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

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A Diary From Dixie.

October 24, 2013

A Diary From Dixie by Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut.

October 24th.—James Chesnut is at home on his way back to Richmond; had been sent by the President to make the rounds of the Western armies; says Polk is a splendid old fellow. They accuse him of having been asleep in his tent at seven o’clock when he was ordered to attack at daylight, but he has too good a conscience to sleep so soundly.

The battle did not begin until eleven at Chickamauga[1] when Bragg had ordered the advance at daylight. Bragg and his generals do not agree. I think a general worthless whose subalterns quarrel with him. Something is wrong about the man. Good generals are adored by their soldiers. See Napoleon, Caesar, Stonewall, Lee.

Old Sam (Hood) received his orders to hold a certain bridge against the enemy, and he had already driven the enemy several miles beyond it, when the slow generals were still asleep. Hood has won a victory, though he has only one leg to stand on.

Mr. Chesnut was with the President when he reviewed our army under the enemy’s guns before Chattanooga. He told Mr. Davis that every honest man he saw out West thought well of Joe Johnston. He knows that the President detests Joe Johnston for all the trouble he has given him, and General Joe returns the compliment with compound interest. His hatred of Jeff Davis amounts to a religion. With him it colors all things.

Joe Johnston advancing, or retreating, I may say with more truth, is magnetic. He does draw the good-will of those by whom he is surrounded. Being such a good hater, it is a pity he had not elected to hate somebody else than the President of our country. He hates not wisely but too well. Our friend Breckinridge[2] received Mr. Chesnut with open arms. There is nothing narrow, nothing self-seeking, about Breckinridge. He has not mounted a pair of green spectacles made of prejudices so that he sees no good except in his own red-hot partizans.

[1] The battle of Chickamauga was fought on the river of the same name, near Chattanooga, September 19 and 20, 1863. The Confederates were commanded by Bragg and the Federals by Rosecrans. It was one of the bloodiest battles of the war; the loss on each side, including killed, wounded, and prisoners, was over 15,000.

[2] John C. Breckinridge had been Vice-President of the United States under Buchanan and was the candidate of the Southern Democrats for President in 1860. He joined the Confederate Army in 1861.

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