by John Beauchamp Jones
MARCH 14TH.—Bright, pleasant day. The city is full of generals—Lee and his son (the one just returned from captivity), Longstreet, Whiting, Wise, Hoke, Morgan (he was ordered by Gen. Cooper to desist from his enterprise in the West), Evans, and many others. Some fourteen attended St. Paul’s (Episcopal) Church yesterday, where the President worships. Doubtless they are in consultation on the pressing needs of the country.
About noon to-day a dispatch came from Lieut.-Col. Cole, Gen. Lee’s principal commissary, at Orange Court House, dated 12th inst., saying the army was out of meat, and had but one day’s rations of bread. This I placed in the hands of the Secretary myself, and he seemed roused by it. Half an hour after, I saw Col. Northrop coming out of the department with a pale face, and triumphant, compressed lips. He had indorsed on the dispatch, before it came—it was addressed to him—that the state of things had come which he had long and often predicted, and to avert which he had repeatedly suggested the remedy; but the Secretary would not!
No wonder the generals are in consultation, for all the armies are in the same lamentable predicament—to the great triumph of Col. N., whose prescience is triumphantly vindicated! But Gen. Wise, when I mentioned these things to him, said we would starve in the midst of plenty, meaning that Col. N was incompetent to hold the position of Commissary-General.
At 2 P.M. a dispatch (which I likewise placed in the hands of the Secretary) came from Gen. Pickett, with information that thirteen of the enemy’s transports passed Yorktown yesterday with troops from Norfolk, the Eastern Shore of Virginia, Washington City, etc.—such was the report of the signal corps. They also reported that Gen. Meade would order a general advance, to check Gen. Lee. What all this means I know not, unless it be meant to aid Gen. Kilpatrick to get back the way he came with his raiding cavalry—or else Gen. Lee’s army is in motion, even while he is here. It must do something, or starve.
L. P. Walker, the first Secretary of War, is here, applying for an appointment as judge advocate of one of the military courts.
Gen. Bragg is at work. I saw by the President’s papers today, that the Secretary’s recommendation to remit the sentence to drop an officer was referred to him. He indorsed on it that the sentence was just, and ought to be executed. The President then indorsed: “Drop him.—J. D.”