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

by John Beauchamp Jones

            JULY 3D.—My son Custis stayed out all night, sleeping on his arms in the farthest intrenchments. A little beyond, there was a skirmish with the enemy. We lost eight in killed and wounded. What the enemy suffered is not known, but he fell back, and ran toward the White House.

            This morning, Mr. Child, agent for exchange of prisoners, reported that “not a Yankee could be found on the face of the earth.” And this induced a general belief that the enemy had retired, finally, being perhaps ordered to Washington, where they may be much needed.

            The Secretary of War, believing the same thing, intimated to Gen. Elzey (who for some cause is unable to ride, and therefore remains in the city) a desire to send several regiments away to some menaced point at a distance. In response, Elzey writes that none can be spared with safety; that the enemy had apparently divided his force into two bodies, one for Hanover, and the other for the Chickahominy, and both strong; and he advised against weakening the forces here. He said he had not yet completed the manning of the batteries, the delay being in arming the men—and he hoped “Hill could hold out.”

            We have 3400 convalescents at CampLee, and as many more may be relied on for the defense of the city; so we shall have not less than 22,000 men for the defense of Richmond. The enemy have perhaps 35,000; but it would require 75,000 to storm our batteries. Let this be remembered hereafter, if the 35,000 sent here on a fool’s errand might have saved Washington or Baltimore, or have served to protect Pennsylvania—and then let the press of the North bag the administration at Washington! Gen. Lee’s course is “right onward,” and cannot be affected by events here.

            My friend Jacques (clerk) marched out yesterday with the Department Guard; but he had the diarrhœa, and was excused from marching as far as the company. He also got permission to come to town this morning, having slept pretty well, he said, apart from the company. No doubt he did good service in the city today, having his rifle fixed (the ball, I believe, had got down before the powder), and procuring a basket of edibles and a canteen of strong tea, which he promised to share with the mess. He said he saw Custis this morning, looking well, after sleeping on the ground the first time in his life, and without a blanket.

            We have nothing further from the North or the West.

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