X. January, 1862
- Seward gives up Mason and Slidell. -- great preparations of the enemy. -- Gen. Jackson betrayed. -- Mr. Memminger's blunders. -- exaggerated reports of our troops in Kentucky and Tennessee.
January 1Seward has cowered beneath the roar of the British Lion, and surrendered Mason and Slidell, who have been permitted to go on their errand to England. Now we must depend upon our own strong arms and stout hearts for defense.
January 2The enemy are making preparations to assail us everywhere. Roanoke Island, Norfolk, Beaufort, and Newbern; Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, Pensacola, and New Orleans are all menaced by numerous fleets on the sea-board, and in the West great numbers of iron-clad floating batteries threaten to force a passage down the Mississippi, while monster armies are concentrating for the invasion of Tennessee and the Cotton States. Will Virginia escape the scourge? Not she; here is the bulls-eye of the mark they aim at.
January 3The enemy have in the field, according to their official reports, some three-quarters of a million of men; we, about 250,000, or one-quarter of a million. This might answer for defense if we could only know where their blows will fall; but then they have a strong navy and thousands of transports, and we have next to nothing afloat to oppose to them. And there is no entente cordiale between Mr. Benjamin and any of our best generals.
January 4It is just as I feared. Gen. T. J. Jackson, supposing his project to be a profound secret, marched on the 1st instant from Winchester, intending to surprise a force of the enemy at Romney. But he had not proceeded half the distance before he found a printed account of his intended expedition in a Baltimore paper at an inn on the roadside. This was treason of the blackest dye, and will cost us a thousand men. The enemy, of course, escaped, and our poor soldiers, frost-bitten and famished, must painfully retrace all steps of this fruitless march.
January 5There are rumors of a court-martial, and I fear the enterprising Jackson will be made to suffer for the crime of others. That men sympathizing with the Union cause were daily leaving Richmond for Baltimore was known to all, but how they gained intelligence of the contemplated movement of Jackson is the mystery.
January 6No news.
January 7Brig-Gen. Wise is to command on Roanoke Island. It is not far from Princess Ann County, where his place of residence is. If they give him men enough, say half as many as the enemy, he will defend it.
January 8Dearth of news.
January 9Butter is 50 cts. per pound, bacon 25 cts., beef has risen from 13 cts. to 30 cts., wood is selling for $8 per cord, but flour is abundant, and cheap enough to keep us from starving.
January 10The President is rarely seen in the streets now, and it is complained that he is not so accessible as formerly in his office. I do not know what foundation there is for these reports, and see no reason to credit them. I know he rides out in the afternoon, if the weather be fair, after the labors of the day, and he is a regular attendant at St. Paul's Church. I am rather inclined to credit the rumor that he intends to join the church. All his messages and proclamations indicate that he is looking to a mightier power than England for assistance. There is a general desire to have the cabinet modified and Christianized upon the inauguration of the permanent government.
January 11We have three candidates in the field in this district for Congress: President Tyler, James Lyons, and Wm. II. McFarland. The first will, of course, walk over the track.
January 12Gen. Wise, whose headquarters are to be fixed at Nag's Head on the beach near Roanoke Island, reports that the force he commands is altogether inadequate to defend the position. Burnside is said to have 20,000 men, besides a numerous fleet of gun-boats; and Gen. Wise has but 3000 effective men.
January 13The department leaves Gen. Wise to his superior officer, Gen. Huger, at Norfolk, who has 15,000 men. But I understand that Huger says Wise has ample means for the defense of the island, and refuses to let him have more men. This  looks like a man-trap of the “Red-tapers” to get rid of a popular leader. I hope the President will interfere.
January 14All calm and quiet to-day.
January 15I forgot to mention the fact that some weeks ago I received a work in manuscript from London, sent thither before the war, and brought by a bearer of dispatches from our Commissioner, Hon. Ambrose Dudley Mann, to whom I had written on the subject. I owe him a debt of gratitude for this kindness. When peace is restored, I shall have in readiness some contributions to the literature of the South, and my family, if I should not survive, may derive pecuniary benefit from them. I look for a long war, unless a Napoleon springs up among us, a thing not at all probable, for I believe there are those who are constantly on the watch for such dangerous characters, and they may possess the power to nip all embryo emperors in the bud. Some of our functionaries are not justly entitled to the great positions they occupy. They attained them by a species of snapjudgment, from which there may be an appeal hereafter. It is very certain that many of our best men have no adequate positions, and revolutions are mutable things.
January 16To-day, Mr. Benjamin, whom I met in the hall of the department, said, “I don't grant any passports to leave the country, except to a few men on business for the government. I have ceased to grant any for some time past.” I merely remarked that I was glad to hear it. Immediately on returning to my office I referred to my book, and counted the names of fifty persons to whom the Secretary had granted passports within thirty days; and these were not all agents of the government. Mr. Benjamin reminded me of Daniel Webster, when he used to make solemn declarations that his friends in office were likewise the partisans of President Tyler.
January 17A Mr. O. Hendricks, verylately of the U. S. Coast Survey, has returned from a tour of the coast of North Carolina, and has been commissioned a lieutenant by the Secretary of War. He says Burnside will take Roanoke Island, and that Wise and all his men will be captured. It is a man-trap.
January 18Gen. L. P. Walker, the first Secretary of War, is assigned to duty in the Southwest under Gen. Bragg. How can he obey the orders of one who was so recently under his command?  I think it probable he will resign again before the end of the campaign.
January 19There has been a storm on the coast, sinking some of the enemy's ships. Col. Allen, of New Jersey, was lost. He was once at my house in Burlington, and professed to be friendly to the Southern cause. I think he said he owned land and slaves in Texas.
January 20Mr. Memminger advertises to pay interest on certain government bonds in specie. That won't last long. He is paying 50 per cent. premium in treasury notes for the specie, and the bonds are given for treasury notes. What sort of financiering is this?
January 21A great number of Germans and others are going to Norfolk, thinking, as one remarked, if they can't go to the United States the United States will soon come to them. Many believe that Burnside will get Norfolk. I think differently, but I may be mistaken.
January 22Some of the letter-carriers' passports from Mr. Benjamin, which have the countenance of Gen. Winder, are now going into Tennessee. What is this for? We shall see.
January 23Again the Northern papers give the most extravagant numbers to our army in Kentucky. Some estimates are as high as 150,000. I know, and Mr. Benjamin knows, that Gen. Johnston has not exceeding 29,000 effective men. And the Secretary knows that Gen. J. has given him timely notice of the inadequacy of his force to hold the position at Bowling Green. The Yankees are well aware of our weakness, but they intend to claim the astounding feat of routing 150,000 men with 100,000! And they suppose that by giving us credit for such a vast army, we shall not deem it necessary to send reinforcements. Well, reinforcements are not sent.
January 24Beauregard has been ordered to the West. I knew the doom was upon him! But he will make his mark even at Columbus, though the place seems to me to be altogether untenable and of no practicable importance, since the enemy may attack both in front and rear. It would seem that some of the jealous functionaries would submit to any misfortune which would destroy Beauregard's popularity. But these are exceptions: they are few and far between, thank Heaven!