previous next

XX. November, 1862

  • General Lee in Richmond: beard white.
  • -- first proposition to trade cotton to the enemy. -- Secretary in favor of it. -- all the letters come through my hands again. -- Lee falling back.-5000 negroes at work on the fortifications. -- active operations looked for. -- Beauregard advises noncom-batants to leave the city. -- Semmes's operations. -- making a nation.- salt works lost in Virginia. -- barefooted soldiers. -- Intrigues of Butler in New Orleans. -- Northern army advancing everywhere. -- breach between the President and Secretary of War. -- President's servant arrested for robbing the Treasury. -- Gen. J. E. Johnston in town. -- Secretary has resigned. -- Hon. J. A. Seddon appointed Secretary of War. -- the enemy marching on Fredericksburg. -- Lee writes that he will be ready for them. -- Kentuckians will not be hog drivers. -- women and children flying from the vicinity of Fredericksburg. -- fears for Wilmington. -- no beggars. -- quiet on the Rappahannock. -- M. Paul, French Consul, saved the French tobacco. -- Gen. Johnston goes West. -- President gives Gov. Pettit full authority to trade cotton to France.

November 1

Gen. Winder's late policemen have fled the city. Their monstrous crimes are the theme of universal execration. But I reported them many months ago, and Gen. Winder was cognizant of their forgeries, correspondence with the enemy, etc. The Secretary of War, and the President himself, were informed of them, but it was thought to be a “small matter.”

Gen. Lee made his appearance at the department to-day, and was hardly recognizable, for his beard, now quite white, has been suffered to grow all over his face. But he is quite robust from his exercises in the field. His appearance here, coupled with the belief that we are to have the armistice, or recognition and intervention, is interpreted by many as an end of the war. But I apprehend it is a symptom of the falling back of our army.

I have been startled to-day by certain papers that came under my observation. The first was written by J. Foulkes, to L. B. Northrop, Commissary-General, proposing to aid the government in procuring meat and bread for the army from ports in the enemy's possession. They were to be paid for in cotton. The [180] next was a letter from the Commissary-General to G. W. Randolph, Secretary of War, urging the acceptance of the proposition, and saying without it, it would be impossible to subsist the army. He says the cotton proposed to be used, in the Southwest will either be burned or fall into the hands of the enemy; and that more than two-thirds is never destroyed when the enemy approaches. But to effect his object, it will be necessary for the Secretary to sanction it, and to give orders for the cotton to pass the lines of the army. The next was from the Secretary to the President, dated October thirtieth, which not only sanctioned Colonel Northrop's scheme, but went further, and embraced shoes and blankets for the Quartermaster-General. This letter inclosed both Foulkes's and Northrop's. They were all sent back to-day by the President, with his remarks. He hesitates, and does not concur. But says the Secretary will readily see the propriety of postponing such a resort until January-and he hopes it may not be necessary then to depart from the settled policy of the government — to forbear trading cotton to the Yankees, etc. etc.

Mr. Benjamin, Secretary of State, has given Mr. Dunnock permission to sell cotton to the Yankees and the rest of the world on the Atlantic and Gulf coast. Can it be that the President knows nothing of this? It is obvious that the cotton sold by Mr. Dunnock (who was always licensed by Mr. Benjamin to trade with people in the enemy's country beyond the Potomac) will be very comfortable to the enemy. And it may aid Mr. Dunnock and others in accumulating a fortune. The Constitution defines treason to be giving aid and comfort to the enemy. I never supposed Mr. Randolph would suggest, nay urge, opening an illicit trade with “Butler, the beast.” This is the first really dark period of our struggle for independence.

We have acres enough, and laborers enough, to subsist 30,000,000 of people; and yet we have the spectacle of high functionaries, under Mr. Davis, urging the necessity of bartering cotton to the enemy for stores essential to the maintenance of the army! I cannot believe it is a necessity, but a destitution of that virtue necessary to achieve independence. If they had any knowledge of these things in Europe, they would cease their commendations of President Davis.

Mr. Randolph says, in his letter to the President, that trading [181] with ports in possession of the enemy is forbidden to citizens, and not to the government! The archives of the department show that this is not the first instance of the kind entertained by the Secretary. He has granted a license to citizens in Mobile to trade cotton in New Orleans for certain supplies in exchange, in exact compliance with Gen. Butler's proclamation. Did Pitt ever practice such things during his contest with Napoleon? Did the Continental Government ever resort to such equivocal expedients? A member of Washington's cabinet (and he, too, was a Randolph) once violated the “settled policy of the government,” but he was instantly deprived of the seals of office. He acted under the advice of Jefferson, who sought to destroy Washington; and the present Secretary Randolph is a grandson of Jefferson. Washington, the inflexible patriot, frowned indignantly upon every departure from the path of rectitude.

I can do nothing more than record these things, and watch!

Sunday, November 2

I watch the daily orders of Adjutant and Inspector-Gen. Cooper. These, when “by command of the Secretary of War,” are intelligible to any one, but not many are by his command. When simply “by order,” they are promulgated by order of the President, without even consulting the Secretary; and they often annul the Secretary's orders. They are edicts, and sometimes thought very arbitrary ones. One of these orders says liquor shall not be introduced into the city; and a poor fellow, the other day, was sentenced to the ball-and-chain for trying to bring hither his whisky from Petersburg. On the same day Gov. Brown, of Georgia, seized liquor in his State, in transitu over the railroad, belonging to the government!

Since the turning over of the passports to Generals Smith and Winder, I have resumed the position where all the letters to the department come through my hands. I read them, make brief statements of their contents, and send them to the Secretary. Thus all sent by the President to the department go through my hands, being epitomized in the same manner.

The new Assistant Secretary, Judge Campbell, has been ordering the Adjutant-General too peremptorily; and so Gen. Cooper has issued an order making Lieut.-Col. Deas an Acting Assistant Secretary of War, thus creating an office in defiance of Congress.

November 3

The right wing of Lee's army has fallen back [182] as far as Culpepper County, and the enemy advances. Active movements are speedily looked for; many suppose a desperate attempt to take Richmond.

Our government has decided that no one shall be permitted to go North for thirty days.

A requisition for heavy guns to defend Cumberland Gap, elicited from the Inspector of Ordnance a statement of the fact that we are “short” of guns for the defense of Richmond.

There was a rumor yesterday that the enemy was marching in force on Petersburg. This, at all events, was premature.

A letter from Hon. C. C. Clay, Senator, says there is much defection in North Alabama, and that many people are withdrawing themselves to avoid conscription. just at this time, if it were not for Lincoln's proclamation, if the war were conducted according to the rules of civilized nations, I verily believe a very formidable party in favor of Reconstruc-Tion might spring up in the South. With a united South, two million of Abolitionists could not subjugate us.

November 4

An expose of funds in the hands of disbursing agents shows there are nearly seventy millions of dollars not accounted for!

The members of the legislature are fearful of an attack on the Southern Railroad, and asks that Gen. Mahone be sent to Petersburg.

The government is impressing flour at $12 per barrel, when it is selling at $24; and as the railroads are not allowed to transport any for private use, it may be hoped we shall have our bread cheaper some of these days. But will the government make itself popular with the people?

The Examiner says a clerk in the War Department is making money in the substitute business. If this be true, it is rank corruption! But, then, what is the cotton business?

The Chief of Ordnance Bureau, Col. J. Gorgas (Northern by birth), recommends the Secretary of War to remove the lighter guns, some sixty in number, from the lower tiers of Forts Sumter, Moultrie, and Morgan, for the defense of the rivers likely to be ascended by the enemy's gun-boats.

I saw, to-day, the President's order to revoke the authority heretofore given Gov. Baylor to raise a brigade, and in regard to [183] his conduct as governor (ordering the massacre of the Indians after collecting them under pretense of forming a treaty of peace). The President suggests that nothing be done until the Governor be heard in his own defense. It was diabolical! If it had been consummated, it would have affixed the stigma of infamy to the government in all future time, and might have doomed us to merited subjugation.

November 5

Major Ruffin, in the Commissary Department, says the army must go on half rations after the 1st of January next.

It is alleged that certain favorites of the government have a monopoly of transportation over the railroads, for purposes of speculation and extortion!

November 6

I believe the commissaries and quartermasters are cheating the government. The Quartermaster-General sent in a paper, to-day, saying he did not need the contributions of clothes tendered by the people of Petersburg, but still would pay for them. They were offered for nothing.

The Commissary-General to-day says there is not wheat enough in Virginia (when a good crop was raised) for Gen. Lee's army, and unless he has millions in money and cotton, the army must disband for want of food. I don't believe it.

There are 5000 negroes working on the fortifications near the city, and 2500 are to work on the Piedmont Railroad.

We are all hoping that New York and other States declared against the Republicans, at the elections in the United States, on Tuesday last. Such a communication would be regarded as the harbinger of peace. We are all weary of the war, but must and will fight on, for no other alternative remains. Everything, however, indicates that we are upon the eve of most interesting events. This is the time for England or France to come to the rescue, and enjoy a commercial monopoly for many years. I think the Secretary of War has abandoned the idea of trading cotton to the enemy. It might cost him his head.

November 7

Yesterday I received from the agent of the City Councils fourteen pounds of salt, having seven persons in my family, including the servant. One pound to each member, per month, is allowed at 5 cts. per pound. The extortionists sell it at 70 cts. per pound. One of them was drawing for his family. He [184] confessed it; but said he paid 50 cts. for the salt he sold at 70 cts. Profit $10 per bushel! I sent an article to-day to the Enquirer, suggesting that fuel, bread, meat, etc. be furnished in the same manner. We shall soon be in a state of siege.

Last night there was a heavy fall of snow.

The authorities of Charleston, with the concurrence of Beauregard, advise all the non-combating population to leave the city, and remove their personal property. The city will be defended to the last extremity.

What a change in the Executive Department! Before the election, the President was accessible to all; and even a member of Congress had no preference over the common citizen. But now there are six aids, cavalry colonels in rank and pay, and one of them an Englishman, who see the people, and permit only certain ones to have access to the President. This looks like the beginning of an imperial court. But what may not its ending be?

I see that Mr. Hurlbut, incarcerated once as a spy, or as a writer for an Abolition paper in New York, and a Northern man himself, after being protected by Mr. Browne (the English A. D.C. of the President) and released by Mr. Benjamin from prison, has escaped to the North, and is out in a long article in the Times! He says he got a passport from Gen. Winder's Provost Marshal. Mr. James Lyons thought he had made H. a Southern man; what does he think now?

The “290” or Alabama, the ship bought in Europe, and commanded by Capt. Semmes, C. S. N., is playing havoc with the commerce of the United States. If we had a dozen of them, our foes would suffer incalculably, for they have an immense amount of shipping. I see Semmes had captured the Tonawanda, that used to lie at the foot of Walnut Street, Philadelphia; but he released her, first putting the master under bond to pay President Davis $80,000 after the war. I hope he will pay it, for I think the President will want the money.

November 8

The European statesmen, declining intervention in our behalf, have, nevertheless, complimented our President by saying he has, at all events, “made a nation.” He is pleased with this, I understand. But it is one of the errors which the wise men over the water are ever liable to fall into. The “nation” was made before the President existed: indeed, the nation made the President. [185]

We have rumors of fighting near the mouth of the Shenandoah, and that our arms were successful. It is time both armies were in winter quarters. Snow still lies on the ground here.

We have tidings from the North of the triumph of the Democrats in New York, New Jersey, etc. etc. This news produces great rejoicing, for it is hailed as the downfall of Republican despotism. Some think it will be followed by a speedy peace, or else that the European powers will recognize us without further delay. I should not be surprised if Seward were now to attempt to get the start of England and France, and cause our recognition by the United States. I am sure the Abolitionists cannot now get their million men. The drafting must be a failure.

The Governor of Mississippi (Pettus) informs the President that a Frenchman, perhaps a Jew, proposes to trade salt for cottonten sacks of the first for one of the latter. The Governor says he don't know that he has received the consent of “Butler, the beast” (but he knows the trade is impossible without it), but that is no business of his. He urges the traffic. And the President has consented to it, and given him power to conduct the exchange in spite of the military authorities. The President says, however, that twenty sacks of salt ought to be given for one of cotton. Salt is worth in New Orleans about one dollar a sack, cotton $160 per bale. The President informed the Secretary of what had been done, and sends him a copy of his dispatch to Gov. Pettus. He don't even ask Mr. Randolph's opinion.

November 9

It is too true that Charleston, Va., and the great Kanawha salt works have been abandoned by Gen. Echols for the want of an adequate force to hold them. If the President had only taken Gen. Lee's advice a month ago, and ordered a few thousand more men there, under the command of Gen. Ed. Johnson, we should have kept possession of the works. The President may seem to be a good nation-maker in the eyes of distant statesmen, but he does not seem to be a good salt-maker for the nation. The works he has just relinquished to the enemy manufacture 7000 bushels of salt per day-two million and a half a year — an ample supply for the entire population of the Confederacy, and an object adequate to the maintenance of an army of 50,000 in that valley. Besides, the troops necessary for its occupation will soon be in winter quarters, and quite as expensive to the government as if in [186] the valley. A Caesar, a Napoleon, a Pitt, and a Washington, all great nation-makers, would have deemed this work worthy their attention.

Only three days ago the President wrote to the Secretary that the idea of trading cotton to the enemy must be postponed until the first of January, and perhaps indefinitely, but now he informs Mr. Randolph that he has sent the requisite authority to his friend, Gov. Pettus, to launch out in that trade.

No, the people have made the nation. It is a people's war, and it is the momentum of a united, patriotic people, which carries everything with it. Our brave men win victories under adverse circumstances, and often under incompetent officers, and the people feed and clothe the armies in spite of the shortcomings of dishonest commissaries and quartermasters. They are now sending ten thousand pairs of shoes to Lee's army in opposition to the will of the Jew Myers, Quartermaster-General, who says everything must be contracted and paid for by his agents, according to red-tape rule and regulation.

The weather continues cold, 38°, and snow still lies on the ground. This must produce a cessation of hostilities, and afford Lincoln's drafted recruits opportunity for meditation.

If it be true that the Democrats have carried the day in the North, I think the war is approaching a termination.

November 10

A day or two ago some soldiers marched through the city without shoes, in the snow. A committee of citizens to-day obtained an order from the War Department, for the impressment of all the boots, shoes, blankets, and overcoats in the shops. What a commotion among the Jews!

It is certain that the enemy are advancing upon Culpepper, on the way to Richmond, in great force. This we have in letters from Gen. Lee, dated 7th inst., near Culpepper C. H. He says the enemy's cavalry is very numerous, while our horses have the “sore tongue,” and tender hoofs. Lee has ordered the stores, etc. from Gordonsville to Lynchburg. He says Jackson may possibly march through one of the gaps and fall upon the enemy's flank, and intimates that an opportunity may be offered to strike the invaders “a blow.”

Yesterday, Sunday, a cavalry company dashed into Fredericksburg, and after robbing the stores, and reporting that the Democrats [187] had swept the North, that England and France had recognized us, etc., they dashed out again.

The President sent to the department to day, without comment, a defense by Col. Baylor of his atrocious order for the massacre of the Indians. It was in a Texas paper. Baylor acknowledges its genuineness, and says the Apaches murdered our people invited to make a treaty with them, and he says it is his intention to retaliate by extermination of them.

Another proposition was received by the government to-day from a French firm of New Orleans merchants, to furnish us salt, meat, shoes, blankets, etc., in unlimited quantities, and guarantee their delivery, if we will allow them, with the proceeds of salt, the privilege of buying cotton on the Mississippi River, and they will, moreover, freight French ships above New Orleans, and guarantee that not a bale shall be landed in any U. S. port. Is it not certain that “Butler, the beast,” is a party to the speculation? This is a strong temptation, and we shall see what response our government will make to this proposition to violate an act of Congress.

November 11

More projects from the Southwest. Mr. Jno. A. S. has just arrived from New Orleans, where, he states in his communication to the government, he had interviews and correspondence with the U. S. authorities, Butler, etc., and they had given him positive assurances that he will be permitted to take any supplies to the planters (excepting arms and ammunition) in exchange for cotton, which may be shipped to any part of the world. S. says that Butler will let us have anything for a bribe. No doubt! And Mr. L., President of the L. Bank, writes that he will afford facilities to Mr. S It remains to be seen what our government will do in these matters. They smack of treason.

It is said heavy firing was heard yesterday in the direction of Culpepper C. H., and it is supposed a battle is in progress to-day. No danger of it.

November 12

The heavy firing heard did no execution. Letters from Gen. Lee indicate no battle, unless the enemy should make an egregious blunder. He says he has not half men enough to resist McClellan's advance with his mighty army, and prefers manoeuvring to risking his army. He says three-fourths of our cavalry horses are sick with sore-tongue, and their hoofs are falling [188] off, and the soldiers are not fed and clad as they should be. He urges the sending of supplies to Gordonsville.

And we have news of a simultaneous advance of Northern armies everywhere; and everywhere we have the same story of deficiency of men and provisions. North and south, east and west of us, the enemy is reported advancing.

Soon we shall have every one blaming the Secretary of War for the deficiency of men, and of quartermaster and commissary stores.

The Commissary-General, backed by the Secretary of War, made another effort to-day to obtain the President's permission to trade cotton with “Butler, the beast.” But the President and Gov. Pettus will manage that little matter without their assistance.

Major Ruffin's (Commissary's Bureau) statement of the alarming prospects ahead, unless provisions be obtained outside of the Confederacy (for cotton), was induced by reports from New Orleans. A man was in the office to-day exhibiting Butler's passport, and making assurances that all the Yankee generals are for sale — for cotton. Butler will make a fortune-and so will some of our great men. Butler says the reason he don't send troops into the interior is that he is afraid we will burn the cotton.

It is reported that a fleet of the enemy's gun-boats are in the James River.

November 13

The President has rebuked the Secretary of War in round terms for ordering Gen. Holmes to assume the command on this side the Mississippi. Perhaps Mr. Randolph has resolved to be really Secretary. This is the first thing I have ever known him to do without previously obtaining the President's sanction-and it must be confessed, it was a matter of some gravity and importance. Of course it will be countermanded. I have not been in the Secretary's office yet, to see if there is an envelope on his table directed to the President marked “Immediate.” But he has not been to see the President-and that may be significant, as this is the usual day.

A gentleman, arrived to-day from Maryland, reports that Gen. McClellan has been removed, and the command given to Burnside! He says, moreover, that this change has given umbrage to the army. This may be our deliverance; for if McClellan had [189] been let alone two weeks longer (provided he ascertained our present condition), he might have captured Richmond, which would be holding all Eastern and much of Central Virginia. This blunder seems providential.

We learn, also, that the Democracy have carried Illinois, Mr. Lincoln's own State, by a very large majority. This is hailed with gladness by our people; and if there should be a “rebellion in the North,” as the Tribune predicts, this intervention of the Democrats will be regarded altogether in our favor. Let them put down the radical Abolitionists, and then, no doubt, they will recover some of our trade. It will mortify the Republicans, hereafter, when the smoke clears away, to learn that Gen. Butler was trading supplies for our army during this November, 1862-and it will surprise our secessionists to learn that our government is trading him cotton!

November 14

An order has gone forth to-day from the Secretary of War, that no more flour or wheat shall leave the States. This order was given some time ago — then relaxed, and now reissued. How soon will he revoke it again?

Never before did such little men rule such a great people. Our rulers are like children or drunken men riding docile horses, that absolutely keep the riders from falling off by swaying to the right and left, and preserving an equilibrium. There is no rule for anything, and no stability in any policy.

To-day more propositions from Frenchmen (in New Orleans) have been received. Butler is preparing to do a great businessand no objection to the illicit traffic is filed by the Secretaries of State or Treasury.

Yesterday one of the President's servants was arrested for stealing Treasury notes. The Treasury Department is just under the Executive Department; and this negro (slave) has been used by the President to take important papers to the departments. The amount abstracted was $5000--unsigned-but some one, perhaps the negro, for he is educated, forged the Register's and Treasurer's names.

I saw Gen. J. E. Johnston standing idle in the street to-day.

November 15

“ Now, by St. George, the work goes bravely on!” Another letter on my desk from the President to the Secretary. Well, being in an official envelope, it was my duty [190] to open it, note its contents, and send it to the Secretary. The Secretary has been responding to the short espistle he received yesterday. It appears he could not clearly understand its purport. But the President has used such plain language in this, that it must be impossible to misunderstand him. He says that the transferring of generals commanding important military districts, without conference with him and his concurrence; and of high disbursing officers; and, above all, the making of appointments without his knowledge and consent, are prerogatives that do not pertain to the Secretary of War in the first instance; and can only be exercised by him under the direction of the Chief Executive. In regard to appointments, especially, the President has no constitutional authority nor any disposition to transfer the power. He discussed their relative duties,--for the benefit of all future Secretaries, I suppose.

But it looks like a rupture. It seems, then, after acting some eight months merely in the humble capacity of clerk, Mr. Randolph has all at once essayed to act the President.

The Secretary of War did not go to the President's closet today. This is the third day he has absented himself. Such incidents as these preceded the resignation of Mr. Walker. It is a critical time, and the Secretary of War ought to confer freely with the President.

Sunday, November 16

Yesterday the Secretary of War resigned his office, and his resignation was promptly accepted by the President.

November 17

A profound sensation has been produced in the outside world by the resignation of Mr. Randolph; and most of the people and the press seem inclined to denounce the President, for they know not what. In this matter the President is not to blame; but the Secretary has acted either a very foolish or a very desperate part. It appears that he wrote a note in reply to the last letter of the President, stating that as no discretion was allowed him in such matters as were referred to by the President, he begged respectfully to tender his resignation. The President responded, briefly, that inasmuch as the Secretary declined acting any longer as one of his constitutional advisers, and also declined a personal conference, no alternative remained but to accept his resignation. [191]

Randolph's friends would make it appear that he resigned in consequence of being restricted in his action; but he knows very well that the latitude allowed him became less and less circumscribed; and that, hitherto, he was well content to operate within the prescribed limits. Therefore, if it was not a silly caprice, it was a deliberate purpose, to escape a cloud of odium he knew must sooner or later burst around him.

A letter from Gen. Magruder, dated 10th inst., at Jackson, Mississippi, intimates that we shall lose Holly Springs. He has also been in Mobile, and doubts whether that city can be successfully defended by Gen. Forney, whose liver is diseased, and memory impaired. He recommends that Brig.-Gen. Whiting be promoted, and assigned to the command in place of Forney, relieved.

A letter from Gen. Whiting, near Wilmington, dated 13th. inst., expresses serious apprehensions whether that place can be held against a determined attack, unless a supporting force of 10,000 men be sent there immediately. It is in the command of Major- Gen. G. A. Smith.

More propositions to ship cotton in exchange for the supplies needed by the country. The President has no objection to accepting them all, provided the cotton don't go to any of the enemy's ports. How can it be possible to avoid this liability, if the cotton be shipped from the Mississippi River?

November 18

Well, the President is a bold man! He has put in Randolph's place, temporarily at least, Major-Gen. Gustavus W. Smith--who was Street Commissioner in the City of New York, on the day that Capt. G. W. Randolph was fighting the New Yorkers at Bethel!

Gen. Wise is out in a card, stating that in response to a requisition for shoes for his suffering troops, Quartermaster-Gen. A. C. Myers said, “Let them suffer.”

The enemy attacked Fredericksburg yesterday, and there was some skirmishing, the result of which we have not heard. It is rumored they are fighting there to-day. We have but few regiments between here and Fredericksburg.

November 19

Hon. James A. Seddon (Va.) has been appointed Secretary of War. He is an able man (purely a civilian), and was member of our Revolutionary Convention, at Metropolitan [192] Hall, 16th April, 1861. But some thought him then rather inclined to restrain than to urge decisive action. He is an orator, rich, and frail in health. He will not remain long in office if he attempts to perform all the duties.

Two letters were received from Gen. Lee to-day. Both came unsealed and open, an omission of his adjutant-general, Mason. The first inclines to the belief that Burnside intends to embark his army for the south side of James River, to operate probably in Eastern North Carolina.

The second, dated 17th inst. 6 1/2 P. M., says the scouts report large masses advancing on Fredericksburg, and it may be Burnside's purpose to make that town his base of operations. (Perhaps for a pleasant excursion to Richmond.) Three brigades of the enemy had certainly marched to Fredericksburg. A division of Longstreet's corps were marched thither yesterday, 18th, at early dawn. Lee says if the reports of the scouts be confirmed, the entire corps will follow immediately. And he adds: “Before the enemy's trains can leave Fredericksburg (for Richmond) this whole army will be in position.” These letters were sent immediately to the President.

A letter from Gen. Holmes calls for an immediate supply of funds ($24,000,000) for the trans-Mississippi Department. A letter from Gen. Pike says if Gen. Hindman (Ark.) is to control there, the Indian Country will be lost.

We shall soon have a solution of Burnside's intentions. Lee is in spirits. He knows Burnside can be easily beaten with greatly inferior numbers.

We hear of sanguinary acts in Missouri-ten men (civilians) being shot in retaliation for one killed by our rangers. These acts exasperate our people, and will stimulate them to a heroic defense.

The cars this afternoon from the vicinity of Fredericksburg were crowded with negroes, having bundles of clothing, etc., their owners sending them hither to escape the enemy. A frightened Jew, who came in the train, said there was an army of 100,000 near Fredericksburg, and we should hear more in a few days. I doubt it not.

Salt sold yesterday at auction for $1.10 per pound. Boots are now bringing $50 per pair; candles (tallow) 75 cts. per pound; butter [193] $2.00 per pound. Clothing is almost unattainable. We are all looking shabby enough.

Mr. K., the young Chief of the Bureau, who came in with Mr. Randolph, declines the honor of going out with him, to the great chagrin of several anxious applicants. It is an office “for life.”

I shall despair of success unless the President puts a stop to Gen. Winder's passport operations, for, if the enemy be kept advised of our destitute condition, there will be no relaxation of efforts to subjugate us. And Europe, too, will refuse to recognize us. I believe there are traitors in high places here who encourage the belief in the North and in Europe that we must soon succumb. And some few of our influential great men might be disposed to favor reconstruction of the Union on the basis of the Democratic party which has just carried the elections in the North.

Everything depends upon the result of approaching military operations. If the enemy be defeated, and the Democrats of the North should call for a National Convention-but why anticipate?

November 20

A letter from Brig. H. Marshall, Abingdon, Ky., in reply to one from the Secretary, says his Kentuckians are not willing to be made Confederate hog-drivers, but they will protect the commissary's men in collecting and removing the hogs. Gen. M. criticises Gen. Bragg's campaign very severely. He says the people of Kentucky looked upon their fleeting presence as a horse-show, or military pageantry, and not as indicating the stern reality of war. Hence they did not rise in arms, and hence their diffidence in following the fortunes of the new Confederacy. Gen. M. asks if it is the purpose of the government to abandon Kentucky, and if so, is he not functus officio, being a Kentucky general, commanding Kentucky troops?

Col. Myers has placed on file in the department a denial of having said to Gen. Wise's quartermaster, “Let them suffer.”

Several ladies, near relatives of Judge Campbell, Assistant Secretary of War, came over yesterday under flag of truce. They lived, I believe, in Alexandria.

Another requisition has been made by the engineer for 5000 negroes to work on the fortifications of Richmond.

No letters were received from Gen. Lee to-day, and he may be busy in the field. Accounts say the enemy is planting batteries on the heights opposite Fredericks burg. [194]

It has been raining occasionally the last day or two. I hope the ground is soft, and the mud deep; if so, Burnside cannot move on Richmond, and we shall have time to prepare for “contingencies.”

Yesterday salt sold at auction for $1.30 per pound. We are getting into a pretty extreme condition.

November 21

It rained all night, which may extinguish Burnside's ardent fire. He cannot drag his wagons and artillery through the melting snow, and when it diies we may look for another rain.

The new Secretary is not yet in his seat. It is generally supposed he will accept.

President Davis hesitates to retaliate life for life in regard to the Missouri military executions.

Common shirting cotton, and Yankee calico, that used to sell at 12 1/2 cts. per yard, is now $1.75! What a temptation for the Northern manufacturers! What a rush of trade there would be if peace should occur suddenly! And what a party there would be in the South for peace (and unity with Northern Democrats) if the war were waged somewhat differently. The excesses of the Republicans compel our people to be almost a unit. This is all the better for us. Still, we are in quite a bad way now, God knows!

The passengers by the cars from Fredericksburg this morning report that Gen. Patrick (Federal) came over under a flag of truce, demanding the surrender of the town, which was refused by Gen. Lee, in compliance with the unanimous sentiments of the people. Gen. Patrick, it is stated, said if it were not surrendered by 9 A. M. to-day, it would be shelled.

Mr. Dargan, M. C., writes to the President from Mobile that the inhabitants of that city are in an awful condition. Meal is selling for $3.50 per bushel, and wood at $15 per cord, and that the people are afraid to bring supplies, apprehending that the government agents will seize them. The President (thanks to him!) has ordered that interference with domestic trade must not be permitted.

Mr. Seddon has taken his seat. He has, at least, a manly appearance-his predecessor was said to look like a m----y.

The President has ordered our generals in Missouri, if the Yankee [195] accounts of the executions of our people be true, to execute the next ten Federal officers taken in that State.

The Enquirer, to-day, publishes Col. Baylor's order to execute the Indians in Arizona, coupled with Mr. Randolph's condemnation of the act. Who furnished this for publication?

It is rumored that Fredericksburg is in flames, shelled by the enemy. We will know how true this is before night.

November 23

The cars which came in from the North last night brought a great many women, children, and negroes from Fredericksburg and its vicinity. The benevolent and patriotic citizens here had, I believe, made some provision for their accommodation. But the enemy had not yet shelled the town.

There is a rumor that Jackson was to appear somewhere in the rear of the enemy, and that the Federal stores which could not be moved with the army had been burnt at Manassas.

Yesterday the President remitted the sentence of a poor lad, sentenced to ball-and-chain for six months, for cowardice, etc. He had endured the penalty three months. I like this act, for the boy had enlisted without the consent of his parents, and was only sixteen years of age.

J. R. Anderson & Co. (having drawn $500,000 recently on the contract) have failed to furnish armor for the gun-boats-the excuse being that iron could not be had for their rolling-mills. The President has ordered the Secretaries of the Navy and War to consult on the propriety of taking railroad iron, on certain tracks, for that purpose.

November 24

Fredericksburg not shelled yet; but the women and children are flying hither. The enemy fired on a train of women and children yesterday, supposing the cars (baggage) were conveying military stores. The Northern press says Burnside is determined to force his way, directly from the Rappahannock to Richmond, by virtue of superior numbers. The thing Lee desires him to attempt.

The enemy are landing troops at Newport News, and we shall soon hear of gun-boats and transports in the James River. But no one is dismayed. We have supped on horrors so long, that danger now is an accustomed condiment. Blood will flow in torrents, and God will award the victory.

Another letter from Gen. Whiting says there is every reason to [196] suppose that Wilmington will be attacked immediately, and if reinforcements (10,000) be not sent him, the place cannot be defended against a land assault. Nor is this all: for if the city falls, with the present force only to defend it, none of our men can escape. There is no repose for us!

November 25

Fredericksburg is not shelled yet; and, moreover, the enemy have apologized for the firing at the train containing women and children. Affairs remain in status quo — the mayor and military authorities agreeing that the town shall furnish neither aid nor comfort to the Confederate army, and the Federals agreeing not to shell it — for the present.

Gen. Corcoran, last year a prisoner in this city, has landed his Irish brigade at Newport News. It is probable we shall be assailed from several directions simultaneously.

No beggars can be found in the streets of this city. No cry of distress is heard, although it prevails extensively. High officers of the government have no fuel in their houses, and give nearly $20 per cord for wood for cooking purposes. And yet there are millions of tons of coal almost under the very city!

November 26

No fighting on the Rappahannock yet, that I hear of; and it is said the enemy are moving farther down the river. Can they mean to cross? Nothing more is heard of Gen. Corcoran, with his Irish bogtrotters, on the Peninsula.

The government has realized 50,000 pounds of leather from two counties in Eastern North Carolina, in danger of falling into the hands of the enemy. This convinces me that there is abundance of leather in the South, if it were properly distributed. It is held, like everything else, by speculators, for extortioners' profits. The government might remedy the evils, and remove the distresses of the people; but instead of doing so, the bureaus aggravate them by capricious seizures, and tyrannical restrictions on transportation. Letters are coming in from every quarter complaining of the despotic acts of government agents.

Mr. J. Foulkes writes another letter to the department on his cotton scheme. He says it must be embraced now or never, as the enemy will soon make such dispositions as would prevent his getting supplies through their lines. The Commissary-General approves, and the late Secretary approved; but what will the new one do? The President is non-committal. [197]

What a blunder France and England made in hesitating to espouse our cause They might have had any commercial advantages.

November 27

Some of the late Secretary's friends are hinting that affairs will go amiss now, as if he would have prevented any disaster! Who gave up Norfolk? That was a calamitous blunder! Letters from North Carolina are distressing enough. They say, but for the influence of Gov. Vance, the legislature would favor reconstruction!

Gen. Marshall writes lugubriously. He says his men are all barefoot.

Gen. Magruder writes that Pemberton has only 20,000 men, and should have 50,000 more at once-else the Mississippi Valley will be lost, and the cause ruined. He thinks there should be a concentration of troops there immediately, no matter how much other places might suffer; the enemy beaten, and the Mississippi secured at all hazards. If not, Mobile is lost, and perhaps Montgomery, as well as Vicksburg, Holly Springs, etc.

One of our paroled men from Washington writes the President that, on the 6th instant, Burnside had but seventy regiments; and the President seemed to credit it! The idea of Burnside advancing with seventy regiments is absurd. But how many absurd ideas have been entertained by the government, and have influenced it! Nous verrons.

November 28

All is quiet on the Rappahannock; the enemy reported to be extending his line up the river some twenty miles, intending to find a passage. He might have come over last week but for a ruse of Gen. Lee, who appeared near Fredericksburg twenty-four hours in advance of the army. His presence deceived Burnside, who took it for granted that our general was at the head of his army!

M. Paul carried the day yesterday, in the Confederate Court, in the matter of $2,000,000 worth of tobacco, which, under pretense of its belonging to French citizens (though bought by Belmont, of New York, an alien enemy), is rescued from sequestration. In other words, the recognition of M. Paul as Consul, and the validity of his demands, deprives the Confederate Government of two millions; and really acknowledges the exequatur of the United [198] States, as M. Paul is not Consul to the Confederate States but to the United States. This looks like submission; and a great fee has been realized by somebody. If the enemy were to take Richmond, this tobacco would be destroyed by the military.

Gen. Joseph E. Johnston is assigned to the command of the army of the West.

To-day we have a dispatch from Gov. Pettus, saying authority to pass cotton through the lines of the army, and for salt to have ingress, must be given immediately. The President directs the Secretary to transmit orders to the generals to that effect. He says the cotton is to go to France without touching any port in the possession of the enemy.

November 29

The Quartermaster-General publishes a notice that he will receive and distribute contributions of clothing, etc. to the army, and even pay for the shirts $1 each! Shirts are selling at $12. The people will not trust him to convey the clothing to their sons and brothers, and so the army must suffer on. But he is getting in bad odor. A gentleman in Alabama writes that his agents are speculating in food: the President tells the Secretary to demand explanations, and the Secretary does so. Col. Myers fails, I think, to make the exhibit required, and it may be the worse for him.

I see by the papers that another of Gen. Winder's police has escaped to Washington City, and is now acting as a Federal de-tective. And yet many similar traitors are retained in service here!

The Governor of North Carolina writes the President that his State intends to organize an army of 10,000 men for its own defense, besides her sixty regiments in the Confederate States service; and asks if the Confederate States Government can furnish any arms, etc. The President sends this to the Secretary of War, for his advice. He wants to know Mr. Seddon's views on the subject — a delicate and embarrassing predicament for the new Secretary, truly! He must know that the President frowns on all military organizations not under his own control, and that he counteracted all Gen. Floyd's efforts to raise a division under State authority. Beware, Mr. Seddon! The President is a little particular concerning his prerogatives; and by the advice you now give, you stand or fall. What is North Carolina to the Empire? [199] You tread on dangerous ground. Forget your old State-Rights doctrine, or off goes your head.

November 30

It is said there is more concern manifested in the government here on the indications that the States mean to organize armies of non-conscripts for their own defense, than for any demonstration of the enemy. The election of Graham Confederate States Senator in North Carolina, and of H. V. Johnson in Georgia, causes some uneasiness. These men were not original secessionists, and have been the objects of aversion, if not of proscription, by the men who secured position in the Confederate States Government. Nevertheless, they are able men, and as true to Southern independence as any. But they are opposed to despotic usurpation-and their election seems like a rebuke and condemnation of military usurpation.

From all sections of the Confederacy complaints are coming in that the military agents of the bureaus are oppressing the people; and the belief is expressed by many, that a sentiment is prevailing inimical to the government itself.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Fredericksburg, Va. (Virginia, United States) (16)
United States (United States) (9)
North Carolina (North Carolina, United States) (6)
France (France) (6)
Washington (United States) (5)
Europe (5)
Mobile, Ala. (Alabama, United States) (4)
England (United Kingdom) (4)
Wilmington, N. C. (North Carolina, United States) (3)
Richmond (Virginia, United States) (3)
Kentucky (Kentucky, United States) (3)
Charleston (South Carolina, United States) (3)
Alabama (Alabama, United States) (3)
Missouri (Missouri, United States) (2)
Mississippi (United States) (2)
Holly Springs (Mississippi, United States) (2)
Gordonsville (Virginia, United States) (2)
Georgia (Georgia, United States) (2)
Virginia (Virginia, United States) (1)
Vicksburg (Mississippi, United States) (1)
St. George, W. Va. (West Virginia, United States) (1)
Shenandoah (United States) (1)
Norfolk (Virginia, United States) (1)
New York (New York, United States) (1)
New Jersey (New Jersey, United States) (1)
Mississippi (Mississippi, United States) (1)
Maryland (Maryland, United States) (1)
Lynchburg (Virginia, United States) (1)
Kanawha (West Virginia, United States) (1)
Jackson (Mississippi, United States) (1)
Illinois (Illinois, United States) (1)
Fort Moultrie (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Fort Morgan (Alabama, United States) (1)
Cumberland Gap (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Bethel, Me. (Maine, United States) (1)
Arizona (Arizona, United States) (1)
Abingdon, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: