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Xxi. December, 1862

  • The great crisis at hand.
  • -- the rage for speculation raises its head. -- great battle of Fredericksburg. -- the States called on for supplies. -- Randolph resigns as brigadier -- General. -- South Carolina honor. -- loss at Fredericksburg. -- great contracts. -- Lee's ammunition bad. -- small-pox here.

Monday, December 1

There is a rumor to-day that we are upon the eve of a great battle on the Rappahannock. I doubt it not.

I am sorry to see that Col. McRae, a gallant officer, has resigned his commission, charging the President with partiality in appointing junior officers, and even his subordinates, brigadiers over his head. Nevertheless, he tenders his services to the Governor of his State, and will be made a general. But where will this end? I fear in an issue between the State and Confederate authorities.

The news from Europe is not encouraging. France is willing [200] to interfere, and Russia is ready to participate in friendly mediation to stay the effusion of blood-but England seems afraid of giving offense to the United States. They refer to the then approaching elections in the North, and lay some stress on the anticipated change in public opinion. Popular opinion! What is it worth in the eyes of European powers? If it be of any value, and if the voice of the people should be allowed to determine such contests, why not leave it to a vote of the Southern people to decide under which government they will live? But why make such an appeal to monarchies, while the Republican or Democratic government of the North refuses to permit 8,000,000 of people to have the government they unanimously prefer? Can it be possible that the United States are ignorant of popular sentiment here? I fear so; I fear a few traitors in our midst contrive to deceive even the Government at Washington. Else why a prolongation of the war? They ought to know that, under almost any conceivable adverse circumstances, we can maintain the war twenty years. And if our lines should be everywhere broken, and our country overrun — it would require a half million soldiers to hold us down, and this would cost the United States $500,000,000 per annum.

God speed the day of peace! Our patriotism is mainly in the army and among the ladies of the South. The avarice and cupidity of the men at home, could only be excelled by ravenous wolves; and most of our sufferings are fully deserved. Where a people will not have mercy on one another, how can they expect mercy? They depreciate the Confederate notes by charging from $20 to $40 per bbl. for flour; $3.50 per bushel for meal; $2 per lb. for butter; $20 per cord for wood, etc. When we shall have peace, let the extortionists be remembered! let an indelible stigma be branded upon them.

A portion of the people look like vagabonds. We see men and women and children in the streets in dingy and dilapidated clothes; and some seem gaunt and pale with hunger — the speculators, and thieving quartermasters and commissaries only, looking sleek and comfortable. If this state of things continue a year or so longer, they will have their reward. There will be governmental bankruptcy, and all their gains will turn to dust and ashes, dust and ashes! [201]

And I learn they are without shirts in the North-cotton being unattainable. A universal madness rules the hour! Why not throw aside the instruments of death, and exchange commodities with each other? Subjugation is an impossibility. Then why not strive for the possible and the good in the paths of peace? The Quakers are the wisest people, after all. I shall turn Quaker after this war, in one sense, and strive to convince the world that war is the worst remedy for evils ever invented-and man the most dangerous animal ever created.

December 2

There was skirmishing this morning on the line of the Rappahannock. The Chief of Ordnance is ordering arms and ammunition to Gen. Pemberton, in Mississippi. This indicates a battle in the Southwest.

A writer in the London Times, who is from Nashville, Tenn., says the South is willing to go into Convention with the North, and be bound by its decisions. I doubt that.

But the Enquirer to-day contains a communication from T. E. Chambliss, not the Virginia member of Congress, proposing the election of Commissioners from North and South, to put an end to the war. What can this mean but reconstruction on the old Democratic basis? It will not meet with favor, unless we meet great reverses this winter. Still, but few have faith in foreign intervention, to terminate the war; and there is a growing party both in the North and the South opposed to its indefinite prolongation. If we beat Burnside, I think it will be the last battle of magnitude. If he beats us, no one can see the end of the struggle. But from every State complaints are made against the military agents of the Confederate Government, for their high-handed oppressions. We may split up into separate States, and then continue the war — but it will be a sad day for us! The President ought to change his cabinet immediately, and then change his policy. He should cultivate the friendship and support of the people, and be strong in their affections, if he would rule with a strong hand. If he offends and exasperates them, they will break his power to pieces. And he should not attempt to destroy, nor permit others to destroy, the popular leaders. That way lies his own destruction.

December 3

One of the President's Aids, Mr. Johnston, has asked the Secretary's permission for Mrs. E. B. Hoge, Mrs. M. [202] Anderson, Miss Judith Venable, and Mrs. R. J. Breckinridge, with children and servants, to leave Richmond by flag of truce, and proceed to their homes in Kentucky. Of course it will be granted — the President sanctions it, but does not commit himself by ordering it.

There was no fighting on the Rappahannock yesterday, and no rumors to-day.

Letters were received from Gen. Lee to-day. He says several thousand of his men are barefoot He suggests that shoes be taken from the extortioners at a fair price. That is right. He also recommends a rule of the department putting cavalry on foot when they cannot furnish good horses, and mounting infantry that can and will procure them. This would cause better care to be taken of horses. Gen. Lee also writes for more arms — which may indicate a battle. But the weather is getting bad again, and the roads will not admit of marching.

Mr. Gastrell, M. C., writes to the Secretary of War for permission for Messrs. Frank and Gernot, a Jew firm of Augusta, Ga., to bring through the lines a stock of goods they have just purchased of the Yankees in Memphis. Being a member of Congress, I think his request will be granted. And if all such applications be granted, I think money-making will soon absorb the war, and bring down the prices of goods.

We are a confident people. There are no symptoms of trepidation, although a hostile army of 150,000 men is now within two day's march of our capital. A few of guilty consciences, the extortioners, may feel alarm-but not the women and children. They reflect that over one hundred thousand of the enemy were within four miles of the city last spring and summer-and were repulsed.

The negroes are the best-clad people in the South. They have their Sunday clothing, and the half-worn garments of their masters and mistresses; and having worn these but once a week, they have a decidedly fresher aspect than the dresses of their owners. They are well fed, too, at any cost, and present a happy appearance. And they are happy. It is a great mistake of the Abolitionists, in supposing the slaves hail their coming with delight; on the contrary, nearly all the negroes regard their approach with horror. [203]

It might be well for the South if 500,000 of the slaves were suddenly emancipated. The loss would not be felt-and the North would soon be conscious of having gained nothing! My friend, Dr. Powell, near the city, abandoned his farm last summer, when it was partly in possession of the enemy, leaving fifty negroes on it — which he could have sold for $50,000. They promised not to leave him, and they kept their word. Judge Donnell, in North Carolina, has left his plantation with several hundred thousand dollars worth on it-rather risking their loss than to sell them.

December 4

All is quiet (before the storm) on the Rappahannock, Gen. Jackson's corps being some twenty miles lower down the river than Longstreet's. It is said Burnside has been removed already and Hooker given the command.

Gen. S. Cooper takes sides with Col. Myers against Gen. Wise. Gen. W.'s letter of complaint of the words, “Let them suffer,” was referred to Gen. C., who insisted upon sending the letter to the Quartermaster-General before either the Secretary or the President saw it,--and it was done. Why do the Northern men here hate Wise?

Gen. Lee dispatches to-day that there is a very large amount of corn in the Rappahannock Valley, which can be procured, if wagons be sent from Richmond. What does this mean? That the enemy will come over and get it if we do not take it away?

A letter from the President of the Graniteville Cotton Mills, complains that only 75 per ct. profit is allowed by Act of Congress, whose operatives are exempted from military duty, if the law be interpreted to include sales to individuals as well as to the government, and suggesting certain modifications. He says he makes 14,000 yards per day, which is some 4,000,000 per annum. It costs him 20 cts. per yard to manufacture cotton cloth, including, of course, the cotton, and 75 per ct. will yield, I believe, $500,000 profits, which would be equivalent to 32 cts. per yard. But the market price, he says, is 68 cts. per yard, or some $2,000,000 profits! This war is a great encourager of domestic manufacturers, truly!

The Governor sends out a proclamation to-day, saying the President has called on him and other governors for assistance, in returning absent officers and men to their camps; in procuring supplies of food and clothing for the army; in drafting slaves to work on fortifications; [204] and, finally, to put down the extortioners. The Governor invokes the people to respond promptly and fully. But how does this speak for the government, or rather the efficiency of the men who by “many indirect ways” came into power? Alas! it is a sad commentary.

The President sent a hundred papers to the department to-day, which he has been diligently poring over, as his pencil marks bear ample evidence. They were nearly all applications for office, and this business constitutes much of his labor.

December 5

Yesterday there was some little skirmishing below Fredericksburg. But it rained fast night, and still rains. Lee has only 30,000 or 40,000 effective men.

We have the Federal President's Message to-day. It is moderate in tone, and is surprising for its argument on a new proposition that Congress pass resolutions proposing amendments to the Constitution, allowing compensation for all slaves emancipated between this and the year 1900! He argues that slaves are property, and that the South is no more responsible for the existence of slavery than the North! The very argument I have been using for twenty years. He thinks if his proposition be adopted that “several of the border States will embrace its terms, and that the Union will be reconstructed.” He says the money expended in this way will not amount to so much as the cost of a war of subjugation. He is getting sick of the war, and therein I see the “beginning of the end” of it. It is a good sign for us, perhaps. I should not be surprised if his proposition had advocates in the South.

Lt.-Col. T. C. Johnson sent in a communication, to-day. He alludes to an interview with the Secretary, in which the latter informed him that the government intended to exchange cotton for supplies for the army, and Lt.-Col. J. suggests that it be extended to embrace all kinds of merchandise for the people, and informs him that New York merchants are willing to send merchandise to our ports if we will permit their ships to return laden with cotton, at 50 cts. per pound, and pledging themselves to furnish goods at 50 per cent. advance on cost. He advocates a trade of this nature to the extent of $100,000,000, our government (and not individuals) to sell the cotton. The goods to be sold by the government to the merchants here. I know not what answer the Secretary will make. But I know our people are greedy for the merchandise. [205]

The enemy have shelled Port Royal, below Fredericksburg, in retaliation for some damage done their gun-boats in the river by one of our land batteries. And we have news of the evacuation of Winchester by the enemy. The Northern papers say Burnside (who is not yet removed) will beat Lee on the Rappahannock, and that their army on the James River will occupy Richmond. When Lee is beaten, perhaps Richmond will fall.

A large number of our troops, recruited in Kentucky, have returned to their homes. It is said, however, that they will fight the enemy there as guerrillas.

The President has appointed his nephew, J. R. Davis, a brigadier-general. I suppose no president could escape denunciation, nevertheless, it is to be regretted that men of mind, men who wrought up the Southern people, with their pens, to the point of striking for national independence, are hurled into the background by the men who arranged the programme of our government. De Bow was offered a lower clerkship by Mr. Secretary Memminger, which he spurned; Fitzhugh accepted the lower class clerkship Mr. M. offered him after a prolonged hesitation; and others, who did more to produce the revolution than any one of the high functionaries now enjoying its emoluments, are to be found in the lowest subordinate positions; while Tom, Dick, and Harry, never heard of before, young, and capable of performing military service, rich, and able to live without office, are heads of bureaus, chief clerks of departments, and staff-officers flourishing their stars! Even this is known in the North, and they exult over it as a just retribution on those who were chiefly instrumental in fomenting revolution. But they forget that it was ever thus, and that our true patriots and bold thinkers who furnish our lesser men, in greater positions, with ideas, are still true and steadfast in the cause they have advocated so long.

December 7

Last night was bitter cold, and this morning there was ice on my wash-stand, within five feet of the fire. Is this the “sunny South” the North is fighting to possess? How much suffering must be in the armies now encamped in Virginia! I suppose there are not less than 250,000 men in arms on the plains of Virginia, and many of them who survive the war will have cause to remember last night. Some must have perished, and thousands, no doubt, had frozen limbs. It is terrible, and few are aware that [206] the greatest destruction of life, in such a war as this, is not produced by wounds received in battle, but by disease, contracted from exposure, etc., in inclement seasons. But the deadly bullet claims its victims. A friend just returned from the battle-field of June, near the city, whither he repaired to recover the remains of a relative, says the scene is still one of horror. So great was the slaughter (27th June) that we were unable to bury our own-dead for several days, for the battle raged a whole week, and when the work was completed, the weather having been extremely hot, it was too late to inter the enemy effectually, so the earth was merely thrown over them, forming mounds, which the rains and the wind have since leveled. And now the ground is thickly strewn with the bleaching bones of the invaders. The flesh is gone, but their garments remain. He says he passed through a wood, not a tree of which escaped the missiles of the contending hosts. Most of the trees left standing are dead, being often perforated by scores of Minie-balls, but thousands were prostrated by cannon-balls and shells. It will long remain a scene of desolation, a monument of the folly and wickedness of man.

And what are we fighting for? What does the Northern Government propose to accomplish by the invasion? Is it supposed that six or eight million of free people can be exterminated? How many butchers would be required to accomplish the beneficent feat? More, many more, than can be sent hither. The Southern people, in such a cause, would fight to the last, and when the men all fell, the women and children would snatch their arms and slay the oppressors. Without complete annihilation, it is the merest nonsense to suppose our property can be confiscated.

But if a forced reconstruction of the Union were consummated, does the North suppose any advantage would result to that section? In the Union we could not be compelled to trade with them again. Nor would intercourse of any kind be re-established. Their ships would be destroyed, and their people could never come among us but at the risk of ill treatment. They could not maintain a standing army of half a million, and they could not disarm us in such an extensive territory.

The best plan, the only plan, to redeem the past and enjoy blessings in the future, is to cease this bootless warfare and be the first to recognize our independence. We are exasperated with [207] Europe, and like the old colonel in Bulwer's play, we can like a brave foe after fighting him. Let the North do this, and we will trade with its people, I have no doubt, and a mutual respect will grow up in time, resulting, probably, in combinations against European powers in their enterprises against governments on this continent.

December 8

A letter from Gen. Lee, received to-day, states that, in the recent campaigns, he has experienced the effects of having inferior artillery and fixed ammunition. But this discrepancy is rapidly disappearing, from captures of the enemy's batteries, etc. He recommends that our 12-pounder howitzers and 6-pounder smooth bores be recast into 12-pounder Napoleons, 10-pounder Parrott guns, and 3-inch rifle cannon. He wants four 12-pounder Napoleons sent him immediately, for a special purpose. His next battle will be principally with artillery.

Gov. Vance sends a letter, referring to an order of the government that'all cotton not removed west of the Weldon and Williamsburg Railroad, by the 16th instant, is to be destroyed. He says his State is purchasing 15,000 to 20,000 bales, to establish a credit in Europe, and asks that the Confederate Government authorities will respect the cotton designed for this purpose. He says he will destroy it himself, when the enemy approaches. He says, moreover, that the order will have an unhappy effect; that many of the people have already lost their slaves, grain, etc. from the inroads of the enemy, and have nothing to live on but their cotton. If it remains where it is, how can they subsist on it without selling it to the enemy? And that would be treason, pretty nearly. But why does the government issue such an order in North Carolina, when the government itself is selling, not destroying, the cotton of Mississippi?

The President of the Central Railroad says that Messrs. Haxhall, Crenshaw & Co., who have the gigantic contract with the government to furnish flour, and who have a preference of transportation by the contract, are blocking up their depots, and fail to remove the grain. They keep whole trains waiting for days to be unladen; and thus hundreds of thousands of bushels, intended for other mills and the people are delayed, and the price kept up to the detriment of the community. Thus it is that the government [208] contractors are aiding and abetting the extortioners. And for this reason large amounts of grain may fall into the hands of the enemy.

December 9

W-- , another of Provost Marshal Griswold's policemen, has arrived in Washington. I never doubted he was secretly in the Yankee service here, where many of his fellows still remain, betraying the hand that feeds them. Gen. Winder and the late Secretaries of War must be responsible for all the injury they may inflict upon the country.

Yesterday, the President received a letter from a gentleman well known to him, asserting that if Mississippi and Alabama be overrun by the enemy, a large proportion of the people of those States will certainly submit to the Government of the United States. The President sent this letter to the Secretary of War “for his information.”

A letter from W. P. Harris, Jackson, Mississippi, urges the government to abandon the cities and eastern seaboard, and concentrate all the forces in the West, for the defense of the Mississippi Valley and River, else the latter must be lost, which will be fatal to the cause, etc.

Hon. J. H. Reagan has written a savage letter to the Secretary of War, withdrawing certain papers relating to an application for the discharge from service of his brother-in-law, oil account of feeble health. He says he will not await the motions (uncertain) of the circumlocution office, and is unwilling to produce evidence of his statements of the disability of his relative. Mr. Seddon will doubtless make a spirited response to this imputation on his office.

We have a rumor that Morgan has made another brilliant raid into Kentucky, capturing 1800 of the enemy.

The small-pox is spreading in this city to an alarming extent. This is the feast to which Burnside is invited. They are vaccinating the clerks in the departments.

Gen. Floyd writes the government that, as the enemy cannot advance from the West before spring, Echol's and Marshall's forces (10,000) might be used on the seaboard. I wish they were here.

The United States forces in the field, by their own estimates, amount to 800,000. We have not exceeding 250,000; but they are not aware of that.


December 10

Not a word from the Rappahannock. But there soon will be.

Official dispatches from Gen. Bragg confirm the achievement of Col. Morgan, acting as brigadier-general. There was a fight, several hundred being killed and wounded on both sides; but Morgan's victory was complete, his captures amounting to 1800 men, a battery, wagon train, etc.

We have also a dispatch that Major-Gen. Lovell, the Yankee, had a battle with the enemy, killing, wounding, and capturing 34!

A characteristic letter was received to-day from Mr. Sanford, Alabama, recommending Col. Dowdell for a brigadiership. I hope he may get it, as he is a gallant Southerner. Mr. S. has some hard hits at the government; calling it a government of chief clerks and subordinate clerks. He hopes Mr. Seddon will not be merely a clerk.

Gen. Jos. E. Johnston has written from the West a gloomy letter to Mr. Wigfall, Texan Senator. He says he is ordered to reinforce Lieut.-Gen. Pemberton (another Northern general) from Bragg's army. Pemberton is retreating on Grenada, Mississippi, followed by 40,000 of the enemy. How is he, Gen. J., to get from Tennessee to Grenada with reinforcements, preceded by one army of the enemy, and followed by another?

Mr. Wigfall recommends the Secretary (as if he could do it! to concentrate all the armies of the West, and beat the enemy out of the Mississippi Valley. Gen. Johnston says Lieut.-Gen. Holmes has been ordered to reinforce Pemberton. Why, this is the very thing Mr. Randolph did, and lost his clerkship for it The President must have changed his mind.

Gen. Randolph sent in his resignation as brigadier-general today. The younger brigadiers, Davis (the President's nephew) and Pryor, have been recently assigned to brigades, and this may have operated on Randolph as an emetic.

There are two war steamers at Charleston from abroad; one a Frenchman, the other an Englishman. Gen. Beauregard entertained the officers of the first the other day.

Gen. Banks has sailed down the coast on an expedition, the nature of which, no doubt, will be developed soon.

December 11

Gen. Lee dispatched this morning early that the enemy were constructing three pontoon bridges, and that [210] firing had commenced on both sides. At nine o'clock A. M. the firing increased, and Gen. Lee dispatched for ammunition, looking to the contingency of a prolonged battle.

At three P. M., Gen. Lee says, the enemy had been repulsed in two of their attempts to throw bridges over the river; but the third attempt would probably succeed, as it was under cover of batteries which commanded the river, and where his sharpshooters could not reach the workmen. But, he says, his batteries command the plain where the enemy must debouch. We may speedily hear of a most sanguinary conflict.

Burnside must have greatly superior numbers, or else he is a great fool to precipitate his men into a plain, where every Southern soldier is prepared to die, in the event of failure to conquer! There is no trepidation here; on the contrary, a settled calm on the faces of the people, which might be mistaken for indifference. They are confident of the success of Lee, and really seem apprehensive that Burnside will not come over and fight him in a decisive battle. We shall soon see, now, of what stuff Burnside and his army are made. I feel some anxiety; because the destruction of our little army on the Rappahannock might be the fall of Richmond.

It is rumored that the President started two days ago for the West-Tennessee and Mississippi. No papers have been sent in by him since Tuesday, and it may be true. If so, he means to return speedily. I think we shall soon have news from the lower James River.

A letter from the Governor of Alabama calls urgently for heavy guns, and a reserve force, for the defense of Mobile.

Major Hause, the government's agent in Europe, has purchased, up to this time, 157,000 stand of arms, besides many cannon, much ammunition, quartermaster's stores, etc. A portion was lost in transitu, however, but not a large amount. Besides the large sums he has expended, he has obtained credit to the extent of $6,000,000!

They are calling for a guard at Petersburg against incendiaries. A factory was burned the other night. This is bad.

Scully and Lewis, condemned to die as spies, have been pardoned by the President, and are to be sent North.

Another dispatch from Gen. Lee, dated 3 1/2 P. M., says the enemy [211] has nearly completed his bridge, and will probably commence crossing this evening or in the morning. The bulletin boards in the city purport to give intelligence of the passage having been effected in part; but I do not see how the editors could have obtained their information.

At 6 P. M., passengers by the Fredericksburg train (which left at 1 P. M.) report the shelling of the town, and a great battle in progress on this side of the river. I doubt both; and I saw but one excited man (a Jew) who said he was in Fredericksburg when the shelling began. I do not believe it. The cars were not within four miles of the town, and perhaps merely conjectured the cannonading they heard to be directed at the town. There were no ladies or children in the cars. But doubtless the enemy will cross the river, and there will be a battle, which must result in a great mortality.

December 12

The enemy have possession of Fredericksburg, and succeeded in crossing a large portion of their force three miles below, on their pontoon bridge. Up to 3 P. M. to-day, we have no other intelligence but that “they are fighting.” We shall know more, probably, before night.

The President has passed through East Tennessee on his way to Mississippi.

Lieut.-Col. Nat Tyler, publisher of the Enquirer, the organ of the government, was in my office this morning, denouncing Mr. Memminger, Secretary of the Treasury. He says Mr. M.'s head is as worthless as a pin's-head. He also denounced the rules of admission to our Secretary, adopted by Mr. R. G. H. Kean, Chief of the Bureau, and asked for a copy of them, that he might denounce them in his paper. It appears that Mr. Jacques is to say who can see the Secretary; and to do this, he must catechize each applicant as to the nature of his business. This is deemed insulting by some of the hot bloods, and will make friend Mr. J.'s position rather a disagreeable and derogatory one.

December 13

After all, Fredericksburg was severely shelled-whether designedly or incidentally in the fight, does not yet appear.

Our army has fallen back a little — for a purpose. Lee knows every inch of the ground.

Again we have rumors of a hostile fleet being in the river; and [212] Major-Gen. G. W. Smith has gone to Petersburg to see after the means of defense, if an attack should be made in that quarter. Some little gloom and despondency are manifested, for the first time, in this community.

Major-Gen. S. Jones writes that although the Federal Gen. Cox has left the valley of the Kanawha, 5000 of his men remain; and he deems it inexpedient, in response to Gen. Lee's suggestion, to detach any portion of his troops for operations elsewhere. He says Jenkins's cavalry is in a bad condition.

Here is an instance of South Carolina honor. During the battle of Williamsburg, last spring, W. R. Erwin, a private in Col. Jenkins's Palmetto sharpshooters, was detailed to take care of the wounded, and was himself taken prisoner. The enemy supposing him to be a surgeon, he was paroled. He now returns to the service; and although the mistake could never be detected, he insists on our government exchanging a private of the enemy's for himself. With the assurance that this will be done, he goes again to battle.

Yesterday flour and tobacco had a fall at auction. Some suppose the bidders had in view the contingency of the capture of the city by the enemy.

In the market-house this morning, I heard a man speaking loudly, denounce a farmer for asking about $6 a bushel for his potatoes, and hoping that the Yankees would take them from him for nothing!

Sunday, December 14

Yesterday was a bloody day. Gen. Lee telegraphs that the enemy attacked him at 9 A. M., and as the fog lifted, the fire ran along the whole line, and the conflict raged until darkness (6 P. M.) put an end to the battle. The enemy was repulsed at all points, he continued, thanks be to God! But we have to mourn, as usual, a heavy loss. Lee expects another blow at Burnside to-day.

It is understood that Gens. Hood, Texas, was wounded; T. R. R. Cobb, Georgia, and a brigadier from South Carolina were killed. A dispatch says that where our generals fell, the colonels could no longer restrain their regiments; and the men ran into the ranks of the enemy, and, animated with a spirit of desperation, slaughtered the foe in great numbers with their bayonets, pistols, and knives. [213]

Preparations are being made here for the reception of the wounded. The request was to provide for a large number.

Last night, at nine o'clock, a number of regiments which had been encamped among the fortifications northwest of the city, were marched down to Drewry's Bluff. It is probable Gen. Smith has heard of the enemy's approach from that quarter. I hope he may prove the right man in the right place.

It is rumored that we were repulsed yesterday, this side of Suffolk.

At this critical moment the President is away.

A dispatch from Gen. Lee says Gen. Wade Hampton dashed into Dumfries, the other side of the Rappahannock, and in the rear of the enemy, capturing some wagons, and taking a few men. This seems most extraordinary. If he be not taken himself, the diversion must have a good effect; but if he be taken, it will be considered a wild and desperate sally, boding no good to the cause. But Lee knows what he is about.

From the dispositions of our troops (few in number) in the vicinity of Richmond, at this moment, it seems to me that Gen. Smith is putting the city to great hazard. There are not a thousand men to guard the approach from the head of York River; and if a dozen of the enemy's swift transports were to dash up that river, the city could be surprised by 5000 men!

Ten o'clock A. M. No dispatches from Lee have come over the wires to-day. He may have interdicted others. We got no intelligence whatever. From this I infer the battle was resumed at early dawn, and the general deems it best to have no announcements but results. If this be so, it is a day big with events-and upon its issue may depend the fate of governments. And yet our people exhibited no trepidation. The foreign portion of the population may be seen grouped on the pavements indulging in speculation, and occasionally giving vent to loud laughter, when a Jew is asked what will be the price of his shoes, etc. to-morrow. They care not which side gains the day, so they gain the profits.

But our women and children are going to church as usual, to pray for the success of the cause, and not doubting but that our army will triumph as usual on the field of combat. It is a bright and lovely Sabbath morning, and as warm as May.

December 15

Yesterday evening several trains laden with [214] wounded arrived in the city. The remains of Brig.-Gen. T. R. R. Cobb, of Georgia, were brought down. Brig.-Gen. Gregg, of South Carolina, is said to be mortally wounded. It is now believed that Major-Gen. Hood, of Texas, did not fall. The number of our killed and wounded is estimated, by a surgeon who came with the wounded, to be not over a thousand.

To-day, stragglers from the battle-field say that our loss in killed and wounded is 3000. It is all conjecture.

There was heavy skirmishing all day yesterday, and until to-day at noon, when the telegraph operator reports that the firing had ceased. We know not (yet) what this means. We are still sending artillery ammunition to Gen. Lee.

Gen. Evans dispatches from Kinston, N. C., that on the 14th, yesterday, he repulsed the enemy, 15,000 strong, and drove them back to their boats in Neuse River. A portion of Gen. R. A. Pryor's command, in Isle of Wight County, was engaged with the enemy's advance the same day. They have also landed at Gloucester Point. This is pronounced a simultaneous attack on our harbors and cities in Virginia and North Carolina. Perhaps we shall have more before night. Our people seem prepared for any event.

Another long train of negroes have just passed through the city, singing, to work on the fortifications.

December 16

To-day the city is exalted to the skies! Gen. Lee telegraphed that the enemy had disappeared from his front, probably meditating a design to cross at some other place. Such were his words, which approach nearer to a practical joke, and an inkling of exultation, than anything I have seen from his pen. He has saved the capital. Before the enemy could approach Richmond from “some other place;” Lee would be between him and the city, and if he could beat him on the Rappahannock he can beat him anywhere.

Doubtless Burnside has abandoned his heavy stores, siege guns, etc., and at this moment our army must occupy the town. Lee allowed the invaders to cross the river, and, in exact accordance with his promise, made a month ago, before they could advance from Fredericksburg, his “whole army was in position.” They could not debouch without passing through our crescent line, the extreme ends of which touched the river above and below them. [215] They attempted this on Saturday, and met with a bloody defeat, and until last night, when they retraced their steps, were confined to an exceedingly narrow and uncomfortable strip of land along the south bank of the river.

Our loss in the battle will not exceed, perhaps, 2000 men, not more than 500 being slain. It is estimated that the enemy's loss is over 10,000, and it may greatly exceed that number, as our positions were strong and our batteries numerous. The enemy fought well, charging repeatedly over the plain swept completely by our guns, and leaving the earth strewn with their dead. We have many prisoners, but I have heard no estimate of the number.

The enemy have taken Kinston, N. C., having overwhelming numbers, and a letter from Gen. Bragg, dated at Raleigh, yesterday, says it is probable Goldsborough will fall into their hands. This will cut our railroad communication with Wilmington, which may likewise fall-but not without its price in blood.

Why not let the war cease now? It is worse than criminal to prolong it, when it is apparent that subjugation is an impossibility.

There were no stragglers from Lee's army, and never were men in better spirits and condition. They are well clad and fed, and exceedingly anxious for Burnside to resume his “On to Richmond” after the skirmish of Saturday. They call it but a skirmish, for not a brigade was blown, not a regiment fatigued.

Although men shake hands over this result, they all say they never looked for any other termination of Burnside. The ladies say he is now charred all over. Well, he may come again by some other route, but I have doubts. The rigors of winter are sufficient punishment for his troops. It is said Burnside intended to resume the battle on Sunday morning, but his generals reported that their men could not be relied upon to approach our batteries again. I shall look with interest for the next Northern papers.

December 17

A dispatch from Gen. G. W. Smith, last night, says we have repulsed the enemy from Kinston, N. C., but a dispatch this morning says a cavalry force has cut the railroad near Goldsborough, broken down the wires, and burnt the bridge. We had no letters from beyond that point this morning.

Last night large quantities of ammunition and some more regiments were sent to North Carolina. This is done because Richmond [216] is relieved by the defeat and retreat of Burnside. But suppose it should not be relieved, and a force should be sent suddenly up the James and York Rivers?

We have not a word from Fredericksburg, and it is probable Burnside's batteries still command the town. Lee is content and has no idea of crossing the river.

There are two notable rumors in the streets : first, that we have gained a great battle in Tennessee; and, second, that the government at Washington has arrested John Van Buren and many other Democratic leaders in the North, which has resulted in a riot, wherein 1000 have fallen, making the gutters in New York run with blood!

Gen. Lee's official report says our loss in the battle of the 13th in killed and wounded did not exceed 1200, whereas our papers said 2050 wounded have already been brought to this city.

Well, our government must have spies at Washington as an offset to Federal spies here among Gen. Winder's policemen; for we knew exactly when the enemy would begin operations in North Carolina, and ordered the cotton east of the Weldon Railroad to be burnt on the 16th inst., yesterday, and yesterday the road was cut by the enemy. I have not heard of the cotton being burnt-and I don't believe it was destroyed. Nor do I believe Gen. Smith knew that Burnside would be defeated in time to send troops from here to North Carolina.

Elwood Fisher died recently in Georgia, and his pen, so highly prized by the South for its able vindication of her rights, was forgotten by the politicians who have power in the Confederate Government. All Mr. Memminger would offer him was a lowest class clerkship. He died of a broken heart. He was more deserving, but less fortunate, than Mr. M.

It was Mr. Memminger, it seems, who refused to contribute anything to supply the soldiers with shoes, and the press is indignant. They say he is not only not a native South Carolinian, but Hessian born.

December 18

We have more accounts of the battle of Fredericksburg now in our possession. Our loss in killed and wounded will probably be more than the estimate in the official report, while Federal prisoners report theirs at 20,000. This may be over the mark, but the Examiner's correspondent at Fredericksburg [217] puts down their loss at 19,000. The Northern papers of the 14th inst. (while they supposed the battle still undecided) express the hope that Burnside will fight his last man and fire his last cartridge on that field, rather than not succeed in destroying Lee's army! Lee's army, after our victory, is mostly uninjured. The loss it sustained was not a “flea-bite.”

The enemy, in their ignominous flight on Saturday night, left their dead propped up as sentinels and pickets, besides 3000 on the plain.

Accounts from North Carolina indicate the repulse of the enemy, though they have burnt some of the railroad bridges. We shall hear more anon. Reinforcements are flying to the scene of action.

December 19

Gen. Burnside acknowledges a loss of upwards of 5000, which is good evidence here that his loss was not less than 15,000. The Washington papers congratulate themselves on the escape of their army, and say it might have been easily captured by Lee. They propose, now, going into winter quarters.

We have nothing further from North Carolina or Mississippi. Gen. Banks's expedition had passed Hilton Head.

A Mr. Bunch, British Consul, has written an impudent letter to the department, alleging that an Irishman, unnaturalized, is forcibly detained in one of our camps. He says his letters have not been answered, which was great discourtesy, and he means to inform Lord John Russell of it. This letter was replied to in rather scathing terms, as the Irishman had enlisted and then deserted. Besides, we are out of humor with England now, and court a French alliance.

The President was at Chattanooga on the 15th instant; and writes the Secretary that he has made some eight appointments of brigadiers, and promotions to major-generals. Major-Gen. Buckner is assigned to command at Mobile.

We are straightened for envelopes, and have taken to turning those we receive. This is economy; something new in the South. My family dines four or five times a week on liver and rice. We cannot afford anything better; others do not live so well.

Custis and I were vaccinated to-day, with the rest of the officers of the department. [218]

The Northern papers now want the Federal army to go into winter quarters. This was, confessedly, to be the final effort to take Richmond. It failed. Many of the people regard the disaster of Burnside as the harbinger of peace.

An officer from the field informs me that all our generals were sadly disappointed, when it was discovered that Burnside had fled. They wanted one more blow at him, and he would have been completely destroyed.

December 20

Last accounts from Fredericksburg state that the enemy are retiring toward the Potomac and Washington. We have got some of their pontoon bridges, and other things left behind. It is now very cold, with a fair prospect of the Potomac freezing over. Let them beware!

But we were in a bad way: our army, instead of numbering 200,000 as the Federal journals report, did not exceed 50,000 men; and not half that number went into action. The Secretary of War had ordered several regiments from Gen. S. Jones, in Western Virginia; now sent to North Carolina.

There is no mail yet from beyond Goldsborough, and the news from North Carolina seems vague and unsatisfactory. They say we beat the enemy at Kinston; yet they have destroyed a portion of the railroad between Goldsborough and Wilmington. They say the Federals are retreating on Newbern; yet we know they made 500 of our men prisoners after they crossed the Neuse. It is reported that our loss is small, and the enemy's large; and that our 3000 men fought successfully their 18,000. However, we have sent some 15,000 reinforcements.

It is reported that the Federals are evacuating Nashville; but reports from the West are not always reliable.

A communication has been received by Secretary Seddon from S. B. M., of Vicksburg, proposing to purchase shoes, blankets, etc. in the United States, and sell them to the government for cotton or for Confederate notes. This was referred to the Quartermaster-General, who favors it. Now what will Mr. Secretary do? Better wait till the President returns!

The late Secretary of War, Mr. Randolph, has formed a partnership with Mr. G. A. Myers. To-day a paper was sent in by them to the new Secretary, containing the names of ten clients, all Jews and extortioners, who, it appears, at the beginning of the war, and [219] before Virginia had fully seceded, joined several Virginia companies of artillery, but did not drill with them. They hired substitutes for a small sum, all, as the memorial sets forth, being foreigners of the class subsequently exempted by act of Congress. And these counselors demand the exemption of the Jew extortioners on the ground that they once furnished substitutes, now out of the service! And it is probable they will carry their point, and gain large fees. Substitutes now are worth $2000-then, $100.

A dispatch from Charleston to-day says: “Iron steamer Columbia, formerly the Giraffe, of Liverpool, with cargo of shoes, blankets, Whitworth guns, and ammunition, arrived yesterday.” I suppose cargoes of this nature have been arriving once a week ever since the war broke out. This cargo, and the ship, belong to the government.

9 O'Clock P. M.-After a very cold day, it has become intensely frigid. I have two fires in our little Robin's Nest (frame) on the same floor, and yet ice forms rapidly in both rooms, and we have been compelled to empty the pitchers! This night I doubt not the Potomac will be closed to Burnside and his transports! During the first Revolution, the Chesapeake was frozen over. If we have a winter like that, we shall certainly have an armistice in Virginia without the intervention of any other than the Great Power above. But we shall suffer for the want of fuel: wood is $18 per cord, and coal $14 per cart load.

Gen. Bonham, who somehow incurred the dislike of the authorities here, and was dropped out of the list of brigadiers, has been made Governor of South Carolina.

And Gen. Wise, who is possessed of perhaps the greatest mind in the Confederacy, is still fettered. They will not let him fight a battle, because he is “ambitious!” When Norfolk was (wickedly) given up, his home and all his possessions fell into the hands of the enemy. He is now without a shelter for his head, bivouacing with his devoted brigade at Chaffin's farm, below the city. He is the senior brigadier in the army, and will never be a major-general.

Sunday, December 21

Nothing, yet, has been done by the immense Federal fleet of iron-clad gun-boats which were to devastate our coast this winter. But the winter is not over yet, and I apprehend something will be attempted. However, we shall make a heroic defense of every point assailed. [220]

I omitted to state, in connection with the partnership formed between Mr. Myers and Mr. Randolph, that the former had already succeeded, when the latter was Secretary of War, in getting the substitutes of the Jew extortioners out of the army, on the ground that they were not domiciled in this country; and now both are intent on procuring the exemption of the principals. This may be good practice, but it is not good service. Every man protected and enriched by the government, owes service to the country in its hour of peril.

I am glad to hear that W. H. B. Custis, of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, takes no part in the war. This is the proper course for him under the circumstances. It is said he declined a high position tendered by the Federal Government. No doubt he has been much misrepresented: his principles are founded on the Constitution, which is violated daily at Washington, and therefore he can have no sympathy with that government.

December 22

We shall never arrive at the correct amount of casualties at the battle of Fredericksburg. The Enquirer today indicates that our loss in killed, wounded, and missing (prisoners), amounted to nearly 4000. On the other hand, some of the Federal journals hint that their loss was 25,000. Gen. Armstrong (Confederate), it is said, counted 3500 of their dead on the field; and this was after many were buried. There are five wounded to one killed. But where Burnside is now, or what he will attempt next, no doubt Lee knows; but the rest of our people are profoundly ignorant in relation thereto. The New York Herald says: “The finest and best appointed army the world ever saw, has been beaten by a batch of Southern ragamuffins!” And it advises that the shattered remains of the army be put into winter quarters.

The weather has greatly moderated. I hope, now, it will continue moderate!

Mr. Crenshaw, who has the gigantic flour contract with the War Department, effected with Mr. Randolph, has just (in the President's absence) made another contract with Mr. Seddon. The department becomes a partner with him, and another party in England, in a huge commercial transaction, the object of which is to run goods in, and cotton out. We shall have our Girards, as well as the United States. Mr. Crenshaw proceeds to England [221] immediately, bearing letters of credit to Mr. Mason, our Minister, etc.

An immense sum is to be sent West to pay for stores, etc., and Mr. Benjamin recommends the financial agent to the department. The illicit trade with the United States has depleted the country of gold, and placed us at the feet of the Jew extortioners. It still goes on. Mr. Seddon has granted passports to two agents of a Mr. Baumgartien-and how many others I know not. These Jews have the adroitness to carry their points. They have injured the cause more than the armies of Lincoln. Well, if we gain our independence, instead of being the vassals of the Yankees, we shall find all our wealth in the hands of the Jews.

The accounts from North Carolina are still conflicting. It is said the enemy have retired to Newbern; but still we have no letters beyond Goldsborough. From Raleigh we learn that the legislature have postponed the army bill until the 20th of January.

December 23

The battle of Fredericksburg is still the topic, or the wonder, and it transpired more than nine days ago. It will have its page in history, and be read by school-boys a thousand years hence. The New York Times exclaims, “God help us-for man cannot.” This is another war sheet. The Tribune is bewildered, and knows not what to say. The Herald says “everything by turns, and nothing long.” Its sympathies are ever with the winning party. But it — is positively asserted that both Seward and his son have resigned, to be followed by the rest of the cabinet. That example might be followed here without detriment to our cause. And it is said Burnside has resigned. I doubt that-but no doubt he will be removed. It is said Fremont has been appointed his successor. That would be good news. I think Halleck will be removed, and McClellan will be recalled. No matter.

It is said our President will command in Mississippi himselfthe army having no confidence in Pemberton, because he is a Yankee.

We have a letter to-day from Gen. Pike (another Yankee), saying the Indian country is lost-lost, because Gens. Holmes and Hindman--Southern men-won't let him have his own way!

The news from North Carolina is still cloudy. Gen. G. W. Smith is there (another Northern man). [222]

Gen. Elzey has been appointed to command this department during Gen. L.'s absence. Gen. E. is a Marylander. In the President's absence, it is said this appointment was made by Gen. S. Cooper (another Yankee) to insult Virginia by preventing the capital from being in the hands of a Virginian. The Richmond papers occasionally allude to the fact that the general highest in rank in the Confederacy is a Yankee-Gen. S. Cooper.

Gen. Lee says his ammunition is bad in quality, and that his new guns burst in the late battle-all under charge of the chief of the Bureau of Ordnance-another Yankee. Gen. D. H. Hill writes a scathing letter to the department in response to a rebuke from the new Secretary, occasioned by some complaints of Major Palfrey in Gen. Cooper's (A. and I. General) office. I do not know where Major P. came from; but the fact that he was not in the field, gave the general occasion to rasp him severely. It must have been caused by an order transferring, furloughing, or discharging some soldier in Gen. H.'s division-and his patience vanished at the idea of having his men taken out of the ranks without consulting him, by carpet knights and civilian lawyers. He says 8000 are now absent from his command-and that Gen. Johnston's army, last spring, was reduced from the same cause to 40,000 men, where he had to oppose 138,000 of the “rascally Yankees.” He concludes, however, by saying it is the duty of subordinate generals in the field to submit in all humility to the behests of their superiors comfortably quartered in Richmond. But if justice were done, and the opinions of the generals in the field were regarded in the matter of discharges, etc., the lawyers, who have grown fat on fees by thinning our ranks, would be compelled to resort to some more laudable means of making a living.

A letter from Gov. Shorter, of Alabama, introduces Judge Rice, agent for P. S. Gerald and J. R. Powell, who propose to bring goods into the Confederate States through Mexico, to be paid for in cotton, etc. This was referred by the Secretary to the Quartermaster-General--who protests against it on the ground that it might interfere with his agents already engaged in the business.

The President publishes a retaliatory proclamation to-day against Gen. Butler, for hanging Mr. Munford, of New Orleans, who took down the United States flag before the city had surrendered. [223] He declares Butler to be out of the pale of civilization; and orders any commander who may capture him, to hang him as an outlaw. And all commissioned officers serving under Butler, and in arms with negroes, to be reserved for execution.

There is a rumor that an agent of the Federal Government has arrived in the city, to propose an armistice. No armistice, unless on the basis of uti possidetis ante bellum!

Bethel, Leesburg, and Fredericksburg are victories memorable for our great success when fighting in advantageous positions. They teach a lesson to generals; and it will be apparent that no necessity exists for so great an expenditure of life in the prosecution of this war. The disparity of numbers should be considered by our generals. I fear the flower of our chivalry mostly perished in storming batteries. It is true a prestige was gained.

December 24

The Louisville Journal says the defeat of Burnside is “sickening,” and that this sad condition of affairs cannot be borne long.

It is said that Confederate bonds are bringing quite as much in New York as in Richmond; and that the bonds of Southern men are freely discounted in the North. These, if true, are indications of approaching peace. Cotton at 50 cents per pound, and our capacity to produce five million bales per annum, must dazzle the calculating Yankees. A single crop worth $1,000,000, 0001 What interest or department of industry in the United States can promise such results?

Letters were received to-day from Nassau, dated 12th December. Mr. L. Heyliger, our agent, reports a number of steamers sailing, and about to sail, with large amounts of stores and goods of all kinds, besides plates for our navy. A Mr. Wiggs has several steamers engaged in this business. Our government own some, and private individuals (foreign speculators) are largely engaged in the trade. Most of these steamers run sixteen miles an hour.

A Mr. Hart, agent for S. Isaac Campbell & Co., London, proposes to clothe and equip 100,000 men for us, and to receive certificates for specific amounts of cotton. This same house has, on this, it is said, advanced as much as $2,000,000 on our account. This looks cheering. We have credit abroad. But they are Jews.

Mr. Heyliger says he has seen letters from the United States, [224] conveying information that Charleston is to be attacked about the holidays — the ensuing week — by four iron-clad gun-boats. Well, I believe we have three there; so let them come!

Every day we have propositions to supply the army and the country with goods, for cotton; and they succeed in delivering stores, etc., in spite of the vigilance of the Federal blockading squadrons. There is a prospect that we shall have abundance of everything some of these days. But there is some wrangling. The Quartermaster-General complains-to-day that Lieut.-Gen. Pemberton has interfered with his agents, trading cotton for stores. Myers is a Jew, and Pemberton a Yankee-so let them fight it out.

Christmas day, December 25

Northern papers show that there is much distraction in the North; that both Seward and Chase, who had resigned their positions, were with difficulty persuaded to resume them. This news, coupled with the recent victory, and some reported successes in the West (Van Dorn's capture of Holly Springs), produces some effect on the spirits of the people here; and we have a merrier Christmas than the last one.

It is said the Federal Congress is about to provide for the organization of 100 regiments of negroes. This does not occasion anxiety here. The slaves, once armed, would cut their way back to their masters. The only possible way to restore the Unionif indeed it be possible — is to withdraw all the Federal troops, and maintain an effective blockade. There might possibly ensue dissensions among our politicians and States, detrimental to any required unity of purpose. But the Yankees, with all their smartness, cannot perceive this. They can never appal us with horrors, for we have fed upon nothing else for so long a period, that we have become accustomed to them. And they have not men enough to subjugate us and hold us in subjugation. Two millions would not suffice!

The boys are firing Chinese crackers everywhere, and no little gunpowder is consumed in commemoration of the day.

But turkeys are selling at $11 each! Shoes for $25 per pair. Salt, however, has fallen from $1.50 to 33 cents per pound. Fresh meats sell at from 35 to 50 cents per pound.

A silver (lever) watch, which had been lying in my trunk for [225] two years, and which cost me $25, sold at auction yesterday for $75. This sufficed for fuel for a month, and a Christmas dinner. At the end of another month, my poor family must be scattered again, as this house will be occupied by its owner. I have advertised for boarding in the country, but get no response. It would require $300 per month to board my family here, and that is more than my income. What shall we do? Trust in God!

December 26

We have no news to-day — not even a rumor. We are ready for anything that may come. No doubt the assailants of Mobile, Wilmington, or Charleston, will meet with determined resistance.

The President will be in Richmond about the first day of January. I saw a man who traveled with him in Alabama.

Vicksburg, I understand, cannot be taken by water. And Grant, the Federal general, is said to be retreating out of Mississippi.

December 27

The successes in the West have been confirmed. Morgan captured 2000 and Van Dorn 1500 prisoners at Holly Springs. They likewise destroyed a large amount of stores.

We have intelligence of a great armament, under Gen. Sherman, sailing from Memphis against Vicksburg. At the last accounts the President was at Vicksburg; and he may be witness of this decisive struggle for the possession of the Mississippi River, the result of which involves immense interests. We await with much anxiety the issue of the naval operations during the ensuing month. We are content with the land achievements of this year; and if we should be equally successful in resisting the enemy's fleets, we shall deem ourselves fortunate indeed.

The agents of the Commissary and Quartermaster-General make grievous complaints against Lieut.-Gen. Pemberton, at Grenada, Mississippi; they say he interferes with their arrangements to procure supplies — for cotton; and it is intimated that he has some little arrangements of his own of that nature. This illicit trade is very demoralizing in its nature.

Oh, that peace would return! But with independence!

December 28

We have no news to-day from the West. If the great battle has been fought at Vicksburg, we ought to know it to-day or to-morrow; and if the enemy be beaten, it [226] should be decisive of the war. It would be worse than madness to continue the contest for the Union.

Several fine brass batteries were brought down from Fredericksburg last night, an indication that the campaign is over for the winter in that direction.

If we should have disasters in the West, and on the Southern seaboard, the next session of Congress, to begin a fortnight hence, will be a stormy one.

December 29

We have a dispatch from Vicksburg at last. The enemy, 25,000 strong, were repulsed three times yesterday, and finally driven back seven miles, to their gun-boats. It was no battle, for our loss was only 30, and that of the enemy 400. It will be fought to-day, probably.

It is said an attempt will be made this week on Weldon, as well as Charleston.

Our Morgan has been in Kentucky again, and captured 1200 men. Glorious Morgan!

The accounts from the United States are rather cheering. The Herald proposes a convention of all the “loyal States,” that reconstruction may be tried in that way. A dispatch from Tennessee says, even the New York Tribune expresses the opinion that our independence must be recognized. The Philadelphia Press proposes another route to Richmond via the rivers, and thinks Richmond may be taken yet, and the rebellion crushed.

The surgeon in charge of the Howard Hospital reports that the small-pox is greatly on the increase, and terminating fatally in almost every case. He says men die of it without eruptions on the surface, the disease striking inward. It is proposed to drive away the strangers (thousands in number), if they will not leave voluntarily. There are too many people here for the houses, and the danger of malignant diseases very great.

My vaccination was not a success; very little inflammation and a small scab being the only evidences. But I have a cough, and much lassitude.

December 30

We have another crisis. Dispatches from Murfreesborough state the hostile armies are facing each other, and not a mile apart; the skirmishing increases, and a decisive battle may occur at any moment.

From Vicksburg we have no further intelligence; but from the [227] Rappahannock we learn that both artillery and infantry were distinctly heard yesterday in the direction of Dumfries. Is Stuart there?

December 31

There were more skirmishes near Vicksburg yesterday; and although several of the Louisiana regiments are said to have immortalized themselves (having lost only two or three men each), I suppose nothing decisive was accomplished. I have not implicit faith in Western dispatches; they are too often exaggerations. And we have nothing further from Marfreesborough.

But there is reliable intelligence from Albemarle Sound, where a large fleet of the enemy's transports appeared yesterday. We must look now for naval operations. Perhaps Weldon is aimed at.

Gen. Wise writes a remarkable letter to the department. His son, just seventeen years old, a lieutenant in 10th Virginia Cavalry, was detailed as ordnance officer of the general's brigade, when that regiment was taken from his father. Now Gen. Cooper, the Northern head of the Southern army, orders him to the 10th Cavalry. The general desires his son to remain with him, or that the lieutenant may be permitted to resign. He says he asks no favors of the administration, and has never received any. His best blood (Capt. O. J. W.) has been given to the country, and his home and property lost by the surrender of Norfolk, etc.

To-day, Gen. Winder's account for disbursement of “secret service” money was sent in. Among the persons who were the recipients of this money, I noticed Dr. Rossvally, a notorious spy, and S- w, one of his policemen, who, with W --ll, very recently fled to the enemy, and is now in the service of the United States, at Washington!

Gen. Lee has given the command in Northwestern Virginia to Gen. W. E. Jones; and he asks the Secretary to hold a major he has captured as a hostage for the good conduct of the Federal Gen. Milroy, who is imitating Gen. Pope in his cruelties to civilians.

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