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Xii. March, 1862

March 1

It is certain that the City of Nashville has been evacuated, and will, of course, be occupied by the enemy. Gen. Johnston, with the remnant of his army, has fallen down to Murfreesborough, and as that is not a point of military importance, [113] will in turn be abandoned, and the enemy will drop out of the State into Alabama or Mississippi.

March 2

Gen. Jos. E. Johnston has certainly made a skillful retrograde movement in the face of the enemy at Manassas. He has been keeping McClellan and his 210,000 men at bay for a long time with about 40,000. After the abandonment of his works it was a long time before the enemy knew he had retrograded. They approached very cautiously, and found that they had been awed by a few Quaker guns — logs of wood in position, and so painted as to resemble cannon. Lord, how the Yankee press will quiz McClellan!

March 3

But McClellan would not advance. He could not drag his artillery at this season of the year; and so he is embarking his army, or the greater portion of it, for the Peninsula.

March 4

We shall have stirring times here. Our troops are to be marched through Richmond immediately, for the defense of Yorktown--the same town surrendered by Lord Cornwallis to Washington. But its fall or its successful defense now will signify nothing.

March 5

Martial law has been proclaimed.

March 6

Some consternation among the citizens — they dislike martial law.

March 7

Gen. Winder has established a guard with fixed bayonets at the door of the passport office. They let in only a few at a time, and these, when they get their passports, pass out by the rear door, it being impossible for them to return through the crowd.

March 8

Gen. Winder has appointed Capt. Godwin Provost Marshal.

March 9

Gen. Winder has appointed Col. Porter Provost Marshal,--Godwin not being high enough in rank, I suppose.

March 10

One of the friends of the Secretary of War came to me to-day, and proposed to have some new passports printed, with the likeness of Mr. Benjamin engraved on them. He said, I think, the engraving had already been made. I denounced the project as absurd, and said there were some five or ten thousand printed passports on hand.

March 11

I have summed up the amounts of patriotic contributions [114] received by the army in Virginia, and registered on my book, and they amount to $1,515,898.

The people of the respective States contributed as follows:

North Carolina$325,417
South Carolina137,206

March 12

Gen. Winder moved the passport office up to the corner of Ninth and Broad Streets.

The office at the corner of Ninth and Broad Streets was a filthy one; it was inhabited — for they slept there-by his rowdy clerks. And when I stepped to the hydrant for a glass of water, the tumbler repulsed me by the smell of whisky. There was no towel to wipe my hands with, and in the long basement room underneath, were a thousand garments of dead soldiers, taken from the hospitals and the battle-field, and exhaling a most disagreeable, if not deleterious, odor.

March 13

Nevertheless, I am (temporarily) signing my name to the passports, yet issued by the authority of the Secretary of War. They are filled up and issued by three or four of the Provost Marshal's clerks, who are governed mainly by my directions, as neither Col. Porter nor the clerks, nor Gen. Winder himself, have the slightest idea of the geography of the country occupied by the enemy. The clerks are all Marylanders, as well as the detectives, and the latter intend to remain here to my great chagrin.

March 14

The Provost Marshal, Col. Porter, has had new passports printed, to which his own name is to be appended. I am requested to sign it for him, and to instruct the clerks generally.


March 15

For several days troops have been pouring through the city, marching down the Peninsula. The enemy are making demonstrations against Yorktown.

March 16

I omitted to note in its place the gallant feat of Commodore Buchanan with the iron monster Merrimac in Hampton Roads. He destroyed two of the enemy's best ships of war. My friends, Lieutenants Parker and Minor, partook of the glory, and were severely wounded.

March 17

Col. Porter has resigned his provost marshalship, and is again succeeded by Capt. Godwin, a Virginian, and I like him very well, for he is truly Southern in his instincts.

March 18

A Mr. MacCubbin, of Maryland, has been appointed by Gen. Winder the Chief of Police. He is wholly illiterate, like the rest of the policemen under his command.

March 19

Mr. MacCubbin, whom I take to be a sort of Scotch-Irishman, though reared in the mobs of Baltimore, I am informed has given some passports, already signed, to some of his friends. This interference will produce a rupture between Capt. Godwin and Capt. MacCubbin; but as the former is a Virginian, he may have the worst of it in the bear fight.

March 20

There is skirmishing every day on the Peninsula. We have not exceeding 60,000 men there, while the enemy have 158,000. It is fearful odds. And they have a fleet of gun-boats.

March 21

Gen. Winder's detectives are very busy. They have been forging prescriptions to catch the poor Richmond apothecaries. When the brandy is thus obtained it is confiscated, and the money withheld. They drink the brandy, and imprison the apothecaries.

March 22

Capt. Godwin, the Provost Marshal, was swearing furiously this morning at the policemen about their iniquitous forgeries.

March 23

Gen. Winder was in this morning listening to something MacCubbin was telling him about the Richmond Whig. It appears that, in the course of a leading article, enthusiastic for the cause, the editor remarked, “we have arms and ammunition now.” The policemen, one and all, interpreted this as a violation of the order to the press to abstain from speaking of the arrivals of arms, etc. from abroad. Gen. Winder, without looking at the paper, said in a loud voice, “Go and arrest the editor-and close [116] his office!” Two or three of the policemen started off on this errand. But I interposed, and asked them to wait a moment, until I could examine the paper. I found no infraction of the order in the truly patriotic article, and said so to Gen. Winder. “Well,” said he, “if he has not violated the order, he must not be arrested.” He took the paper, and read for himself; and then, without saying anything more, departed.

When he was gone, I asked MacCubbin what was the phraseology of the order that “had been served on the editors.” He drew it from his pocket, saying it had been shown to them, and not left with them. It was in the handwriting of Mr. Benjamin, and signed by Gen. Winder. And I learned that all the orders, sumptuary and others, had been similarly written and signed. Mr. Benjamin used the pencil and not the pen in writing these orders, supposing, of course, they would be copied by Gen. W.'s clerks. But they were not copied. The policemen threaten to stop the Examiner soon, for that paper has been somewhat offensive to the aliens who now have rule here.

March 24

Gen. Walker, of Georgia--the same who had the scene with Col. Bledsoe--has resigned. I am sorry that the Confederate States must lose his services, for he is a brave man, covered with honorable scars. He has displeased the Secretary of War.

March 25

Gen. Bonham, of South Carolina, has also resigned, for being overslaughed. His were the first troops that entered Virginia to meet the enemy; and because some of his three months men were reorganized into fresh regiments, his brigade was dissolved, and his commission canceled.

Price, Beauregard, Walker, Bonham, Toombs, Wise, Floyd, and others of the brightest lights of the South have been somehow successively obscured. And Joseph E. Johnston is a doomed fly, sooner or later, for he said, not long since, that there could be no hope of success as long as Mr. Benjamin was Secretary of War. These words were spoken at a dinner-table, and will reach the ears of the Secretary.

March 26

The apothecaries arrested and imprisoned some days ago have been tried and acquitted by a court-martial. Gen. Winder indorsed on the order for their discharge: “Not approved, and you may congratulate yourselves upon escaping a merited punishment.”


March 27

It is said Mr. Benjamin has been dismissed, or resigned.

March 28

Mr. Benjamin has been promoted. He is now Secretary of State.

His successor in the War Department is G. W. Randolph, a lawyer of modest pretensions, who, although he has lived for several years in this city, does not seem to have a dozen acquaintances. But he inherits a name, being descended from Thomas Jefferson, and, I believe, likewise from the Mr. Randolph in Washington's cabinet. Mr. Randolph was a captain at Bethel under Magruder; and subsequently promoted to a colonelcy. Announcing his determination to quit the military service more than a month ago, he entered the field as a competitor for the seat in Congress left vacant by the death of President Tyler. Hon. James Lyons was elected, and Col. Randolph got no votes at all.

March 30

Gen. Lee is to have command of all the armies --but will not be in the field himself. He will reside here. Congress passed an act to create a commanding general; but this was vetoed, for trenching on the executive prerogative-or failed in some way. The proceedings were in secret session.

March 31

Gen. Joseph E. Johnston is to command on the Peninsula. The President took an affectionate leave of him the other day; and Gen. Lee held his band a long time, and admonished him to take care of his life. There was no necessity for him to endanger it — as had just been done by the brave Sydney Johnston at Shiloh, whose fall is now universally lamented. This Gen. Johnston (Joseph E.) I believe has the misfortune to be wounded in most of his battles.

1 Virginia undoubtedly contributed more than any other State, but they were not registered. 114

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