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[162]

XXXVI. march, 1864



March 1

Dark and raining.

As the morning progressed, the city was a little startled by the sound of artillery in a northern direction, and not very distant. Couriers and horsemen from the country announced the approach of the enemy within the outer fortifications; a column of 5000 cavalry. Then Hon. James Lyons came in, reporting that the enemy were shelling his house, one and a half miles from the city. And Gen. Elzey (in command) said, at the department, that a fight was in progress; and that Brig.-Gen. Custis Lee was directing it in person. But an hour or so after the report of artillery ceased, and the excitement died away. Yet the local troops and militia are marching out as I write; and a caisson that came in an hour ago has just passed our door, returning to the field. Of course the city is full of rumors, and no one yet knows what has occurred. I presume it was onty distant shelling, as no wounded men have been brought in.

It is reported that the enemy captured Mr. Seddon's family twenty-five miles distant,--also Gen. Wise's. To-morrow we shall know more; but no uneasiness is felt as to the result. In a few hours we can muster men enough to defend the city against 25,000.

A letter from Gen. Whiting suggests that martial law be proclaimed in North Carolina, as a Judge Pearson--a traitor, he thinks — is discharging men who have in conscripts as substitutes, on the ground that the act of Congress is unconstitutional. The President suggest a General Order, etc., complying with Gen. W.'s request. [163]

Col. A. C. Myers, late Quartermaster-General, writes again, indignaftly resenting the President's indorsement, etc. as unfounded and injurious, etc.

The President indorses this letter as follows: “Unless this letter is designed to ask whether Col. M. is still in the army, or discharged by the appointment of a successor, I find nothing which changes the case since my indorsement referred to, as causing resentment and calling for vindication. Your orders were certainly official communications. Not having seen them, I can express no opinion upon their terms.-Jefferson Davis.”


March 2

A slight snow on the ground this morning-but bright and cool. Last night, after I had retired to bed, we heard a brisk cannonading, and volleys of musketry, a few miles distant.

This morning an excitement, but no alarm, pervaded the city. It was certainly a formidable attempt to take the city by surprise. From the number of disgraceful failures heretofore, the last very recently, the enemy must have come to the desperate resolution to storm the city this time at all hazards. And indeed the coming upon it was sudden, and if there had been a column of 15,000 bold men in the assault, they might have penetrated it. But now, twenty-four hours subsequently, 30,000 would fail in the attempt.

The Department Clerks were in action in the evening in five minutes after they were formed in line. Capt. Ellery, Chief Clerk of 2d Auditor, was killed, and several were wounded. It rained fast all the time, and it was very dark. The enemy's cavalry charged upon them, firing as they came; they were ordered to lie flat on the ground. This they did, until the enemy came within fifteen yards of them, when they rose and fired, sending the assailants to the right and left, helter-skelter. How many fell is not yet known.

To-day Gen. Hampton sent in 77 prisoners, taken six miles above town-one lieutenant-colonel among them; and Yankee horses, etc. are coming in every hour.

Gov. Vance writes that inasmuch as Judge Pearson still grants the writ of habeas corpus, and discharges all who have put substitutes in the army, on the ground of the unconstitutionality of the act of Congress, he is bound by his oath to sustain the judge, even to the summoning the military force of the State to resist the Confederate States authorities. But to avoid such a fatal collision, [164] he is willing to abide the decision of the Supreme Court, to assemble in June; the substitute men, meantime, to be left unmolested. We shall soon see the President's decision, which will probably be martial law.

Last night, when it was supposed probable that the prisoners of war at the Libby might attempt to break out, Gen. Winder ordered that a large amount of powder be placed under the building, with instructions to blow them up, if the attempt were made. He was persuaded, however, to consult the Secretary of War first, and get his approbation. The Secretary would give no such order, but said the prisoners must not be permitted to escape under anycircumstances, which was considered sanction enough. Capt.--obtained an order for, and procured several hundred pounds of gunpowder, which were placed in readiness. Whether the prisoners were advised of this I know not; but I told Capt. --it could not be justifiable to spring such a mine in the absence of their knowledge of the fate awaiting them, in the event of their attempt to break out,--because such prisoners are not to be condemned for striving to regain their liberty. Indeed, i.t is the duty of a prisoner of war to escape if he can.

Gen. Winder addressed me in a friendly manner to-day, the first time in two years.

The President was in a bad humor yesterday, when the enemy's guns were heard even in his office.

The last dispatch from Gen. Lee informs us that Meade, who had advanced, had fallen back again. But communications are cut between us and Lee; and we have no intelligence since Monday.

Gen. Wilcox is organizing an impromptu brigade here, formed of the furloughed officers and men found everywhere in the streets and at the hotels. This looks as if the danger were not yet regarded as over.

The Secretary of War was locked up with the Quartermaster and Commissary-Generals and other bureau officers, supposed to be discussing the damage done by the enemy to the railroads, etc. etc. I hope it was not a consultation upon any presumed necessity of the abandonment of the city!

We were paid to-day in $5 bills. I gave $20 for half a cord of wood, and $60 for a bushel of common white cornfield beans. Bacon [165] is yet $8 per pound; but more is coming to the city than usual, and a decline may be looked for, I hope. The farmers above tne city, who have been hoarding grain, meat, etc., will lose much by the raiders.


March 3

Bright and frosty. Confused accounts of the raid in the morning papers.

During the day it was reported that Col. Johnson's forces had been cut up this morning by superior numbers, and that Butler was advancing up the Peninsula with 15,000 men. The tocsin was sounded in the afternoon, and the militia called out; every available man being summoned to the field for the defense of the city. The opinion prevails that the plan to liberate the prisoners and capture Richmond is not fully developed yet, nor abandoned. My only apprehension is that while our troops may be engaged in one direction, a detachment of the enemy may rush in from the opposite quarter. But the attempt must fail. There is much excitement, but no alarm. It is rather eagerness to meet the foe, and a desire that he may come.

The Department Battalion returned at 2 P. M. to attend the funeral of Capt. Ellery, and expect to be marched out again this evening toward Bottom's Bridge, where the enemy is said to be in considerable force.

Custis, though detailed to duty in the department, threw down his pen to-day, and said he would go out and be in the next fight. And so he left me suddenly. The Secretary, tc whom I communicated this, said it was right and proper for him to go-even without orders. He goes without a blanket, preferring not to sleep, to carrying one. At night he will sit by a fire in the field.

Some of the clerks would shoot Mr. Memminger cheerfully. He will not pay them their salaries, on some trivial informality in the certificates; and while they are fighting and bleeding in his defense, their wives and children are threatened to be turned out of doors by the boarding-house keepers.


March 4

Bright and frosty in the morning; warm and cloudy in the afternoon. The enemy have disappeared.

On the 17th inst., Gen. Lee wrote the Secretary of War that he had received a letter from Gen. Longstreet, asking that Pickett's Division be in readiness to join him; also that a brigade of Gen. Buckner's Division, at Dalton, be sent him at once. He says [166] the force immediately in front of him consists of the 4th, 11th, 9th, and 23d corps, besides a large body of cavalry from Middle Tennessee. Gen. Lee says the railroad from Chattanooga to Knoxville, being about completed, will enable the enemy to combine on either Johnston or Longstreet. He (Gen. Lee) says, however, that the 4th and 11th corps are small, and may have been consolidated; the 23d also is small; but he does not know the strength of the enemy. He thinks Pickett's Division should be sent as desired, and its place filled with troops from South Carolina, etc., where operations will probably soon cease. The Secretary sent this to the President. The President sent it back to day, indorsed, “How can Pickett's division be replaced?-J. D.”

Henly's Battalion returned this evening; and Custis can resume his school, unless he should be among the list doomed to the rank in the field, for which he is physically incapable, as Surgeon Garnett, the President's physician, has certified.


March 5

Clear and pleasant, after a slight shower in the morning.

The raid is considered at an end, and it has ended disastrously for the invaders.

Some extraordinary memoranda were captured from the raiders, showing a diabolical purpose, and creating a profound sensation here. The cabinet have been in consultation many hours in regard to it, and I have reason to believe it is the present purpose ta deal summarily with the captives taken with Dahlgren, but the “sober second thought” will prevail, and they will not be executed, notwithstanding the thunders of the press. Retaliation for such outrages committed on others having been declined, the President and cabinet can hardly be expected to begin with such sanguinary punishments when their own lives are threatened. It would be an act liable to grave criticism. Nevertheless, Mr. Secretary Seddon has written a letter to-day to Gen. Lee, asking his views on a matter of such importance as the execution of some ninety men of Dahlgren's immediate followers, not, as he says, to divide the responsibility, nor to effect a purpose, which has the sanction of the President, the cabinet, and Gen. Bragg, but to have his views, and information as to what would probably be its effect on the army under his command. We shall soon know, I hope, what Gen. Lee will have to say on the subject, and I am mistaken if he does not oppose [167] it. If these men had been put to death in the heat of passion, on the field, it would have been justified, but it is too late now. Besides, Gen. Lee's son is a captive in the hands of the enemy, designated for retaliation whenever we shall execute any of their prisoners in our hands. It is cruelty to Gen. Lee!

It is already rumored that Gen. Butler has been removed, and a flag of truce boat is certainly at City Point, laden with prisoners sent up for exchange.

The Commissary-General has sent in a paper saying that unless the passenger cars on the Southern Road be discontinued, he cannot supply half enough meal for Lee's army. He has abundance in Georgia and South Carolina, but cannot get transportation. He says the last barrel of flour from Lynchburg has gone to the army.

We have news from the West that Morgan and his men will be in the saddle in a few days.

After all, Mr. Lyon's house was not touched by any of the enemy's shells. But one shell struck within 300 yards of one house in Clay Street, and not even the women and children were alarmed.

The price of a turkey to-day is $60.


March 6

My birthday-55. Bright and frosty; subsequently warm and pleasant; No news. But some indignation in the streets at the Adjutant-General's (Cooper) order, removing the clerks and putting them in the army, just when they had, by their valor, saved the capital from flames and the throats of the President and his cabinet from the knives of the enemy. If the order be executed, the heads of the government will receive and merit execration. It won't be done.


March 7

Bright and frosty morning; cloudy and warm in the evening. Cannon and musketry were heard this morning some miles northwest of the city. Probably Gen. Hampton fell in with one of the lost detachments of the raiders, seeking a way of escape. This attempt to surprise Richmond was a disgraceful failure.

The Secretary of War has gone up to his farm for a few days to see the extent of injury done him by the enemy.

Mr. Benjamin and Assistant Secretary Campbell are already “allowing” men to pass to the United States, and even directly to [168] Washington. Surely the injury done us by information thus conveyed to the enemy hitherto, ought to be a sufficient warning.

Gen. Bragg has resolved to keep a body of 1500 cavalry permanently within the city and its vicinity.


March 8

An application of Capt. C. B. Duffield, for a lieutenant-colonelcy, recommended by Col. Preston, came back from the President to-day. It was favorably indorsed by the Secretary, but Gen. Cooper marked it adversely, saying the Assistant Adjutant-General should not execute the Conscription act, and finally, the President simply said, “The whole organization requires revision.-J. D.” I hope it will be revised, and nine-tenths of its officers put in the army as conscripts.

Raining this morning, and alternate clouds and sunshine during the day.

One of the clerks who was in the engagement, Tuesday night, March 1st, informed me that the enemy's cavalry approached slowly up the hill, on the crest of which the battalion was lying. At the word, the boys rose and fired on their knees. He says the enemy delivered a volley before they retreated, killing two of our men and wounding several.

Reports from the Eastern Shore of Virginia indicate that Gen. Butler's rule there has been even worse than Lockwood's. It is said that the subordinate officers on that quiet peninsula are merely his agents, to tax and fine and plunder the unoffending people,never in arms, and who have, with few exceptions, “taken the oath” repeatedly. One family, however (four sisters, the Misses P.), relatives of my wife, have not yielded. They allege that their father and oldest sister were persecuted to death by the orders of the general, and they could not swear allegiance to any government sanctioning such outrages in its agents. They were repeatedly arrested, and torn from their paternal roof at all hours of the day and night, but only uttered defiance. They are ladies of the first standing, highly accomplished, and of ample fortune, but are ready to suffer death rather than submit to the behests of a petty tyrant. Butler abandoned the attempt, but the soldiery never lose an opportunity of annoying the family.


March 9

A frosty morning, with dense fog; subsequently a pretty day.

This is the famine month. Prices of every commodity in the [169] market-up, up, up. Bacon, $10 to $15 per pound; meal, $50 per bushel. But the market-houses are deserted, the meat stalls all closed, only here and there a cart, offering turnips, cabbages, parsnips, carrots, etc., at outrageous prices. However, the superabundant paper money is beginning to flow into the Treasury, and that reflex of the financial tide may produce salutary results a few weeks hence.


March 10

Raining fast all day.

There was a rumor to-day that the enemy were approaching again, but the Secretary knew nothing of it.

Major Griswold is at variance with Gen. Winder, who has relieved him as Provost Marshal, and ordered him to Americus, Ga., to be second in command of the prisons, and assigned Major Carrington to duty as Provost Marshal here. Major Griswold makes a pathetic appeal to the President to be allowed to stay here in his old office.

The following, from the Dispatch, differs from the Examiner's account of the disposal of Col. Dahlgren's body:

Col. Dahlgren's body.

On Sunday afternoon last, the body of Col. Ulric Dahlgren, one of the leaders of the late Yankee raid on this city, and on whose body the paper revealing their designs, if successful, were found, was brought to this city on the York River Railroad train, and remained in the car (baggage) in which it was till yesterday afternoon, when it was transferred to some retired burial place. The object in bringing Dahlgren's body here was for identification, and was visited, among others, by Captain Dement and Mr. Mountcastle, of this city, who were recently captured and taken around by the raiders. These gentlemen readily recognized it as that of the leader of the band sent to assassinate the President and burn the city. The appearance of the corpse yesterday was decidedly more genteel than could be expected, considering the length of time he has been dead. He was laid in a plain white pine coffin, with flat top, and was dressed in a clean, coarse white cotton shirt, dark blue pants, and enveloped in a dark military blanket. In stature he was about five feet ten inches high, with a long, cadaverous face, light hair, slight beard, closely shaven, and had a small goatee, very light in color. In age we suppose he was about thirty years, and the expression of his countenance indicated that of pain.



[170]

March 11

Rained all night — a calm, warm rain. Calm and warm to-day, with light fog, but no rain.

It is now supposed the clerks (who saved the city) will be kept here to defend it.


March 12

It cleared away yesterday evening, and this morning, after the dispersion of a fog, the sun shone out in great glory, and the day was bright, calm, and pleasant. The trees begin to exhibit buds, and the grass is quite green.

My wife received a letter to-day from Mrs. Marling, Raleigh, N. C., containing some collard seed, which was immediately sown in a bed already prepared. And a friend sent us some fresh pork spare ribs and chine, and four heads of cabbage-so that we shall have subsistence for several days. My income, including Custis's, is not less, now, than $600 per month, or $7200 per annum; but we are still poor, with flour at $300 per barrel; meal, $50 per bushel; and even fresh fish at $5 per pound. A market-woman asked $5 to-day for a half pint of snap beans, to plant!


March 13

A lovely spring day-bright, warm, and calm.

There is nothing new, only the burning of houses, mills, etc. on the York River by the Yankees, and that is nothing new.

Subsequently the day became very windy, but not cold. The roads will be dry again, and military operations will be resumed. The campaign will be an early one in Virginia, probably. Our people are impatient to meet the foe, for they are weary of the war. Blood will flow in torrents, unless the invaders avoid great battles; and in that event our armies may assume the offensive.

It is now thought that the Department Battalion will be kept here for the defense of the city; the clerks, or most of them, retaining their offices. Those having families may possibly live on their salaries; but those who live at boarding-houses cannot, for board is Row from $200 to $300 per month. Relief must soon come from some quarter, else many in this community will famish. But they prefer death to submission to the terms offered by the Abolitionists at Washington. The government must provide for the destitute, and array every one capable of bearing arms in the field.


March 14

Bright, pleasant day. The city is full of generals-Lee and his son (the one just returned from captivity), Longstreet, Whiting, Wise, Hoke, Morgan (he was ordered by [171] Gen. Cooper to desist from his enterprise in the West), Evans, and many others. Some fourteen attended St. Paul's (Episcopal) Church yesterday, where the President worships. Doubtless they are in consultation on the pressing needs of the country.

About noon to-day a dispatch came from Lieut.-Col. Cole, Gen. Lee's principal commissary, at Orange Court House, dated 12th inst., saying the army was out of meat, and had but one day's rations of bread. This I placed in the hands of the Secretary myself, and he seemed roused by it. Half an hour after, I saw Col. Northrop coming out of the department with a pale face, and triumphant, compressed lips. He had indorsed on the dispatch, before it came — it was addressed to him — that the state of things had come which he had long and often predicted, and to avert which he had repeatedly suggested the remedy; but the Secretary would not!

No wonder the generals are in consultation, for all the armies are in the same lamentable predicament — to the great triumph of Col. N., whose prescience is triumphantly vindicated! But Geen. Wise, when I mentioned these things to him, said we would starve in the midst of plenty, meaning that Col. N was incompetent to hold the position of Commissary-General.

At 2 P. M. a dispatch (which I likewise placed in the hands of the Secretary) came from Gen. Pickett, with information that thirteen of the enemy's transports passed Yorktown yesterday with troops from Norfolk, the Eastern Shore of Virginia, Washington City, etc.-such was the report of the signal corps. They also reported that Gen. Meade would order a general advance, to check Gen. Lee. What all this means I know not, unless it be meant to aid Gen. Kilpatrick to get back the way he came with his raiding cavalry-or else Gen. Lee's army is in motion, even while he is here. It must do something, or starve.

L. P. Walker, the first Secretary of War, is here, applying for an appointment as judge advocate of one of the military courts.

Gen. Bragg is at work. I saw by the President's papers today, that the Secretary's recommendation to remit the sentence to drop an officer was referred to him. He indorsed on it that the sentence was just, and ought to be executed. The President then indorsed: “Drop him.-J. D.”


[172]

March 15

A clear, cool morning; but rained in the evening.

By the correspondence of the department, I saw to-day that 35,000 bushels of corn left North Carolina nearly a week ago for Lee's army, and about the same time 400,000 pounds of bacon was in readiness to be shipped from Augusta, Ga. At short rations, that would furnish bread and meat for the army several weeks.

We hear nothing additional from the enemy on the Peninsula. I doubt whether they mean fight.

We are buoyed again with rumors of an intention on the part of France to recognize us. So mote it be! We are preparing, however, to strike hard blows single-handed and unaided, if it must be.


March 16

There was ice last night. Cold all day. Gen. Maury writes that no immediate attack on Mobile need be apprehended now. He goes next to Savannah to look after the defenses of that city.

The Examiner to-day publishes Gen. Jos. E. Johnston's report of his operations in Mississippi last summer. He says the disaster at Vicksburg was owing to Gen. Pemberton's disobedience of orders. He was ordered to concentrate his army and give battle before the place was invested, and under no circumstances to allow himself to be besieged, which must of course result in disaster. He says, also, that he was about to manceuvre in such manner as would have probably resulted in the saving a large proportion of his men, when, to his astonishment, he learned that Gen. P. had capitulated.

Willoughby Newton reports that the enemy are building a number of light boats, to be worked with muffled oars, at Point Lookout, Md., and suggests that they may be designed to pass the obstructions in the James River, in another attempt to capture Richmond.

It is said Lieut.-Gen. E. Kirby Smith, trans-Mississippi, has been made a full general, and that Major-Gen. Sterling Price relieves Lieut.-Gen. Holmes, who is to report at Richmond. If this be so, it is very good policy.

Gen. Lee is still here, but will leave very soon.

Gen. Bragg has taken measures to insure the transportation of [173] meat and grain from the South. Much food for Lee's army has arrived during the last two days.


March 17

Bright, clear, and pleasant; frosty in the morning.

Letters from Lieut.-Gen. Hood to the President, Gen Bragg, and the Secretary of War, give a cheering account of Gen. Johnston's army at Dalton. The men are well fed and well clothed. They are in high spirits, “and eager for the fray.” The number is 40,000. Gen. H. urges, most eloquently, the junction of Polk's and Loring's troops with these, making some 60,000,--Grant having 50,000,--and then uniting with Longstreet's army, perhaps 30,000 more, and getting in the rear of the enemy. He says this would be certain to drive Grant out of Tennessee and Kentucky, and probably end the war. But if we lie still, Grant will eventually accumulate overwhelming numbers, and penetrate farther: and if he beats us, it would be difficult to rally again for another stand, so despondent would become the people.

Gen. Hood deprecates another invasion of Pennsylvania, which would be sure to result in defeat. He is decided in his conviction that the best policy is to take the initiative, and drive the enemy out of Tennessee and Kentucky, which could be accomplished to a certainty.


March 18

Bright and warmer, but windy.

Letters received at the department to-day, from Georgia, show than only one-eighth of the capacity of the railroads have been used for the subsistence of the army. The rogues among the multitude of quartermasters have made fortunes themselves, and almost ruined the country. It appears that there is abundance of grain and meat in the country, if it were only equally distributed among the consumers. It is to be hoped the rogues will now be excluded from the railroads.

The belief prevails that Gen. Lee's army is in motion. It may be a feint, to prevent reinforcements from being sent to Grant.

My daughter's cat is staggering to-day, for want of animal food. Sometimes I fancy I stagger myself. We do not average two ounces of meat daily; and some do not get any for several days together. Meal is $50 per bushel. I saw adamantine candles sell at auction to-day (box) at $10 per pound; tallow, $6.50. Bacon brought $7.75 per pound by the 100 pounds. [174]

My good friend Dr. Powell and his family were absent from the farm near the city during the late raid. The enemy carried off several of his finest horses and mules, and consumed much of his supplies of food, etc., but utterly failed to induce any of his negroes to leave the place-and he has many. One of the female servants, when the enemy approached, ran into the house and secured all the silver, concealing it in her own house, and keeping it safely for her mistress.


March 19

Warmer, calm and cloudy.

I saw a large turkey to-day in market (wild), for which $100 was demanded.

I saw Dr. Powell to-day. He says the Federals asked his servants where the master and mistress had gone? and they were told that they had been called to Petersburg to see a sick daughter. They then asked where the spoons were, and were told none were in the house. They asked if there was not a watch, and the servant said her master wore it. They then demanded where the money was kept, and were told it was always kept in bank. They made the servants open drawers, press, etc.; and when they discovered some pans of milk, they took them up and drank out of them with eagerness. They took nothing from the house, destroyed nothing, and the doctor deems himself fortunate. They left him two horses and eight mules.


March 20

Bright and beautiful weather.

There are fires occurring now every night; and several buildings have been burned in the immediate vicinity of the War Department. These are attributed to incendiary Yankees, and the guard at the public offices has been doubled.

Mrs. Seddon, wife of the Secretary of War, resolved not to lose more wine by the visits of the Federal raiders, sent to auction last week twelve demijohns, which brought her $6000-$500 a demi-john.


March 21

Although cloudy, there was ice this morning, and cold all day.

Yesterday another thousand prisoners were brought up by the flag of truce boat A large company of both sexes welcomed them in the Capitol Square, whither some baskets of food were sent by those who had some patriotism with their abundance. The President made them a comforting speech, alluding to their toils, bravery, [175] and sufferings in captivity; and promised them, after a brief respite, that they should be in the field again.

The following conversation took place yesterday between the President and some young ladies of his acquaintance, with whom he promenaded:

Miss.-Do you think they will like to return to the field?

President.-It may seem hard; but even those boys (pointing to some youths around the monument twelve or fourteen years old) will have their trial.

Miss.-But how shall the army be fed?

President.-I don't see why rats, if fat, are not as good as squirrels. Our men did eat mule meat at Vicksburg; but it would be an expensive luxury now.

After this, the President fell into a grave mood, and some remark about recognition caused him to say twice-“We have no friends abroad!”


March 22

Cloudy morning, with ice; subsequently a snowstorm all day long. No war news. But meat and grain are coming freely from the South. This gives rise to a rumor that Lee will fall back, and that the capital will be besieged; all without any foundation.

A Mrs.--from Maryland, whose only son is in a Federal prison, writes the President (she is in this city) that she desires to go to Canada on some secret enterprise. The President favors her purpose in an indorsement. On this the Secretary indorses a purpose to facilitate her design, and suggests that she be paid $1000 in gold from the secret service fund. She is a Roman Catholic, and intimates that the bishops, priests, and nuns will aid her.


March 23

Snow fell all night, and was eight or ten inches deep this morning; but it was a bright morning, and glorious sunshine all day,--the anniversary of the birth of Shakspeare, 300 years ago,--and the snow is melting rapidly.

The Secretary of War had a large amount of plate taken from the department to-day to his lodgings at the Spottswood Hotel. It was captured from the enemy with Dahlgren, who had pillaged it from our opulent families in the country.


March 24

A bright pleasant day-snow nearly gone.

Next week the clerks in the departments, between the ages of [176] eighteen and forty-five, are to be enrolled, and perhaps the greater number will be detailed to their present employments.

Gov. Vance is here, and the President is about to appoint some of his friends brigadiers, which is conciliatory.

Gen. Longstreet has written a letter to the President, which I have not seen. The President sent it to the Secretary to-day, marked “confidential.” It must relate either to subsistence or to important movements in meditation. If the latter, we shall soon know it.


March 25

Raining moderately.

Yesterday Mr. Miles, member of Congress from South Carolina, received a dispatch from Charleston, signed by many of the leading citizens, protesting against the removal of 52 companies of cavalry from that department to Virginia. They say so few will be left that the railroads, plantations, and even the City of Charleston will be exposed to the easy capture of the enemy; and this is “approved” and signed by T. Jordan, Chief of Staff. It was given to the Secretary of War, who sent it to Gen. Bragg, assuring him that the citizens signing it were the most influential in the State, etc.

Gen. Bragg sent it back with an indignant note. He says the President gave the order, and it was a proper one. These companies of cavalry have not shared the hardships of the war, and have done no fighting; more cavalry has been held by Gen. Beauregard, in proportion to the number of his army, than by any other general; that skeleton regiments, which have gone through fire and blood, ought to be allowed to relieve them; and when recruited, would be ample for the defense of the coast, etc. Gen. Bragg concluded by saying that the offense of having the military orders of the commander-in-chief, etc. exposed to civilians, to be criticised and protested against-and “approved” by the Chief of Staff-at such a time as this, and in a matter of such grave importance-ought not to be suffered to pass without a merited rebuke. And I am sure poor Beauregard will get the rebuke; for all the military and civil functionaries near the government partake of something of a dislike of him.

And yet Beauregard was wrong to make any stir about it; and the President himself only acted in accordance with Gen. Lee's suggestions, noted at the time in this Diary. [177]

Gen. Polk writes from Dunapolis that he will have communications with Jackson restored in a few days, and that the injury to the railroads was not so great as the enemy represented.

Mr. Memminger, the Secretary of the Treasury, is in a black Dutch fury. It appears that his agent, C. C. Thayer, with $15,000,000 Treasury notes for disbursement in Texas, arrived at the mouth of the Rio Grande in December, when the enemy had possession of Brownsville, and when Matamoras was in revolution. He then conferred with Mr. Benjamin's friend (and Confederate States secret agent) Mr. Quintero, and Quartermaster Russell, who advised him to deposit the treasure with P. Milmo & Co.--a house with which our agents have had large transactions, and Mr. M. being son-in-law to Gov. Vidurri--to be shipped to Eagle Pass via Monterey to San Antonio, etc.

But alas! and alas! P. Milmo & Co., upon being informed that fifteen millions were in their custody, notified our agents that they would seize it all, and hold it all, until certain alleged claims they held against the Confederate States Government were paid. Mr. Quintero, who sends this precious intelligence, says he thinks the money will soon be released-and so do I, when it is ascertained that it will be of no value to any of the parties there.

Mr. Memminger, however, wants Quartermaster Russell cashiered, and court-martialed, and, moreover, decapitated!


March 26

Bright morning, but a cold, cloudy, windy day.

A great crowd of people have been at the Treasury building all day, funding Treasury notes. It is to be hoped that as money gets scarcer, food and raiment will get cheaper; Mr. Benton, the dentist, escaped being conscribed last year by the ingenuity of his attorney, G. W. Randolph, formerly Secretary of War, who, after keeping his case in suspense (alleging that dentists were physicians or experts) as long as possible, finally contrived to have him appointed hospital steward-the present Secretary consenting. But now the enrolling officer is after him again, and it will be seen what he is to do next. The act says dentists shall serve as conscripts.

And Mr. Randolph himself was put in the category of conscripts by the late military act, but Gov. Smith has decreed his exemption as a member of the Common Council! Oh, patriotism, where are thy votaries? Some go so far as to say Gov. Smith is too free with exemptions I


[178]

March 27

Bright morning, but windy; subsequently warmer, and wind lulled. Collards coming up. Potatoes all rotted in the ground during the recent cold weather. I shall rely on other vegetables, which I am now beginning to sow freely.

We have no war news to-day.


March 28

April-like day, but no rain; clouds, and sunshine, and warm.

About 2 P. M. the Secretary received a dispatch stating that the enemy had appeared in force opposite Fredericksburg, and attempted, without success, to cross. A copy of this was immediately sent to Gen. Lee.

It is said that Gen. Longstreet is marching with expedition down the Valley of the Shenandoah, to flank Meade or Grant. I doubt it. But the campaign will commence as soon as the weather will permit.

A letter from G. B. Lamar, Savannah, Ga., informs the Secretary that he (L.) has command of five steamers, and that he can easily make arrangements with the (Federal) commandant of Fort Pulaski to permit them to pass and repass. His proposition to the government is to bring in munitions of war, etc., and take out cotton, charging one-half for freight. Mr. Memminger having seen this, advises the Secretary to require the delivery of a cargo before supplying any cotton. Mr. M. has a sort of jealousy of Mr. Lamar.


March 29

A furious gale, eastern, and rain.

No news, except the appearance of a few gun-boats down the river; which no one regards as an important matter.

Great crowds are funding their Treasury notes to-day; but prices of provisions are not diminished. White beans, such as I paid $60 a bushel for early in this month, are now held at $75. What shall we do to subsist until the next harvest?


March 30

It rained all night, the wind blowing a gale from the east. This morning the wind was from the west, blowing moderately; and although cloudy, no rain.

The enemy's gun-boats down the river shelled the shore where it was suspected we had troops in ambush; and when some of their barges approached the shore, it was ascertained they were not mistaken, for a volley from our men (signal corps) killed and wounded half the crew. The remainder put back to the gunboats. [179]

There is great tribulation among the departmental clerks, who are to be enrolled as conscripts, and probably sent to the army. The young relatives of some of the Secretaries are being appointed commissaries, quartermasters, surgeons, etc. They keep out of danger.

Many ladies have been appointed clerks. There is a roomful of then just over the Secretary's office, and he says they distract him with their noise of moving of chairs and running about, etc.

The papers publish an account of a battle of snow-balls in our army, which indicates the spirit of the troops, when, perhaps, they are upon the eve of passing through such awful scenes of carnage as will make the world tremble at the appalling spectacle.


March 31

Cloudy and cold. No war news, though it is generally believed that Longstreet is really in the valley.

A speech delivered by the Hon. J. W. Wall, in New Jersey, is copied in all the Southern papers, and read with interest by our people.

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