Xliii. October, 1864
- Attempt to retake Fort Harrison. -- a false alarm. -- dispatches from Gen. Lee. -- impressments. -- Gen. Butler's generosity. -- matters in and about the city. -- Beverly Tucker's contract with a New York firm for supplies.
October 1Raining and cold. Horrible for the troops in the trenches! The battle, yesterday (on this side of the river), was an attempt of Gen. Lee to retake Fort Harrison, near Chaffin's Bluff, which failed, after two essays. Gen. Lee deemed its recapture important, and exposed himself very much in the assault: so much so as to cause a thrill of alarm throughout the field. But it all would not do; the enterprise of the enemy had in a few hours rendered the place almost impregnable. Judge Lyons, who came in to-day (from a visit to the field), estimates our killed and wounded at from 700 to 1000. But we have better news from other quarters. Generals Hampton and Heath attacked the enemy on the south side of the river, yesterday, and captured 900 men. Gen. Early sends word that the whole force of the enemy (Sheridan's army) is in full retreat, and he is in pursuit. Gen. Echols, West Virginia and East Tennessee, reports several successes to our arms in that region. This has been a terrible day; a storm of wind and driving rain. Heavy guns are heard at intervals down the river. At 4 P. M., while writing the last line, a furious cannonade has sprung up on the southeast of the city, and seemingly very near to it. It may be a raid. The firing increases in rapidity, mingled, I  think, with the roar of small arms. We can hear distinctly the whistle of shot and shell, and the detonations shake the windows. It may be that the atmosphere (dampness) and the wind from the east cause some deception as to the distance; but really it would seem that from the apparent proximity of the enemy's guns, some of the shells must reach the eastern parts of the city. After thirty minutes quick firing, it ceases in a great measure. At 5 P. M. it was resumed, and continued until dark. Some think it but a raid, others report 40,000 men engaged. If this be so, to-morrow will probably be fought the great battle for Richmond. Doubtless, Grant is eager to hold some position from which he can shell the city.
October 2Cloudy and calm. All quiet. It was a false alarm yesterday evening. Nothing but some of the enemy's cavalry scouts were seen from the intermediate batteries, and it was merely a waste of ammunition on our part, and destruction of timber where the enemy were partially sheltered. Not a gun, so far as I can learn, was fired against our fortifications. Gen. Pemberton must have known that none of the enemy's infantry and artillery had marched in this direction through the storm, and in the mud, or else our scouts are worthless. But we have news of the capture of 500 more prisoners near Petersburg, yesterday. The particulars of the fight have not yet been received. Every male between seventeen and fifty-five is now required to have a pass, from Gen. Kemper or Gen. Barton, to walk the streets, even to church. The militia are all out, except those hidden in the back rooms of their shops-extortioners; and the city is very quiet. No wonder the women and children were thrown into a panic yesterday. The shelling did some good in the Saturday evening market, as most of the people were eager to get home. A boy sold me apples at 75 cents per quart, instead of $1. The physicians have had a meeting, and agree to charge $30 per visit. The bombardment is still in progress at Charleston, and there has never been any intermission. The enemy's batteries now reach over two-thirds of that devoted city.  I see by a Northern paper that Gen. Grant is having his children educated at Burlington, N. J.; perhaps at the same institutions where mine were educated; and I perceive that our next door neighbor, Mrs. Kinsey, has been waving the “glorious Stars and Stripes” over Gen. G.'s head, from her ample porch. Well, I would not injure that flag; and I think it would never be assailed by the Southern people, if it were only kept at home, away from our soil. We have a flag of our own we prefer.
October 3Misty and damp, but warm. Guns heard down the river. On Friday, it seems, the enemy penetrated and held a portion of our works below Petersburg; and although we captured many prisoners, it does not appear that we regained the works or retook the cannon. So far, although the enemy's loss in men may have been greater in the operations of the last few days, it would seem that we have lost ground; that our forts, etc. have been captured and held, up to this moment; and that both the right and left wings of Grant have been advanced, and established in the positions taken. All this, too, under the eye of Gen. Lee. It is enough to make one tremble for Richmond. They do not heed his calls for men. In the North, the Presidential campaign is growing warm. McClellan's friends have been denounced as “traitors” in Ohio, and one of their meetings broken up by the soldiers. This fire may spread, and relieve us. It is now said a corps of the enemy's infantry was really peeping from the groves and lanes west of the city, on Saturday, when the furious shelling took place. Rumors-we have nothing but rumors — of fighting, said to be in progress on the south side of the river. It is said the enemy, that were a few days ago menacing Richmond, are recrossing to the Petersburg side.
October 4Foggy; then bright; then very warm. Gen. Lee is at Chaffin's Bluff. A dispatch from him this morning states that the enemy's infantry are near Harrisonburg, in the Valley, and that his cavalry is retiring. 9 A. M. Another dispatch from Gen. Lee. The raiders' cavalry, only 250 strong, are at Brandy Station, a body of their infantry at Bealton Central Railroad. 9 1/2 A. M. Gen. Lee says Gen. Breckinridge repulsed the enemy's  attack on Saltville, on Sunday, 2d inst.; it was a “bloody” repulse, and Gen. B. is pursuing. Gen. Beauregard has been appointed to the supervisory command of the army in Georgia, etc.; in response to the universal calls of the people. The enemy threw up earthworks yesterday, toward the city, from Fort Harrison, one mile in length. He is now within five miles of the city, and if his progress is not checked, he will soon be throwing shells at us. But Lee is there, digging also. Flour rose yesterday to $125 per barrel, meal to $72 per bushel, and bacon $10 per pound. Fortunately, I got 100 pounds of flour from North Carolina a few days ago at $1.20 per pound. And Thomas, my son, detailed as clerk for Gen. Kemper, will draw 30 pounds of flour and 10 pounds bacon per month.
October 5Bright, and very warm. There is a report that Gen. Hood's army is at Marietta, in Sherman's rear, and it may be so. One of the clerks (Mr. Bechtel) was killed yesterday by one of the enemy's sharpshooters at Chaffin's Farm. He was standing on the parapet, looking in the direction of the enemy's pickets. He had been warned to no purpose. He leaves a wife and nine children. A subscription is handed round, and several thousand dollars will be raised. Gen. R. E. Lee was standing near when he fell. All is quiet to-day. But they are impressing the negro men found in the streets to-day to work on the fortifications. It is again rumored that Petersburg is to be given up. I don't believe it.
October 6Bright, and very warm. The President returned this morning, hastened hither by the perils environing the capital. An order is published this morning revoking all details for the army of persons between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years of age. If this be rigidly enforced, it will add many thousands to the army. It is said there are 8000 details in the military bureaus of this State. A dispatch from Gen. Hood, near Lost Mountain (in Georgia, Sherman's rear), dated yesterday, says Sherman is marching out of  Atlanta to attack him. He says Gen. Stewart's corps struck the railroad at Big Shanty, capturing 350 prisoners, and destroying ten miles of the road. Gen. Forrest is marching against Altoona. We shall soon have stirring news. All is quiet near Petersburg and Richmond to-day. Eight of the local companies (clerks) have been ordered to guard the prisoners to Salisbury, N. C. I saw a New York Tribune to-day, of the 17th inst., and find the Peterson's are advertising new editions of several of my books.
October 7Bright and beautiful. The government, after giving the news from Georgia, position of Hood, to the press, suppressed it. It is well, perhaps, not to permit Grant, who sees our papers daily, to know what we are doing there. There are rumors of fighting to-day near Chaffin's Bluff, but we hear no cannon, except an occasional shell at long intervals. Gen. Bragg is now in hot water with the Quartermaster-General, for ordering the trial of Lieut.-Col. Cone and Major Maynard, Quartermasters, in the city, for alleged violation of law and orders. Gen. Preston is away again or sick, and Col. August and Lieut.- Col. Lay are again signing papers at “the Bureau,” as “acting superintendents.” Bragg may aim another bomb at the refractory concern.
October 8Cloudy, windy, and cold. The fighting yesterday was more serious than I supposed. It was supposed the conflict would be resumed to-day, but we have no information of any fighting up to this hour-5 P. M. From Gen. Hood we have a dispatch, saying Major-Gen. French attacked Altoona day before yesterday. He carried all the outworks, but failed at the inner one, and learning a body of the enemy were approaching his rear, Gen. F. withdrew to the main body of the army. He says nothing of the loss, etc. on either side. At the Tredegar Works, and in the government workshops, the detailed soldier, if a mechanic, is paid in money and in rations (at the current prices) about $16 per day, or nearly $6000 per annum. A member of Congress receives $5500, a clerk $4000.
Sunday, October 9Cloudy, windy, and very cold.  I hear of no operations yesterday, although, as usual, some cannonnading was audible yesterday evening. It is said Gen. Pemberton was in great perturbation during the several advances of the enemy last week. Like Boabdil, the Unlucky of Grenada, he lost some of his cannon, and every one anticipated disaster under his command. This will furnish fresh material for assaults in Congress on the President, if that body should meet again next month, for placing this officer in so responsible a command, whatever may be his skill, when the soldiers and the people have no faith in him. It is characteristic of the President to adhere to what he deems just and proper, regardless of anticipated consequences. This was the habit of Caesar-but he fell. An effort is again being made to replenish Lee's army with ablebodied details employed in the various departments, but I fear it will only result, as heretofore, in sending to the ranks the weak and diseased who are poor and friendless.
October 10A white frost; first frost of the season. All quiet below. Gen. W. M. Gardner (in Gen. Winder's place) reports that of the exempts and citizens taken from the streets to the front, last week, a majority have deserted This proves that even a despotic military act cannot be committed with impunity. Gen. Beauregard telegraphs from Opeleka, Ala., that he has arranged matters satisfactorily between Gov. Brown of Georgia and Gen. Cobb, regarding exempts and State militia. The President directs the Secretary to ascertain if this has been done in accordance with law and the interests of the service. Gen. R. Taylor telegraphs that Gen. E. K. Smith has proclaimed pardon to deserters, from trans-Mississippi Department, after he had arrestedmost of them and sent them to their regiments, and now he recommends that no more troops be brought over the river or they will be sure to desert. The President directs the Secretary to correspond with Gen. Smith on the subject. Gen. Taylor is the President's kinsman-by his first marriage. Gen. Beauregard left Opeleka on the 7th inst. for Hood's army, so in a few days we may expect a battle.
October 11Bright and pleasant. All is quiet below. From Georgia we have many rumors. It is reported that a  battle has been fought (second time) at Altoona, which we captured, with 4000 prisoners; that Rome has been taken, with 3000 negro prisoners; .and, finally, that we have Atlanta again. I have seen no such dispatches. But the gentleman who assured me it was all true, has a son a clerk at the President's office, and a relative in the telegraph office. Dispatches may have come to the President; and, if so, it may be our policy to forbid their publication for the present, as the enemy would derive the first intelligence of their disaster from our newspapers. Well, Gen. Gardner reports, officially, that of'the number of exempts, and of the mixed class of citizens arrested in the streets, and summarily marched to the “front,” “a majority have deserted I” Men, with exemptions in their pockets, going to or returning from market, have been seized by the Adjutant-General's orders, and despotically hurried off without being permitted even to send a message to their families. Thousands were entrapped, by being directed to call at Gen. Barton's headquarters, an immense warehouse, and receive passes; but no Gen. Barton was there-or if there, not visible; and all the anxious seekers found themselves in prison, only to be liberated as they were incorporated into companies, and marched “to the front.” From the age of fifteen to fifty-five, all were seized by that order — no matter what papers they bore, or what the condition of their families-and hurried to the field, where there was no battle. No wonder there are many deserters — no wonder men become indifferent as to which side shall prevail, nor that the administration is falling into disrepute at the capital.
October 12Bright and beautiful. All quiet below, save an occasional booming from the fleet. Nothing from Georgia in the papers, save the conjectures of the Northern press. No doubt we have gained advantages there, which it is good policy to conceal as long as possible from the enemy. Squads of able-bodied detailed men are arriving at last, from the interior. Lee's army, in this way, will get efficient reinforcements. The Secretary of the Treasury sends a note over to the Secretary of War to-day, saying the Commissary-General, in his estimates, allows but $31,000,000 for tax in kind-whereas the tax  collectors show an actual amount, credited to farmers and planters, of $145,000,000. He says this will no doubt attract the notice of Congress. Mr. Peck, our agent to purchase supplies in North Carolina, has delivered no wheat yet. He bought supplies for his family; 400 bushels of wheat for 200 clerks, and 100 for Assistant Secretary of War, Judge Campbell, and Mr.-Kean, the young Chief of the Bureau. This he says he bought with private funds; but he brought it at the government's expense. The clerks are resolved not to submit to his action. I hear of more desertions. Mr. Seddon and Mr. Stanton at Washington are engaged in a singular game of chance. The harsh orders of both cause mutual abandonments, and now we have the spectacle of men deserting our regiments, and quite as many coming over from the enemy's regiments near the city. Meantime Gen. Bragg is striving to get the able-bodied men out of the bureaus and to place them in the field. The despotic, order, arresting every man in the streets, and hurrying them to “the front,” without delay, and regardless of the condition of their families — some were taken off when getting medicine for their sick wives — is still the theme of execration, even among men who have been the most ultra and uncompromising secessionists. The terror caused many to hide themselves, and doubtless turned them against the government. They say now such a despotism is quite as bad as a Stanton despotism, and there is not a toss — up between the rule of the United States and the Confederate States. Such are some of the effects of bad measures in such critical times as these. Mr. Seddon has no physique to sustain him. He has intellect, and has read much; but, nevertheless, such great men are sometimes more likely to imitate some predecessor at a critical moment, or to adopt some bold yet inefficient suggestion from another, than to originate an adequate one themselves. He is a scholar, an invalid, refined and philosophical-but effeminate.
October 13Rained all night; clear and cool this morning. The government publishes nothing from Georgia yet; but it is supposed there is intelligence of an important character in the city, which it would be impolitic to communicate to the enemy. All still remains quiet below the city. But the curtain is expected  to rise on the next act of the tragedy every moment. Gen. Grant probably furloughed many of his men to vote in Pennsylvania and Ohio, on Tuesday last-elections preliminary to the Presidential election-and they have had time to return to their regiments. If this pause should continue a week or two longer, Gen. Lee would be much strengthened. Every day the farmers, whose details have been revoked, are coming in from the counties; and many of these were in the war in ‘61 and ‘62-being experienced veterans. Whereas Grant's recruits, though greater in number, are raw and unskilled. The Medical Boards have been instructed to put in all men that come before them, capable of bearing arms ten days. One died in the trenches, on the eleventh day, of consumption! There is a rumor of a fight on our extreme left. It is said Field's division (C. S.) repulsed three assaults of the enemy. If the battle be still continued (4 P. M — the wind from the west prevents us from hearing guns), no doubt it is the beginning of a general engagement-decisive, perhaps, of the fate of Richmond. We have many accounts of evasions of military service, occasioned by the alleged bad faith of the government, and the despotic orders from the Adjutant-General's office. And yet Gov. Smith's certificates for exemption of rich young Justices of the Peace, Commissioners of the (county) Revenue, Deputy Sheriffs, clerks, constables, officers and clerks of banks, still come in daily; and they are “allowed” by the Assistant Secretary of War. Will the poor and friendless fight their battles, and win their independence for them? It may be so; but let not rulers in future wars follow the example! Nothing but the conviction that they are fighting for their families, their sacred altars, and their little property induces thousands of brave Southerners to remain in arms against such fearful odds as are now arrayed against them. Mr. Kean, the young Chief of the Bureau of War, has come in from “the front,” with a boil on his thigh. He missed the sport of the battle to-day. Mr. Peck, the agent to purchase supplies for his starving fellowclerks, confesses that he bought 10 barrels of flour and 400 pounds of bacon for himself; 4 barrels of flour for Judge Campbell, Assistant  Secretary of War; 4 barrels for Mr. Kean, 1 for Mr. Cohen, and 1 for Mr. Shepherd. This has produced great indignation among the 200 clerks who sent him, and who got but 73-pounds each, and they got 13 pounds of bacon each; while Mr. P. bought for himself 400 pounds.
October 14The following dispatch from Gen. Lee cheered the city this morning. None of the particulars of the battle have yet transpired, and all are looking hourly for a renewal of the contest.
It is now 2 P. M., and yet we hear no cannon. If Grant does not renew the strife immediately, it will be natural to suppose he failed in his purpose yesterday, or that some unforeseen occurrence within his lines has happened. Be it either, it is a grateful respite to us. On the 8th inst., Judge Campbell, Assistant Secretary of War, wrote the President a letter in vindication of P. Hamilton's loyalty. Mr. H. is commissioner under suspension of the writ of habeas corpus to look into the loyalty of others, and was appointed on Judge C.'s recommendation. Some private individual in Mobile wrote the President, impeaching the patriotism of Mr. H., and also hinted something in relation to the loyalty of Judge C. This matter was shown to Mr. Seddon by the President, and Mr. S. spoke to Judge C. about it in his own manner, which produced the letter of Judge C. to the President. The President sends back the letter to-day, to the “Secretary of War,” indorsed in substance  as follows: “He was surprised to receive such a letter, when he had intimated no purpose to have the matter investigated.” Judge C. had procured indorsements of Mr. H. from Alabama, which let the matter out; and it would have been appropriate-the President uses this word rather than improper, as he cannot dispense with either the Secretary or his assistant just now — to have consulted him before taking any steps whatever in the business. He seems vexed, even at Mr. S.
October 15A bright and glorious day-above. All was quiet yesterday below, indicating that the enemy suffered severely in the last assault on our lines. But we have nothing from Georgia. From the Valley, our cavalry had the misfortune to lose eleven guns by indiscreetly venturing too far in pursuit. And the news from the United States indicates that Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana have gone for the Republican candidates. This foreshadows Lincoln's re-election, and admonishes us to prepare for other campaigns, though languishing for peace. The farmers are now pouring in to replenish the armies, under the recent order revoking the details of agriculturists; and these are fine-looking men, and there will soon be successes in the field. Lately the indulgence of details to an immoderate extent, and corruption in the business of conscription, had depleted the armies extensively of men of substance and standing, and this may account for our disasters. Men, to fight well, must have something to fight for. Gen. Price, at the head of 20,000 men, is in Missouri. To expel him, many troops will be required; and this may relieve us a little in the East. My wife lost her purse in market this morning, before making any purchases; it contained $22 and her eye-glasses. I don't think there are any pickpockets except the extortioners.
Sunday, October 16A pleasant sunny Sabbath morn. The quiet below continues. Not a gun has been heard for three days; the longest intermission we have had for many months. What can it mean? Sheridan has spread desolation in the Shenandoah Valley, perhaps to prevent Early from penetrating Pennsylvania, etc., intending to come with all expedition to Grant. Troops, or rather detailed men, and late exempts, are beginning  to arrive from North Carolina. I saw 250 this morning. Some of them were farmers who had complied with the terms prescribed, and a week ago thought themselves safe from the toils and dangers of war. They murmur, but there is no escape. They say the Governor has called out the militia officers, and magistrates also. Desertion is the order of the day, on both sides. Would that the men would take matters in their own hands, and end the war, establishing our independence. Let every man in both armies desert and go home! Some one has sent a “Circular” of the “Bureau of Conscription” to the President, dated some few weeks ago, and authorizing enrolling officers everywhere to furlough farmers and others for sixty days, to make out their claims for exemption. This the President says in his indorsement defeats his efforts to put the whole able-bodied male population in the field; and no doubt has been the source of the many abuses charged against the “bureau.” The Secretary sends the paper to the “bureau” for report, stating that he felt great surprise at the terms of the “Circular,” and had no recollection of having seen or sanctioned such a document. The Superintendent reports that it was issued by the authority of the Secretary of War, and was warranted by law-looking to the interests of agriculture, etc. The truth is that the Circular was prepared by a subordinate in the Bureau of Conscription, and signed by Col. August, “Acting Superintendent.” It was approved by Judge Campbell, Assistant Secretary of War, “by order of the Secretary of War” who never saw it. Mr. Seddon has left all the business of conscription in the hands of Judge Campbell; and poor Gen. Preston-indolent and ill — has been compelled to sign, sanction, and defend documents he knew nothing about; and Mr. Seddon is in a similar predicament. The Secretary of War has written a long letter to Gen. Lee, suggesting that he assemble a council of officers to decide what measure shall be adopted in regard to the treatment of prisoners in the hands of the enemy. It appears that Gen. Butler has notified Gen. Lee that he is now retaliating fearfully-making them work in his canal — on certain Confederates for some alleged harsh treatment of negro prisoners in our hands-sending slaves back to their masters. Mr. Seddon, without assuming any responsibility himself, yet intimates the idea that this government is prepared to  sanction the most sanguinary remedy; and I understand several members of the cabinet to have always been in favor of fightingthat is, having others fight — under the black flag. If the government had only listened to Gen. Lee's suggestions, we should have had abundance of men in the field to beat the enemy out of Virginia. I hope the present recruiting excitement comes not too late. And I trust he will interpose so far in behalf of the country as to wrest the railroads from the hands of the speculators and the dishonest quartermasters. Not a gun has been heard by me to-day, and the mysterious silence defies my powers of penetration. I only hope it may continue sine die.
October 17Bright and beautiful. Still all quiet below, and reinforcements (details revoked) are not arriving-1000 per day. The Northern news makes some doubt as to the result of the election in Pennsylvania. From the Valley we have rumors of victory, etc. A thrill of horror has been produced by a report that Gen. Butler has, for some time past, kept a number of his prisoners (Confederates) at work in his canal down the river, and supposing they were Federals, our batteries and gun-boats have been shelling our own men!
October 18Cloudy and cool. Quiet below, but it is rumored that the enemy has erected one or two sand batteries, mounted with 400-pounders, bearing on our fleet of gun-boats. The following dispatch was received from Gen. Hood to-day:
 The following was received from Gen. Lee yesterday:
It is reported also that Gen. Early has gained some advantage in a battle; not authentic. Gen. Bragg is going away, probably to Wilmington. The combination against him was too strong. But “the Bureau of Conscription” is pretty nearly demolished under his blows. Order 81 directs the generals of Reserves to appoint inspecting officers for all the Congressional Districts, to revise all exemptions, details, etc., with plenary powers, without reference to “the Bureau” The passport checks on travel Northward are now the merest farce, and valuable information is daily conveyed to the enemy.
October 19Bright and beautiful. Still all quiet below, the occasional bombarding near Petersburg being beyond our hearing. Yesterday, Gen. Preston, a millionaire, who can stalk stiffly anywhere, had an interview with the President, who admitted that he had dictated the General Orders--“76,” “77,” “78,” --rushing almost everybody into the army, but that it was not his meaning to take the whole business of conscription from “the Bureau.” Yet Gen. P., the superintendent, thinks the reading of the orders will admit of that construction, and he has written to the President asking another order, defining his position, etc., else his occupation is gone. The President cannot afford to lose Gen. P. From Gen. Early's army we learn that the detailed men and reserves are joining in great numbers, and the general asks 1000 muskets. Col. Gorgas, Chief of Ordnance, says he has but 300 available, his shops being closed, the workmen in the trenches, etc.  All the ordnance, quartermaster, and commissary stores of Hood's army were ordered to Columbus, Ga. We expect stirring news from Georgia daily, and the opinion prevails that Sherman will “come to grief.” The militia, furloughed by Gov. Brown so inopportunely, are returning to the front, the time having expired. A Mr. B. is making Lincoln speeches in New York. It seems to me he had a passport from Mr. Benjamin, Secretary of State. Gen. Lee writes to-day that negroes taken from the enemy, penitentiary convicts, and recaptured deserters ought not to be sent by the Secretary to work on the fortifications.
October 20C10udy. There is a street rumor of a battle below, and on the Petersburg line. The wind is from the west, and yet we hear no guns. The Secretary of the Treasury sent to the Secretary of War today an argument showing that, without a violation of the Consti-, tution, clerks appointed to places created by Congress cannot be removed. We shall see what the Secretary says to that.
October 21Bright. Fort Harrison (Federal) opened its batteries on our lines at Chaffin's Farm yesterday evening, without effect. An officer tells me that heavy and quick firing was also heard on the Petersburg lines, indicating, he thought, a battle. We have nothing of this in the papers, or in any dispatch I have seen. Assistant Secretary Campbell is writing a portion of Mr. Secretary Seddon's report for him. Mr. C.'s son was promoted to a majority yesterday. At 2 P. M. we have a rumor that Gen. Early has been defeated, losing all his guns but one. A letter from the Secretary of the Treasury recommends the detail or exemption of the bank officers of South Carolina. The poor country clod-hoppers have no friends, and must do the fighting. The following order, dictated by the President, has been published:
October 22Cloudy; rained last night. 2 P. M.-Cold, and prospects of snow.  The news of Early's disaster, and loss of artillery at Strasburg, is confirmed, and casts a new vexation over the country. Mr. M. Byrd, Selma, Ala., is addressing some bold letters to the President on the blunders of the administration. Gen. Longstreet has resumed command of the first army corps. G. W. Custis Lee (son of the general) has been made a majorgeneral. There was no fighting below yesterday, that I have heard of. Gold, which was $1 for $30 in Confederate States notes, commands $35 for $1 to-day, under the news from the Valley. Yet our sagacious statesmen regard the re-election of Lincoln (likely to follow our reverses) as favorable to independence, though it may prolong the war. It is thought there will certainly be revolution or civil war in the North, if the Democrats be beaten; and that will relieve us of the vast armies precipitated on our soil. Many of the faint-hearted croakers are anxious for peace and reconstruction. Gen. Butler, called “the Beast” by the press, has certainly performed a generous action. Messrs. McRae and Henley, two government clerks in the local battalion, wandered into the enemy's lines, and were put to work in the canal by Gen. Butler, who had been informed that we made some prisoners taken from him work on the fortifications. This was done but a short time, when they were relieved; and Mr. McRae was permitted to return to the city, to learn whether the Federal prisoners were really required to perform the labor named. No restrictions were imposed on him, no parole required. He came with Gen. B.'s passport, but felt in honor bound to communicate no intelligence, and voluntarily returned to captivity. We had Federal prisoners at work, but they were remanded to prison.
Sunday, October 23Bright and frosty. From the United States papers we learn that a great victory is claimed over Gen. Early, with the capture of forty-three guns! It is also stated that a party of “Copperheads” (Democrats), who had taken refuge in Canada, have made a raid into Vermont, and robbed some of the banks of their specie. The fact that Mr. McRae, who, with Mr. Henley (local forces), fell into the hands of the enemy a few miles below the city, was  permitted to return within our own lines with a passport (without restrictions, etc.) from Gen. Butler, has not been mentioned by any of the newspapers, gives rise to many conjectures. Some say that “somebody” prohibited the publication; others, that the press has long been misrepresenting the conduct of the enemy; there being policy in keeping alive the animosities of the army and the people. The poor clerks in the trenches are in a demoralized condition. It is announced that the Secretary of War has resolved to send them all to Camp Lee, for medical examination: those that have proved their ability to bear arms (in defense of the city) are to be removed from office, and put in the army. One-half of them will desert to the enemy, and injure the cause. About one hundred of them were appointed before the enactment of the act of Conscription, under the express guarantee of the Constitution that they should not be molested during life. If the President removes these, mostly refugees with families dependent upon their salaries, it will be a plain violation of the Constitution; and the victims cannot be relied on for their loyalty to the government. If the government wastes precious time in such small matters, while events of magnitude demand attention, the cause is fast reaching a hopeless condition. The able-bodied money-changer, speculator, and extortioner is still seen in the street; and their number is legion. The generals in the field are sending back the poor, sickly recruits ordered out by the Medical Board: the able-bodied rich men escape by bribery and corruption; and the hearty officers-acting adjutant-generals, quartermasters, and commissaries-ride their sleek horses through the city every afternoon. This, while the cause is perishing for want of men and horses!
October 24Clouds and sunshine. Nothing new of importance from the army. Gov. Smith has been writing letters to Gen. Lee, asking that Gen. Early be superseded in the Valley. Pity it had not been done! Gen. Lee replied, expressing confidence in Early; and the President (since the disaster!) coincides with Lee. The President administers a sharp rebuke to Gen. Whiting, for irregularly corresponding with Generals Lee and Beauregard on the subject of Lieut. Taylor Wood's naval expedition, fitting out at Wilmington.  The President and cabinet are still at work on the one hundred clerks in the departments whom they wish to displace. I append the result of my gardening this year. The dry weather in May and June injured the crop, or the amount would have been much larger. Total valuation, at market prices, $347.
October 25Bright and beautiful morning. All quiet below. Mr. McRae has been permitted by Gen. Butler to return again to the city to await his exchange, pledged not to bear arms, etc. Many more of the government employees, forced into the trenches, would be happy to be in the same predicament. A great many are deserting under a deliberate conviction that their rights have been despotically invaded by the government; and that this government is, and is likely to be, as tyrannous as Lincoln's. No doubt many give valuable information to the enemy. The Superintendent of the Bureau of Conscription is at open war with the General of Reserves in Virginia, and confusion is likely to be worse confounded. Gen. Cooper, A. and I. General (Pennsylvanian), suggests to the President the appointment of Gen. Lovell to the command of all the prisons containing Federal captives. Gen. Lovell, too, is a Northern man.
October 26Clear and frosty. Quiet below. Gen. W. M. Gardner (in Gen. Winder's place here) has just got from Judge Campbell passports for his cousin, Mary E. Gardner, and for his brother-in-law F. M. White, to go to Memphis, Tenn, where they mean to reside. Mr. Benjamin publishes a copy of a dispatch to Mr. Mason, in London, for publication there, showing that if the United States continue the war, she will be unable to pay her debts abroad, and therefore foreigners ought not to lend her any more money, or they may be ruined. This from a Secretary of State! It may be an electioneering card in the United States, and it may reconcile some of our members of Congress to the incumbency of Mr. B. in a sinecure position. A friend of Mr. Seddon, near Vicksburg, writes for permission to sell thirty bales of cotton--$20,000 worth — to the enemy. He says Mr. Seddon's estate, on the Sunflower, has not been destroyed by the enemy. That's fortunate, for other places have been utterly ruined.  Investigations going on in the courts show that during Gen. Winder's “Reign of terror,” passports sold for $2000. Some outside party negotiated the business and procured the passport. Gen. Early has issued an address to his army, reproaching it for having victory wrested out of its hands by a criminal indulgence in the plunder found in the camps captured from the enemy. He hopes they will retrieve everything in the next battle. Governor Smith's exemptions of magistrates, deputy sheriffs, clerks, and constables, to-day, 56.
October 27Slightly hazy and sunshine. Quiet, save aimless and bootless shelling and picket firing along the lines on the south side of the river. Hon. Geo. Davis, Attorney-General, to whom was referred the question of the constitutionality of the purposed removal from office of clerks appointed to fill places specifically created by act of Congress previous to the enactment of the Conscript law, without there being alleged against them any misconduct, inefficiency, dishonesty, etc., has reported that as several subsequent acts of Congrees already indicate an intention to put all capable of bearing arms in the army, it is the duty of the President and the Secretary of War to carry out the intentions of Congress, leaving the constitutional question to the decision of the courts! The Constitution they swore upon the holy, etc. to support Thus, a refugee must either starve his wife and children by relinquishing office, or be disgraced by appealing to the courts! It is reported that 30,000 of the enemy crossed to this side of the river last night, and that fighting has-began at 10 A. M.; but I hear nothing save an occasional report of cannon. It is said brisk skirmishing is now (12 M.) going on along the lines. Gen. Cooper and Mr. Secretary Seddon wants Brig.-Gen. R. (Charleston) relieved, for insulting a lady in one of his fits of drunkenness. The President is reluctant to consent. We have intelligence to-day of gun-boats and transports ascending the Rappahannock River. Another squall from that quarter! Three P. M. The cannonading has grown quick and terrific along  the lines, below the city (north side), with occasional discharges nearer, and farther to the left (north), as if the enemy were attempting to flank our army. The sounds are very distinctly heard, the weather being damp and the wind from the southeast. We can distinguish the bursting of the shell quickly after the discharge of the cannon. The firing ceased at dark. It rains hard and steadily, now. What a life I what suffering, in mud and water, without tents (in the trenches), burdened with wet blankets, and perhaps without food! To-morrow, in all probability, a battle will be fought. Gen. Lee, for several weeks, as if aware of the impending operations in this vicinity, has been on this side of the river, superintending in person the fortifications multiplied everywhere for the defense of the city, while reinforcements have been pouring in by thousands. It must be a fearful struggle, if Gen. Grant really intends to make another effort to capture Richmond by assault! Our works, mostly made by the negroes, under the direction of skillful engineers, must be nearly impregnable, and the attempt to take them will involve a prodigious expenditure of blood.
October 28Rained all night, but bright this morning. We have no clear account yet of the fighting yesterday; but we know the enemy was repulsed on this side of the river. It is thought that the operations on the south side were of greater magnitude, where we lost a brigadier-general (Dearing) of cavalry. We shall know all in a few days. The fighting was not resumed this morning. It is rumored that Mr. Seddon will resign, and be succeeded by Gen. Kemper. I am incredulous. The “dog-catchers,” as the guards are called, are out again, arresting able-bodied men (and sometimes others) in the streets, and locking them up until they can be sent to the front. There must be extraordinary danger anticipated by the authorities to induce a resort to so extreme a measure. Two P. M. No news from the field — no cannon heard to-day. Large amounts of cloth from Europe for the army have recently arrived at Wilmington, N. C.; but the speculators occupy so much space in the cars, that transportation cannot be had for it. The poor soldiers are likely to suffer in consequence of this neglect of duty on the part of the government.