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

by John Beauchamp Jones

            AUGUST 31ST.—Governor Vance writes that large bodies of deserters in the western counties of North Carolina are organized, with arms, and threaten to raise the Union flag at the courthouse of Wilkes County on next court-day. The Governor demands a brigade from Virginia to quell them. Lieut.-Col. Lay has been sent thither, by the new good-natured chief of the Bureau of Conscription, to cure the evil. We shall see what good this mission will effect. Col. Preston writes to the Secretary to-day that disorders among the conscripts and deserters are now occurring in South Carolina for the first time—and proposes shortly to visit them himself. The best thing that can be done is to abolish the Bureau of Conscription, and have the law enforced by the military commanders in the field.

            I saw to-day a letter to the Secretary of War, written by Mr. Benjamin, Secretary of State, on the 18th inst., referring to a Mr. Jno. Robertson, an artist, whom the Secretary of War promised a free passage in a government steamer to Europe. Mr. B. says the promise was made in the President’s room, and he asks if Mr. Seddon could not spare an hour in his office, for Mr. R. to take his portrait. He says Mr. R. has the heads of the President, all the heads of departments (except Mr. Seddon, I suppose), and the principal generals. It does not appear what was done by Mr. Seddon, but I presume everything asked for by Mr. Benjamin was granted. But this matter has not exalted the President and his “heads of departments” in my estimation. If it be not “fiddling while Rome is burning,” it is certainly egotizing while the Confederacy is crumbling. On that day Sumter was falling to pieces, and some 40 locomotives and hundreds of cars were burning in Mississippi, and everywhere our territory passing into the hands of the invader!

            Mr. Robertson, I believe, is a stranger and an Englishman, and a free passage in a government ship is equivalent to some $2000, Confederate States currency. Almost every day passages are denied to refugees, natives of the South, who have lost fortunes in the cause, and who were desirous to place their children and non-combatants in a place of security, while they fight for liberty and independence. The privileged passage is refused them, even when they are able and willing to pay for the passage, and this refusal is recommended by Col. Gorgas, a Northern man. They do not propose to immortalize “the President, the heads of departments, and the principal generals.” But Mr. Benjamin has nothing else to do. Washington would accept no meed of praise until his great work was accomplished.

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