-day from Lee, except what appears in Northern papers several days old, when our troops were occupying Hagerstown, Cumberland, etc., in Maryland, and foraging pretty extensively in Pennsylvania.

Nothing from Vicksburg.

Just as I apprehended! The brigade ordered away from Hanover to Gordonsville, upon a wild-goose chase, had not been gone many hours before some 1200 of the enemy's cavalry appeared there, and burnt the bridges which the brigade had been guarding! This is sottishness, rather than generalship, in our local commanders.

A regiment was sent up when firing was heard (the annihilation of our weak guard left at the bridges) and arrived just two hours too late. The enemy rode back, with a hundred mules they had captured, getting under cover of their gun-boats.

To-day, it is said, Gen. Elzey is relieved, and Gen. Ransom, of North Carolina, put in command; also, that Custis Lee (son of Gen. R. E. Lee) has superseded Gen. Winder. I hope this has been done. Young Lee has certainly been commissioned a brigadier-general. His brother, Brig.-Gen. W. H. F. Lee, wounded in a late cavalry fight, was taken yesterday by the enemy at Hanover Court House.

Gen. Whiting's letter about the “Arabian” came back from the President, to-day, indorsed that, as Congress did not prohibit private blockade-running, he wouldn't interfere. So, this is to be the settled policy of the government.

This morning the President sent a letter to the Secretary of War, requesting him to direct all mounted officers — some fifty A. A. G.'s and A. D.'s — to report to him for duty around the city. Good! These gentlemen ought to be in the saddle instead of being sheltered from danger in the bureaus.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 360-1

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: June 13, 1863

Col. Baylor, of Arizona, has been heard from again. He confesses that he issued the order to slaughter the Apaches in cold blood, and says it is the only mode of dealing with such savages. The President indorses on it that it is “a confession of an infamous crime.”

Yesterday the enemy appeared on the Peninsula, in what numbers we know not yet; but just when Gen. Wise was about to attack, with every prospect of success, an order was received from Gen. Arnold Elzey to fall back toward the city, pickets and all.

A letter from Gen. Holmes, containing an account from one of his scouts, shows that the enemy's militia in Arkansas and Missouri are putting to death all the men, young or old, having favored the Confederate cause, who fall into their hands. These acts are perpetrated by order of Gen. Prentiss. The President suggests that they be published, both at home and abroad.

Mr. L. Heyliger, our agent at Nassau, sends an account of the firing into and disabling the British steamer Margaret and Jessee by the United States steamer Rhode Island, within a half mile of shore. Several British subjects were wounded. This may make trouble.

Mr. J. S. Lemmon applied by letter to-day for permission to leave a Confederate port for Europe. Major-Gen. Arnold Elzey indorsed on it: “This young man, being a native of Maryland, is not liable to military service in the Confederate States.” Well, Arnold Elzey is also a native of Maryland.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 346-7

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 14, 1863

We have been beaten in an engagement near Jackson, Miss., 4000 retiring before 10,000. This is a dark cloud over the hopes of patriots, for Vicksburg is seriously endangered. Its fall would be the worst blow we have yet received.

Papers from New York and Philadelphia assert most positively, and with circumstantiality, that Hooker recrossed the Rappahannock since the battle, and is driving Lee toward Richmond, with which his communications have been interrupted. But this is not all: they say Gen. Keyes marched a column up the Peninsula, and took Richmond itself, over the Capitol of which the Union flag “is now flying.” These groundless statements will go out to Europe, and may possibly delay our recognition. If so, what may be the consequences when the falsehood is exposed? I doubt the policy of any species of dishonesty.

Gov. Shorter, of Alabama, demands the officers of Forrest's captives for State trial, as they incited the slaves to insurrection.

Mr. S. D. Allen writes from Alexandria, La., that the people despair of defending the Mississippi Valley with such men as Pemberton and other hybrid Yankees in command. He denounces the action also of quartermasters and commissaries in the Southwest.

A letter from Hon. W. Porcher Miles to the Secretary of War gives an extract from a communication written him by Gen. Beauregard, to the effect that Charleston must at last fall into the hands of the enemy, if an order which has been sent there, for nearly all his troops to proceed to Vicksburg, be not revoked. There are to be left for the defense of Charleston only 1500 exclusive of the garrisons!

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 324

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 4, 1863

This morning early the tocsin sounded, and the din, kept up for several hours, intensified the alarm. The presence of the enemy would not have produced a greater effect. But, in truth, the enemy were almost in sight of the city. Hon. James Lyons told me they were within a mile and a half of his house, which is about that distance from the city. Thousands of men, mostly old men and employees of the government, were instantly organized and marched to the batteries.

But the alarm subsided about 10 A.M. upon information being received that the enemy were flying before Gen. Wise down the Peninsula.

After this the following dispatch was received from Gen. Lee:

milford, May 3d, 1863.
president Davis.

“Yesterday Gen. Jackson, with three of his divisions, penetrated to the rear of the enemy, and drove him from all his positions, from the Wilderness to within one mile of Chancellorville. He was engaged at the same time, in front, by two of Longstreet's divisions.

This morning the battle was renewed. He was dislodged from all his positions around Chancellorville, and driven back toward the Rappahannock, over which he is now retreating.

"Many prisoners were taken, and the enemy's loss, in killed and wounded, large.

"We have again to thank Almighty God for a great victory.

"I regret to state that Gen. Paxton was killed. Gen. Jackson severely, and Generals Heth and A. P. Hill slightly, wounded.

“R. E. Lee, General.

Enough is known to raise the spirits of all. Gen. Lee gives thanks to God “for a great victory;” and he never misleads, never exaggerates.

My son Custis got a musket and marched in one of the companies — I have not learned which — for the defense of the city. It is a sultry day, and he will suffer.

The President was driven out in a light open carriage after the reception of Gen. Lee's dispatch, and exhibited the finest spirits. He was even diverted at the zeal of the old men and boys marching out with heavy muskets to the batteries.

Brig.-Gen. Pryor, who has been under arrest (I know not for what offense), volunteered in a company of horse, and galloped away with the rest in pursuit of the enemy.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 307-8

Monday, June 5, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: May 1, 1863

Gov. Vance writes that Gen. Hill desires him to call out the militia, believing the enemy, balked in the attempt on Charleston, will concentrate their forces against North Carolina. But the Governor is reluctant to call the non-conscripts from the plow in the planting season. He thinks the defense of North Carolina has not been adequately provided for by the government, and that his State has been neglected for the benefit of others. He asks heavy guns; and says half the armament hurled against Charleston would suffice for the capture of Wilmington.

A protest, signed by the thousands of men taken at Arkansas Post, now exchanged, against being kept on this side of the Mississippi, has been received. The protest was also signed by the members of Congress from Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri.

Capt. Causey, of the Signal Corps, writes that there are only a few battalions of the enemy on the Peninsula; but that rations for 40,000 men are sent to Suffolk.

Gen. Lee announces the crossing of the Rappahannock at Port Royal (which the Yankees pillaged) and at places above Fredericksburg. Gen. Stuart is hovering on their flank. A great battle may happen any moment.

L. E. Harvey, president of Richmond and Danville Railroad, asks for details to repair locomotives, else daily trains (freight) must be reduced to tri-weekly trains—and then the army cannot be sustained in Virginia.

Hon. Mr. Garnett asked (and obtained) permission for a Mr. Hurst (Jew ?) to pass onr lines, and bring Northern merchandise to Richmond for sale. He vouches for his loyalty to Virginia. Congress has before it a bill rendering this traffic criminal.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 303-4

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: April 18, 1863

We have nothing more from the Peninsula, Suffolk, N. C, or South Carolina; but it is rumored that the enemy's gun-boats (seven or eight) have passed down the Mississippi in spite of our batteries at Vicksburg, which sunk one of them. If this be true, it is bad news.

We have lovely weather now, and vegetation shows signs of the return of the vernal season. We shall soon have blossoms and roses in abundance, and table vegetables too, to dispel the fears of famine. But we shall also have the horrid sounds of devastating war; and many a cheerful dame and damsel to-day, must soon put on the weeds of mourning.

Gen. Jos. E. Johnston has assumed the command of the army of Tennessee. Gen. Howell Cobb is preparing for the defense of Florida. We do not hear a word from Lee or Jackson — but this is the ominous silence preceding their decisive action.

Bacon fell to-day from $2 to $1 50 per pound, and butter from $3.50 to $3.25; potatoes are $16 per bushel. And yet they say there is no scarcity in the country. Such supplies are hoarded and hidden to extort high prices from the destitute. An intelligent gentleman from North Carolina told me, to-day, that food was never more abundant in his State; nevertheless, the extortioners are demanding there very high prices.

This evening we have dispatches (unofficial) confirmatory of the passing of Vicksburg by the enemy's gun-boats. One of them was destroyed, and two disabled, while five got by uninjured. This is not cheering. No doubt an attack by land will be made, by superior numbers, and blood will gush in streams!

It is now said that Longstreet has captured two gun-boats in the Nansemond, and taken 600 prisoners; and that the Yankees in Norfolk have been thrown into great commotion. The general in command there, Veille, has adopted very stringent measures to keep the people sympathizing with our cause in subjection. Perhaps he fears an outbreak.

The weather continues fine, and we must soon have important operations in the field.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 295-6

Friday, May 5, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: April 17, 1863

From the Northern papers we learn that the defeat at Charleston is called by the enemy a Reconnoissance. This causes us much merriment here; McClellan's defeat was called a “strategical movement,” and “change of base.”

We have some rumors to-day, to the effect that Gen. Hill is likely to take Washington and Newbern, N. C; Gen. Longstreet, Suffolk; and Gen. Wise, Fort Magruder, and the Peninsula — he has not troops enough.

Gold advanced 7 per cent, in New York when the news of the “reconnoissance” reached that city.

We are planting almost every acre in grain, to the exclusion of cotton and tobacco — resolved never to be starved, nor even feel a scarcity of provisions in future. We shall be cutting wheat in another month in Alabama and other States.

Among the other rumors, it is said Hooker is falling back toward Washington, but these are merely rumors.

The President is in a very feeble and nervous condition, and is really threatened with the loss of sight altogether. But he works on; and few or no visitors are admitted. He remains at his dwelling, and has not been in the executive office these ten days.

Col. Lay was merry again to-day. He ordered in another foreign substitute (in North Carolina).

Pins are so scarce and costly, that it is now a pretty general practice to stoop down and pick up any found in the street. The boarding-houses are breaking up, and rooms, furnished and unfurnished, are rented out to messes. One dollar and fifty cents for beef, leaves no margin for profit, even at $100 per month, which is charged for board, and most of the boarders cannot afford to pay that price. Therefore they take rooms, and buy their own scanty food. I am inclined to think provisions would not be deficient, to an alarming extent, if they were equally distributed. Wood is no scarcer than before the war, and yet $30 per load (less than a cord) is demanded for it, and obtained.

The other day Wilmington might have been taken, for the troops were sent to Beauregard. Their places have since been filled by a brigade from Longstreet. It is a monstrous undertaking to attempt to subjugate so vast a country as this, even with its disparity of population. We have superior facilities for concentration, while the invader must occupy, or penetrate the outer lines of the circumference. Our danger is from within, not from without. We are distressed more by the extortioners than by the enemy. Eternal infamy on the heads of speculators in articles of prime necessity! After the war, let them be known by the fortunes they have amassed from the sufferings of the patriots and heroes! —the widows and orphans!

This day is the anniversary of the secession of Virginia. The government at Washington did not believe the separation would last two years! Nor do they believe now, perhaps, that it will continue two years longer.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 293-5

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: April 14, 1863

We have nothing additional from Gen. Wise's expedition against Williamsburg; but it was deprecated by our people here, whose families and negroes have been left in that vicinity. They argue that we cannot hold the town, or any portion of the Peninsula in the neighborhood; and when the troops retire, the enemy will subject the women and children to more rigorous treatment, and take all the slaves.

We have news from Tennessee, which seems to indicate that Gen. Van Dorn has been beaten, losing a battery, after a sanguinary battle of several hours. Van Dorn had only cavalry — 7000. This has a depressing effect. It seems that we lose all the battles of any magnitude in the West. This news may have been received by the President in advance of the public, and hence his indisposition. We shall have news now every day or so.

Albert Pike is out in a pamphlet against Gens. Holmes and Hindman. He says their operations in Arkansas have resulted in reducing our forces, in that State, from forty odd thousand to less than 17,000. It was imprudent to publish such a statement. Albert Pike is a native Yankee, but he has lived a long time in the South.

Gov. Vance is furious at the idea of conscribing magistrates, constables, etc. in North Carolina. He says it would be an annihilation of State Rights — nevertheless, being subject to militia duty by the laws of the State, they are liable under the Act of Conscription.

Well, we are getting only some 700 conscripts per month in Virginia — the largest State! At this rate, how are we to replenish the ranks as they become thinned in battle? It is to be hoped the enemy will find the same difficulty in filling up their regiments, else we have rather a gloomy prospect before us. But God can and will save us if it be His pleasure.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 292-3

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: March 22, 1863

It was thawing all night, and there is a heavy fog this morning. The snow will disappear in a few days.

A very large number of slaves, said to be nearly 40,000, have been collected by the enemy on the Peninsula and at adjacent points, for the purpose, it is supposed, of co-operating with Hooker's army in the next attempt to capture Richmond.

The snow has laid an embargo on the usual slight supplies brought to market, and all who had made no provision for such a contingency are subsisting on very short-commons. Corn-meal is selling at from $6 to $8 per bushel. Chickens $5 each. Turkeys $20. Turnip greens $8 per bushel. Bad bacon $1.50 per pound. Bread 20 cts. per loaf. Flour $38 per barrel,—and other things in proportion. There are some pale faces seen in the streets from deficiency of food; but no beggars, no complaints. We are all in rags, especially our underclothes. This for liberty!

The Northern journals say we have negro regiments on the Rappahannock and in the West. This is utterly untrue. We have no armed slaves to fight for us, nor do we fear a servile insurrection. We are at no loss, however, to interpret the meaning of such demoniac misrepresentations. It is to be seen of what value the negro regiments employed against us will be to the invader.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 278