December 19th.—The darkest and most dismal day that ever dawned upon the earth, except one. There was no light when the usual hour came round, and later the sun refused to shine. There was fog, and afterward rain.
Northern papers say Hood has been utterly routed, losing all his guns!
A letter from Mr. —— to ——, dated Richmond, December 17th, 1864, says: “I have the honor to report my success as most remarkable and satisfactory. I have ascertained the whole Yankee mail line, from the gun-boats to your city, with all the agents save one. You will be surprised when informed, from the lowest to the highest class. The agent in your city, and most likely in your department, has yet to be discovered. This is as certain as what we have learned (his arrest, I mean), for the party in whose hands the mail is put coming from your city is known to us; and we have only to learn who gives him the mail, which can be done upon arrest, if not sooner, to know everything. What shall be done with the parties (spies, of course) when we are ready to act? If you ever intimate that trials are tedious, etc., the enemy seize citizens from some neighborhood as hostages, when their emissaries are disturbed. I will dispatch, if it be authorized, and that will end the matter. The lady I spoke to you of is the fountain-head. What to do with females troubles me, for I dislike to be identified with their arrest.
“I request that a good boat, with three torpedoes, and a man who understands working them, be sent to Milford to report to me at Edge Hill. Let the man be mum on all questions. I would meet him at Milford, if I knew the day (distance is twenty-five miles), with a wagon, to take him, torpedoes, and boat to the point required. I must be sure of the day.
“Have the following advertisement published in Monday’s papers:
“‘Yankees Escaped! $1000 Reward !—A Yankee officer and three privates escaped from prison on Thursday night, with important matter upon their persons. The above reward will be given for their detection.’
“Let me hear from you through Cawood’s Line, upon receipt of this. Respectfully, etc. ——.”
We have the spectacle now of three full generals—Johnston, Beauregard, and Bragg—without armies to command; and the armies in the field apparently melting away under the lead of subordinate, if not incompetent leaders. So much for the administration of the Adjutant-General’s office.
Governor Smith is still exempting deputy sheriffs, constables, etc.—all able-bodied.
It is rumored on the street that we intend evacuating Savannah. How did that get out—if, indeed, such is the determination? There are traitors in high places—or near them.
It is also rumored that the Danville Railroad has been cut. I don’t believe it—yet.
There is deep vexation in the city—a general apprehension that our affairs are rapidly approaching a crisis such as has not been experienced before. There is also much denunciation of the President for the removal of Gen. Johnston from the command of the Army of Tennessee.
Hon. Mr. Foote declared, Saturday, that he would resign his seat if the bill to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, now pending, became a law. There is much consternation—but it is of a sullen character, without excitement.
The United States Congress has ordered that notice be given Great Britain of an intention on the part of the Federal Government to increase the naval force on the lakes; also a proposition has been introduced to terminate the Reciprocity Treaty. And Gen. Dix orders his military subordinates to pursue any rebel raiders even into Canada and bring them over. So, light may come from that quarter. A war with England would be our peace.
At 2 P.M. it was rumored that Charleston is taken and Beauregard a prisoner. Also that Gen. Jos. E. Johnston (in the city) says Richmond will be evacuated in ten days. I do not learn what gold sells at to-day! I suspect some coup d’état is meditated.