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IV. July, 1861

July 1

My family are gone. We have moved the department to Mechanics' Hall, which will be known hereafter as the War Department. In an evil hour, I selected a room to write my letters in, quite remote from the Secretary's office. I thought Mr. Walker resented this He had likewise been piqued at the effect produced by an article I had written on the subject of the difficulty of getting arms from Georgia with the volunteers from that State. One of the spunky Governor's organs had replied with acerbity, not only defending the Governor, but striking at the Secretary himself, to whom the authorship was ascribed. My article had been read and approved by the Secretary before its insertion; nevertheless he now regretted it had been written-not that there was anything improper in it, but that it should have been couched in words that suggested the idea to the Southern editor that the Secretary might be its author. I resolved to meddle with edged tools no more; for I remembered that Gil Blas had done the same thing for the Duke of Lerma. Hereafter I shall study Gil Blas for the express purpose of being his antithesis. But I shall never rise until the day of doom brings us all to our feet again.

July 2

There has been some brilliant fighting by several brothers named Ashby, who led a mounted company near Romney. One of the brothers, Richard, was slain. Turner Ashby put half a dozen Yankees hors du combat with his own arm. He will make a name. We have accounts of an extraordinary exploit of Col. Thomas, of Maryland. Disguised as a French lady, he took passage on the steamer St. Nicholas at Baltimore en route for Washington. During the voyage he threw off his disguise, and in [58] company with his accomplices, seized the steamer. Coming down the Bay, he captured three prizes, and took the whole fleet into Fredericksburg in triumph. Lieut. Minor, C. S. N., participated in this achievement. Gen. Patterson, who conciliated the mob in Philadelphia, which had intended to hang me, seems to be true to his pledge to fight the Southern people. He is now advancing into Virginia at the head of a brigade.

July 3

The Secretary said to me to-day that he desired my young friend, the classical teacher, to assist me in writing letters. I told him I needed assistance, and Mr. Jacques was qualified. Major Tyler's ill health keeps him absent half the time. There was abundance of work for both of us. . Mr. J. is an agreeable companion, and omitted no opportunity to oblige me. But he trenches on the major's manor, and can write as long letters as any one. I would never write them, unless the subject-matter demanded it; and so, all the answers marked “full” by the Secretary, when the sum and substance is to be merely an affirmative or a negative, will fall to my co-laborer's share.

July 4

These simple things provoked some remarks from the young gentlemen in the department, and gave rise to predictions that he would soon supplant us all in the affections of the Secretary. And he is nimble of foot too, and enters the Secretary's room twice to Col. B.'s or Major T.'s once. I go not thither unless sent for; for in a cause like this, personal advancement, when it involves catering to the caprices of functionaries dressed in a little brief authority, should be spurned with contempt. But Col. Bledsoe is shocked, and renews his threats of resignation. Major Tyler is eager to abandon the pen for the sword; but Congress has not acted on his nomination; and the West Pointers, many of them indebted to his father for their present positions, are inimical to his confirmation.

July 5

We have news of a fight at Gainesville between Gen. Patterson and Col. Jackson; the latter, being opposed by overwhelming numbers, fell back after punishing the Philadelphia general so severely that he will not be likely to have any more stomach for fighting during the remainder of the campaign.

July 6

Col. Bledsoe complains that the Secretary still has quite as little intercourse with him, personal and official, as possible. The consequence is that the Chief of the Bureau is drawing [59] a fine salary and performing no service. Still, it is not without the sweat of his brow, and many groans.

July 7

Major Tyler's health has improved, but I do not perceive a resumption of his old intimate relations with the Secretary. Yet he is doing the heavy epistolary work, being a lawyer; and the correspondence sometimes embracing diverse legal points. My intimacy with the colonel continues. It seems he would do anything in the world for me. He has put Mr. Shepherd to issuing passports to the camps, etc.-the form being dictated by the Secretary. These are the first passports issued by the government. I suggested that they should be granted by and in the name of the Chief of the Bureau of War-and a few were so issued-but the Secretary arrested the proceeding. The Secretary was right, probably, in this matter.

The President is appointing generals enough, one would suppose. I hope we shall have men for them. From five to ten thousand volunteers are daily offered-but not two thousand are accepted. Some have no arms; and others propose to serve only for six or twelve months. Infantry will not fight with hunting rifles or shot-guns; and the department will not accept mounted men, on account of the expense of transportation, etc. Oh, that I had power but for a week! There should then be accepted fifty regiments of cavalry. These are the troops for quick marches, surprises, and captures. And our people, even down to the little boys, are expert riders. If it were to be a short war --or if it were to be a war of invasion on our part — it might he good policy, economically, to discourage cavalry organizations. But we shall want all our men; and many a man would fight in the saddle who could not or would not march in the infantry. And mounted men are content to use the double-barreled shotgun-one barrel for ball, the other for buck-shot and close quarters.

July 8

There is a stout gray-haired old man here from Maryland applying to be made a general. It is Major J. H. Winder, a graduate of West Point, I believe; and I think he will be successful. He is the son, I believe, of the Gen. Winder whose command in the last war with England unfortunately permitted the City of Washington to fall into the hands of the enemy. I have almost a superstitious faith in lucky generals, and a corresponding [60] prejudice against unlucky ones, and their progeny. But I cannot suppose the President will order this general into the field. He may take the prisoners into his custody-and do other jobs as a sort of head of military police; and this is what I learn he proposes. And the French Prince, Polignac, has been made a colonel; and a great nephew of Kosciusko has been commissioned a lieutenant in the regular army. Well, Washington had his Lafayette-and I like the nativity of these officers better than that of the Northern men, still applying for commissions.

July 9

Mr. Toombs is to be a brigadier-general. That is what I looked for. The two brothers Cobb are to be colonels; and Orr is to have a regiment.

Mr. Hunter succeeds Toombs in the State Department-and that disposes of him, if he will stay there. It is to be an obscure place; and if he were indolent, without ambition, it would be the very place for him. Wise is done for. He has had several fights, always drawing blood; but when he gets ready to make a great fight, he is ordered back for fear of his “rashness.” Exacting obedience in his own subordinates, of course he will obey the orders of Adjt.-Gen. Cooper. In this manner I apprehend that the three giants of Virginia, Wise, Hunter, and Floyd, will be neutralized and dwarfed at the behest of West Point. Napoleon's marshals were privates once-ours-but perhaps West Point may be killed off in the end, since they rush in so eagerly at the beginning of the war.

July 10

There are indications of military operations on a large scale on the Potomac. We have intelligence that McDowell is making preparations to advance against our forces at Manassas. Gen. Johnston is expected to be there in time; and for that purpose is manoeuvring Gen. Patterson out of the way. Our men have caps now-and will be found in readiness. They have shortcommons under the Commissary Department; but even with empty stomachs, they can beat the Yankees at the ordeal of dying. Fighting is a sport our men always have an appetite for.

July 11

The colonel tried his hand to-day at dictating answers to certain letters. Together we pitched upon the proper replies, which, after being marked with his pencil, I elaborated with the pen. These were first approved by the Secretary, then signed by the Chief of the Bureau, and copied by Mr. Scott. [61]

To-day the colonel essayed a flight with his own plumage. I followed his dictation substantially in the answers. But the moment the Secretary's eyes rested upon them, they were promptly reversed. The Secretary himself, suspecting how it was, indeed he saw the colonel's pencil marks, brought them to me, while a humorous smile played upon his usually not very expressive lip. When the colonel came in, and beheld what had been done, he groaned, and requested me to write the proper answers. From that day he ceased to have anything more to do with the correspondence than to sign his name to the letters I prepared for him. He remarked to-day that if he was to have nothing to do, he would do nothing.

July 12

The colonel's temper is as variable as an April day-now all smiles and sunshine, but by-and-by a cloud takes all away. He becomes impatient with a long-winded story, told by some business applicant-and storms whenever any one asks him if the Secretary is in.

To-day, for the first time, I detected a smile on the lip of Col. Myers, the Quartermaster-General, as he passed through the office. A moment after, Gen. Walker, of Georgia, came in, and addressed the colonel thus:

Is the Secretary in?

Col. (with a stare). I don't know.

Gen. W. (returning the stare). Could you not ascertain for me? I have important business with him; and am here by appointment.

Col. B. You can ascertain for yourself. I am not his doorkeeper. There is his door.

Gen. W. (after a moment's reflection). I asked you a civil question in a courteous manner, and have not deserved this harshness, and will not submit to it.

Col. B. It is not courteous to presume I am acting in the capacity of a messenger or door-keeper.

Just then the Secretary appeared at the door, having heard the loud language, and Gen. W. immediately entered his office.

Afterward the colonel fumed and fretted like an angry volcano. He disliked Col. Myers, and believed he had sent the general in under prompting to annoy him about the Secretary, whom he (Myers) really hated.


July 13

The Secretary made peace yesterday between the general and the colonel, or a duel might have transpired.

To-day the colonel carried into the Secretary a number of applications for commissions as surgeons. Among the applicants were some of the colonel's friends. He returned soon after in a rage, slamming the door after him, and then throwing down the papers violently on the floor. He picked them up the next moment, however, and sitting down beside me, became instantaneously as gentle as a dove. He said the men of science were thrust aside to give way to quacks; but, laughing, he remarked that the quacks would do well enough for the wounded--. Our men would have too much sense to submit to their malpractice.

July 14

The Secretary is sick again. He has been recommended by his physician to spend some days in the country; and to-morrow he will leave with his family. What will be the consequence?

July 15

Early this morning, Major Tyler was seated in the Secretary?s chair, prepared to receive the visitors. This, I suppose, was of course in pursuance of the Secretary's request; and accordingly the door-keeper ushered in the people. But not long after-Col. Bledsoe arrived, and exhibited to me an order from the President for him to act as Secretary of War pro tem. The colonel was in high spirits, and full dress; and seemed in no measure piqued at Major Tyler for occupying the Secretary's chair. The Secretary must have been aware that the colonel was to act during his absence-but, probably, supposed it proper that the major, from his suavity of manners, was best qualified for the reception of the visitors. He had been longer in the department, and was more familiar with the routine of business. Yet the colonel was not satisfied; and accordingly requested me to intimate the fact to Major Tyler, of which, it seemed, he had no previous information, that the President had appointed Col. Bledsoe to act as Secretary of War during the absence of Mr. Walker. The major retired from the office immediately, relinquishing his post with grace.

July 16

The Secretary was back again this evening. He could not procure comfortable quarters in the country. He seemed vexed, but from what cause, I did not learn. The colonel, however, [63] had rushed the appointments. He was determined to be quick, because Mr. W. was known to be slow and hesitating.

July 17

The news is not so good to-day. Gen. Garnett's small command has been defeated by the superior numbers of Gen. McClellan. But the general himself was killed, fighting in the rear of his retreating men. His example will not be without its effect. Our generals will resolve never to survive a defeat. This will embolden the enemy to attack us at Manassas, where their suddenly acquired confidence will be snuffed out, or I am mistaken.

July 18

The major is sick again, and Jacques is away; therefore I have too much work, and the colonel groans for me. He is proud of the appointments he made with such rapidity, and has been complimented. And in truth there is no reason why the thousands of applications should not be acted on promptly; and there are many against delay. A large army must be organized immediately, and it will be necessary to appoint thousands of field and staff officers-unless all the governors are permitted to do as Gov. Brown desires to do. The Secretary is in better health, and quite condescending. My work pleases him; and I shouldn't be astonished if he resented the sudden absence of Mr. Jacques. But he should consider that Mr. J. is only an amateur clerk getting no pay, rich, and independent of the government.

July 19

We had fighting yesterday in earnest, at Bull Run! Several brigades were engaged, and the enemy were repulsed with the loss of several hundred left dead and wounded on the field. That was fighting, and we shall soon have more of it.

Brig.-Gen. Holmes, my friend and fellow-fugitive, now stationed near Fredericksburg, has been ordered by Gen. Beauregard to be ready to march at an hour's notice. And Col. Northrop's chin and nose have become suddenly sharper. He is to send up fighting rations for three days, and discerns the approach of sanguinary events Mr. Hunter calls every evening, just as the dusky shades of eve descend, to inquire if we have any news.

July 20

The Secretary works too much-or rather does not economize his labor. He procrastinates final action; and hence his work, never being disposed of, is always increasing in volume. Why does he procrastinate? Can it be that his hesitation [64] is caused by the advice of the President, in his great solicitude to make the best appointments? We have talent enough in the South to officer millions of men. Mr. Walker is a man of capacity, and has a most extraordinary recollection of details. But I fear his nerves are too finely strung for the official treadmill. I heard him say yesterday, with a sigh, that no gentleman can be fit for office. Well, Mr. Walker is a gentleman by education and instincts; and is fastidiously tenacious of what is due a gentleman. Will his official life be a long one? I know one thing --there are several aspiring dignitaries waiting impatiently for his shoes. But those who expect to reach the Presidency by a successful administration of any of the departments, or by the bestowal of patronage, are laboring under an egregious error. None but generals will get the Imperial purple for the next twenty years --if indeed the prematurely made “permanent” government should be permanent.

July 21

The President left the city this morning for Manassas, and we look for a battle immediately. I have always thought he would avail himself of his prerogative as commanderin-chief, and direct in person the most important operations in the field; and, indeed, I have always supposed he was selected to be the Chief of the Confederacy, mainly with a view to this object, as it was generally believed he possessed military genius of a high order. In revolutions like the present, the chief executive occupies a most perilous and precarious position, if he be not a military chieftain, and present on every battle-field of great magnitude. I have faith in President Davis, and believe he will gain great glory in this first mighty conflict.

Early in the evening Secretary Walker returned from tea in great excitement. He strode to and fro in the room where we were sitting, d — g his office. He said a great battle was then going on, and he wished himself present participating in its perils. Again he denounced the office he filled-and seemed, for a time, almost frantic with anxiety. He said all young men ought to be in the field, and this was understood by those present, who had merely shouldered their pens.

Before long the hall of the department was filled with people eager to hear the news; and as successive dispatches were received, the excitement increased. All the cabinet were in our office; [65] and Hon. Howell Cobb, President of Congress, making deductions from the dispatches, announced his belief that it was a drawn battle. This moved the wrath.of Col. Bledsoe, and he denounced Cobb. Mr. Hunter did nothing but listen. It was night, now. Finally, Mr. Benjamin, who had gone to the Spottswood Hotel, where Mrs. Davis resided, returned with news that stopped every detracting tongue. Mrs. D. had just got a dispatch from the President announcing a dearly-bought but glorious victory. Some of the editors of the papers being present, and applying to me for a copy of the dispatch, Mr. Benjamin said he could repeat it from memory, which he did, and I wrote it down for the press. Then joy ruled the hour! The city seemed lifted up, and every one appeared to walk on air. Mr. Hunter's face grew shorter; Mr. Reagan's eyes subsidedinto their natural size; and Mr. Benjamin's glowed something like Daniel Webster's after taking a pint of brandy. The men in place felt that now they held their offices for life, as the permanent government would soon be ratified by the people, and that the Rubicon had been passed in earnest. We had gained a great victory; and no doubt existed that it would be followed up the next day. If so, the Federal city would inevitably fall into our hands; and this would soon be followed by the expulsion of the enemy from Southern soil. All men seemed to think that the tide of war would roll from that day northward into the enemy's country, until we should win a glorious peace.

July 22

Both Col. B. and I were in a passion this morning upon finding that the papers had published a dispatch from their own agent at Manassas, stating that the President did not arrive upon the field until the victory was won; and therefore did not participate in the battle at all. From the President's own dispatch, and other circumstances, we had conceived the idea that he was not only present, but had directed the principal operations in the field. The colonel intimated that another paper ought to be established in Richmond, that would do justice to the President; and it was conjectured by some that a scheme was on foot to elect some other man to the Presidency of the permanent government in the autumn. Nevertheless, we learned soon after that the abused correspondent had been pretty nearly correct in his statement. The battle had been won, and the enemy were flying from the field before the President appeared upon it. It had been won by [66] Beauregard, who, however, was materially assisted by his superior in command, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. Gen. J. remained in the rear, and brought up the reinforcements which gained the day. Beauregard is, to-day, the most popular general in the service. Besides some 500 prisoners, the enemy, it is said, had 4500 killed and wounded. The casualties would have been much greater, if the enemy had not broken and fled. We lost some 2000 men, killed and wounded.

The President returned to-day and made a speech at the Spottswood Hotel, wherein he uttered the famous words: “Never be haughty to the humble, or humble to the haughty.” And he said that no doubt the Confederate flag then floated over Fairfax C. H., and would soon be raised at Alexandria, etc. etc. Never heard I more hearty cheering. Every one believed our banners would wave in the streets of Washington in a few days; that the enemy would be expelled from the District and from Maryland, and that a peace would be consummated on the banks of the Susquehanna or the Schuylkill. The President had pledged himself, on one occasion, to carry the war into the enemy's country, if they would not let us go in peace. Now, in that belief, the people were well pleased with their President.

July 23

Jacques is back and as busy as a bee; and, in truth, there is work enough for all.

July 24

Yesterday we received a letter from Col. Bartow, written just before the battle (in which he fell, his letter being received after the announcement of his death), urging the appointment of his gallant young friend Lamar to a lieutenancy. I noted these facts on the back of his letter, with the Secretary's approbation, and also that the request had been granted, and placed the letter, perhaps the last he ever wrote, in the archives for preservation.

July 25

Bartow's body has arrived, and lies in state at the Capitol. Among the chief mourners was his young friend Barton, who loved him as a son loves his father. From Lamar I learned some interesting particulars of the battle. He said when Bartow's horse was killed, he, Lamar, was sent to another part of the field for another, and also to order up certain regiments, Bartow then being in command of a brigade. Lamar galloped through a hot cross-fire to the regiments and delivered the order, but got no [67] horse. He galloped back, however, through the terrible fire, with the intention of giving his own horse to Bartow, if none other could be had. On his return he encountered Col. Jones, of the 4th Alabama, wounded, his arms being around the necks of two friends, who were endeavoring to support him in a standing attitude. One of these called to Lamar, and asked for his horse, hoping that Col. Jones might be able to ride (his thigh-bone was terribly shattered), and thus get off the field. Lamar paused, and promised as soon as he could report to Bartow he would return with that or another horse. Col. Jones thanked him kindly, but cautioned him against any neglect of Bartow's orders, saying he probably could not ride. Lamar promised to return immediately; and putting spurs to his noble steed, started off in a gallop. He had not gone fifty yards before his horse fell, throwing him over his head. He saw that the noble animal had been pierced by as many as eight balls, from a single volley. He paused a moment and turned away, when the poor horse endeavored to rise and follow, but could not. He returned and patted the groaning and tearful steed on his neck; and, while doing this, five more balls struck him, and he died instantly. Lamar then proceeded on foot through a storm of bullets, and, untouched, rejoined Bartow in time to witness his fall.

Our prisons are filled with Yankees, and Brig.-Gen. Winder has employment. There is a great pressure for passports to visit the battle-field. At my suggestion, all physicians taking amputating instruments, and relatives of the wounded and slain, have been permitted by the Secretary to go thither.

July 26

Many amusing scenes occur daily between the Chief of the Bureau and applicants for passports. Those not included specially in the Secretary's instructions, are referred to the Chief of the Bureau; and Col. Bledsoe cannot bear importunity. Sometimes he becomes so very boisterous that the poor applicants are frightened out of the office.

July 27

A large number of new arrivals are announced from the North. Clerks resigned at Washington, and embryo heroes having military educations, are presenting themselves daily, and applying for positions here. They represent the panic in the North as awful, and ours is decidedly the winning side. These gentry somehow succeed in getting appointments. [68]

Our army does not advance. It is said both Beauregard and Johnston are anxious to cross the Potomac; but what is said is not always true. The capabilities of our army to cross the Potomac are not known; and the policy of doing so if it were practicable, is to be determined by the responsible authority. Of one thing I am convinced: the North, so far from desisting from the execution of its settled purpose, even under this disagreeable reverse, will be stimulated to renewed preparations on a scale of greater magnitude than ever.

July 28

We have taken two prisoners in civilian's dress, Harris and-- , on the field, who came over from Washington in quest of the remains of Col. Cameron, brother of the Yankee Secretary of War.. They claim a release on the ground that they are non-combatants, but admit they were sent to the field by the Yankee Secretary. Mr. Benjamin came to the department last night with a message for Secretary Walker, on the subject. The Secretary being absent, he left it with me to deliver. It was that the prisoners were not to be liberated without the concurrence of the President. There was no danger of Secretary Walker releasing them; for I had heard him say the authorities might have obtained the remains, if they had sent a flag of truce. Disdaining to condescend thus far toward a recognition of us as belligerents, they abandoned their dead and wounded; and he, Walker, would see the prisoners, thus surreptitiously sent on the field, in a very hot place before he would sign an order for their release. I was gratified to see Mr. Benjamin so zealous in the matter.

July 29

To-day quite a number of our wounded men on crutches, and with arms in splints, made their appearance in the streets, and created a sensation. A year hence, and we shall be accustomed to such spectacles.

July 30

Nothing of importance to-day.

July 31

Nothing worthy of note.

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