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

Sunday, 17th—It is cloudy and quite cool. There was some rain today, but toward evening it cleared off and became quite pleasant. I attended church at the Sparks schoolhouse, where the few members of the Christian church in this settlement have organized a church. They have prayer meeting and communion every Sunday at 10 o’clock, with preaching every fourth Sunday. May God help those who are trying to keep His holy laws, and may He help the churches all over the world, that they may do much good in bringing sinners to repentance and into the service of the Lord their Savior. After services I went home with John Moore, perhaps for the last time this spring. John and I spent the early evening at the home of Mr. William Listenwalter.


Huntsville, Sunday, April 17. A beautiful and holy Sabbath morning. Warmed even the coldest heart to softness and filled the thoughtful mind with piety, though to many imperceptibly. Knapsack inspection at 8 A. M. Afterwards D. J. D., Griff and myself attended Sabbath school taught by a chaplain. The presiding elder of the Methodist church was sick, and to my astonishment the Yankee chaplain was invited to preach, which he did very fittingly, delivering an excellent sermon from Romans 8th chapter, XV verse. Went down in the afternoon to witness the baptizing at the Methodist church, but we were too late. Visited the new font that is going up, and caught in heavy rain storm before we got back.


April 17.—Fort Gray, near Plymouth, North-Carolina, garrisoned by National troops under the command of Captain Brown, of the Eighty-fifth New-York regiment, was attacked by a force of rebels belonging to the command of General Pickett, who was repulsed after having made several attempts to carry the position by assault.—An unsuccessful attempt to capture the steamer Luminary was made by the rebels at a point thirty-five miles below Memphis, on the Mississippi River.—The English schooner Lily was captured by the gunboat Owasco, off Velasco, Texas.

—A riot occurred in Savannah, Georgia, this day. Women collected in a body, with arms, and marched the streets in a procession, demanding bread or blood. They seized food wherever it could be found. The soldiers were called out, and, after a brief conflict, the most active and prominent leaders were put in jail.


by John Beauchamp Jones

            APRIL 17TH.—Rained until bedtime—then cleared off quite cold. This morning it is cold, with occasional sunshine.

            Gen. Beauregard’s instructions to Major-Gen. Anderson in Florida, who has but 8000 men, opposed by 15,000, were referred by the Secretary of War to Gen. Bragg, who returned them with the following snappish indorsement: “The enemy’s strength seems greatly exaggerated, and the instructions too much on the defensive.”


Annapolis, Md., April 16, 1864.

Dear Hannah, — Received your note, and am happy to say that I arrived here safely on Tuesday evening. . . .

There is nothing new here. I go to court every day. They are now trying cases from this regiment. . . .

Everything is going on quietly and we are having a good time. The regiment behaves very well, and gives us very little trouble. The incompetent officers are being weeded out, and soon we shall have everything in fine shape.

We had a short visit from General Grant the other day. His looks disappointed me very much. He is not fine looking at all; on the contrary he is a very common-looking person. Still, his looks are of no consequence, if his deeds and actions are successful. . . .

I saw a funny couple the other day riding into town. There was an officer on horse-back, with a lady on behind clinging on to him. It began to sprinkle just as I met them, so the officer took the lady’s parasol and opened it. The horse objected, and began dancing, and the female began yelling and the man cried Whoa. I could n’t help stopping and laughing at them. The horse soon quieted down and everything went on well.


Saturday, April 16. — Rained all day. The court simply finished O’Brien’s case, and adjourned until Monday, when Porter comes before them. Received a letter from Hannah to-day. Had a final meeting of the Council of Administration. Nothing new. Took bath.


Saturday, April 16th.

Spent the day in fixing up about camp, arranging cook house, for we still retain our old company cook, William Wood, and generally endeavoring to make the company as comfortable as circumstances will permit. I am projecting a residence for myself of the greatest magnificence and grandeur. An eminent architect has been employed and the plans and specifications completed and adopted, and I only await the reports of the contractors who have gone out to discover some old corduroy road which will furnish the necessary lumber in the shape of poles. I shall hope to erect, complete and furnish it within an hour after the timber arrives.


Saturday, 16th—It is clear and quite cool today. My brother John and I went up to Tipton this morning. Things are pretty lively in town; but there are not many of the veterans in today. I went to the harness shop and bought a saddle as a present to father. I called on Mrs. Willey, she and her husband having been good friends of mine. Mr. Willey was a member of the Twenty-fourth Iowa, but died in the spring of ’63 at Milliken’s Bend, above Vicksburg. On our way back home I stopped at the home of Mr. Robedie and took supper with the family.


Huntsville, Saturday, April 16. At 7 A. M. our veterans, thirty-two in number, started on their long anticipated furlough. They were almost beside themselves with pleasant anticipations, as they were greeted with a good-bye that came from the hearts of the comrades they leave behind. I could but think of the time when we should all be permitted to return, with no compulsions to return. Oh, happy day! May it soon come! E. W. E. returned this morning. Left me again alone in my tent. Much excitement prevails as to what will be done with the superfluous men after being reduced to four guns.


April 16, Saturday. Had a long telegram at midnight from Cairo, respecting Rebel movements in western Kentucky, — at Paducah, Columbus, Fort Pillow, etc. Strange that an army of 6000 Rebels should be moving unmolested within our lines. But for the gunboats, they would repossess themselves of the defenses, yet General Halleck wants the magnanimity and justice to acknowledge or even mention the service.

There is still much excitement and uneasy feeling on the gold and currency question. Not a day but that I am spoken to on the subject. It is unpleasant, because my views are wholly dissimilar from the policy of the Treasury Department, and Chase is sensitive and tender — touchy, I may say — if others do not agree with him and adopt his expedients. Mr. Chase is now in New York. He has directed the payment of the May interest, anticipating that throwing out so much gold will affect the market favorably. It will be likely to have that effect for a few days but is no cure for the evil. The volume of irredeemable paper must be reduced before there can be permanent relief. He attributes to speculators the rise in gold! As well charge the manufacturers with affecting the depth of water in the rivers, because they erect dams across the tributaries! Yet one cannot reason with our great financier on the subject. He will consider it a reflection on himself personally and claims he cannot get along successfully if opposed.

I remarked to Senator Trumbull, whom I met when taking my evening walk last Thursday, and was inquired of, that I could hardly answer or discuss his inquiry in regard to the gold excitement, because in a conversation which we had a year or two since, when one of the bills was pending,—the first, I believe, — I had said to him I was a hard-money man and could indorse no standards but gold and silver as the measure of value and regretted and distrusted the scheme of legal paper tenders. Chase heard of that conversation and claims I was embarrassing the Treasury.

This sensitiveness indicates what I fear and have said, viz. Chase has no system on which he relies, but is seeking expedients which tumble down more rapidly than he can construct them. He cannot stop what he and others call “the rise of gold,” but which is really the depreciation of paper, by the contrivances he is throwing out. The gold dollar, the customs certificates, the interest-bearing Treasury notes, etc., etc., are all failures and harmful and will prove so. The Secretary of the Treasury found a great and rich country filled with enthusiasm in a noble cause and full of wealth, with which they responded to his call, but their recourses and sacrifices were no evidence of financial talent on the part of the Secretary who used them.

The Secretary is not always bold, and has not enforced taxation; he is not wise beyond others, and has not maintained the true measure of value; he resorts to expedients instead of abiding by fixed principles. By multiplying irredeemable paper and general inflation, his “ten forty” five-per-cents may be taken, but at what cost to the country! He is in New York and may negotiate a loan; but if he does, it will be with the banks and, I presume, at six per cent. If so, the banks will not be able to help the speculators, and they, being cramped, will suffer, and perhaps fail. The fancy stocks will be likely to fall under this operation, and the surplus money may seek government securities, but under the inflation how expensive to the country!