December 29th.—Rained all night; spitting snow this morning.
Although Gen. Bragg announces that the enemy’s fleet has disappeared off Wilmington, still the despondency which has seized the croakers remains. It has probably sailed against Charleston, to co-operate with Sherman. Sherman says officially that he got, with Savannah, about 1000 prisoners, 150 heavy guns, nearly 200 cars and several locomotives, 35,000 bales of cotton, etc. etc. And Gen. Foster says the inhabitants (20,000) were “quiet, and well disposed.” Most people believe Charleston will fall next, to be followed by a sweep of the entire sea-board; and grave men fear that the impetus thus given the invader cannot be checked or resisted.
The great want is fighting men, and they are mostly exempted or detailed under that portion of the “War Department” which is quietly worked by Judge Campbell, who is, of course, governed by his own great legal judgment. Well, the President has been informed of this, and yet waits for Mr. Secretary Seddon to suggest a remedy. I have often thought, and still think, that either the Bureau of Conscription must be abolished or the government must fail. The best generals will not avail without sufficient men to fight.
Gen. Beauregard telegraphs from Charleston, December 26th, that there is a conflict of authority at Mobile as to which branch of the service, navy or army, shall command the torpedo boat. The two Secretaries are referring it to commanders, and I fear that, by the time the question is settled, some calamity will befall the boat, and the city, and the country.
Grant is said to be moving troops to the north side of the river again, fearing an attack from us, or intending one himself.