Thursday, November 12, 2020

Diary of Gideon Welles: Monday, August 1, 1864

We yesterday had word that our forces had mined and blown up a fortification in front of Petersburg. All sorts of stories were current, some of them absurdly wild and ridiculous. Petersburg was said to be in flames. Our army were reported to have undermined & large portion of the city. Men of sense gave credit to the absurdity. I went over to the War Department, and Stanton showed me a telegram from Grant, stating the mine had been sprung, but the result is inconclusive, and evidently, I think, a disappointment. Stanton seemed uncertain and confused.

Exciting and silly stories prevailed about the raid into Pennsylvania. Street rumors put the Rebels at 40,000, and the press states that number, but reports are contradictory. Am still of the opinion that the force is small and the scare great. Governor Curtin and all Harrisburg are doubtless in a ferment. Was told the bells in Harrisburg were all ringing an alarm. I asked if it included the dinnerbell of Governor Curtin, for he would be frantic to stir up the people, and never disbelieved the largest fib that was sent abroad.

Had a letter from Tom this A.M., dated at Headquarters of the 18th Army Corps, at midnight of the 29th, stating an assault was to be made in the morning. Could not give details. There would be a sharp conflict, and he would do his duty. Bidding good-bye and sending love to all. This evening we hear from him after the fight, that he was well but tired and exhausted.

The President went yesterday to Fortress Monroe to meet General Grant, by prior arrangement, which made me distrust final operations at Petersburg, for if such were the fact, he could not well be absent. The President tells me the movement was well planned and well executed up to the closing struggle, when our men failed to do their duty. There must, I apprehend, have been fault in the officers also, not Grant, who originates nothing, is dull and heavy, but persistent.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 89-90

Diary of Gideon Welles: Tuesday, August 2, 1864

Judge Thomas and Mr. Train, counsel for Smith Brothers of Boston, had an interview of nearly two hours with me on Saturday, wishing the trial postponed, a different court, and that the trial should take place in Boston. They called and were with me half an hour yesterday. Finally arranged that the trial should be postponed four weeks, until Tuesday the 30th, although their friends had urged a speedy trial, but declined other changes. Two hours later the President sent for me and also for Mr. Fox. On going to the Executive Mansion, I found Messrs. Thomas and Train with the President, where they had gone over the whole subject that they had previously discussed with me. The President heard them kindly and then said he could not act without consulting me. I remarked that I had given the subject a hearing and examination, and supposed it was disposed of. The President said he could not interfere, but should be glad if it could be arranged so as to give them time and also a trial at Boston.

I wrote a letter to Pickering, Winslow & Co., who, with certain Bostonians, wish to do something to assist the blockade. They hardly know what or how.

At the Cabinet, Messrs. Blair, Bates, and myself were present. Fessenden and Usher are absent. Seward and Stanton had been there in advance. There is design in all this. Went over proceedings of the armies at Atlanta and Petersburg. Stanton dislikes to meet Blair in council, knowing that B. dislikes and distrusts him. Seward and Stanton move together in all matters, yet Seward fears a quarrel with Blair, and he tries to keep in with him and at the same time preserve his intimacy with Stanton. Both mouse about the President, who, in his intense interest and inquisitiveness, spends much of his time at the War Department, watching the telegraph. Of course, opportunities like these are not lost by Stanton, and, General Halleck being placed here indorsed by General Scott as the military adviser of the President, he has equal or greater advantages to play the sycophant, and does so.

The explosion and assault at Petersburg on Saturday last appears to have been badly managed. The results were bad and the effect has been disheartening in the extreme. There must have been some defect or weakness on the part of some one or more. I have been waiting to get the facts, but do not yet get them to my satisfaction. It is stated in some of the letters written that lots were cast as to which corps and which officers should lead in the assault. I fear there may be truth in the report, but if so, and Grant was in it or cognizant of it, my confidence in him — never very great — would be impaired. I should not be surprised to learn that Meade committed such an act, for I do not consider him adequate to his high position, and yet I may do him injustice. My personal acquaintance with him is slight, but he has in no way impressed me as a man of breadth and strength or capabilities, and instead of selecting and designating the officer for such a duty, it would be in accordance with my conceptions of him to say, Let any one, Cast lots, etc., but I shall be reluctant to believe this of Grant, who is reticent and, I fear, less able than he is credited. He may have given the matter over to Meade, who has done this. Admiral Porter has always said there was something wanting in Grant, which Sherman could always supply, and vice versa, as regards Sherman, but that the two together made a very perfect general officer and they ought never to be separated. If Grant is confiding in Meade, relying on him, as he did on Sherman,— Grant will make a failure, I fear, for Meade is not Sherman, nor the equal of Sherman. Grant relies on others, but does not know men, — can't discriminate. I feel quite unhappy over this Petersburg matter, — less, however, from the result, bad as it is, than from an awakening apprehension that Grant is not equal to the position assigned him. God grant that I may be mistaken, for the slaughtered thousands of my countrymen who have poured out their rich blood for three months on the soil of Virginia from the Wilderness to Petersburg under his generalship can never be atoned in this world or the next if he without Sherman prove a failure. A blight and sadness comes over me like a dark shadow when I dwell on the subject, a melancholy feeling of the past, a foreboding of the future. A nation's destiny almost has been committed to this man, and if it is an improper committal, where are we?

The consequence of the Petersburg failure, and the late successful raid of the Rebels, will embolden them to our injury. They will take courage, keep fewer troops to man their batteries at Richmond, and send more to harass our frontiers, perhaps to strengthen Hood in opposing Thomas and Sherman.

In the mean time, where is Halleck and what is he doing? I hear nothing of him, do not see him. The President goes to advise with him, but I do not think he is ever wiser or better for these interviews.

Seward and Stanton make themselves the special confidants of the President, and they also consult with Halleck, so that the country is in a great degree in the hands of this triumvirate, who, while they have little confidence in each other, can yet combine to control or influence the President, who is honest.

Attorney-General Bates, who spent last evening with me, opened his heart freely as regards the Cabinet. Of Blair he thought pretty well, but said he felt no intimacy with, or really friendly feelings for, any one but me; that I had his confidence and respect, and had from our first meeting. Mr. Seward had been constantly sinking in his estimation; that he had much cunning but little wisdom, was no lawyer and no statesman. Chase, he assures me, is not well versed in law principles even, - is not sound nor of good judgment. General Halleck he had deliberately charged with intentional falsehood and put it in writing, that there should be no mistake or claim to have misapprehended him. He regretted that the President should have such a fellow near 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. 90-3

Diary of Gideon Welles: Thursday, August 4, 1864

This day is set apart for fasting, humiliation, and prayer. There is much wretchedness and great humiliation in the land, and need of earnest prayer.

General Hooker has arrived from Atlanta, having left in a pet because General Howard was given McPherson's position. He is vain, has some good and fighting qualities and thinks highly and too much of himself.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 93

Diary of Gideon Welles: Friday, August 5, 1864

Only four of us with the President today. Mr. Fessenden has gone to Maine. Seward and Stanton were absent when the rest were there.

I was with the President on Wednesday when Governor Morgan was there, and the President produced the correspondence that had passed between himself and Chase at the time C. resigned. It was throughout characteristic. I do not think the event was wholly unexpected to either, and yet both were a little surprised. The President fully understands Chase and had made up his mind that he would not be again overridden in his own appointments.

Chase, a good deal ambitious and somewhat presuming, felt he must enforce his determinations, which he had always successfully carried out. In coming to the conclusion that a separation must take place, the President was prompted by some, and sustained by all, his Cabinet without an exception. Chase's retirement has offended nobody, and has gratified almost everybody.

I told Blair as we left the Executive Mansion to-day that I felt depressed in consequence of the result at Petersburg, beyond what I ought from the fight itself, in consequence of impaired confidence in Grant. He tried to encourage me and partially succeeded. I do not distrust or depreciate General G.; but, if he has ability, I think he needs a better second in command, a more competent executive officer than General Meade, and he should have known that fact earlier. The knowledge of the worth of our generals is often purchased at too great a cost of blood and treasure. It is dear tuition.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 93-4

Diary of Gideon Welles: Saturday, August 6, 1864

I had a telegram from Tom this morning, stating that Colonel Stedman was mortally wounded and would probably not survive the night, that General Ord desired his promotion without delay, that it might be received before his death, and wishing me to call at once on the President. I did so, who responded readily to the recommendation, and I then, at his request, saw Secretary Stanton, who met me in the right spirit.

While at the President's Blair came in, and the President informed us he had a telegram from Greeley, desiring the publication of the whole peace correspondence. Both Blair and myself advised it, but the President said he had telegraphed Greeley to come on, for he desired him to erase some of the lamentations in his longest letter. I told him while I regretted it was there, the whole had better be published. Blair said it would have to come to that ultimately. But the President thought it better that that part should be omitted.

I remarked that I had seen the Wade and Winter Davis protest. He said, Well, let them wriggle, but it was strange that Greeley, whom they made their organ in publishing the protest, approved his course and therein differed from the protestants. The protest is violent and abusive of the President, who is denounced with malignity for what I deem the prudent and wise omission to sign a law prescribing how and in what way the Union shall be reconstructed. There are many offensive features in the law, which is, in itself, a usurpation and abuse of authority. How or in what way or ways the several States are to put themselves right — retrieve their position - is in the future and cannot well be specified. There must be latitude given, and not a stiff and too stringent policy pursued in this respect by either the Executive or Congress. We have a Constitution, and there is still something in popular government.

In getting up this law it was as much an object of Mr. Winter Davis and some others to pull down the Administration as to reconstruct the Union. I think they had the former more directly in view than the latter. Davis's conduct is not surprising, but I should not have expected that Wade, who has a good deal of patriotic feeling, common sense, and a strong, though coarse and vulgar, mind, would have lent himself to such a despicable assault on the President.

There is, however, an infinity of party and personal intrigue just at this time. A Presidential election is approaching, and there are many aspirants, not only for Presidential but other honors or positions. H. Winter Davis has a good deal of talent but is rash and uncertain. There is scarcely a more ambitious man, and no one that cannot be more safely trusted. He is impulsive and mad and has been acute and contriving in this whole measure and has drawn Wade, who is ardent, and others into it. Sumner, I perceived, was bitten before he left Washington. Whether he has improved I am not informed. Sumner is not a constitutionalist, but more of a centralist than the generality of our people, and would be likely to sanction what seem to me some of the more offensive features of this bill. Consolidating makes it more a government of the people than of the States.

The assaults of these men on the Administration may break it down. They are, in their earnest zeal on the part of some, and ambition and malignity on the part of others, doing an injury that they cannot repair. I do not think Winter Davis is troubled in that respect, or like to be, but I cannot believe otherwise of Wade and others; yet the conduct of Wade for some time past, commencing with the organization of the present Congress in December last, has, after the amnesty proclamation and conciliatory policy of reconstruction, been in some respects strange and difficult to be accounted for, except as an aspiring factionist. I am inclined to believe that he has been bitten with the Presidential fever, is disappointed, and, in his disappointment, with a vague, indefinite hope that he may be successful, prompted and stimulated not only by Davis but Colfax, he has been flattered to do a foolish act.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 94-6

Diary of Gideon Welles: Monday, August 8, 1864

Going into the War Department yesterday morning to inquire if any tidings had been received concerning Colonel Stedman of the 11th Connecticut Infantry, who was wounded, probably mortally, on Friday, I found the President with General Grant, Stanton, and General Halleck in the Secretary's room. I proposed leaving on making the single inquiry, provided they were in secret council, but the President and General Grant declared they were not, for me. Learning that poor Stedman was dead, and that some little intelligence had been received from Mobile, I soon left, for there was, it appeared to me, a little stiffness as if I had interrupted proceedings. General Grant has been to Frederick and placed Sheridan in command of the forces on the upper Potomac instead of Hunter, which is a good change, for H., though violently earnest, is not exactly the man for that command. I think him honest and patriotic, which are virtues in these days, but he has not that discretion and forbearance sufficient to comprehend rightly the position that was given him.

Mr. Seward sent me to-day some strange documents from Raymond, Chairman of the National Executive Committee. I met R. some days since at the President's, with whom he was closeted. At first I did not recognize Raymond, who was sitting near the President conversing in a low tone of voice. Indeed, I did not look at him, supposing he was some ordinary visitor, until the President remarked, “Here he is; it is as good a time as any to bring up the question.” I was sitting on the sofa but then went forward and saw it was Raymond. He said there were complaints in relation to the Brooklyn Navy Yard; that we were having, and to have, a hard political battle the approaching fall, and that the fate of two districts and that of King's County also depended upon the Navy Yard. It was, he said, the desire of our friends that the masters in the yard should have the exclusive selection and dismissal of hands, instead of having them subject to revision by the Commandant of the yard. The Commandant himself they wished to have removed. I told him such changes could not well be made and ought not to be made. The present organization of the yard was in a right way, and if there were any abuses I would have them corrected.

He then told me that in attempting to collect a party assessment at the yard, the Naval Constructor had objected, and on appealing to the Commandant, he had expressly forbidden the collection. This had given great dissatisfaction to our party friends, for these assessments had always been made and collected under preceding administrations. I told him I doubted if it had been done—certainly not in such an offensive and public manner; that I thought it very wrong for a party committee to go into the yard on pay-day and levy a tax on each man as he received his wages for party purposes; that I was aware parties did strange things in New York, but there was no law or justice in it, and the proceeding was, in my view, inexcusable and indefensible; that I could make no record enforcing such assessment; that the matter could not stand investigation. He admitted that the course pursued was not a politic one, but he repeated former administrations had practiced it. I questioned it still, and insisted that it was not right in itself. He said it doubtless might be done in a more quiet manner. I told him if obnoxious men, open and offensive opponents of the Administration, were there, they could be dismissed. If the Commandant interposed to sustain such men, as he suggested might be the case, there was an appeal to the Department; whatever was reasonable and right I was disposed to do. We parted, and I expected to see him again, but, instead of calling himself, he has written Mr. Seward, who sent his son with the papers to me. In these papers a party committee propose to take the organization of the navy yard into their keeping, to name the Commandant, to remove the Naval Constructor, to change the regulations, and make the yard a party machine for the benefit of party, and to employ men to elect candidates instead of building ships. I am amazed that Raymond could debase himself so far as to submit such a proposition, and more that he expects me to enforce it.

The President, in a conversation with Blair and myself on the Wade and Davis protest, remarked that he had not, and probably should not read it. From what was said of it he had no desire to, could himself take no part in such a controversy as they seemed to wish to provoke. Perhaps he is right, provided he has some judicious friend to state to him what there is really substantial in the protest entitled to consideration without the vituperative asperity.

The whole subject of what is called reconstruction is beset with difficulty, and while the executive has indicated one course and Congress another, a better and different one than either may be ultimately pursued. I think the President would have done well to advise with his whole Cabinet in the measures he has adopted, not only as to reconstruction or re√ęstablishing the Union, but as to this particular bill and the proclamation he has issued in regard to it.

When the Rebellion shall have been effectually suppressed, the Union government will be itself again, union will speedily follow in the natural course of events, - but there are those who do not wish or intend reunion on the principle of political equality of the States. Unless they can furnish the mode and terms, and for fear they may not be successful, various schemes are projected.

The issuing of the proclamation with reasons for not signing the bill, and yet expressing his acquiescence in the policy if any of the States adopt it, is denounced as anomalous; so is the condition of the country, and so will be reunion, whenever and however it may take place. I have never asked who was the adviser and counsellor of the President in issuing the proclamation. It is sufficient that I was not. There is one who was, and how many more is not material. There may have been one, possibly two, but the project is wholly the President's.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 2: April 1, 1864 — December 31, 1866, p. 96-9

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, August 2, 1864


MY DARLING:- We are having a jolly good time about sixteen miles north of Middletown, resting the men, living on the fat of the land, among these loyal, friendly people. We are supposed to be watching a Rebel invasion. Our cavalry is after the Rebel cavalry and I hope will do something. Averell is a poor stick. Duffie is willing and brave and will do what he can. Powell is the real man and will do what a small force can do. I suspect there is nothing for us to do here that is, that no (Rebel) infantry are here.

I saw Colonel Brown. — Hayes Douglass was, I am told, to be in our division. I am sorry he is not. I have not seen him.

The Rudys I saw Sunday. They were so kind and cordial. They all inquired after you. The girls have grown pretty – quite pretty. Mr. Rudy said if I was wounded he would come a hundred miles to get me. Queer old neighborhood this. They sell goods at the country store at old prices and give silver in change! Dr. Joe bought good shoes for two dollars and twenty-five cents a pair.

We are in the Middletown Valley, by the side of a fine mountain stream. We get milk, eggs, and good bread. All hope to stay here always — but I suppose we shall soon dance. We have campaigned so long that our discipline and strength are greatly deteriorated.

I read the correct list of killed, wounded, etc., of [the] Twenty-third this A. M. It contains scarcely any names you would know. With two-thirds of the regiment composed of new recruits and Twelfth men this would of course be so. The band astonished our rural friends with their music last night. They never saw Federal soldiers here before. They have twice been robbed by Rebel raiders and so are ready to admire all they see and hear. Love to all.

Affectionately ever,

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 489-90

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Friday, August 5, 1864

Wednesday, marched eighteen to twenty miles across the Catoctin (Blue) Ridge, [and on] through Frederick to the left bank of the Monocacy, one and one-half miles below [Frederick] Junction [where we camped]. Yesterday [there arrived] ninety recruits for [the] Twenty-third, a deserter from Charleston among them. Providential!—[I] rode into Frederick with General Crook, and dined with Dr. Steele, of Dayton. Today [was the] trial [drumhead court-martial] of deserter Whitlow. He was shot at sundown before all the troops.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 490

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, Monday, August 8, 1864

August 8 (Monday), 1864. 

DEAREST:— We have had pretty good times the last week or ten days. Easy marching, plenty to eat, and good camps. We are, for the present, part of a tolerably large army under Sheridan. This pleases General Crook and suits us all. We are likely to be engaged in some of the great operations of the autumn. But service in these large armies is by no means as severe as in our raids.

Hayes Douglass is commissary on General Crook's staff. I have not yet seen him. He is spoken of very favorably.

My staff is Captain Hastings, Lieutenant Wood and Delay of Thirty-sixth, and Comstock of Thirteenth. I was sorry to lose McKinley but I couldn't as a friend advise him to do otherwise. He is taken out of [the] quartermaster's department and that is good, and into [the] adjutant-general's office, and that is good.

One of the scamps who deserted the Rebels and then deserted Hicks' company (you remember) was captured at Cloyd's Mountain in the Rebel ranks. He escaped and by a remarkable providence enlisted as a substitute in Ohio and was sent to the Twenty-third Regiment. He was tried and shot within twenty-four hours. His execution was in [the] presence of General Crook's command. Men of the Twenty-third shot him. They made no mistake. Eight out of ten balls would either of them have been instant death. We are getting a considerable number of substitutes - many good men, but many who are professional villains who desert of course.

We seem to be going up the Valley of the Shenandoah again. We get no letters. None from you since I saw you. But I know you are loving me and only feel anxious lest you are too anxious about me.

One of the best officers in my command wrote an article on the Winchester fight which will appear in the Gallipolis Journal which you would be happy to read.

Well, time is passing rapidly. The campaign is half over. If we can only worry through the Presidential election I shall feel easier. I hope McClellan will be nominated at Chicago. I shall then feel that, in any event, the integrity of the Union is likely to be maintained. A peace nomination at Chicago would array the whole party against the war.

Love to all. Much for thyself, darling.

Ever your 

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 492-3

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, Monday, Sunday, August 14, 1864

August 14 (Sunday), 1864. 

DEAREST:—You see we are again up the Valley following Generals Early and Breckinridge who are in our front. I know nothing as to prospects. I like our present commander, General Sheridan. Our movement seems to relieve Maryland and Pennsylvania. Whether it means more and what, I don't know. We are having rather pleasant campaigning. The men improve rapidly. 

Put Winchester down as a Christian town. The Union families took our wounded off the field and fed and nursed them well. Whatever town is burned to square the Chambersburg* account, it will not be Winchester. 

Several in my brigade supposed to be dead turn out to be doing well. There are probably fifty families of good Union people (some quite wealthy and first-familyish) in Winchester, It is a splendid town, nearly as large as Chillicothe. Much love to all. Good-bye, darling. 

Ever lovingly, your 

*General McCausland had recently been on a raid in Pennsylvania; had captured Chambersburg, and the citizens being unable to pay the exorbitant levy he demanded, had burned it to the ground. 

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 493

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Sardis Birchard, August 14, 1864

August 14, 1864. 

DEAR UNCLE: – You see we are again up the famous Valley; General Sheridan commands the army; General Early and Breckinridge are in our front; they have retired before us thus far; whether it is the purpose to follow and force a battle, I don't know; the effect is to relieve our soil from Rebels. 

My health is excellent. Our troops are improving under the easy marches. We shall get well rested doing what the Sixth and Nineteenth Corps of the Potomac ([who] are with us) regard as severe campaigning. 

I have heard nothing from home since I saw Lucy on 10th [of] July. Direct to me: “First Brigade, Second Division, Army of West Virginia, via Harpers Ferry.” 

Sincerely yours, 

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 494

Diary of Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Monday, August 15, 1864

Rebels attacked our picket line and drove it after a brisk skirmish. (The) Twenty-third and Thirty-sixth supporting soon check the Rebels. Our loss two killed, ten wounded. I had some narrow escapes.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 494

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, August 14, 1864


DARLING: – We are still here observing the enemy and skirmishing with him daily. Yesterday with [the] Twenty-third and Thirty-sixth had a very brisk skirmish; lost two killed, twelve wounded. One of [the] color corporals in Twenty-third (Corporal Hughes) killed. We are gaining in strength and spirits daily. Numbers supposed to have been killed at Winchester turn out to be only wounded. . . . Love to all.

Affectionately, ever, 

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 494

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 13, 1864

Bright, beautiful weather, with frosty nights.

The dispatches I cut from the papers to-day are interesting. Gen. Wise, it appears, has met the enemy at last, and gained a brilliant success—and so has Gen. Finnegan. But the correspondence between the President and Gen. Johnston, last spring and summer, indicates constant dissensions between the Executive and the generals. And the President is under the necessity of defending Northern born generals, while Southern born ones are without trusts, etc.





Charleston, February 11th, 1864.

To Gen. S. Cooper.


Gen Finnegan has repulsed the enemy's force at Lake City— details not known.


G. T. Beauregard.




Charleston, February 11th—11 A.m.

To Gen. S. Cooper.


Gen. Finnegan's success yesterday was very creditable—the enemy's force being much superior to his own. His reinforcements had not reached here, owing to delays on the road. Losses not yet reported.


G. T. Beauregard.






Charleston, February 12th, 1864.


Gen. Wise gallantly repulsed the enemy last evening on John's Island. He is, to-day, in pursuit. Our loss very trifling. The force of the enemy is about 2000; ours about one-half.


G. T. Beauregard.

Every day we recapture some of the escaped Federal officers. So far we have 34 of the 109.

The President sent over a "confidential" sealed letter to the Secretary to-day. I handed it to the Secretary, who was looking pensive.

Dr. McClure, of this city, who has been embalming the dead, and going about the country with his coffins, has been detected taking Jews and others through the lines. Several live men have been found in his coffins.

Again it is reported that the enemy are advancing up the Peninsula in force, and, to-morrow being Sunday, the local troops may be called out. But Gen. Rhodes is near with his division, so no serious danger will be felt, unless more than 20,000 attack us. Even that number would not accomplish much—for the city is fortified strongly.

It is rumored by blockade-runners that gold in the North is selling at from 200 to 500 per cent, premium. If this be true, our day of deliverance is not distant.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the ConfederaStates Capital, Volume 2p. 148-9

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 14, 1864

Clear and windy. There is nothing new that I have heard of; but great apprehensions are felt for the fate of Mississippi—said to be penetrated to its center by an overwhelming force of the enemy. It is defended, however, or it is to be, by Gen. (Bishop) Polk.

I hear of more of the escaped Federal officers being brought in to-day.

The correspondence between the President and Gen. Johnston is causing some remark. The whole is not given. Letters were received from Gen. J. to which no allusion is made, which passed through my hands, and I think the fact is noted in this diary. He intimated, I think, that the position assigned him was equivocal and unpleasant in Tennessee. He did not feel inclined to push Bragg out of the field, and the President, it seems, would not relieve Bragg.

Mr. Secretary Seddon, it is now said, is resolved to remain in office.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 149-50

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 15, 1864

We have over forty of the escaped Federal officers. Nothing more from Gens. Wise and Finnegan. The enemy have retreated again on the Peninsula. It is said Meade's army is falling back on Washington.

We have a snow storm to-day.

The President is unfortunate with his servants, as the following from the Dispatch would seem:

"Another of President Davis's Negroes run away. — On Saturday night last the police were informed of the fact that Cornelius, a negro man in the employ of President Davis, had run away. Having received some clew of his whereabouts, they succeeded in finding him in a few hours after receiving the information of his escape, and lodged him in the upper station house. When caught, there was found on his person snack enough, consisting of cold chicken, ham, preserves, bread, etc., to last him for a long journey, and a large sum of money he had stolen from his master. Some time after being locked up, he called to the keeper of the prison to give him some water, and as that gentleman incautiously opened the door of his cell to wait on him, Cornelius knocked him down and again made his escape. Mr. Peter Everett, the only watchman present, put off after him; but before running many steps stumbled and fell, injuring himself severely."

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 150

Monday, November 2, 2020

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 16, 1864

A plan of invasion. Gen. Longstreet telegraphs that he has no corn, and cannot stay where he is, unless supplied by the Quartermaster-General. This, the President says, is impossible, for want of transportation. The railroads can do no more than supply grain for the horses of Lee's army—all being brought from Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, etc. But the President says Longstreet might extricate himself from the exigency by marching into Middle Tennessee or Kentucky, or both.

Soon after this document came in, another followed from the Tennessee and Kentucky members of Congress, inclosing an elaborate plan from Col. Dibrell, of the Army of Tennessee, of taking Nashville, and getting forage, etc. in certain counties not yet devastated, in Tennessee and Kentucky. Only 10,000 additional men will be requisite. They are to set out with eight days' rations; and if Grant leaves Chattanooga to interfere with the plan, Gen. Johnston is to follow and fall upon his rear, etc. Gen. Longstreet approves the plan—is eager for it, I infer from his dispatch about corn; and the members of Congress are in favor of it. If practicable, it ought to be begun immediately; and I think it will be.

A bright windy day—snow gone.

The Federal General Sherman, with 30,000 men, was, at the last dates, still marching southeast of Jackson, Miss. It is predicted that he is rushing on his destruction. Gen. Polk is retreating before him, while our cavalry is in his rear. He cannot keep open his communications.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 150-1

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 17, 1864

Bright and very cold—freezing all day. Col. Myers has written a letter to the Secretary, in reply to our ordering him to report to the Quartermaster-General, stating that he considers himself the Quartermaster-General—as the Senate has so declared. This being referred to the President, he indorses on it that Col. Myers served long enough in the United States army to know his status and duty, without any such discussion with the Secretary as he seems to invite.

Yesterday Congress consummated several measures of such magnitude as will attract universal attention, and which must have, perhaps, a decisive influence in our struggle for independence.

Gen. Sherman, with 30,000 or 40,000 men, is still advancing deeper into Mississippi, and the Governor of Alabama has ordered the non-combatants to leave Mobile, announcing that it is to be attacked. If Sherman should go on, and succeed, it would be the most brilliant operation of the war. If he goes on and fails, it will be the most disastrous—and his surrender would be, probably, like the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. He ought certainly to be annihilated.

I have advised Senator Johnson to let my nephew's purpose to bring Gen. Holmes before a court-martial lie over, and I have the papers in my drawer. The President will probably promote Col. Clark to a brigadiership, and then my nephew will succeed to the colonelcy; which will be a sufficient rebuke to Gen. H., and a cataplasm for my nephew's wounded honor.

The Examiner has whipped Congress into a modification of the clause putting assistant editors and other employees of newspaper proprietors into the army. They want the press to give them the meed of praise for their bold measures, and to reconcile the people to the tax, militia, and currency acts. This is the year of crises, and I think we'll win.

We are now sending 400 Federal prisoners to Georgia daily; and I hope we shall have more food in the city when they are all gone.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 151-2

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 18, 1864

This was the coldest morning of the winter. There was ice in the wash-basins in our bed chambers, the first we have seen there. I fear my cabbage, beets, etc. now coming up, in my half barrel hot-bed, although in the house, are killed.

The topic of discussion everywhere, now, is the effect likely to be produced by the Currency bill. Mr. Lyons denounces it, and says the people will be starved. I have heard (not seen) that some holders of Treasury notes have burnt them to spite the government! I hope for the best, even if the worst is to come. Some future Shak[e]speare will depict the times we live in in striking colors. The wars of "The Roses" bore no comparison to these campaigns between the rival sections. Everywhere our troops are re-enlisting for the war; one regiment re-enlisted, the other day, for forty years!

The President has discontinued his Tuesday evening receptions. The Legislature has a bill before it to suppress theatrical amusements during the war. What would Shak[e]speare think of that?

Sugar has risen to $10 and $12 per pound.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 152

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: February 19, 1864

Cold and clear. Congress adjourned yesterday, having passed the bill suspending the writ of habeas corpus for six months at least. Now the President is clothed with Dictatorial Powers, to all intents and purposes, so far as the war is concerned.

The first effect of the Currency bill is to inflate prices yet more. But as the volume of Treasury notes flows into the Treasury, we shall see prices fall. And soon there will be a great rush to fund the notes, for fear the holders may be too late and have to submit to a discount of 33½ per cent.

Dispatches from Gen. Polk state that Sherman has paused at Meridian.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 152-3