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Xxxiv. January, 1864

  • Hospitalities of the city to Gen. Morgan.
  • -- call for a Dictator. -- letter from Gen. Lee. -- letters from Gov. Vance. -- accusation against Gen. Winder. -- treatment of Confederate prisoners (from the Chicago times). -- change of Federal policy. -- efforts to remove Col. Northrop. -- breach between the President and Congress. -- destitution of our prisoners. -- appeal of Gen. Lee to the army. -- New Conscription act. -- letter from Gen. Cobb.



January 1

A bright windy day, and not cold. The President has a reception to-day, and the City Councils have voted the hospitalities of the city to Brig.-Gen. J. H. Morgan, whose arrival is expected. If he comes, he will be the hero, and will have a larger crowd of admirers around him than the President. The Councils have also voted a sword to ex-Gov. Letcher, whose term of service ended yesterday. Gov. Wm. Smith-nicknamed Extra-Billy — is to be inaugurated to-day.

Flour is now held at $150 per barrel. Capt. Warner has just sold me two bushels of meal at $5 per bushel; the price in market is $16 per bushel.

I did not go to any of the receptions to-day; but remained at [123] home, transplanting lettuce-plants, which have so far withstood the frost, and a couple of fig-bushes I bought yesterday. I am also breaking up some warm beds, for early vegetables, and spreading manure over my little garden: preparing for the siege and famine looked for in May and June, when the enemy encompasses the city. I bought some tripe and liver in the market at the low price of $1 per pound. Engaged to pay $250 hire for our servant this year.


January 2

Gen. Longstreet writes that it will be well to winter in East Tennessee (Rogersville), unless there should be a pressing necessity for him elsewhere. But his corps ought to. be at least 20,000. He says provisions may be got in that section; and if they be collected, the enemy may be forced to leave.

The Secretary of the Navy has requested the Secretary of War to open the obstructions at Drewry's Bluff, so that the iron-clads, Richmond and Fredericksburg, may pass out. This he deems necessary for the defense of Richmond, as our iron-clads may prevent the enemy from coming up the river and landing near the city.

The Lynchburg Virginian has come out for a dictator, and names Gen. Lee.

The Raleigh (N. C.) Progress says we must have peace on any terms, or starvation. I think we can put some 200,000 additional men in the field next year, and they can be fed also.


January 2

Yesterday was the coldest day of the winter, and last night was a bitter one. This morning it is bright and cleat, and moderating. We have had no snow yet.

There is much talk everywhere on the subject of a dictator, and many think a strong government is required to abate the evils we suffer. The President has temporarily lost some popularity.

The speculators and extortioners who hired substitutes are in consternation — some flying the country since the passage of the bill putting them in the army, and the army is delighted with the measure. The petition from so many generals in the field intimidated Congress, and it was believed that the Western army would have melted away in thirty days, if no response had been accorded to its demands by government. Herculean preparations will now be made for the next campaign, which is, as usual, looked forward to as the final one.


[124]

January 4

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.


January 5

Bright, pleasant day. I saw a letter from Gen. Elzey to-day, stating that his command will probably soon be called out from the city on important service. What can this mean? And our iron-clads are to go below the obstructions if they can get out.

Yesterday Mr. Good offered a resolution declaring the unalterable purpose of Congress to prosecute the war until independence is attained. What significance is in this? Why declare such a purpose at this day?

Mr. Benjamin, Gen. Myers, Col. Preston, and Mr. Seddon are to partake of a feast on Thursday. A feast in time of famine!


January 6

-Yesterday Mr. Moffitt, Lieut.-Col. Ruffin's agent (commissary), was in the market buying beef for Gen. Lee's army! And this same Moffitt was in September selling beef to the same butchers (as they say) at from 40 to 50 cts. gross, the impressing price in the country being 20 cts.

On the 2d inst. Gen. Lee wrote the President that he had just heard of two droves of cattle from the West, destined for his army, being ordered to Richmond. [He does not say by whom, or for what purpose. He knew not.] He says he has but one day's meat rations, and he fears he will not be able to retain the army in the field. The President sent a copy of this to the Commissary-General, with a few mild remarks, suggesting that he shall get such orders from the Secretary of War as are necessary in such an emergency. In response to this the Commissary-General makes a chronological list of his letters to Gen. Lee and others, [125] pretending that if certain things were not done, the army, some day, would come to want, and taking great credit for his foresight, etc. This table of contents he ran, first to the department with, but not finding the Secretary, he carried it to the President, who returned it without comment to Col. N. yesterday, and to-day the Secretary got it, not having seen it before. Well, if Col. N. had contracted with Capt. Montgomery for the 1,000,000 pounds of salt beef, it would have been delivered ere this. But the Secretary never saw Capt. M.'s offer at all!


January 7

Gen. J. E. Johnston dispatches from the West that the meat is so indifferent, the soldiers must have an additional quantity of rice.

Beef sells to-day at $1.25 per pound by the quarter. And yet an Englishman at the best hotel yesterday remarked that he never lived so cheaply in any country, his board being only three shillings (in specie) per diem, or about $20 Confederate States notes.

A dozen china cups and saucers sold at auction to-day for $160. Col. Preston, Conscription Bureau, several members of the cabinet, etc. feasted at a cost of $2000! It is said that the Jack was turned up and Jeff turned down in a witticism, and smiled at nem. con. But I don't believe that.

We have a light snow, the first time the earth has been white this winter.

I am reminded daily of the privations I used to read of in the Revolutionary War. Then thorns were used, now we use pins, for buttons. My waistbands of pantaloons and drawers are pinned instead of buttoned.

Gen. Jno. H. Morgan arrived this evening, and enjoyed a fine reception, as a multitude of admirers were at the depot.

About the same hour the President rode past my house alone, to indulge his thoughts in solitude in the suburbs of the city.


January 8

Dispatches from both Beauregard and Whiting indicate a belief of an intention on the part of the enemy to attempt the capture of Charleston and Wilmington this winter. The President directs the Secretary to keep another brigade near Petersburg, that it may be available in an emergency.

It snowed again last night, but cleared off to-day, and is bitter cold. [126]

A memorial was received to-day from the officers of Gen. Longstreet's army, asking that all men capable of performing military service, including those who have hired substitutes, be placed in the army.

To-day I bought a barrel of good potatoes (Irish) for $25, and one of superior quality and size for $30. This is providing for an anticipated season of famine.

Gen. Morgan received the congratulations of a vast multitude to-day. One woman kissed his hand. Gov. Smith advertises a reception to-night.

Yesterday a committee was appointed to investigate the report that a certain member of Congress obtained passports for several absconding Jews, for a bribe.


January 9

Cold and clear. Gen. Longstreet has preferred charges against Major-Gen. McLaws and another general of his command, and also asks to be relieved, unless he has an independent command, as Gen. Johnston's headquarters are too far off, etc. The Secretary is willing to relieve him, but the President intimates that a successor ought to be designated first.

Beef was held at $2.50 per pound in market to-day-and I got none; but I bought 25 pounds of rice at 40 cts., which, with the meal and potatoes, will keep us alive a month at least. The rich rogues and rascals, however, in the city, are living sumptuously, and spending Confederate States notes as if they supposed they would soon be valueless.


January 10

Letters from Governor Vance received to-day show that he has been making extensive arrangements to clothe and subsist North Carolina troops. His agents have purchased abroad some 40,000 blankets, as many shoes, bacon, etc., most of which is now at Bermuda and Nassau. He has also purchased an interest in several steamers; but, it appears, a recent regulation of the Confederate States Government forbids the import and export of goods except, almost exclusively, for the government itself. The governor desires to know if his State is to be put on the same footing with private speculators.

He also demands some thousands of bales of cotton, loaned the government-and which the government cannot now replace at Wilmington-and his complaints against the government are bitter. Is it his intention to assume an independent attitude, and [127] call the North Carolina troops to the rescue? A few weeks will develop his intentions.

Mr. Hunter is in the Secretary's room every Sunday morning. Is there some grand political egg to be hatched?

If the government had excluded private speculators from the ports at an early date, we might have had clothes and meat for the army in abundance — as well as other stores. But a great duty was neglected!

Sunday as it is, trains of government wagons are going incessantly past my door laden with ice — for the hospitals next summer, if we keep Richmond.


January 11

The snow has nearly vanished — the weather bright and pleasant, for midwinter; but the basin is still frozen over.

Gen. E. S. Jones has captured several hundred of the enemy in Southwest Virginia, and Moseby's men are picking them up by scores in Northern Virginia.

Congress recommitted the new Conscript bill on Saturday, intimidated by the menaces of the press, the editors being in danger of falling within reach of conscription.

A dwelling-house near us rented to-day for $6000.


January 12

Hundreds were skating on the ice in the basin this morning; but it thawed all day, and now looks like rain.

Yesterday the President vetoed a bill appropriating a million dollars to clothe the Kentucky troops. The vote in the Senate, in an effort to pass it nevertheless, was 12 to 10, not two-thirds. The President is unyielding. If the new Conscription act before the House should become a law, the President will have nearly all power in his hands. The act suspending the writ of habeas corpus, before the Senate, if passed, will sufficiently complete the Dictatorship.

Gen. Jos. E. Johnston writes in opposition to the organization of more cavalry.

Mr. J. E. Murral, Mobile, Ala., writes Judge Campbell that a party there has authority from the United States authorities to trade anything but arms and ammunition for cotton.

Gen. Winder being directed to send Mr. Hirsh, a rich Jew, to the conscript camp, says he gave him a passport to leave the Confederate [128] States some days ago, on the order of Judge Campbell, A. S. W. Col. Northrop says supplies of meat have failed.


January 13

There was firing yesterday near Georgetown, S. C., the nature and result of which is not yet known.

Yesterday the Senate passed a bill allowing increased pay to civil officers in the departments; but Senator Brown, of Miss., proposed a proviso, which was adopted, allowing the increased compensation only to those who are not liable to perform military duty, and unable to bear arms.

The auctions are crowded — the people seeming anxious to get rid of their money by paying the most extravagant prices for all articles exposed for sale. An old pair of boots, with large holes in them, sold to-day for $7.00-it costs $125 to foot a pair of boots.


January 14

Mr. A.--, editor of the--, recommends the Secretary of War to get Congress to pass, in secret session, a resolution looking to a reconstruction of the Union on the old basis, and send Commissioners to the Northern Governors. Meantime, let the government organize an army of invasion, and march into Pennsylvania. The object being to sow dissension among the parties of the North.

A letter from a Mr. Stephens, Columbia, S. C., to the President, says it is in his power to remove one of the evils which is bringing the administration into disrepute, and causing universal indignation-Gen. Winder. The writer says Winder drinks excessively, is brutish to all but Marylanders, and habitually receives bribes, etc. The President indorsed on it that he did not know the writer, and the absence of specifications usually rendered action unnecessary. But perhaps the Secretary may find Mr. S.'s character such as to deserve attention.

Captain Warner says it is believed there will be a riot, perhaps, when Col. Northrop, the Commissary-General, may be immolated by the mob. Flour sold to-day at $200 per barrel; butter, $8 per pound; and meat from $2 to $4. This cannot continue long without a remedy.

The President has another reception to-night.

A Yankee account of the treatment of Confederate prisoners.

The Chicago Times gives the account which follows of the treatment of our soldiers at Camp Douglas. [129]

It is said that about four weeks ago one of the prisoners was kindling his fire, which act he had a right to perform, when one of the guard accosted him with, “Here, what are you doing there?” The prisoner replied, “That is not your business,” when the guard instantly drew his musket and shot the fellow dead. It is said also that a mulatto boy, a servant of one of the Confederate captains, and, of course, a prisoner of war, who was well known to have a pass to go anywhere within the lines, was walking inside the guard limits about a day after the above occurrence, when the guard commanded him to halt. He did not stop, and was instantly killed by a bullet.

It is also charged that, at the time the discovery was made of an attempt on the part of some of the prisoners to escape, a party of three or four hundred was huddled together and surrounded by a guard; that one of them was pushed by a comrade and fell to the ground, and that instantly the unfortunate man was shot, and that three or four others were wounded. It is further stated that it is no uncommon thing for a soldier to fire on the barracks without any provocation whatever, and that two men were thus shot while sleeping in their bunks a week or two ago, no inquiry being made into the matter. No court-martial has been held, no arrest has been made, though within the past month ten or twelve of the prisoners have been thus put out of the way. Another instance need only be given: one of the prisoners asked the guard for a chew of tobacco, and he received the bayonet in his breast without a word.



January 15

We have no news. But there is a feverish anxiety in the city on the question of subsistence, and there is fear of an outbreak. Congress is in secret session on the subject of the currency, and the new Conscription bill. The press generally is opposed to calling out all men of fighting age, which they say would interfere with the freedom of the press, and would be unconstitutional.


January 16

General good spirits prevail since Northern arrivals show that the House of Representatives at Washington has passed a resolution that 1,000,000 men, including members of Congress under 50, volunteer to deliver the prisoners of war out of our hands. This produces a general smile, as indicative of the exhaustion of the available military force of the United States [130] and all believe it to be the merest bravado and unmitigated humbug. Every preparation will be made by the Confederate States Government for the most stupendous campaign of the war.

There are indications of disorganization (political) in North Carolina-but it is too late. The Confederate States Executive is too strong, so long as Congress remains obedient, for any formidable demonstration of that character to occur in any of the States. We shall probably have martial law everywhere.

I bought some garden seeds to-day, fresh from New York! This people are too improvident, even to sow their own seeds.


January 17

There is nothing new to-day. The weather is pleasant for the season, the snow being all gone.

Custis has succeeded in getting ten pupils for his night-school, and this will add $100 per month to our income — if they pay him. But with flour at $200 per barrel; meal, $20 per bushel, and meat from $2 to $5 per pound, what income would suffice? Captain Warner (I suppose in return for some writing which Custis did for him) sent us yesterday two bushels of potatoes, and, afterwards, a turkey! This is the first turkey we have had during our housekeeping in Richmond.

I rarely see Robert Tyler nowadays. He used to visit me at my office. His brother John I believe is in the trans-Mississippi Department. My friend Jacques is about town occasionally.


January 18

A flag of truce boat came up, but no one on board was authorized to negotiate for an exchange of prisoners but Gen. Butler, outlawed. It returns without anything being effected. Congress has passed a bill for the reduction of the currency, in secret session. We know not yet what are its main features. The Senate bill increasing the compensation of civil officers has not yet been acted on in the House, and many families are suffering for food.

Anne writes us that Lieut. Minor has returned from his Canada expedition, which failed, in consequence of the gratuitous action of Lord Lyons, the British Minister at Washington, who has been secured in the interest of the Federal Government, it is said, by bribes. Lieut. M. brought his family a dozen cups and saucers, dresses, shoes, etc., almost unattainable here.

The President receives company every Tuesday evening. [131]

Among the letters referred by the Commissary-General to the Secretary of War to-day for instructions, was one from our honest commissary in North Carolina, stating that there were several million pounds of bacon and pork in Chowan and one or two other counties, liable to the incursions of the enemy, which the people were anxious to sell the government, but were afraid to bring out themselves, lest the enemy should ravage their farms, etc., and suggesting that a military force be sent thither with wagons. The Commissary-General stated none of these facts in his indorsement; but I did, so that the Secretary must be cognizant of the nature of the paper.

The enemy made a brief raid in Westmoreland and Richmond counties a few days ago, and destroyed 60,000 pounds of meat in one of the Commissary-General's depots! A gentleman writing from that section, says it is a pity the President's heart is not in his head; for then he would not ruin the country by retaining his friend, Col. Northrop, the Commissary-General, in office.

It appears that Gen. Meade has changed the Federal policy in the Northern Neck, by securing our people within his lines from molestation; and even by allowing them to buy food, clothing, etc. from Northern traders, on a pledge of strict neutrality. The object is to prevent the people from conveying intelligence to Moseby, who has harassed his flanks and exposed detachments very much. It is a more dangerous policy for us than the old habit of scourging the non-combatants that fall in their power.


January 19

A furious storm of wind and rain occurred last night, and it is rapidly turning cold to-day.

The prisoners here have had no meat during the last four days, and fears are felt that they will break out of confinement.

Yesterday Senator Orr waited upon the President, to induce him to remove Col. Northrop, the obnoxious Commissary-General. The President, it is said, told him that Col. N. was one of the greatest geniuses in the South, and that, if he had the physical capacity he would put him at the head of an army.

A letter from Mrs. Polk, widow of President Polk, dated at Nashville, expresses regret that a portion of her cotton in Mississippi was burnt by the military authorities (according to law), and demanding remuneration. She also asks permission to have the remainder sent to Memphis, now held by the enemy. The Secretary will not refuse. [132]

I bought a pretty good pair of second-hand shoes at auction today for $17.50; but they were too large. I will have them sold again, without fear of loss.

A majority of the Judiciary Committee, to whom the subject was referred, have reported a bill in the Senate vacating the offices of all the members of the cabinet at the expiration of every two years, or of every Congress. This is a blow at Mr. Benjamin, Mr. Memminger, etc., and, as the President conceives, at himself. It will not pass, probably; but it looks like war between the Senate and the Executive. Some of the Secretaries may resign on the 18th of February, when this Congress expires. Nous verrons.


January 20

The Senate bill to give increased compensation to the civil officers of the government in Richmond was tabled in the House yesterday, on the motion of Mr. Smith, of North Carolina, who spoke against it.

Major-Gen. Gilmer, Chief of the Engineer Bureau, writes that the time has arrived when no more iron should be used by the Navy Department; that no iron-clads have effected any good, or are likely to effect any; and that all the iron should be used to repair the roads, else we shall soon be fatally deficient in the means of transportation. And Col. Northrop, Commissary-General, says he has been trying to concentrate a reserve supply of grain in Richmond, for eight months; and such has been the deficiency in means of transportation, that the effort has failed.

Gov. Milton, of Florida, writes that the fact of quartermasters and commissaries, and their agents, being of conscript age, and being speculators all, produces great demoralization. If the rich will not fight for their property, the poor will not fight for them.

Col. Northrop recommends that each commissary and quartermaster be allowed a confidential clerk of conscript age. That would deprive the army of several regiments of men.

The weather is bright again, but cool.


January 21

Gen. Longstreet reports some small captures of the enemy's detached foraging parties.

The prisoners here have now been six days without meat; and Capt. Warner has been ordered by the Quartermaster-General to purchase supplies for them, relying no longer on the Commissary- General.

Last night an attempt was made (by his servants, it is supposed) [133] to burn the President's mansion. It was discovered that fire had been kindled in the wood-pile in the basement. The smoke led to the discovery, else the family might have been consumed with the house. One or two of the servants have absconded.

At the sale of a Jew to-day an etegere brought $6000; a barrel of flour, $220; and meal, $25 per bushel. All else in proportion. He is a jeweler, and intends leaving the country. He will succeed, because he is rich.

Yesterday the House passed the Senate bill, adjourning Congress on the 18th of February, to meet again in April. Mr. Barksdale, the President's organ in the House, moved a reconsideration, and it will probably be reconsidered and defeated, although it passed by two to one.

Major Griswold being required by resolution of the Legislature to give the origin of the passport office, came to me to-day to write it for him. I did so. There was no law for it.


January 22

Troops, a few regiments, have been passing down from Lee's army, and going toward North Carolina. A dispatch, in cipher, from Petersburg, was received to-day at 3 P. M. It is probable the enemy threaten the Weldon and Wilmington Railroad. We shall hear soon.

It is thought the negroes that attempted to burn the President's house (they had heaped combustibles under it) were instigated by Yankees who have been released upon taking the oath of allegiance. But I think it quite as probable his enemies here (citizens) instigated it. They have one of the servants of the War Department under arrest, as participating in it.

The weather is delightful, and I seek distraction by spading in my garden.

Judge Campbell is still “allowing” men to pass out of the Confederate States; and they will invite the enemy in!


January 23

The Secretary of War has authorized Mr. Boute, President of the Chatham Railroad, to exchange tobacco through the enemy's lines for bacon. And in the West he has given authority to exchange cotton with the enemy for meat. It is supposed certain men in high position in Washington, as well as the military authorities, wink at this traffic, and share its profits. I hope we may get bacon, without strychnine. [134]

Congress has passed a bill prohibiting, under severe penalties, the — traffic in Federal money. But neither the currency bill, the tax bill, nor the repeal of the exemption act has been effected yet, and the existence of the present Congress shortly expires. A permanent government is a cumbersome one.

The weather is fine, and I am spading up my little garden.


January 24

For some cause, we had no mail to-day. Fine, bright, and pleasant weather. Yesterday Mr. Lyons called up the bill for increased compensation to civil officers, and made an eloquent speech in favor of the measure. I believe it was referred to a special committee, and hope it may pass soon.

It is said the tax bill under consideration in Congress will produce $500,000,000 revenue! If this be so, and compulsory funding be adopted, there will soon be no redundancy of paper money, and a magical change of values will take place. We who live on salaries may have better times than even the-extortioners-who cannot inherit the kingdom of Heaven. And relief cannot come too soon: for we who have families are shabby enough in our raiment, and lean and lank in our persons. Nevertheless, we have health and never-failing appetites. Roasted potatoes and salt are eaten with a keen relish.


January 25

The breach seems to widen between the President and Congress, especially the Senate. A majority of the Committee on Military Affairs have reported that Col. A. C. Myers (relieved last August) is still the Quartermaster-General of the armies, and that Gen. Lawton, who has been acting as QuartermasterGen-eral since then, is not the duly authorized Quartermaster-General: not having given bond, and his appointment not having been consented to by the Senate. They say all the hundreds of millions disbursed by his direction have been expended in violation of law.

For the last few nights Col. Browne, one of the President's A. D. C.'s, and an unnaturalized Englishman, has ordered a guard (department clerks) to protect the President. Capt. Manico (an Englishman) ordered my son Custis to go on guard to-night; but I obtained from the Secretary a countermand of the order, and also an exemption from drills, etc. It will not do for him to neglect his night-school, else we shall starve.

I noticed, to-day, eight slaughtered deer in one shop; and they are seen hanging at the doors in every street. The price is $3 [135] per pound. Wild turkies, geese, ducks, partridges, etc. are also exposed for sale, at enormous prices, and may mitigate the famine now upon us. The war has caused an enormous increase of wild game. But ammunition is difficult to be obtained. I see some perch, chubb, and other fish, but all are selling at famine prices.

The weather is charming, which is something in the item of fuel. I sowed a bed of early York cabbage, to-day, in a sheltered part of the garden, and I planted twenty-four grains of early-sweet corn, some cabbage seed, tomatoes, beets, and egg-plants in my little hotbed — a flour barrel sawed in two, which I can bring into the house when the weather is cold. I pray God the season may continue mild, else there must be much suffering. And yet no beggars are seen in the streets. What another month will develope, I know not; the fortitude of the people, so far, is wonderful.

Major-Gen. Sam. Jones, Dublin, Va., is at loggerheads with Lieut.-Gen. Longstreet about some regiments the latter keeps in East Tennessee. Gen. J. says Averill is preparing to make another raid on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, the saltworks, the mines, etc.; and if he is charged with the defense, he must have at least all his regiments. He gets his orders from Gen. Cooper, A. and I. G., who will probably give him what he wants.


January 26

Gen. Lee recommends the formation of several more brigades of cavalry, mostly from regiments and companies in South Carolina, and to this he anticipates objections on the part of the generals and governors along the Southern seaboard; but he deems it necessary, as the enemy facing him has a vastly superior cavalry force.

The prisoners on Belle Isle (8000) have had no meat for eleven days. The Secretary says the Commissary-General informs him that they fare as well as our armies, and so he refused the commissary (Capt. Warner) of the prisoners a permit to buy and bring to the city cattle he might be able to find. An outbreak of the prisoners is apprehended: and if they were to rise, it is feared some of the inhabitants of the city would join them, for they, too, have no meat-many of them-or bread either. They believe the famine is owing to the imbecility, or worse, of the government. A riot would be a dangerous occurrence, now: the city battalion would not fire on the people-and if they did, the army might [136] break up, and avenge their slaughtered kindred. It is a perilous time.

My wife paid $12, to-day, for a half bushel of meal; meantime I got an order for two bushels, from Capt. Warner, at $10 per bushel.

The President receives visitors to-night; and, for the first time, I think I will go.

Mr. Foote, yesterday, offered a resolution that the Commissary-General ought to be removed; which was defeated by a decided vote, twenty in the affirmative. Twenty he relied on failed him. Letters from all quarters denounce the Commissary-General and his agents.


January 27

Last night, the weather being very pleasant, the President's house was pretty well filled with gentlemen and ladies. I cannot imagine how they continue to dress so magnificently, unless it be their old finery, which looks well amid the general aspect of shabby mendicity. But the statures of the men, and the beauty and grace of the ladies, surpass any I have seen elsewhere, in America or Europe. There is high character in almost every face, and fixed resolve in every eye.

The President was very courteous, saying to each, “I am glad to meet you here to-night.” He questioned me so much in regard to my health, that I told him I was not very well; and if his lady (to whom he introduced us all) had not been so close (at his elbow), I might have assigned the cause. When we parted, he said, “We have met before.” Mrs. Davis was in black — for her father. And many of the ladies were in mourning for those slain in battle.

Gen. Lee has published the following to his army:

General orders no 7.

headquarters army of Northern Virginia, January 22d, 1864.
The Commanding General considers it due to the army to state that the temporary reduction of rations has been caused by circumstances beyond the control of those charged with its support. Its welfare and comfort are the objects of his constant and earnest solicitude; and no effort has been spared to provide for its wants. It is hoped that the exertions now being made will render the necessity [137] but of short duration: but the history of the army has shown that the country can require no sacrifice too great for its patriotic devotion.

Soldiers! you tread, with no unequal steps, the road by which your fathers marched through suffering, privation, and blood to independence!

Continue to emulate in the future, as you have in the past, their valor in arms, their patient endurance of hardships, their high resolve to be free, which no trial could shake, no bribe seduce, no danger appal: and be assured that the just God, who crowned their efforts with success, will, in His own good time, send down His blessings upon yours.

(Signed) R. E. Lee, General.

An eloquent and stirring appeal!

It is rumored that the writ of habeas corpus has been suspended --as the President has been allowed to suspend it-by Congress, in secret session. But Congress passed a resolution, yesterday, that after it adjourns on the 18th February, it will assemble again on the first Monday in May.

Mr. Lyons, chairman of the Committee on Increased Compensation to the civil officers, had an interview with the Secretary of War yesterday. The Secretary told him, it is said, that unless Congress voted the increase, he would take the responsibility of ordering them rations, etc. etc. And Mr. Smith, of North Carolina, told me, to-day, that something would be done. He it was who moved to lay the bill on the table. He said it would have been defeated, if the vote had been taken on the bill.

Gov. Smith sent to the Legislature a message, yesterday, rebuking the members for doing so little, and urging the passage of a bill putting into the State service all between the ages of sixteen and eighteen and over forty-five. The Legislature considered his lecture an insult, and the House of Delegates contemptuously laid it on the table by an almost unanimous vote. So he has war with the Legislature, while the President is in conflict with the Confederate States Senate.


January 28

The beautiful, pleasant weather continues.

It is said Congress passed, last night, in secret session, the bill allowing increased compensation to civil officers and employees. [138] Mr. Davidson, of fifty years of age, resigned, to-day, his clerkship in the War Department, having been offered $5000 by one of the incorporated companies to travel and buy supplies for it.

Mr. Hubbard, of Alabama, suggests to the Secretary to buy 500,000 slaves, and give one to every soldier enlisting from beyond our present lines, at the end of the war. He thinks many from the border free States would enlist on our side. The Secretary does not favor the project.

Gen. Whiting writes for an order for two locomotive boilers, at Montgomery, Ala., for his torpedo-boats, now nearly completed. He says he intends to attack the blockading squadron off Wilmington.

The weather is still warm and beautiful. The buds are swelling.


January 30

The Senate has passed a new Conscription Act, putting all residents between the ages of eighteen and fifty-five in the military service for the war. Those over forty-five to be detailed by the President as commissary quartermasters, Nitre Bureau agents, provost guards, clerks, etc. This would make up the enormous number of 1,500,000 men The express companies are to have no detail of men fit for the field, but the President may exempt a certain class for agricultural purposes, which, of course, can be revoked whenever a farmer refuses to sell at schedule prices, or engages in speculation or extortion. Thus the President becomes almost absolute, and the Confederacy a military nation. The House will pass it with some modifications. Already the Examiner denounces it, for it allows only one owner or editor to a paper, and just sufficient printers,no assistant editors, no reporters, no clerks, etc. This will save us, and hasten a peace.

Mr. G. A. Myers, the little old lawyer, always potential with the successive Secretaries of War, proposes, in a long letter, that the Department allows 30 to 40 foreigners (Jews) to leave the Confederate States, via Maryland, every week!

Mr. Goodman, President of the Mississippi Railroad, proposes to send cotton to the Yankees in exchange for implements, etc., to repair the road, and Lieut.-Gen. (Bishop) Polk favors the scheme.

Commissary-General Northrop likewise sent in a proposal from an agent of his in Mississippi, to barter cotton with the Yankees [139] for subsistence, and he indorses an approval on it. I trust we shall be independent this summer.

To-day it is cool and cloudy, but Custis has had no use for fire in his school-room of nights for a week-and that in January. The warm weather saved us a dollar per day in coal. Custis's scholars are paying him $95 the first month.

I shall hope for better times now. We shall have men enough, if the Secretary and conscription officers do not strain the meshes of the seine too much, and the currency will be reduced. The speculators and extortioners, in great measure, will be circumvented, for the new conscription will take them from their occupations, and they will not find transportation for their wares.

The 2000 barrels of corn destroyed by the enemy on the Peninsula, a few days ago, belonged to a relative of Col. Ruffin, Assistant Commissary-General! He would not impress that-and lo! it is gone! Many here are glad of it.


January 31

It rained moderately last night, and is cooler this morning. But the worst portion of the winter is over. The pigeons of my neighbor are busy hunting straws in my yard for their nests. They do no injury to the garden, as they never scratch. The shower causes my turnips to present a fresher appearance, for they were suffering for moisture. The buds of the cherry trees have perceptibly swollen during the warm weather.

A letter from Gen, Cobb (Georgia) indicates that the Secretary of War has refused to allow men having employed substitutes to form new organizations, and he combats the decision. He says they will now appeal to the courts, contending that the law putting them in the service is unconstitutional, and some will escape from the country, or otherwise evade the law. They cannot go into old companies and be sneered at by the veterans, and commanded by their inferiors in fortune, standing, etc. He says the decision will lose the service 2000 men in Georgia.

The Jews are fleeing from Richmond with the money they have made.

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