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XXV. April, 1863

  • Symptoms of bread riots.
  • -- Lee forming depots of provisions near the Rappahannock. -- Beauregard ready to defend Charleston. -- he has rebuffed the enemy severely. -- French and British advancing money on cotton. -- the Yankees can beat us in bargaining. -- Gen. Lee anxious for new supplies. -- the President appeals to the people to raise food for man and beast. -- Federal and Confederate troops serenading each other on the Rappahannock. -- cobbler's wages $3000 per annum. -- wrangling in the Indian country. -- only 700 conscripts per month from Virginia. -- Longstreet at Suffolk. -- the President's well eye said to be failing. -- a “reconnoissance!” -- we are planting much grain. -- picking up pins. -- beautiful season. -- Gen. Johnston in Tennessee. -- Longstreet's successes in that State. -- Lee complains that his army is not fed. -- we fear for Vicksburg now. -- enemy giving up plunder in Mississippi. -- Beauregard is busy at Charleston. -- Gen. Marshall, of Kentucky, fails to get stock and hogs. -- Gen. Lee calls for Longstreet's corps. -- the enemy demonstrating on the Rappahannock.

April 1

It is said we have taken Washington, a village in North Carolina. And it is represented that large supplies of meat, etc. can be taken from thence and the adjacent counties.

Every day we look for important intelligence from Charleston, and from the West.

Mr. Seddon, the Secretary of War, has receded from his position in regard to resident aliens.

April 2

This morning early a few hundred women and boys met as by concert in the Capitol Square, saying they were hungry, and must have food. The number continued to swell until there were more than a thousand. But few men were among them, and these were mostly foreign residents, with exemptions in their pockets. About nine A. M. the mob emerged from the western gates of the square, and proceeded down Ninth Street, passing the War Department, and crossing Main Street, increasing in magnitude at every step, but preserving silence and (so far) good order. Not knowing the meaning of such a procession, I asked a pale boy where they were going. A young woman, seemingly [285] emaciated, but yet with a smile, answered that they were going to find something to eat, I could not, for the life of me, refrain from expressing the hope that they might be successful; and I remarked they were going in the right direction to find plenty in the hands of the extortioners. I did not follow, to see what they did; but I learned an hour after that they marched through Cary Street, and entered diverse stores of the speculators, which they proceeded to empty of their contents. They impressed all the carts and drays in the street, which were speedily laden with meal, flour, shoes, etc. I did not learn whither these were driven; but probably they were rescued from those in charge of them. Nevertheless, an immense amount of provisions, and other articles, were borne by the mob, which continued to increase in numbers. An eye-witness says he saw a boy come out of a store with a hat full of money (notes); and I learned that when the mob turned up into Main Street, when all the shops were by this time closed, they broke in the plate-glass windows, demanding silks, jewelry, etc. Here they were incited to pillage valuables, not necessary for subsistence, by the class of residents (aliens) exempted from military duty by Judge Campbell, Assistant Secretary of War, in contravention of Judge Meredith's decision. Thus the work of spoliation went on, until the military appeared upon the scene, summoned by Gov. Letcher, whose term of service is near its close. He had the Riot Act read (by the mayor), and then threatened to fire on the mob. He gave them five minutes time to disperse in, threatening to use military force (the city battalion being present) if they did not comply with the demand. The timid women fell back, and a pause was put to the devastation, though but few believed he would venture to put his threat in execution. If he had done so, he would have been hung, no doubt.

About this time the President appeared, and ascending a dray, spoke to the people. He urged them to return to their homes, so that the bayonets there menacing them might be sent against the common enemy. He told them that such acts would bring famine upon them in the only form which could not be provided against, as it would deter people from bringing food to the city. He said he was willing to share his last loaf with the suffering people (his best horse had been stolen the night before), and he trusted we would all bear our privations with fortitude, and continue united [286] against the Northern invaders, who were the authors of all our sufferings. He seemed deeply moved; and indeed it was a frightful spectacle, and perhaps an ominous one, if the government does not remove some of the quartermasters who have contributed very much to bring about the evil of scarcity. I mean those who have allowed transportation to forestallers and extortioners.

Gen. Elzey and Gen. Winder waited upon the Secretary of War in the morning, asking permission to call the troops from the camps near the city, to suppress the women and children by a summary process. But Mr. Seddon hesitated, and then declined authorizing any such absurdity. He said it was a municipal or State duty, and therefore he would not take the responsibility of interfering in the matter. Even in the moment of aspen consternation, he was still the politician.

I have not heard of any injuries sustained by the women and children. Nor have I heard how many stores the mob visited; and it must have been many.

All is quiet now (three P. M.); and I understand the government is issuing rice to the people.

April 3

Gen. D. H. Hill writes from North Carolina that the business of conscription is miserably mismanaged in that State. The whole business, it seems, has resolved itself into a machine for making money and putting pets in office.

No account of yesterday's riot appeared in the papers to-dry, for obvious reasons. The mob visited most of the shops, and the pillage was pretty extensive.

Crowds of women, Marylanders and foreigners, were standing at the street corners to-day, still demanding food; which, it is said, the government issued to them. About midday the City Battalion was marched down Main Street to disperse the crowd.

Congress has resolved to adjourn on the 20th April. The tax bill has not passed both Houses yet.

Gen. Blanchard has been relieved of his command in Louisiana. He was another general from Massachusetts.

April 4

It is the belief of some that the riot was a premeditated affair, stimulated from the North, and executed through the instrumentality of emissaries. Some of the women, and others, have been arrested.

We have news of the capture of another of the enemy's gunboats, [287] in Berwick Bay, Louisiana, with five guns. It is said to have been done by cavalry.

A dispatch just received from Charleston states that the enemy's monitors were approaching the forts, seven in number, and that the attack was commencing. This isjoyful news to our people, so confident are they that Gen. Beauregard will beat them.

April 5

Snow fell all night, and a depth of several inches covers the earth this morning. It will soon melt, however, as it is now raining. The Northern invaders who anticipate a pleasant sojourn during the winter and spring in this climate, have been very disagreeably disappointed in these expectations.

A surgeon was arrested yesterday for saying there was “a power behind the throne greater than the throne.” Upon being asked by the mayor what power he alluded to, he answered “the people.” He was released.

April 6

It seems that it was a mistake about the enemy's monitors approaching the forts in Charleston harbor; but the government has dispatches to the effect that important movements are going on, not very distant from Charleston, the precise nature of which is not yet permitted to transpire.

Generals Johnston and Bragg write that Gen. Pillow has secured ten times as many conscripts, under their orders, as the bureau in Richmond would have done. Judge Campbell, as Assistant Secretary of War, having arrested Gen. P.'s operations, Generals J. and B. predict that our army in Tennessee will begin, immediately, to diminish in numbers.

The rails of the York River Railroad are being removed to-day toward Danville, in view of securing a connection with the N. C. Central Road. It seems that the government thinks the enemy will again possess the York River Railroad, but it cannot be possible a retreat out of Virginia is meditated.

April 7

Nothing definite has transpired at Charleston, or if so, we have not received information of it yet.

From the West, we have accounts, from Northern papers, of the failure of the Yankee Yazoo expedition. That must have its effect.

Judge Campbell, Assistant Secretary of War, has decided in one instance (page 125, E. B. Conscript Bureau), that a paroled [288] political prisoner, returning to the South, is not subject to conscription. This is in violation of an act of Congress, and general orders. It appears that grave judges are not all inflexibly just, and immaculately legal in their decisions. Col. Lay ordered the commandant of conscripts (Col. Shields) to give the man a protection, without any reason therefor.

It is now said large depots of provisions are being formed on the Rappahannock. This does not look like an indication of a retrograde movement on the part of Gen. Lee. Perhaps he will advance.

This afternoon dispatches were received from Charleston. Notwithstanding all the rumors relative to the hostile fleet being elsewhere, it is now certain that all the monitors, iron-clads, and transports have succeeded in passing the bar, and at the last accounts were in readiness to begin the attack. And Beauregard was prepared to receive it. To-morrow we shall have exciting intelligence. If we are to believe what we hear from South Carolinians, recently from Charleston (I do believe it), Charleston will not be taken. If the ground be taken, it will not be Charleston. If the forts fall, and our two rams be taken or destroyed, the defenders will still resist. Rifle-pits have been dug in the streets; and if driven from these, there are batteries beyond to sweep the streets, thus involving the enemy and the city in one common ruin.

April 8

We learn to-day that the enemy bombarded our forts at Charleston, yesterday, two hours and a half. But few of our men were injured, and the forts sustained no damage of consequence. On the other hand, several of the iron-clads and monitors of the enemy were badly crippled; one of the latter, supposed to be the Keokuk, was sunk. Since then the bombardment has not been renewed. But no doubt the enemy will make other efforts to reduce a city which is the particular object of their vengeance. Every one is on the qui vive for further news from Charleston. Success there will make Beauregard the most popular man in the Confederacy, Lee excepted.

Speculation is running wild in this city; and the highest civil and military officers are said to be engaged, directly or indirectly, in the disgraceful business of smuggling. Mr. Memminger cannot be ignorant of this; and yet these men are allowed to retain their places.


April 9

Nothing additional has occurred at Charleston, the enemy not having renewed the attack. At Vicksburg all was quiet, and the enemy abandoning their canal. Such news must have a depressing effect upon the North. They will see that their monitors and iron-clads have lost their terrors. They have lost some twenty war steamers within the last few months; and how many of their merchantmen have been destroyed on the ocean, we have no means of knowing.

British and French capitalists have taken a cotton loan of $15,000,000, which is now selling at a premium of four per cent. in those countries. Our government can, if it will, soon have a navy of Alabamas and Floridas.

But we are in danger of being sold to the enemy by the blockade-runners in this city. High officers, civil and military, are said, perhaps maliciously, to be engaged in the unlawful trade hitherto carried on by the Jews. It is said that the flag of truce boats serve as a medium of negotiations between official dignitaries here and those at Washington; and I have no doubt many of the Federal officers at Washington, for the sake of lucre, make no scruple to participate in the profits of this treasonable traffic. They can beat us at this game: cheat us in bargaining, and excel us in obtaining information as to the number and position of troops, fortifications, etc.

April 10

We are not informed of a renewal of the attack on Charleston. It is said our shot penetrated the turret of the Keokuk, sunk.

In New York they have been exulting over the capture of Charleston, and gold declined heavily. This report was circulated by some of the government officials, at Washington, for purposes of speculation.

Col. Lay announced, to-day, that he had authority (oral) from Gen. Cooper, A. and I. G., to accept Marylanders as substitutes. Soon after he ordered in two, in place of Louisianian sutlers, whom he accompanied subsequently — I know not whither. But this verbal authority is in the teeth of published orders.

April 11

Gen. Beauregard telegraphs that Gen. Walker has destroyed another Federal gun-boat in Coosa River. They are looking for a renewal of the attack on Charleston, and are ready for it. [290]

Gen. Lee writes that he is about sending a cavalry brigade into London County to bring off commissary's and quartermaster's stores. This will frighten the people in Washington City! He also writes that, unless the railroads be repaired, so as to admit of speedier transportation of supplies, he cannot maintain his present position much longer.

The President has published a proclamation, to-day, appealing to the patriotism of the people, and urging upon them to abstain from the growth of cotton and tobacco, and raise food for man and beast. Appended to this is a plan, “suggested by the Secretary of War,” to obtain from the people an immediate supply of meat, etc. in the various counties and parishes. This is my plan, so politely declined by the Secretary! Well, if it will benefit the government, the government is welcome to it; and Mr. Seddon to the credit of it, April 12TH.-Gen. Van Dorn, it is reported, has captured or destroyed another gun-boat in the West.

Night before last another riot was looked for in this city by the mayor, and two battalions of Gen. Elzey's troops were ordered into the city. If the President could only see the necessity of placing this city under the command of a native Southern general, he might avoid much obloquy. The Smiths, Winders, and Elzeys, who are really foreigners, since the men from their States are not liable to conscription (vide Judge Campbell's decision), are very obnoxious to the people. Virginians can never be reconciled to the presence of a mercenary Swiss guard, and will not submit to imported masters.

Notwithstanding the Enquirer urges it, and Mr. Barksdale, of Mississippi, persistently advocates it, Congress still refuses to confer additional powers on the President. Twice, within the last week, Congress has voted down the proposition to clothe the President with power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus. Congress has likewise refused to reconsider the vote postponing the consideration of the bill to create a Court of Claims. Judge S--was here, working for it; but was doomed to disappointment.

A few nights since a full Federal band came within a hundred yards of our men, the Rappahannock only separating them, and played “Dixie.” Our men cheered them lustily. Then they played [291] “Yankee Doodle,” when the Yankees cheered. After this they played “Home, sweet home!” and all parties cheered them. There may be something significant in this. The pickets have orders not to fire on each other, when no demonstration is in progress.

Our members of Congress get salaries of $2750. A cobbler (free negro), who mends shoes for my family, told me yesterday that he earned $10 per day, or $3000 per annum.

A pair of pantaloons now costs $10; boots, $60; and so on.

We have warm weather at last, and dry. Armies will soon be in motion.

Our government and people seem now to despair of European intervention. But the President says our armies are more nurmerous, and better armed and disciplined than at any period during the war. Hence the contest will be maintained indefinitely for independence. With these feelings the third year of the war opens. May God have mercy on the guilty men who determine more blood shall be shed. The South would willingly cease the sanguinary strife, if the invader would retire from our territory; but just as willingly will she fight hereafter as heretofore, so long as a foeman sets foot upon her soil. It must soon be seen with what alacrity our people will rush to the battle field!

April 13

The Federal monitors, gun-boats, and transports no more menace the City of Charleston! The fleet has sailed away, several of the iron-clads towed out of the harbor being badly damaged. But before leaving that part of the coast, the Yankees succeeded in intercepting and sinking the merchant steamer Leopard, having 40,000 pairs of shoes, etc. on board for our soldiers. It is supposed they will reappear before Wilmington; our batteries there are ready for them.

Gen. Wise assailed the enemy on Saturday, at Williamsburg, captured the town, and drove the Federals into their fortMa-gruder.

The President was ill and nervous, on Saturday. His wife, who lost her parent at Montgomery, Ala., a month ago, and who repaired thither, is still absent.

Congress still refuses to clothe the President with dictatorial powers.

Senator Oldham, of Texas, made a furious assault on the Secretary [292] of War, last Saturday. He says Senators, on the most urgent public business, are subjected to the necessity of writing their names on a slate, and then awaiting the pleasure of some lackey for permission to enter the Secretary's office. He was quite severe in his remarks, and moved a call on the President for certain information he desired.

The Sentinel abuses Congress for differing with the President in regard to the retention of diplomatic agents in London, etc. And the Enquirer, edited by John Mitchel, the fugitive Irishman, opens its batteries on the Sentinel. So we go.

April 14

We have nothing additional from Gen. Wise's expedition against Williamsburg; but it was deprecated by our people here, whose families and negroes have been left in that vicinity. They argue that we cannot hold the town, or any portion of the Peninsula in the neighborhood; and when the troops retire, the enemy will subject the women and children to more rigorous treatment, and take all the slaves.

We have news from Tennessee, which seems to indicate that Gen. Van Dorn has been beaten, losing a battery, after a sanguinary battle of several hours. Van Dorn had only cavalry-7000. This has a depressing effect. It seems that we lose all the battles of any magnitude in the West. This news may have been received by the President in advance of the public, and hence his indisposition. We shall have news now every day or so.

Albert Pike is out in a pamphlet against Gens. Holmes and Hindman. He says their operations in Arkansas have resulted in reducing our forces, in that State, from forty odd thousand to less than 17,000. It was imprudent to publish such a statement. Albert Pike is a native Yankee, but he has lived a long time in the South.

Gov. Vance is furious at the idea of conscribing magistrates, constables, etc. in North Carolina. He says it would be an annihilation of State Rights-nevertheless, being subject to militia duty by the laws of the State, they are liable under the Act of Conscription.

Well, we are getting only some 700 conscripts per month in Virginia — the largest State! At this rate, how are we to replenish the ranks as they become thinned in battle? It is to be hoped the enemy will find the same difficulty in filling up their [293] regiments, else we have rather a gloomy prospect before us. But God can and will save us if it be His pleasure.

April 15

There is a dispatch, unofficial, from the West, contradicting the news of the defeat of Van Dorn. On the Cumberland River, another dispatch says, we have met with new successes, capturing or destroying several more gun-boats. And Wheeler has certainly captured a railroad train in the rear of the enemy, containing a large sum of Federal money, and a number of officers.

We have nothing from the South, except a letter from Gen. Whiting, in regard to some demonstration at Bull Bay, S. C.

Major Griswold, Provost Marshal, is now himself on trial before a court-martial, for allowing 200 barrels of spirits to come into the city. He says he had an order from the Surgeon-General; but what right had he to give such orders? It is understood he will resign, irrespective of the decision of the court.

Congress, yesterday (the House of Representatives), passed a series of resolutions, denying the authority of the government to declare martial law, such as existed in this city under the administration of Gen. Winder. It was a great blunder, and alienated thousands.

We have a seasonable rain to-day.

April 16

The Federal papers have heard of the failure to take Charleston, and the sinking of the Keokuk; and yet they strive to mollify the disaster, and represent that but little damage was sustained by the rest of the fleet. Those that escaped, they say, have proved themselves invulnerable. The Keokuk had ninety shots on the water line. No wonder it sunk!

Gen. Longstreet has invested Suffolk, this side of Norfolk, after destroying one gun-boat and crippling another in the Nansemond River. Unless the enemy get reinforcements, the garrison at Suffolk may be forced to surrender. Perhaps our general may storm their works!

I learn, to-day, that the remaining eye of the President is failing. Total blindness would incapacitate him for the executive office. A fearful thing to contemplate!

April 17

From the Northern papers we learn that the defeat at Charleston is called by the enemy a reconnoissance. [294] This causes us much merriment here; McClellan's defeat was called a “strategical movement,” and “change of base.”

We have some rumors to-day, to the effect that Gen. Hill is likely to take Washington and Newbern, N. C.; Gen. Longstreet, Suffolk; and Gen. Wise, Fort Magruder, and the Peninsula-he has not troops enough.

Gold advanced 7 per cent. in New York when the news of the “reconnoissance” reached that city.

We are planting almost every acre in grain, to the exclusion of cotton and tobacco-resolved never to be starved, nor even feel a scarcity of provisions in future. We shall be cutting wheat in another month in Alabama and other States.

Among the other rumors, it is said Hooker is falling back toward Washington, but these are merely rumors.

The President is in a very feeble and nervous condition, and is really threatened with the loss of sight altogether. But he works on; and few or no visitors are admitted. He remains at his dwelling, and has not been in the executive office these ten days.

Col. Lay was merry again to-day. He ordered in another foreign substitute (in North Carolina).

Pins are so scarce and costly, that it is now a pretty general practice to stoop down and pick up any found in the street. The boarding-houses are breaking up, and rooms, furnished and, unfurnished, are rented out to messes. One dollar and fifty cents for beef, leaves no margin for profit, even at $100 per month, which is charged for board, and most of the boarders cannot afford to pay that price. Therefore they take rooms, and buy their own scanty food. I am inclined to think provisions would not be deficient, to an alarming extent, if they were equally distributed. Wood is no scarcer than before the war, and yet $30 per load (less than a cord) is demanded for it, and obtained.

The other day Wilmington might have been taken, for the troops were sent to Beauregard. Their places have since been filled by a brigade from Longstreet. It is a monstrous undertaking to attempt to subjugate so vast a country as this, even with its disparity of population. We have superior facilities for concentration, while the invader must occupy, or penetrate the outer lines of the circumference. Our danger is from within, not from without. We are distressed more by the extortioners than by the [295] enemy. Eternal infamy on the heads of speculators in articles of prime necessity! After the war, let them be known by the fortunes they have amassed from the sufferings of the patriots and heroes! --the widows and orphans!

This day is the anniversary of the secession of Virginia. The government at Washington did not believe the separation would last two years! Nor do they believe now, perhaps, that it will continue two years longer.

April 18

We have nothing more from the Peninsula, Suffolk, N. C., or South Carolina; but it is rumored that the enemy's gun-boats (seven or eight) have passed down the Mississippi in spite of our batteries at Vicksburg, which sunk one of them. If this be true, it is bad news.

We have lovely weather now, and vegetation shows signs of the return of the vernal season. We shall soon have blossoms and roses in abundance, and table vegetables too, to dispel the fears of famine. But we shall also have the horrid sounds of devastating war; and many a cheerful dame and damsel to-day, must soon put on the weeds of mourning.

Gen. Jos. E. Johnston has assumed the command of the army of Tennessee. Gen. Howell Cobb is preparing for the defense of Florida. We do not hear a word from Lee or Jackson — but this is the ominous silence preceding their decisive action.

Bacon fell to-day from $2 to $1.50 per pound, and butter from $3.50 to $3.25; potatoes are $16 per bushel. And yet they say there is no scarcity in the country. Such supplies are hoarded and hidden to extort high prices from the destitute. An intelligent gentleman from North Carolina told me, to-day, that food was never more abundant in his State; nevertheless, the extortioners are demanding there very high prices.

This evening we have dispatches (unofficial) confirmatory of the passing of Vicksburg by the enemy's gun-boats. One of them was destroyed, and two disabled, while five got by uninjured. This is not cheering. No doubt an attack by land will be made, by superior numbers, and blood will gush in streams!

It is now said that Longstreet has captured two gun-boats in the Nansemond, and taken 600 prisoners; and that the Yankees in Norfolk have been thrown into great commotion. The general in command there, Veille, has adopted very stringent measures to [296] keep the people sympathizing with our cause in subjection. Perhaps he fears an outbreak.

The weather continues fine, and we must soon have important operations in the field.

Sunday, April 19

It is now said Longstreet captured two transports, instead of gun-boats, and 600 prisoners.

Mr. Benjamin reports that the enemy's gun-boats, which passed Vicksburg, have recaptured the Queen of the West! It must be so, since he says so.

Mr. Baldwin, the other day, in Congress, asserted a fact, on his own knowledge, that an innocent man had been confined in prison nearly two years, in consequence of a mistake of one of Gen. Winder's subordinates in writing his name, which was Simons; he wrote it Simmons!

April 20

We have nothing definite from Suffolk, or from Washington, N. C.

But we have Northern accounts of their great disaster at Charleston. It appears that during the brief engagement on the 7th inst., all their monitors were so badly damaged that they were unable to prolong or to renew the contest. They will have to be taken to New York for repairs; and will not go into service again before autumn. Thus, after nearly a year's preparation, and the expenditure of $100,000,000, all their hopes, so far as Charleston is concerned, have been frustrated in a few brief hours, under the fire of Beauregard's batteries. They complain that England furnished us with the steel-pointed balls that penetrated their iron turrets. To this there can be no objection; indeed it may be productive of good, by involving the Abolitionists in a new quarrel: but it is due to candor to state that the balls complained of were manufactured in this city.

It was a Federal account of the retaking the Queen of the West, reported by Mr. Benjamin; and hence, it is not generally believed.

It is thought by many that Hooker will change his base from the Rappahannock to the Pamunky, embarking his army in transports. If this be so, we shall again have the pleasure of hearing the thunders of battle, this summer, in Richmond.

Gen. Lee has been quite ill, but is now recovering.

April 21

Gen. Longstreet lost, it is said, two 32-pounder [297] guns yesterday, with which he was firing on the enemy's gunboats. A force was landed and captured the battery.

Gen. Lee writes that his men have each, daily, but a quarter pound of meat and 16 ounces of flour. They have, besides, 1 pound office to every ten men, two or three times a week. He says this may keep them alive; but that at this season they should have more generous food. The scurvy and the typhoid fever are appearing among them. Longstreet and Hill, however, it is hoped will succeed in bringing off supplies of provision, etc.-such being the object of their demonstrations.

Gen. Wise has fallen back, being ordered by Gen. Elzey not to attempt the capture of Fort Magruder--a feat he could have accomplished.

April 22

The President is reported to be very ill today-dangerously ill — with inflammation of the throat, etc. While this is a source of grief to nearly all, it is the subject of secret joy to others. I am sure I have seen some officers of rank to-day, not fighting officers, who sincerely hope the President will not recover. He has his faults, but upon the whole is no doubt well qualified for the position he occupies. I trust he will recover.

The destruction of the Queen of the West, and of another of our steamers, is confirmed. Is not Pemberton and Blanchard responsible?

The loss of two guns and forty men the other day, on the Nansemond, is laid at the door of Major-Gen. French, a Northern man! Can it be Gen: Cooper (Northern) who procures the appointment of so many Northern generals in our army?

I cut the following from the Dispatch of yesterday:

Produce, etc.-Bacon has further declined, and we now quote $1.25 to $1.30 for hog-round; butter, $2.25 to $3 per pound; beans in demand at $20 per bushel. Corn is lower — we quote at $6 to $6.50 per bushel; corn meal, $7 to $9 per bushel — the latter figure for a limited quantity; candles, $3.50 to $3.75 per pound; fruit-dried apples, $10 to $12; dried peaches, $15 to $18 per bushel; flour-superfine, $31 to $32; extra, $34; family, $36; hay is in very small supply-sales at $15 per cwt.; lard, $1.65 to $1.70 per pound ; potatoes-Irish, $3 to $10; sweet, $10 to $11 per bushel; rice, 25 to 33 cents per pound; wheat, $6.50 to $7 per bushel. [298]

Groceries.-Sugars have a declining tendency: we quote brown at $1.15 to $1.25; molasses, $9 to $10 per gallon; coffee, $4 to $4.50; salt, 45 cents per pound; whisky, $28 to $35; apple brandy, $24 to $25; French brandy, $65 per gallon.

April 23

The President's health is improving. His eye is better; and he would have been in his office to-day (the first time for three weeks) if the weather (raining) had been fine.

The expenses of the war amount now to $60,000,000 per month, or $720,000,000 per annum. This enormous expenditure is owing to the absurd prices charged for supplies by the farmers, to save whose slaves and farms the war is waged, in great part. They are charging the government $20 per hundred weight, or $400 per ton for hay! Well, we shall soon see if they be reluctant to pay the taxes soon to be required of them-one-tenth of all their crops, etc. If they refuse to pay, then what will they deserve?

April 24

We lost five fine guns and over a hundred men on the Nansemond; and we learn that more of the enemy's gunboats and transports have passed Vicksburg! These are untoward tidings. Gens. Pemberton and French are severely criticised.

We had a tragedy in the street to-day, near the President's office. It appears that Mr. Dixon, Clerk of the House of Representatives, recently dismissed one of his under clerks, named Ford, for reasons which I have not heard ; whereupon the latter notified the former of an intention to assault him whenever they should meet. About two P. M. they met in Bank Street; Ford asked Dixon if he was ready; and upon an affirmative response being given, they both drew their revolvers and commenced firing. Dixon missed Ford, and was wounded by his antagonist, but did not fall. He attempted to fire again, but the pistol missed fire. Ford's next shot missed D. and wounded a man in Main Street, some seventy paces beyond; but his next fire took effect in Dixon's breast, who fell and expired in a few moments.

Many of our people think that because the terms of enlistment of so many in the Federal army will expire next month, we shall not have an active spring campaign. It may be so; but I doubt it. Blood must flow as freely as ever!

April 25

We have bad news from the West. The enemy (cavalry, I suppose) have penetrated Mississippi some 200 miles, down to the railroad between Vicksburg and Meridian. This is [299] in the rear and east of Vicksburg, and intercepts supplies They destroyed two trains. This dispatch was sent to the Secretary of War by the President without remark. The Enquirer this morning contained a paragraph stating that Gen. Pemberton was exchanging civilities with Gen. Sherman, and had sent him a beautiful bouquet! Did he have any conception of the surprise the enemy was executing at the moment? Well, Mississippi is the President's State, and if he is satisfied with Northern generals to defend it, he is as likely to be benefited as any one else.

Gen. Beauregard is urging the government to send more heavy guns to Savannah. ! saw an officer to-day just from Charleston. He says none of the enemy's vessels came nearer than 900 yards of our batteries, and that the Northern statements about the monitors becoming entangled with obstructions are utterly false, for there were no obstructions in the water to impede them. But he says one of the monitors was directly over a torpedo, containing 4000 pounds of powder, which we essayed in vain to ignite.

April 26

This being Sunday I shall hear no news, for I will not be in any of the departments.

There is a vague understanding that notwithstanding the repulse of the enemy at Charleston, still the Federal Government collects the duties on merchandise brought into that port, and, indeed, into all other ports. These importations, although purporting to be conducted by British adventurers, it is said are really contrived by Northern merchants, who send hither (with the sanction of the Federal Government, by paying the duty in advance) British and French goods, and in return ship our cotton to Liverpool, etc., whence it is sometimes reshipped to New York. The duties paid the United States are of course paid by the consumers in the Confederate States, in the form of an additional per centum on the prices of merchandise. Some suppose this arrangement has the sanction of certain members of our government. The plausibility of this scheme (if it really exists) is the fact that steamers having munitions of war rarely get through the blockading fleet without trouble, while those having only merchandise arrive in safety almost daily. Gen. D. Green intimates that Mr. Memminger, and Frazer & Co., Charleston, are personally interested in the profits of heavy importations.


April 27

A dispatch from Montgomery, Ala., states that the enemy have penetrated as far as Enterprise, Miss., where we had a small body of troops, conscripts. If this be merely a raid, it is an extraordinary one, and I feel some anxiety to learn the conclusion of it. It is hard to suppose a small force of the enemy would evince such temerity. But if it be supported by an army, and the position maintained, Vicksburg is doomed. We shall get no more sugar from Louisiana.

April 28

The enemy's raid in Mississippi seems to have terminated at Enterprise, where we collected a force and offered battle, but the invaders retreated. It is said they had 1600 cavalry and 5 guns, and the impression prevails that but few of them will ever return. It is said they sent back a detachment of 200 men some days ago with their booty, watches, spoons, jewelry, etc. rifled from the habitations of the non-combating people. ! saw Brig.-Gen. Chilton to day, Chief of Gen. Lee's Staff. He says, when the time comes, Gen. Lee will do us all justice. I asked him if Richmond were safe, and he responded in the affirmative.

I am glad the Secretary of War has stopped the blockaderun-ning operations of Gen. Winder and Judge Campbell, Assistant Secretary of War. Until to-day, Gen. W. issued many passports which were invariably approved by Judge Campbell, but for some cause, and Heaven knows there is cause enough, Mr. Secretary has ordered that no more passports be granted Marylanders or foreigners to depart from the Confederacy. I hope Mr. S. will not “back down” from this position.

To-day I returned to the department from the Bureau of Conscription, being required at my old post by Mr. Kean, Chief of the Bureau of War, my friend, Jacques, being out of town with a strangury. Thus it is; when Congress meets I am detailed on service out of the department, and when Congress adjourns they send for me back again. Do they object to my acquaintance with the members?

A few weeks ago I addressed the President a letter suggesting that an alphabetical analysis be made of letter and indorsement books, embracing principles of decisions, and not names. This I did for the Bureau of Conscription, which was found very useful. Precedents could thus be readily referred to when, as was often the [301] case, the names of parties could not be recollected. It happened, singularly enough, that this paper came into my hands with fortynine others to-day, at the department, where I shall wholly remain hereafter. The President seemed struck with the idea, and indorsed a reference on it to the “State, Treasury, War, and Navy departments,” and also to the Attorney General. I shall be curious to know what the Secretary thinks of this plan. No matter what the Secretary of War thinks of it; he declined my plan of deriving supplies directly from the people, and then adopted it.

April 29

Gen. Beauregard is eager to have completed the “Torpedo ram,” building at Charleston, and wants a “great gun” for it. But the Secretary of the Navy wants all the iron for mailing his gun-boats. Mr. Miles, of South Carolina, says the ram will be worth two gun-boats.

The President of the Manassas Gap Railroad says his company is bringing all its old iron to the city. Wherefore?

The merchants of Mobile are protesting against the impressment by government agents of the sugar and molasses in the city. They say this conduct will double the prices. So Congress did not and cannot restrain the military authorities.

Gen. Humphrey Marshall met with no success in Kentucky. He writes that none joined him, when he was led to expect large accessions, and that he could get neither stock nor hogs. Alas, poor Kentucky! The brave hunters of former days have disappeared from the scene.

The Secretary of War was not permitted to see my letter which the President referred to him, in relation to all alphabetical analysis of the decisions of the departments. The Assistant Secretary, Judge Campbell, and the young Chief of the Bureau of War, sent it to the Secretary of the Navy, who, of course, they knew had no decisions to be preserved. Mr. Kean, I learn, indorsed a hearty approval of the plan, and said he would put it in operation in the War Office. But he said (with his concurrence, no doubt) that Judge Campbell had suggested it some time before. Well, that may be; but I first suggested it a year ago, and before either Mr. K. or Judge Campbell were in office. Office makes curious changes il men! Still, I think Mr. Seddon badly used in not being permitted to see the communications the President sends him. I have [302] the privilege, and will use it, of sending papers directly to the Secretary.

Gen. Lee telegraphs the President to-day to send troops to Gordonsville, and to hasten forward supplies. He says Lt.-Gen. Longstreet's corps might now be sent from Suffolk to him. Something of magnitude is on the tapis, whether offensive or defensive, I could not judge from the dispatch.

We had hail this evening as large as pullets' eggs.

The Federal papers have accounts of brilliant successes in Louisiana and Missouri, having taken 1600 prisoners in the former State and defeated Price at Cape Girardeau in the latter. Whether these accounts are authentic or not we have no means of knowing yet. We have nothing further from Mississippi.

It is said there is some despondency in Washington.

Our people will die in the last ditch rather than be subjugated and see the confiscation of their property.

April 30

The enemy are advancing across the Rappahannock, and the heavy skirmishing which precedes a battle has begun. We are sending up troops and supplies with all possible expedition. Decisive events are looked for in a few days. But if all of Longstreet's corps be sent up, we leave the southern approach to the city but weakly defended. Hooker must have overwhelming numbers, else he would not venture to advance in the face of Lee's army! Can he believe the silly tale about our troops being sent from Virginia to the Carolinas? If so, he will repent his error.

We hear of fighting in Northwestern Virginia and in Louisiana, but know not the result. The enemy have in possession all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi River. This is bad for us,sugar and salt will be scarcer still. At Grand Gulf our batteries have repulsed their gun-boats, but the battle is to be renewed.

The railroad presidents have met in this city, and ascertained that to keep the tracks in order for military purposes, 49,500 tons of rails must be manufactured per annum, and that the Tredegar Works here, and the works at Atlanta, cannot produce more than 20,000 tons per annum, even if engaged exclusively in that work They say that neither individual nor incorporated companies will suffice. The government must manufacture iron or the roads must fail!

A cheering letter was received from Gov. Vance to-day, stating [303] that, upon examination, the State (North Carolina) contains a much larger supply of meat and grain than was supposed. The State Government will, in a week or so, turn over to the Confederate Government 250,000 pounds of bacon, and a quantity of corn; and as speculators are driven out of the market, the Confederate States agents will be able to purchase large supplies from the people, who really have a considerable surplus of provisions. He attributes this auspicious state of things to the cessation of arbitrary impressments.

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