Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

January 25th. All quiet since the last date. I am in the best of health, ready for duty at any time, and for any call. The general health of the regiment at this time is good. Company A ordered to Harper’s Ferry for provost duty under command of Lieutenant Kerr. Companies D and I to Duffield Station on the Baltimore & Ohio R. R., west of Harper’s Ferry. Their quarters are in block houses, bullet proof, about seven miles from our camp. Guard the railroad.

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25th. Charge of picket. Bill Smith with me. Cold day. Very comfortable time.

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January 25th.—Clear, and very cold. We lost gun-boat Drewry yesterday in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy the enemy’s pontoon bridge down the river. Fort Harrison was not taken as reported, nor is it likely to be.

The rumor of an armistice remains, nevertheless, and Mr. Blair dined with the President on Sunday, and has had frequent interviews with him. This is published in the papers, and will cause the President to be severely censured.

Congress failed to expel Mr. Foote yesterday (he is off again), not having a two-thirds vote, but censured him by a decided majority. What will it end in?

No successors yet announced to Seddon and Campbell—Secretary and Assistant Secretary of War. Perhaps they can be persuaded to remain.

After all, it appears that our fleet did not return, but remains down the river; and as the enemy’s gun-boats have been mostly sent to North Carolina, Gen. Lee may give Grant some trouble. If he destroys the bridges, the Federal troops on this side the river will be cut off from their main army.

It is said the President has signed the bill creating a commander-in-chief.

Rev. W. Spottswood Fontaine writes from Greensborough, N. C., that —— reports that Senator Hunter is in favor of Virginia negotiating a separate peace with the United States, as the other States will probably abandon her to her fate, etc. I saw Mr. Lyons to-day, who told me Mr. Hunter dined with him yesterday, and that Gen. Lee took tea with him last evening, and seemed in good spirits, hope, etc. Mr. Lyons thinks Gen. Lee was always a thorough emancipationist. He owns no slaves. He (Mr. Lyons) thinks that using the negroes in the war will be equivalent to universal emancipation, that not a slave will remain after the President’s idea (which he don’t seem to condemn) is expanded and reduced to practice. He favors sending out a commissioner to Europe for aid, on the basis of emancipation, etc., as a dernier ressort. He thinks our cause has received most injury from Congress, of which he is no longer a member.

If it be really so, and if it were generally known, that Gen. Lee is, and always has been opposed to slavery, how soon would his great popularity vanish like the mist of the morning! Can it be possible that he has influenced the President’s mind on this subject? Did he influence the mind of his father-in-law, G. W. Park Custis, to emancipate his hundreds of slaves? Gen. Lee would have been heir to all, as his wife was an only child. There’s some mistake about it.

The Secretary of State (still there!) informs the Secretary of War (still here!) that the gold he wrote about to the President on the 18th inst. for Gen. Hardee and for Mr. Conrad, is ready and subject to his order.

Four steamers have run into Charleston with a large amount of commissary stores. This is providential.

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Wednesday, 25th—It has cleared off now and is quite cool. It does not take long in this sandy region for the roads to dry off, and in three or four days they will be in good condition. We expect to leave here soon. The men are becoming very restless, being at one place so long. General Sherman and General Howard left for the front today.

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Wednesday, 25th.—Got about twelve miles by day-light; don’t run at all hardly. (Thus abruptly ended my memorandum.) Some of us had decided that to fight and kill men under the present conditions would simply be murder, and that we would have no further part in it, and determined to go home, and this is why my memorandum ended abruptly. So the remainder was written from memory later.

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Colonel Lyon’s Letters.

 

Huntsville, Ala., Wed. Eve., Jan. 25, 1865.—I did not get ready to start for Nashville until this morning, and as the train was detained by the breaking down of a bridge near Brownsboro, I postponed until tomorrow morning. I leave at 6:30, and as the weather is now quite cold for this country I am not much delighted with the idea of turning out before daylight and then riding in a caboose or box car. There is no change in my command or in the situation of affairs here.

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24th. Tuesday. In camp. Played chess with A. B. Read “Two Gentlemen.”

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January 24th.—Clear and cool. It is now said Mr. Seddon’s resignation has not yet been accepted, and that his friends are urging the President to persuade him to remain. Another rumor says ex-Gov. Letcher is to be his successor, and that Mr. Benjamin has sent in his resignation. Nothing seems to be definitely settled. I wrote the President yesterday that, in my opinion, there was no ground for hope unless communication with the enemy’s country were checked, and an entire change in the conscription business speedily ordered. I was sincere, and wrote plain truths, however they might be relished. It is my birth-right.

It is said (I doubt it) that Mr. Blair left the city early yesterday.

To add to the confusion and despair of the country, the Secretary of the Treasury is experimenting on the currency, ceasing to issue Treasury notes, with unsettled claims demanding liquidation to the amount of hundreds of millions. Even the clerks, almost in a starving condition, it is said will not be paid at the end of the month; and the troops have not been paid for many months; but they are fed and clothed. Mr. Trenholm will fail to raise our credit in this way; and he may be instrumental in precipitating a crash of the government itself. No doubt large amounts of gold have been shipped every month to Europe from Wilmington; and the government may be now selling the money intended to go out from that port. But it will be only a drop to the ocean.

The Northern papers say Mr. Blair is authorized to offer an amnesty, including all persons, with the “Union as it was, the Constitution as it is” (my old motto on the “Southern Monitor,” in 1857); but gradual emancipation. No doubt some of the people here would be glad to accept this; but the President will fight more, and desperately yet, still hoping for foreign assistance.

What I fear is starvation; and I sincerely wish my family were on the old farm on the Eastern Shore of Virginia until the next campaign is over.

It is believed Gen. Grant meditates an early movement on our left—north side of the river; and many believe we are in no condition to resist him. Still, we have faith in Lee, and the President remains here. If he and the principal members of the government were captured by a sudden surprise, no doubt there would be a clamor in the North for their trial and execution!

Guns have been heard to-day, and there are rumors of fighting below; that Longstreet has marched to this side of the river; that one of our gun-boats has been sunk; that Fort Harrison has been retaken; and, finally, that an armistice of ninety days has been agreed to by both governments.

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Tuesday, 24th—It is still raining, which makes the fifth day of steady rain, and at times it comes down in torrents. We are very fortunate in having shacks set up on the top of the old fort where we are located, for if we were camping down on the level ground, we could not possibly keep dry. Our duty is very light here, but we are getting awfully tired of the place, and hope that as we have a new landing for the provisions, we may be able to get away in a few days and move on to the front at Garden Corners, South Carolina.

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Tuesday, 24th.—Left Meridian at 1 P. M.; at Tombigbee River, 7 P. M. Went on steamboat four miles to Demopolis. Took the train for Selma.

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