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Xlvi. January, 1865

  • Waning confidence in the President.
  • -- blockade running. -- from the South. -- Beauregard on Sherian. -- the expeditions against Wilmington. -- return of Mr. Pollard. -- the Blairs in Richmonhd. -- arrest of Hon. H. S. Foote. -- fall of Fort Fisher. -- views of Gen. Cobb. -- dismal. -- casualties of the War. -- peace commissioners for Washington.

Sunday, January 1

Snowed a few inches in depth during the night-clear and cool morning. The new year begins with the new rumor that Gen. Hood has turned upon Gen. Thomas and beaten him. This is believed by many. Hood's army was not destroyed, and he retreated from before Nashville with some 20,000 men. Doubtless he lost many cannon; but the [372] Federal accounts of his disaster were probably much exaggerated.

The cabinet still remains.

The President is considered really a man of ability, and eminently qualified to preside over the Confederate States, if independence were attained and we had peace. But he is probably not equal to the role he is now called upon to play. He has not the broad intellect requisite for the gigantic measures needed in such a crisis, nor the health and physique for the labors devolving on him. Besides he is too much of a politician still to discard his old prejudices, and persists in keeping aloof from him, and from commanding positions, all the great statesmen and patriots who contributed most in the work of preparing the minds of the people for resistance to Northern domination. And the consequence is that many of these influential men are laboring to break down his administration, or else preparing the people for a return to the old Union. The disaffection is intense and wide-spread among the politicians of 1860, and consternation and despair are expanding among the people. Nearly all desire to see Gen. Lee at the head of affairs; and the President is resolved to yield the position to no man during his term of service. Nor would Gen. Lee take it.

The proposition to organize an army of negroes gains friends; because the owners of the slaves are no longer willing to fight themselves, at least they are not as “eager for the fray” as they were in 1861; and the armies must be replenished, or else the slaves will certainly be lost.

Thus we begin the new year-Heaven only knows how we shall end it! I trust we may be in a better condition then. Of one thing I am certain, the people are capable of achieving independence, if they only had capable men in all departments of the government.

The President was at St. Paul's to-day, with a knit woolen cap on his head. Dr. Minnegerode preached a sermon against the croakers. His son has been appointed a midshipman by the President.

January 2

Cold, and indications of snow.

Offered the owner of our servant $400 per annum. He wants $150 and clothing for her. Clothing would cost perhaps $1000. It remains in abeyance. [373]

Saw Gen. Wise dancing attendance in the Secretary's room. He looks seasoned and well, and may be destined to play a leading part “in human affairs” yet, notwithstanding his hands have been so long bound by those who contrive “to get possession.” It is this very thing of keeping our great men in the “background” which is often the cause of calamities, and if persisted in, may bring irretrievable ruin upon the cause.

The government has forbidden the transportation of freight, etc. (private) from Georgia to Virginia, and perhaps from the intermediate States.

On Saturday the government entered the market to sell gold, and brought down the price some 33 per cent. A spasmodic effort, the currency is gone beyond redemption.

It is said Gen. Hood has collected a large amount of supplies of meat, etc. He is in North Alabama, and probably Gen. Thomas will march toward Virginia.

The Secretary had his head between his knees before the fire when I first went in this morning. Affairs are gloomy enoughand the question is how Richmond and Virginia shall be saved. Gen. Lee is despondent.

From the Northern papers we learn that Gen. Butler's expedition against Wilmington, N. C., was a failure. Gen. Bragg is applauded here for this successful defense.

The salaries of the clergymen have been raised by their congregations to $10,000 and $12,000. I hear that Dr. Woodbridge received a Christmas gift from his people of upwards of $4000, besides seven barrels of flour, etc. He owns his own house, his own servants, stocks, etc. Most of these fortunate ministers are natives of the North, but true to the Southern cause, so far as we know. God knows I am glad to hear of any one, and especially a minister, being made comfortable.

January 3

Calm and quiet; indications of snow.

By a communication sent to Congress, by the President, it is ascertained that 500,000 pairs shoes, 8,000,000 pounds bacon, 2,000,000 pounds saltpeter, 50 cannon, etc. etc., have been imported since Octoberr 1st, 1864.

When the enemy's fleet threatened Wilmington, the brokers here (who have bribed the conscript officers) bought up all the coffee and sugar in the city. They raised the price of the former [374] from $15 to $45 per pound, and the latter to $15, from $10. An application has been made to Mr. Secretary Seddon to order the impressment of it all, at schedule prices, which he will be sure not to do.

Congress paid their respects to the President yesterday, by waiting upon him in a body.

There is a rumor of some fighting (12 M.) below, but I have not learned on which side of the river. It arises from brisk cannonading, heard in the city, I suppose.

I bought an ax (of Starke) for $15, mine having been stolen. I was asked from $25 to $35 for no better. Mr. Starke has no garden seeds yet.

The following article in the Dispatch to-day, seemingly well authenticated, would seem to indicate that our armies are in no danger of immediately becoming destitute of supplies; but, alas! the publication itself may cause the immediate fall of Wilmington.


Notwithstanding the alleged ceaseless vigilance of the Yankee navy in watching blockade-runners on the Atlantic and Gulf Coast of the Confederate States, their close attention has amounted to comparatively little. Setting aside all that has been imported on State and individual account, the proceeds of the blockade have been very great. The restrictions imposed upon foreign commerce by the act of Congress of last session prohibiting, absolutely, during the pending war, the importation of any articles not necessary for the defense of the countrynamely: wines, spirits, jewelry, cigars, and all the finer fabrics of cotton, flax, wool, or silk, as well as all other merchandise serving only for the indulgence of luxurious habits,--has not had the effect to reduce the number of vessels engaged in blockade-running; but, on the contrary, the number has steadily increased within the last year, and many are understood to be now on the way to engage in the business.

The President, in a communication to Congress on the subject, says that the number of vessels arriving at two ports only from the 1st of November to the 6th of December was forty-three, and but a very small proportion of those outward bound were captured. Out of 11,796 bales of cotton shipped since the 1st of July last, but 1272 were lost — not quite 11 per cent. [375]

The special report of the Secretary of the Treasury in relation to the matter shows that there have been imported into the Confederacy at the ports of Wilmington and Charleston since October 26th, 1864, 8,632,000 pounds of meat, 1,501,000 pounds of lead, 1,933,000 pounds of saltpeter, 546,000 pairs of shoes, 316,000 pairs of blankets, 520,000 pounds of coffee, 69,000 rifles, 97 packages of revolvers, 2639 packages of medicine, 43 cannon, with a large quantity of other articles of which we need make no mention. Besides these, many valuable stores and supplies are brought, by way of the Northern lines, into Florida; by the port of Galveston and through Mexico, across the Rio Grande.

The shipments of cotton made on government account since March 1st, 1864, amount to $5,296,000 in specie. Of this, cotton, to the value of $1,500,000, has been shipped since the 1st of July and up to the 1st of December.

It is a matter of absolute impossibility for the Federals to stop our blockade-running at the port of Wilmington. If the wind blows off the coast, the blockading fleet is driven off. If the wind blows landward, they are compelled to haul off to a great distance to escape the terrible sea which dashes on a rocky coast without a harbor within three days sail. The shoals on the North Carolina Coast are from five to twenty miles wide; and they are, moreover, composed of the most treacherous and bottomless quicksands. The whole coast is scarcely equaled in the world for danger and fearful appearance, particularly when a strong easterly wind meets the ebb tide.

It is an easy matter for a good pilot to run a vessel directly out to sea or into port; but in the stormy months, from October to April, no blockading vessel can lie at anchor in safety off the Carolina Coast. Therefore supplies will be brought in despite the keenest vigilance.

January 4

Bright, but several inches of snow fell last night.

The President wrote a long letter to the Secretary yesterday concerning the assignment of conscripts in Western North Carolina, at most only a few hundred, and the appointment of officers, etc. A small subject.

Congress has passed a resolution calling on the Secretary of War for information concerning certain youths, alleged to have received passports to Europe, etc. Also one relating to the Commissary-General's [376] traffic in Eastern North Carolina, within the enemy's lines. Also one relating to instructions to Gen. Smith, trans-Mississippi Department, who assumes control of matters pertaining to the Treasury Department.

General J. S. Preston, Superintendent Bureau of Conscription, writes a long letter from South Carolina indorsing an act of the Legislature authorizing the impressment of one-fifth of the slaves between eighteen and fifty, for work on the fortifications within the State, but also providing for impressment of an additional number by the Confederate States Government. This, Gen. P. considers a treasonable move, indicating that South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, etc. have a purpose to disintegrate Confederate authority, and that they will not contribute another man, black or white, to the Confederate service, to be commanded by Confederate States authority. And he has several thrusts at Gen. Bragg and Gen. Kemper, and, indirectly, at the President, for interfering with his bureau. I see nothing in the act to warrant his interpretations, and I have no faith in his predictions.

W. F. D. Saussure and others, Columbia, S. C., petition the government to send a corps of Lee's army to save their State and Georgia from devastation, as there are no adequate forces in them for defense. They confess that Richmond is important to hold, but insist that Georgia and South Carolina must be defended to hold it, etc. They are frightened evidently.

Gen. Withers, Alabama, denounces the inefficiency of the conscript system.

Lieut. Beverly Kermon writes from the Rappahannock that “thus far (to Jan. 1st) our movements (in connection with Capt. T. N. Conrad) are perfectly secret.” The next day he was to go to the Potomac. What has the Secretary sent him there for?

J. R. Bledsoe presents a design for a “new flag,” red, white, and blue cross, which Gen. Lee thinks both original and beautiful.

Judge Campbell has a box of clothing, sent from London by J. B. Bloodgood.

January 5

Clear and cold.

It is understood now that Gen. Hood has crossed to the south side of the Tennessee River with the debris of his army.

Gen. Butler has returned to Virginia from his fruitless North Carolina expedition. It is supposed we shall have active operations [377] again before this city as soon as the weather and roads will permit.

But it really does seem that the States respectively mean to take control of all their men not now in the Confederate States armies, and I apprehend we shall soon have “confusion worse confounded.”

The President sends, “for his information,” to the Secretary of War, a letter from Gen. Beauregard, dated at Augusta, Ga., Dec. 6th, 1864, in relation to Gen. Sherman's movement eastward, and Gen. Hood's Middle Tennessee campaign. It appears from Gen. B.'s letter to the President that he (Gen. B.) had control of everything. He says he did not countermand Gen. Hood's campaign, because Sherman had 275 miles the start, and the roads were impracticable in Northern Georgia and Alabama. But he telegraphed the Governors of Alabama, Georgia, etc., to concentrate troops rapidly in Sherman's front, ordered a brigade of cavalry from Hood to Wheeler, etc., and supposed some 30,000 men could be collected to oppose Sherman's march, and destroy him. He computed Sherman's strength at 36,000 of all arms. The result shows how much he was mistaken. He will be held accountable for all the disasters. Alas for Beauregard! Bragg only played the part of chronicler of the sad events from Augusta. Yet the President cannot publish this letter of Beauregard's, and the country will still fix upon him the responsibility and the odium. Gen. Beauregard is still in front of Sherman, with inadequate forces, and may again be responsible for additional calamities.

Old Mr. F. P. Blair and his son Montgomery Blair are on their way here, with authority to confer on peace and submission, etc.

Mr. Lewis, Disbursing Clerk of the Post-Office Department, on behalf of lady clerks has laid a complaint before the President that Mr. Peck, a clerk in the department, to whom was intrusted money to buy supplies in North Carolina, has failed to make return of provisions or money, retaining the latter for several months, while some of his friends have received returns, besides 10 barrels flour bought for himself, and transported at government expense. Some of the clerks think the money has been retained for speculative purposes. It remains to be seen whether the President will do anything in the premises.

The grand New Year's dinner to the soldiers, as I supposed, has produced discontent in the army, from unequal distribution, etc. [378] No doubt the speculators got control of it, and made money, at least provided for their families, etc.

Hon. J. R. Baylor proposes recruiting in New Mexico and Lower California. The Secretary of War opposes it, saying we shall probably require all the trans-Mississippi troops on this side the river. The President differs with the Secretary, and writes a long indorsement, showing the importance of Baylor's project, etc. Of course the Secretary will “stint and say ay.” The President thinks Col. B. can enlist the Indian tribes on our side also.

There is a rumor that Mr. Foote, M. C., has gone into the enemy's lines. He considered the difference between Davis and Lincoln as “between tweedledum and tweedledee.”

The prisoners of war (foreigners) that took the oath of allegiance and enlisted in the Confederate States service, are deserting back to the Federal service, under Gen. Sherman's promise of amnesty.

January 6

Cloudy and thawing.

No war news,--but it is known Sherman's army is not quiet, and must soon be heard from in spite of the interdict of the government.

It is said Mr. Trenholm, Secretary of the Treasury, is in the market buying gold, and that the fall has already been from $50 to $30 for one.

Corn-meal has risen from $50 up to $75 per bushel. Flour to $500 per barrel.

Vice-President Stephens has not left the city, but presides in the Senate.

Messrs. B. Woolley, Hart & Co., Nassau, N. P., write most pressing letters for the liquidation of their claims against the Confederate States Government. Perhaps they are becoming alarmed after making prodigious profits, etc.

Conner's brigade and other troops are en route for South Carolina from Lee's army.

Judge Campbell, Assistant Secretary of War, was smoked out of his room to-day, and came into mine.

The judge, however, does but little more just now than grant passports into the enemy's lines; permission to speculators to bring into the city supplies for sale, often under pretense of being intended for their own use; exemptions, details, etc. If he were disposed, he could realize a million of dollars. [379]

It is said the Hon. A. R. Wright went North to get his son paroled, who is in prison there.

Judge Campbell talks of resigning.

January 6

Rained yesterday and last night. Clear and windy to-day.

It is said the Blairs (who have been looked for on some sort of mission) turned back after arriving iq the camp of Gen. Grant. Of course they could not treat with this government, under existing circumstances. The President and his cabinet could not be expected to listen to such proposals as they might be authorized to tender.

Butler's canal is said to be completed, and probably operations will soon be recommenced in this vicinity.

Congress seems to be doing little or nothing; but before it adjourns it is supposed it will, as usual, pass the measures dictated by the President. How insignificant a legislative body becomes when it is not independent. The Confederate States Congress will not live in history, for it never really existed at all, but has always been merely a body of subservient men, registering the decrees of the Executive. Even Mr. Miles, of South Carolina, before introducing a bill, sends it to this department for approval or rejection.

Detailed soldiers here are restricted in their rations this month to 31 pounds of meal, 21 pounds of salt beef, etc. The commissary agent, Mr. Wilson, thinks no more “beef shanks” can be sold. I have been living on them!

An order has been issued that all detailed men in the bureaus (able-bodied) must go into Gen. Lee's army; and the local defense troops will not be called out again except in the last necessity, and then only during the emergency. I have not seen it, but believe Gen. Lee has some such understanding with the President.

Mayor Arnold, and other rich citizens of Savannah, have held a meeting (Union), and called upon Gov. Brown to assemble a State Convention, etc.

Mr. Hunter followed Judge Campbell into his office this morning (a second visit), as if there were “any more news.” The judge gravely beckoned him into the office. I was out; so there must be news, when Mr. H. (so fat) is on the qui vive.

Gen. Beauregard has been ordered to the West to take command of Hood's army. [380]

The Secretary of War has ordered Col. Bayne to have as much cotton as possible east of Branchville, S. C.

The farmers down the river report that Grant is sending off large bodies of troops-so the Secretary says in a letter to Gen. Lee.

January 8

Bright and cold. Snowed yesterday, and windy.

Gen. Whiting writes that he had only 400 men in Fort Fisher, and it was a miracle that it was not taken. He looked for it, and a determined effort would have carried it. He says there is no reason to suppose the attempt has been abandoned, and it must fall if a sufficient force be not sent thither.

If the enemy are apprised of the weak condition of the fort, it is probable Grant has been sending another and a stronger expedition there, and it may be apprehended that before many days Wilmington will cease to be of value to us as a blockade-running port of entry.

I saw the Hon. Mr. Montague to-day, who told me there was a strong party in Congress (which he opposed) in favor of making Gen. Lee generalissimo without the previous concurrence of the President. He says some of the Georgia members declare that their State will re-enter the Union unless Lee be speedily put at the head of military affairs in the field-he being the only man possessing the unlimited confidence of the people. I agreed with him that the President ought to be approached in a proper manner, and freely consulted, before any action such as he indicated; and I told him that a letter from Gen. Beauregard, dated 6th of December, to the President, if ever published, would exculpate the latter from all blame for the march (unopposed) of Sherman through Georgia.

Col. Baylor, whom the President designated the other day as the proper man to raise troops in New Mexico, Arizona, Lower California and in Mexico, is the same man who invited the Indians to a council in 1861, to receive presents, whisky, etc., and then ordered them, men, women, and children, to be slaughtered. Even Mr. Randolph revolted at such conduct. But now the government must employ him.

The rotund Mr. Hunter is rolling about actively to-day, hunting for more news. His cheeks, though fat, are flat and emaciatedfor [381] he sees affairs in a desperate condition, and he has much to lose.

January 9

Bright, clear, and cold.

It is said the government depot at Charlotte, N. C., has been burned (accidentally), consuming a large amount of corn.

We have nothing further of the movement of Grant's troops.

We have Hood's acknowledgment of defeat, and loss of 50 guns before Nashville.

The papers contain the proceedings of a meeting in Savannah, over which the Mayor presided, embracing the terms of submission offered in President Lincoln's message. They have sent North for provisions-indicating that the city was in a famishing condition. Our government is to blame for this! The proceedings will be used as a “form,” probably, by other cities-thanks to the press!

The Examiner is out this morning for a convention of all the (Confederate) States, and denouncing the President. I presume the object is to put Lee at the head of military affairs.

The rumor of the death of Gen. Price is not confirmed.

Gen. Pemberton has been relieved here and sent elsewhere.

The Piedmont Railroad has been impressed. A secret act of Congress authorizes it.

Miers W. Fisher writes that if the cabinet indorses the newspaper suggestions of giving up slavery and going under true monarchies, it is an invitation to refugees like himself to return to their homes, and probably some of the States will elect to return to the Union for the sake of being under a republican government, etc. He says it is understood that the Assistant Secretary often answers letters unseen by the Secretary; and if so, he can expect no answer from Mr. S., but will put the proper construction on his silence, etc.

Flour is $700 per barrel to-day; meal, $80 per bushel; coal and wood, $100 per load. Does the government (alone to blame) mean to allow the rich speculators, the quartermasters, etc. to starve honest men into the Union?

January 10

Rained hard all night. House leaking badly!

We have nothing new in the papers this morning. It is said with more confidence, however, that Butler's canal is not vet a success. Daily and nightly our cannon play upon the works, and the deep sounds in this moist weather are distinctly heard in the city. [382]

The amount of requisition for the War Department for 1865 is $670,000,000, and a deficiency of $400,000,000!

Mr. Hunter had his accustomed interview with Judge Campbell this morning in quest of news, and relating to his horoscope. His face is not plump and round yet.

A Mr. Lehman, a burly Jew, about thirty-five years old, got a passport to-day on the recommendation of the Secretary of the Treasury, to arrange (as agent, no doubt) for the shipment of several thousand bales of cotton, for which sterling funds are to be paid. No doubt it is important to keep the government cotton out of the hands of the enemy; and this operation seems to indicate that some fear of its loss exists.

Some 40,000 bushels of corn, etc. were consumed at Charlotte, N. C., the other day. A heavy loss! Both the army and the people will feel it. There seems already to exist the preliminary symptoms of panic and anarchy in the government. All the dignitaries wear gloomy faces; and this is a gloomy day-raining incessantly. A blue day — a miserable day!

The city council put up the price of gas yesterday to $50 per 1000 feet.

January 11

Clear and pleasant. Cannon heard down the river.

Mr. E. A. Pollard, taken by the Federals in an attempt to run the blockade last spring, has returned, and reports that Gen. Butler has been relieved of his command-probably for his failure to capture Wilriington. Mr. Pollard says that during his captivity he was permitted, on parole, to visit the Northern cities, and he thinks the Northern conscription will ruin the war party.

But, alas I the lax policy inaugurated by Mr. Benjamin, and continued by every succeeding Secretary of War, enables the enemy to obtain information of all our troubles and all our vulnerable points. The United States can get recruits under the conviction that there will be little or no more fighting.

Some $40,000 worth of provisions, belonging to speculators, but marked for a naval bureau and the Mining and Niter Bureau, have been seized at Danville. This is well — if it be not too late.

A letter from Mr. Trenholm, Secretary of the Treasury, to Mr. Wagner, Charleston, S. C. (sent over for approval), appoints him agent to proceed to Augusta, etc., with authority to buy all [383] the cotton for the government, at $1 to $1.25 per pound; and then sell it for sterling bills of exchange to certain parties, giving them permission to remove it within the enemy's lines; or “better still,” to have it shipped abroad on government account by reliable parties. This indicates a purpose to die “full-handed,” if the government must die, and to defeat the plans of the enemy to get the cotton. Is the Federal Government a party to this arrangement? Gold was $60 for one yesterday. I suppose there is no change to-day.

Judge Campbell, Assistant Secretary, returned to his room today, mine not suiting him.

Col. Sale, Gen. Bragg's military secretary, told me to-day that the general would probably return from Wilmington soon. His plan for filling the ranks by renovating the whole conscription system, will, he fears, slumber until it is too late, when ruin will overtake us! If the President would only put Bragg at the head of the conscription business — and in time — we might be saved.

January 12

Bright and frosty. Gold at $66 for one yesterday, at auction.

Major R. J. Echols, Quartermaster, Charlotte, N. C., says the fire there destroyed 70,000 bushels of grain, a large amount of sugar, molasses, clothing, blankets, etc. He knows not whether it was the result of design or accident. All his papers were consumed. A part of Conner's brigade on the way to South Carolina, 500 men, under Lieut.-Col. Wallace, refused to aid in saving property, but plundered it! This proves that the soldiers were all poor men, the rich having bought exemptions or details!

Gen. Lee writes on the 8th instant, that the troops sailing out of James River are, he thinks, destined for another attack on Wilmington. But none have left the lines in front of him, etc.

Gen. Lee also writes on the 9th instant, that the commissary agents have established “a large traffic through our lines, in North Carolina, for supplies;” and he desires the press to say nothing on the subject.

Mr. Ould, to whom it appears the Secretary has written for his opinion (he was editor once, and fought a duel with Jennings Wise, Mr. Seddon being his second), gives a very bad one on the condition of affairs. He says the people have confidence in Mr. Seddon, but not in President Davis, and a strong reconstruction [384] party will spring up in Virginia rather than adopt the President's ideas about the slaves, etc.

The Chief of the Treasury Note Bureau, at Columbia, S. C., asks where he shall fly to if the enemy approaches. It is understood one of our generals, when appealed to by the Secretary, exclaimed: “To the devil!”

Mr. Miles introduced a resolution yesterday (in Congress) affirming that for any State to negotiate peace is revolutionary. Ill timed, because self-evident.

Gen. Bradley T. Johnson writes from Salisbury, N. C., that because the travel hither has been suspended by the government, the Central Railroad Company of that State refuse to send the full amount of trains for the transportation of soldiers. It must be impressed too.

I am assured by one of the President's special detectives that Francis P. Blair, Sr. is truly in this city. What for? A rumor spreads that Richmond is to be evacuated.

Gen. Lee writes for the Secretary's sanction to send officers everywhere in Virginia and North Carolina, to collect provisions and to control railroads, etc. The Secretary is sending orders to different commanders, and says he would rather have the odium than that it should fall on Lee! The Commissary General approves Lee's measure.

Gen. Lee's dispatch was dated last night. He says he has not two days rations for his army!

Commissary-General Northrop writes to the Secretary that the hour of emergency is upon us, and that Gen. Lee's name may “save the cause,” if he proclaims the necessity of indiscriminate impressment, etc.

January 13

Clear and pleasant-but little frost. Beef (what little there is in market) sells to-day at $6 per pound; meal, $80 per bushel; white beans, $5 per quart, or $160 per bushel. And yet Congress is fiddling over stupid abstractions!

The government will awake speedily, however; and after Congress hurries through its business (when roused), the adjournment of that body will speedily ensue. But will the President dismiss his cabinet in time to save Richmond, Virginia, and the cause? That is the question. He can easily manage Congress, by a few letters from Gen. Lee. But will the potency of his cabinet feed Lee's army? [385]

A great panic still prevails in the city, arising from rumors of contemplated evacuation. If it should be evacuated, the greater portion of the inhabitants will remain, besides many of the employees of government and others liable to military service, unless they be forced away. But how can they be fed? The government cannot feed, sufficiently, the men already in the field.

Everybody is conjecturing what Mr. Blair has proposed; but no one expects relief from his mission, if indeed he be clothed with diplomatic powers — which I doubt.

The President, I believe, is calm, relying upon the loyalty of his cabinet. But he is aware of the crisis; and I think his great reliance is on Gen. Lee, and herein he agrees with the people. What will be the issue of the present exigency, God only knows!

I believe there is a project on foot to borrow flour, etc. from citizens for Gen. Lee's army. Many officers and men from the army are in the city to-day, confirming the reports of suffering for food in the field.

There is a rumor that Goldsborough has been taken.

Mr. Secretary Seddon is appointing men in the various districts of the city to hunt up speculators and flour; appointing such men as W. H. McFarland and others, who aspire to office by the suffrages of the people. They will not offend the speculators and hoarders by taking much flour from them. No — domiciliary visits with bayonets alone will suffice.

Of thirty Federal deserters sent to work on the fortifications of Lynchburg, all but four ran away.

It is understood that the President announced to Congress today the arrest of the Hon. H. S. Foote, member of that body, near Fredericksburg, while attempting to pass into the enemy's lines. This, then, may have been Capt. Norton's secret mission; and I believe the government had traps set for him at other places of egress. Meantime the enemy came in at Savannah. This is considered the President's foible — a triumph over a political or personal enemy will occupy his attention and afford more delight than an ordinary victory over the common enemy. Most men will say Mr. Foote should have been permitted to go — if he desired it.

January 14

Cloudy and cool. The news that Goldsborough, N. C., had been taken is not confirmed. Nor have we [386] intelligence of the renewal of the assault on Fort Fisher-but no one doubts it.

The government sent pork, butchered and salted a few weeks ago, to the army. An order has been issued to borrow, buy, or impress flour, wherever found; but our political functionaries will see that it be not executed. The rich hoarders may control votes hereafter, when they may be candidates, etc. If domiciliary visits were made, many thousands of barrels of flour would be found. The speculators have not only escaped hitherto, but they have been exempted besides.

The Assembly of Virginia passed a resolution yesterday, calling upon the President to have revoked any orders placing restrictions upon the transportation of provisions to Richmond and Petersburg. The President sends this to the Secretary, asking a copy of any orders preventing carts from coming to market.

Flour is $1000 per barrel to-day!

F. P. Blair, Sr., has been here several days, the guest of Mr. Ould, agent of exchange. He left this morning for Grant's lines below the city. I saw him in an open carriage with Mr. Ould, going down Main Street. He looks no older than he did twenty years ago. Many consider Ould a fortunate man, though he is represented as a loser in the war. Blair seemed struck by the great number of able-bodied men in the streets.

Major Maynard, Quartermaster, says he will be able next week to bring 120 cords of wood to the city daily.

If Richmond be relinquished, it ought to be by convention and capitulation, getting the best possible terms for the citizens; and not by evacuation, leaving them at the mercy of the invaders. Will our authorities think of this? Doubtful.

One of the President's pages told me to-day that Mr. Blair had several interviews with the President at the latter's residence. Nothing relating to propositions has transpired.

The clerks are again sending out agents to purchase supplies. The President has decided that such agents have no right to expend any money but that contributed. This hits the Assistant Secretary of War, and Mr. Kean, Chief of Bureau, and our agent, Mr. Peck, for whom so many barrels of flour were purchased by the latter as agent, leaving the greater part of the contribution unexpended; nay, more, the money has not yet been refunded, although contributed five months ago! [387]

Some 700 barrels of flour were realized yesterday for the army, January 15TH.-Clear and frosty. Guns heard down the river.

Dispatches came last night for ammunition — to Wilmington,! believe. We have nothing yet decisive from Fort Fisher, but I fear it will fall.

Mr. Hunter was in the Secretary's office this morning before the Secretary came. I could give him no news from Wilmington. He is much distressed; but if the enemy prevails, I have no doubt he will stipulate saving terms for Virginia. He cannot contemplate the ruin of his fortune; political ruin is quite as much as he can bear. Always at the elbow of the Secretary, he will have timely notice of any fatal disaster. He is too fat to run, too heavy to swim, and therefore must provide some other means of escape.

Last night and early this morning the Jews and others were busy, with hand-carts and wheelbarrows, removing barrels of flour from the center to the outskirts of the city, fearful of impressment. They need not fear.

I have enough flour, meal, and beans (black) to subsist my family two weeks. After that, I look to the kind Providence which has hitherto always fed us.

It is now rumored that Mr. Blair came to negotiate terms for the capitulation of Richmond, and that none were listened to. Better that, if it must fall, than be given up to pillage and the flames. If burning our cities had been the order in 1862, it might have been well; it is too late now!

January 16

Clear and frosty.

We learn vaguely that the attack on the defenses of Wilmington has been progressing since Friday, and that the enemy's land forces have effected a lodgment between Fort Fisher and the town.

Another “peace” visitor has arrived-Hon. Mr. Singleton, of the United States Congress. It is said that the President (Confederate States) has pledged himself to appoint commissioners to fix terms of peace. This is but a forlorn-hope. No terms of peace are contemplated by any of these visitors but on the basis of reconstruction; and their utmost liberality could reach no further than a permission for the Southern States to decide, in convention, the question of emancipation. The President having suggested, however, the propriety of putting the negroes into the service, and emancipating them afterward, has aroused the fears and suspicions [388] of many of the people; and but few have confidence in the integrity of the Secretary of State. Hence the universal gloom and despondency of the croakers. There may be difficulty in replenishing the Federal armies, and they may be depleted by spring; and if so, Gen. Lee may be able to make another grand campaign with the men and material now at his command. The issue of the next campaign may inaugurate real negotiations. Wilmington may be taken, blockade-running may cease; but we have ammunition and other stores for another campaign.

At last we have a dispatch from Gen. Lee, announcing the fall of Fort Fisher. Most of the garrison, supposed to be 1500, were taken.

Gold was $70 for $1 on Saturday: what will it be to-day or tomorrow?

A voluminous correspondence is going on between Mr. Conrad (secret agent to arrest disloyal men endeavoring to cross the Potomac) and Mr. Secretary Seddon. Mr. Foote, arrested by their great skill, has applied, indignantly, for a writ of habeas corpus. Thus the time of our great dignitaries is consumed removing molehills, while mountains are looming up everywhere.

The following dispatch was received here at 11 A. M. to-day from Gen. Bragg's A. D. C.: “January 15th, 1865.-Official information from Gen. Whiting, at Fort Fisher, up to 8 o'clock this evening, reports enemy's attack on fort unsuccessful. Fresh troops are being sent to him.”

This does not agree with the dispatch from Gen. Lee. It must have been taken last night, and after the hour indicated. Gen. Lee certainly says it has fallen. It is gone, and I fear the “reinforcements” also — with Gen. Whiting “to boot.”

Alas for Bragg the unfortunate! He seems to be another Boabdil the Unlucky.

Dr. Woodbridge announced in the Monumental Church, yesterday, that only five ladies had responded to the call to knit socks for the soldiers! A rich congregation, too. My daughters (poor) were among the five, and handed him several pairs. They sent one pair to their cousin S. Custis, Clingman's brigade, Hoke's North Carolina division.

Mr. Lewis, disbursing clerk of Post-Office Department, has sent in a communication asking an investigation of the conduct of Mr. [389] Peck, agent to buy supplies for clerks. What will Mr. Seddon do now?

The Commissary-General says 100,000 bushels corn for Lee's army may be got in Southwest Virginia.

January 17

Cloudy, and spitting snow.

Mr. Foote's release from custody has been ordered by Congress.

The news of the fall of Wilmington, and the cessation of importations at that port, falls upon the ears of the community with stunning effect.

Again we have a rumor of the retirement of Mr. Seddon.

There are more rumors of revolution, and even of displacement of the President by Congress, and investiture of Gen. Lee. It is said the President has done something, recently, which Congress will not tolerate. Idle talk!

Mr. Foote, when arrested, was accompanied by his wife, who had a passport to Tennessee. He said to the Provost Marshal, Doggett, Fredericksburg, that he intended to accompany his family, passing through Washington, and to endeavor to negotiate a peace. He deposited a resignation of his seat in Congress with a friend, which he withdrew upon being arrested. He was arrested and detained “until further orders,” by command of the Secretary of War.

Lieut.-Gen. Hood has been relieved, and ordered to report here.

The rumor gains belief that Gen. Breckinridge has been offered the portfolio of the War Department by the President. This may be the act alluded to which Congress will not agree to, perhaps, on the ground that Gen. B. remained in the United States Senate long after secession. The general is Understood to be staying at G. A. Myers's house, which adds strength to the rumor, for Myers has a keen scent for the sources of power and patronage.

The Surgeon-General states that, during the years 1862 and 1863, there were 1,600,000 cases of disease in hospitals and in the field, with only 74,000 deaths. There have been 23,000 discharges from the armies since the war began.

The Provost Marshal at Fredericksburg telegraphs that his scouts report the enemy have arrested Mrs. Foote, and threaten to rescue Mr. Foote. The Secretary and the President concur in ordering his discharge. The President says that will not be permission for him to pass our lines. He will come here, I suppose. [390]

Mentioning to R. Tyler the fact that many of the clerks, etc. of the War Department favored revolution and the overthrow of the President, he replied that it was a known fact, and that some of them would be hung soon. He feared Mr. Hunter was a submissionist.

The Northern papers say Mr. G. B. Lamar has applied to take the oath of allegiance, to save his cotton and other property.

The Examiner to-day has another article calling for a convention to abolish the Constitution and remove President Davis.

Mr. Seward, United States Secretary of State, escorted Mrs. Foote to her hotel, upon her arrival in Washington.

The following official telegram was received at the War Department last night:

headquarters, January 15th, 1865.
Hon. J. A. Seddon.
Gen. Early reports that Gen. Rosser, at the head of three hundred men, surprised and captured the garrison at Beverly, Randolph County, on the 11th instant, killing and wounding a considerable number and taking five hundred and eighty prisoners. His loss slight.

R. E. Lee.

January 18

Cloudy and cool. Cannon heard down the river.

No war news. But blockade-running at Wilmington has ceased; and common calico, now at $25 per yard, will soon be $50.

The stupor in official circles continues, and seems likely to continue.

A secret detective told the Assistant Secretary, yesterday, that a certain member of Congress was uttering treasonable language; and, for his pains, was told that matters of that sort (pertaining to members of Congress) did not fall within his (detective's) jurisdiction. It is the policy now not to agitate the matter of disloyalty, but rather to wink at it, and let it die out — if it will; if it won't, I suppose the government must take its chances, whatever they may be.

Breckinridge, it is now said, will not be Secretary of War: the position which Mr. Seddon is willing to abandon, cannot be desirable. And Northrop, Commissary-General, is still held by the President, contrary to the wishes of the whole Confederacy. [391]

Flour is $1250 per barrel, to-day.

A detective reports that one of the committee (Mr. Mce-?) selected by Mr. Secretary Seddon to hunt up flour for Gen. Lee's army, has a large number of barrels secreted in his own-dwelling! But they must not be touched.

Gen. Lee writes that he thinks the crisis (starvation in the army) past. Good.

In South Carolina we hear of public meetings of submission, etc.

January 19

Clear and frosty. Among the rumors, it would appear that the Senate in secret session has passed a resolution making Lee generalissimo.

It is again said Mr. Seddon will resign, and be followed by Messrs. Benjamin and Mallory, etc.

The following dispatch was received by the President yesterday:

Tupelo, Miss., January 17th, 1865.-Roddy's brigade (cav.) is useless as at present located by the War Department. I desire authority to dispose of it to the best advantage, according to circumstances.-G. T. Beauregard, General.

The President sends it to the Secretary of War with this indorsement: “On each occasion, when this officer has been sent with his command to distant service, serious calamity to Alabama has followed. It is desirable to know what disposition Gen. Beauregard proposes to make of this force.-J. D.”

We have nothing further from Wilmington. Bad enough.

Sherman is said to be marching on Charleston. Bad enough, too!

Our papers have glowing accounts of the good treatment the citizens of Savannah received from the enemy.

Mr. Foote has arrived in the city-and it is said he will take his seat in Congress to-day.

Gen. Whiting and Col. Lamb were taken at Fort Fisherboth wounded, it is said-and 1000 of the garrison.

Mr. Peck paid back to the clerks to-day the unexpended balance of their contributions for supplies, etc. The money is not worth half its value some months ago. But Mr. P. secured ten barrels of flour for himself and as many more for the Assistant Secretary, Mr. Kean, etc. etc.

One o'clock P. M. The day has grown dark and cold, indicating [392] snow, and a dismal gloom rests upon the faces of the increasing party of croakers. We have famine, owing to the incapacity of the government, and the rapacity of speculators. Wood, however, is coming in, but it is only for military officers, etc. No one can live on wood. Gold is $70 for $1, and meal about $100 per bushel.

The House of Representatives (in secret session) has passed the Senate joint resolution creating the office of commander-in-chief (for Gen. Lee), and recommending that Gen. Johnston be reinstated, etc. It passed by a vote of 62 to 14.

What will result from this? Is it not a condemnation of the President and the administration that displaced Gen J., etc.? Who will resign? Nous verrons!

January 20

Clear and cold. No news — that is bad news. Nothing has transpired officially of the events and details near Wilmington, but there is a rumor, exaggerated perhaps, of the fall of Wilmington itself. No doubt Sherman is marching on Charleston, and if there be no battle soon, it is feared he will take the city without one.

Mr. Foote made a speech in Congress yesterday — a savage one, I am told. Going home yesterday at 3 o'clock, I met Mr. Foote, and told him what I had heard. He said he could have wished me to hear every word of it. I asked if it would not be printed. He held up a roll of manuscript, saying he had written it in full, and that it would certainly be published. The papers say in their brief reports, that he disavowed all ideas of reconstruction. After he left the House, one of the Missouri members offered a resolution for his expulsion, on the ground that he had, unlawfully, attempted to pass into the enemy's lines, for the purpose of negotiating a peace, etc. It was referred to the Committee on Elections.

After this a resolution was introduced, that a joint committee be appointed to prepare an address, etc., solemnly declaring that the war shall be waged until independence be achieved, etc. Such addresses have been repeatedly made, and at last seem to have a demoralizing effect. People remember how many test votes were taken in the Virginia Convention, showing that the State never would secede-and at length the Convention passed an ordinance of secession! Nothing can save this government long but military successes, and these depend upon having the slave and other [393] property owners in the field. This can never be done without a renovation of the machinery used to fill up the ranks.

The President is calm. Some think him subdued. A few days or weeks will determine.

Gen. Howell Cobb writes his views, etc. Utterly opposed to arming the slaves-better emancipate them at once, conceding to the “demands of England and France,” and then enlist them. But he thinks a return to the system of volunteering would answer to fill the ranks with white men; also suggests that the President concede something to popular sentiment-restore Gen. J. E. Johnston, etc. He says gloom and despair are fast settling on the people.

J. P. McLean, Greensborough, N. C., in response to the request of Mr. Secretary Seddon, gives information of the existence of many Union men in that section, and suggests sudden death to -- etc. The Secretary is diligent in getting such information; but lately it seems he never applies the remedy.

Mr. Secretary Seddon thinks Mr. Peck's explanation of his purchasing satisfactory; the Assistant Secretary, Chief of Bureau of War, and Mr. Seddon's private clerk got an abundance of flour, etc.

Major Harman, Staunton, says provisions cannot be had in that section to feed Early's army, unless one-fourth of all produce be bought at market prices, and the people go on half rations. The slaves everywhere are on full rations.

January 21

A dark, cold, sleety day, with rain. Troopers and scouts from the army have icicles hanging from their hats and caps, and their clothes covered with frost, and dripping, The Examiner this morning says very positively that Mr. Secretary Seddon has resigned. Not a word about Messrs. Benjamin and Mallory-yet. The recent action of Congress is certainly a vote of censure, with great unanimity.

It is said Congress, in secret session, has decreed the purchase of all the cotton and tobacco! The stable locked after the horse is gone! If it had been done in 1861-

Mr. Secretary Trenholm is making spasmodic efforts to mend the currency-selling cotton and tobacco to foreign (Yankee) agents for gold and sterling bills, and buying Treasury notes at the market depreciation. For a moment he has reduced the - [394] price 393of gold from $80 to $50 for $1; but the flood will soon overwhelm all opposition, sweeping every obstruction away.

The Federal papers say they got 2500 prisoners at Fort Fisher.

It is said the President refuses to accept Mr. Seddon's resignation.

A rumor has sprung up to the effect that Judge Campbell, Assistant Secretary of War, has also resigned. If this be so, it will soon produce a great commotion among detailed and exempted men all over the country. Rumors fly thick these dark days. It is a good time, however, for some to resign. The President has need even of incompetent men, and may beg them to remain, etc., and thus they are flattered. But if they really feel that the ship is sinking, they will endeavor to jump ashore, notwithstanding the efforts made to retain them. And then, if the ship should not sink, manned by different men!

I hear nothing more about Gen. Breckinridge as Mr. Seddon's successor, but he is the guest of the old lawyer, G. A. Myers; and it is not probable he is bestowing his bread and meat, in such times as these, for nothing. He has made a fortune, and knows how to increase it — and even Gen. B. would never be the wiser.

We have at last a letter from Gen. Hood, narrating the battle of Franklin, Tenn. He says he lost about 4500 men — enemy's loss not stated. Failure of Gen. Cheatham to execute an order the day before, prevented him from routing the enemy. His account of the battle of Nashville I have not yet seen-but know enough about it.

Both the Secretary and his Assistant have been pretty constantly engaged, for some time past, in granting passports beyond our lines, and generally into those of the enemy.

Congress has passed an act allowing reserve forces to be ordered anywhere. Upon the heels of this, Governor Smith notifies the Secretary of War that the two regiments of second class militia here, acting with the reserves, shall no longer be under the orders of Gen. Kemper. He means to run a tilt against the President, whereby Richmond may be lost! Now “Tray, blanche, and Sweetheart, bark at him.”

January 22

Another day of sleet and gloom. The pavements are almost impassable from the enamel of ice; large icicles [395] hang from the houses, and the trees are bent down with the weight of frost.

The mails have failed, and there is no telegraphic intelligence, the wires being down probably. It rained very fast all day yesterday, and I apprehend the railroad bridges have been destroyed in many places.

The young men (able-bodied) near the Secretary of War and the Assistant Secretary, at the War Department, say, this morning, that both have resigned.

It is said the Kentucky Congressmen oppose the acceptance of the portfolio of war by Gen. Breckinridge.

Whoever accepts it must reform the conscription business and the passport business, else the cause will speedily be lost. Most of our calamities may be traced to these two sources.

January 23

Foggy, and raining. F. P. Blair is here again. If enemies are permitted to exist in the political edifice, there is danger of a crash. This weather, bad news, etc. etc. predispose both the people and the army for peace-while the papers are filled with accounts of the leniency of Sherman at Savannah, and his forbearance to interfere with the slaves. The enemy cannot take care of the negroes-and to feed them in idleness would produce a famine North and South. Emancipation now is physically impossible. Where is the surplus food to come from to feed 4,000,000 idle non-producers?

It is said by the press that Mr. Seddon resigned because the Virginia Congressmen expressed in some way a want of confidence in the cabinet. But Mr. Hunter was in the Secretary's office early this morning, and may prevail on him to withdraw his resignation again, or to hold on until --all is accomplished.

Gen. Breckinridge, it is said, requires the removal of Northrop, before his acceptance. Gen. Bragg is also named.

Congress, in creating the office of a commander-in-chief, also aimed a blow at Bragg's staff; and this may decide the President to appoint him Secretary of War.

A long letter came to-day from Governor Brown, dated Macon, Ga., Jan. 6th, 1865, in reply to a long one from the Secretary of War, filled with criminations and recriminations, and a flat refusal to yield the old men and boys in State service, in obedience to the call of the “usurping” and “despotic” demand of the Confederate [396] States Executive. Georgia trembles, and may topple over any day!

Mr. Blair's return has excited many vague hopes-among the rest, even of recognition by the United States Government! Yet many, very many croakers, weary of the war, would acquiesce in reconstruction, if they might save their property. Vain hopes.

It is rumored that a commissioner (a Louisianian) sailed to-day for England, to make overtures to that government.

The government has ordered the military authorities at Augusta, Ga. (Jan. 21), to remove or burn all the cotton in that town if it is likely to be occupied by the enemy.

Senator Hunter sends a letter to Mr. Seddon which he has just received from Randolph Dickinson, Camp 57th Virginia, stating that it is needful to inaugurate negotiations for the best possible terms without delay, as the army, demoralized and crumbling, cannot be relied upon to do more fighting, etc. Mr. Hunter indorses:

My dear sir, will you read the inclosed? I fear there is too much truth in it. Can't the troops be paid?

Yours most truly, R. M. T. Hunter.

January 24

Clear and cool. It is now said Mr. Seddon's resignation has not yet been accepted, and that his friends are urging the President to persuade him to remain. Another rumor says ex-Gov. Letcher is to be his successor, and that Mr. Benjamin has sent in his resignation. Nothing seems to be definitely settled. I wrote the President yesterday that, in my opinion, there was no ground for hope unless communication with the enemy's country were checked, and an entire change in the conscription business speedily ordered. I was sincere, and wrote plain truths, however they might be relished. It is my birth-right.

It is said (I doubt it) that Mr. Blair left the city early yesterday.

To add to the confusion and despair of the country, the Secretary of the Treasury is experimenting on the currency, ceasing to issue Treasury notes, with unsettled claims demanding liquidation to the amount of hundreds of millions. Even the clerks, almost in a starving condition, it is said will not be paid at the end of the month; and the troops have not been paid for many months; but they are fed and clothed. Mr. Trenholm will fail to raise our credit in this way; and he may be instrumental in precipitating a crash of the government itself. No doubt large amounts of gold have [397] been shipped every month to Europe from Wilmington; and the government may be now selling the money intended to go out from that port. But it will be only a drop to the ocean.

The Northern papers say Mr. Blair is authorized to offer an amnesty, including all persons, with the “Union as it was, the Constitution as it is” (my old motto on the “Southern Monitor,” in 1857); but gradual emancipation. No doubt some of the people here would be glad to accept this; but the President will fight more, and desperately yet, still hoping for foreign assistance.

What I fear is starvation; and I sincerely wish my family were on the old farm on the Eastern Shore of Virginia until the next campaign is over.

It is believed Gen. Grant meditates an early movement on our left-north side of the river; and many believe we are in no condition to resist him. Still, we have faith in Lee, and the President remains here. If he and the principal members of the government were captured by a sudden surprise, no doubt there would be a clamor in the North for their trial and execution!

Guns have been heard to-day, and there are rumors of fighting below; that Longstreet has marched to this side of the river; that one of our gun-boats has been sunk; that Fort Harrison has been retaken; and, finally, that an armistice of ninety days has been agreed to by both governments.

January 25

Clear, and very cold. We lost gun-boat Drewry yesterday in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy the enemy's pontoon bridge down the river. Fort Harrison was not taken as reported, nor is it likely to be.

The rumor of an armistice remains, nevertheless, and Mr. Blair dined with the President on Sunday, and has had frequent interviews with him. This is published in the papers, and will cause the President to be severely censured.

Congress failed to expel Mr. Foote yesterday (he is off again), not having a two-thirds vote, but censured him by a decided majority. What will it end in?

No successors yet announced to Seddon and CampbellSecre-tary and Assistant Secretary of War. Perhaps they can be persuaded to remain.

After all, it appears that our fleet did not return, but remains [398] down the river; and as the enemy's gun-boats have been mostly sent to North Carolina, Gen. Lee may give Grant some trouble. If he destroys the bridges, the Federal troops on this side the river will be cut off from their main army.

It is said the President has signed the bill creating a commander-in-chief.

Rev. W. Spottswood Fontaine writes from Greensborough, N. C., that — reports that Senator Hunter is in favor of Virginia negotiating a separate peace with the United States, as the other States will probably abandon her to her fate, etc.

I saw Mr. Lyons to-day, who told me Mr. Hunter dined with him yesterday, and that Gen. Lee took tea with him last evening, and seemed in good spirits, hope, etc. Mr. Lyons thinks Gen. Lee was always a thorough emancipationist. He owns no slaves. He (Mr. Lyons) thinks that using the negroes in the war will be equivalent to universal emancipation, that not a slave will remain after the President's idea (which he don't seem to condemn) is expanded and reduced to practice. He favors sending out a commissioner to Europe for aid, on the basis of emancipation, etc., as a dernier ressort. He thinks our cause has received most injury from Congress, of which he is no longer a member.

If it be really so, and if it were generally known, that Gen. Lee is, and always has been opposed to slavery, how soon would his great popularity vanish like the mist of the morning! Can it be possible that he has influenced the President's mind on this subject? Did he influence the mind of his father-in-law, G. W. Park Custis, to emancipate his hundreds of slaves? Gen. Lee would have been heir to all, as his wife was an only child. There's some mistake about it.

The Secretary of State (still there!) informs the Secretary of War (still here!) that the gold he wrote about to the President on the 18th inst. for Gen. Hardee and for Mr. Conrad, is ready and subject to his order.

Four steamers have run into Charleston with a large amount of commissary stores. This is providential.

January 26

Clear and cold. No further news from the iron-clad fleet that went down the river.

Beef is selling at $8 per pound this morning; wood at $150 per cord. Major Maynard, instead of bringing 120, gets in but 30 or [399] 40 cords per day. I am out of wood, and must do my little cooking in the parlor with the coal in the grate. This is famine!

Congress passed a bill a few days ago increasing the number of midshipmen, and allowing themselves to appoint a large proportion of them. Yesterday the President vetoed the bill, he alone, by the Constitution, being authorized to make all appointments. But the Senate immediately repassed it over the veto-only three votes in the negative. Thus the war progresses! And Mr. Hunter was one of the three.

The President, in reply to a committee of the State Legislature, says Gen. Lee has always refused to accept the command of all the armies unless he could relinquish the immediate command of the Army of Northern Virginia defending the capital; and that he is and ever has been willing to bestow larger powers on Gen. Lee; but he would not accept them.

This makes me doubt whether the President has signed the bill creating a commander-in-chief.

It is said again, that Commissary-General Northrop has resigned. Doubtful.

Still, there are no beggars in the streets, except a few women of foreign or Northern birth. What a people! If our affairs were managed properly, subjugation would be utterly impossible. But all the statesmen of the years preceding the war have been, somehow, “ruled out” of positions, and wield no influence, unless it be a vengeful one in private. Where are the patriots of the decade between 1850 and 1860? “Echo answers where?” Who is responsible for their absence? A fearful responsibility!

Gold is quoted at $35 for $1-illusory! Perhaps worse.

The statistics furnished by my son Custis of the military strength of the Confederate States, and ordered by the President to be preserved on file in the department, seems to have attracted the attention of Mr. Assistant Secretary Campbell, and elicited a long indorsement, saying a calculation of the number of casualties of war was not made-all this after the paper was sent in by the President. But the estimate was made, and included in the reduction from the 800,000, leaving 600,000. Judge C thinks 200,000 have been killed, 50,000 permanently disabled, and 55,000 are prisoners; still 500,000 available would be left.

Custis has drafted, and will send to the President, a bill establishing [400] a Corps of Honor, with a view to excite emulation and to popularize the service, now sadly needed.

January 27

Clear, and coldest morning of the winter. None but the rich speculators and quartermaster and commissary peculators have a supply of food and fuel. Much suffering exists in the city; and prices are indeed fabulous, notwithstanding the efforts of the Secretary of the Treasury and the press to bring down the premium on gold. Many fear the high members of the government have turned brokers and speculators, and are robbing the country-making friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, against the day of wrath which they see approaching. The idea that Confederate States notes are improving in value, when every commodity, even wood and coal, daily increases in price, is very absurd!

The iron-clad fleet returned, without accomplishing anythinglosing one gun-boat and having some fifteen killed and wounded. The lower house of Congress failed yesterday to pass the Midshipman bill over the President's veto-though a majority was against the President.

It is said, and published in the papers, that Mrs. Davis threw her arms around Mr. Blair and embraced him. This, too, is injurious to the President.

My wood-house was broken into last night, and two (of the nine) sticks of wood taken. Wood is selling at $5 a stick this cold morning; mercury at zero.

A broker told me that he had an order (from government) to sell gold at $35 for $1. But that is not the market price.

It is believed (by some credulous people) that Gen. J. E. Johnston will command the army in Virginia, and that Lee will reside here and be commander-in-chief. I doubt. The clamor for Gen. J. seems to be the result of a political combination.

Mr. Hunter came to the department to-day almost in a run. He is excited.

Lieut.-Gen. Hardee, of Charleston, 26th (yesterday), dispatches to the Secretary that he has received an order from Gen. Cooper (Adjutant-General) for the return of the 15th Regiment and 10th Battalion North Carolina troops to North Carolina. He says these are nearly the only regular troops he has to defend the line of the Combahee — the rest being reserves, disaffected at being [401] detained out of their States. The withdrawal may cause the loss of the State line, and great disaster, etc. etc.

Official statement of Gen. Hood's losses shows 66 guns, 13,000 small arms, etc. The report says the army was saved by sacrificing transportation; and but for this the losses would have been nothing.

January 28

Clear and very cold; can't find a thermometer in the city.

The President did sign the bill creating a general-in-chief, and depriving Gen. Bragg of his staff.

Major-Gen. Jno. C. Breckinridge has been appointed Secretary of War. May our success be greater hereafter!

Gen. Lee has sent a letter from Gen. Imboden, exposing the wretched management of the Piedmont Railroad, and showing that salt and corn, in “immense quantity,” have been daily left piled in the mud and water, and exposed to rain, etc., while the army has been starving. Complaints and representations of this state of things have been made repeatedly.

Gold sold at $47 for one at auction yesterday.

Mr. Hunter was seen early this morning running (almost) toward the President's office, to pick up news. He and Breckinridge were old rivals in the United States.

The Enquirer seems in favor of listening to Blair's propositions.

Judge Campbell thinks Gen. Breckinridge will not make a good Secretary of War, as he is not a man of small details. I hope he is not going to indulge in so many of them as the judge and Mr. Seddon have done, else all is lost! The judge's successor will be recommended soon to the new Secretary. There will be applicants enough, even if the ship of State were visibly going down.

Although it is understood that Gen. Breckinridge has been confirmed by the Senate, he has not yet taken his seat in the department.

The President has issued a proclamation for the observance of Friday, March 10th, as a day of “fasting, humiliation, and prayer, with thanksgiving,” in pursuance of a resolution of Congress.

It seems that Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee will not be represented in the cabinet; this may breed trouble, and we have trouble enough, in all conscience.

It is said Mr. Blair has returned again to Richmond--third visit. [402] Can there be war brewing between the United States and England or France? We shall know all soon. Or have propositions been made on our part for reconstruction? There are many smiling faces in the streets, betokening a profound desire for peace.

January 29

Clear, and moderating.

To-day at 10 A. M. three commissioners start for Washington on a mission of peace, which may be possibly attained. They are Vice-President Stephens, Senator R. M. T. Hunter, and James A. Campbell, Assistant Secretary of War, and formerly a judge on the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States, all of them heartily sick of war, and languishing for peace. If they cannot devise a mode of putting an end to the war, none can. Of course they have the instructions of the President, with his ultimata, etc., but they will strive earnestly for peace.

What terms may be expected? Not independence, unless the United States may be on the eve of embarking in a foreign war, and in that event that government will require all the resources it can command, and they would not be ample if the war should continue to be prosecuted against us. Hence it would be policy to hasten a peace with us, stipulating for valuable commercial advantages, being the first to recognize us over all other powers, hoping to restore the old trade, and ultimately to reconstruct the Union. Or it may proceed from intimations of a purpose on the part of France and England to recognize us, which, of itself, would lead inevitably to war. The refusal of the United States to recognize the Empire of Mexico is an offense to France, and the augmentation of the armament of the lakes, etc. is an offense to England. Besides, if it were possible to subjugate us, it would be only killing the goose that lays the golden egg, for the Southern trade would be destroyed, and the Northern people are a race of manufacturers and merchants. If the war goes on, 300,000 men must be immediately detailed in the United States, and their heavy losses heretofore are now sorely felt. We have no alternative but to fight on, they have the option of ceasing hostilities. And we have sufferred so much that almost any treaty, granting us independence, will be accepted bythe people. All the commissioners must guard against is any appearance of a Protectorate on the part of the United States. If the honor of the Southern people be saved, they will not haggle about material losses. If negotiations fail, [403] our people will receive a new impulse for the war, and great will be the slaughter. Every one will feel and know that these commissioners sincerely desired an end of hostilities. Two, perhaps all of them, even look upon eventual reconstruction without much repugnance, so that slavery be preserved.

January 30

Bright and beautiful, but quite cold; skating in the basin, etc.

The departure of the commissioners has produced much speculation.

The enemy's fleet has gone, it is supposed to Sherman at Charleston.

No doubt the Government of the United States imagines the “rebellion” in articulo mortis, and supposes the reconstruction of the Union a very practicable thing, and the men selected as our commissioners may confirm the belief. They can do nothing, of course, if independence is the ultimatum given them.

Among the rumors now current, it is stated that the French Minister at Washington has demanded his passports. Mr. Lincoln's message, in December, certainly gave Napoleon grounds for a quarrel by ignoring his empire erected in Mexico.

Mr. Seddon still awaits his successor. He has removed Col. and Lieut--Col. Ruffin from office.

Mr. Bruce, M. C. from Kentucky, and brother-in-law to Mr. Seddon, is named as Commissary-General.

The President has vetoed another bill, granting the privilege to soldiers to receive papers free of postage, and the Senate has passed it again by a two-thirds vote. Thus the breach widens.

Some of our sensible men have strong hopes of peace immediately, on terms of alliance against European powers, and commercial advantages to the United States. I hope for even this for the sake of repose and independence, if we come off with honor. We owe nothing to any of the European governments. What has Blair been running backward and forward so often for between the two Presidents? Has it not been clearly stated that independence alone will content us? Blair must have understood this, and made it known to his President. Then what else but independence, on some terms, could be the basis for further conference? I believe our people would, for the sake of independence, agree to an alliance offensive and defensive with the United States, and agree [404] to furnish an army of volunteers in the event of a war with France or England. The President has stigmatized the affected neutrality of those powers in one of his annual messages. Still, such a treaty would be unpopular after a term of peace with the United States. If the United States be upon the eve of war with France and England, or either of them, our commissioners abroad will soon have proposals from those governments, which would be accepted, if the United States did not act speedily.

January 31

Bright and frosty.

The “peace commissioners” remained Sunday night at Petersburg, and proceeded on their way yesterday morning. As they passed our lines, our troops cheered them very heartily, and when they reached the enemy's lines, they were cheered more vociferously than ever. Is not this an evidence of a mutual desire for peace?

Yesterday, Mr. De Jarnette, of Virginia, introduced in Cgngress a resolution intimating a disposition on the part of our government to unite with the United States in vindication of the “Monroe doctrine,” i.e. expulsion of monarchies established on this continent by European powers. This aims at France, and to aid our commissioners in their endeavors to divert the blows of the United States from us to France. The resolution was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

If there be complication with France, the United States may accept our overtures of alliance, and our people and government will acquiesce, but it would soon grow an unpopular treaty. At this moment we are hard pressed, pushed to the wall, and prepared to catch at anything affording relief. We pant for a “breathing spell.” Sherman is advancing, but the conquest of territory and liberation of slaves, while they injure us, only embarrass the enemy, and add to their burdens. Now is the time for the United States to avert another year of slaughter and expense.

Mr. Foote has been denouncing Mr. Secretary Seddon for selling his wheat at $40 per bushel.

It is rumored that a column of the enemy's cavalry is on a raid somewhere, I suppose sent out from Grant's army. This does not look like peace and independence. An extract from the New York Tribune states that peace must come soon, because it has reliable information of the exhaustion of our resources. This [405] means that we must submit unconditionally, which may be a fatal mistake.

The raiders are said to be on the Brooke Turnpike and Westhaven Road, northeast of the city, and menacing us in a weak place. Perhaps they are from the Valley. The militia regiments are ordered out, and the locals will follow of course, as when Dahlgren came.

Hon. Mr. Haynes of the Senate gives information of a raid organizing in East Tennessee on Salisbury, N. C., to liberate the prisoners, cut the Piedmont Road, etc.

Half-past 2 P. M. Nothing definite of the reported raid near the city. False, perhaps.

No papers from the President to-day; he is disabled again by neuralgia, in his hand, they say.

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