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

by John Beauchamp Jones

            OCTOBER 20TH.—Nothing definite from Lee. I fear his little campaign from the Rapidan to Bull Run was not a glorious one, although Meade did run to the fortifications at Centreville. He may possibly have had a counter-plot, which is not yet developed. Our papers are rejoicing over thousands of prisoners “picked up;” but Captain Warner, who furnishes the prisoners their rations, assures me that they have not yet arrived ; while our papers acknowledge we lost 1000 men, killed and wounded, besides several guns.

            The Secretary of War received a dispatch to-day from Gen. Barton, Kinston, N.C., stating that a number of Federal regiments were embarking for (he thinks) South Carolina. This, the Secretary, of course, sends to Gen. Beauregard, but doubts, however, the destination of the troops. He thinks they are to menace Richmond again, and says there are indications of this purpose on the York River. Is Hooker really there? The public knows nothing, as yet, of what is going on down that river. What if Meade retreated to entice Lee away from Richmond, having in preparation an expedition against this city? I should not wonder at anything, since so many equivocal characters are obtaining passports to the United States. Gen. Winder and Judge Campbell are busy signing passports—one granted by the latter yesterday (recorded) also allows the bearer to take with him 2000 pounds tobacco

            A letter was received to-day from the President, ordering certain concessions to Governor Brown, relating to exemptions and details.

            Letters have been received justifying the belief (notwithstanding the forebodings of Lieut.-Gen. E. K. Smith) that we have taken Little Rock, Ark., again. This is Price’s work; also that Quantrell and other bold raiders in Missouri have collected some thousands of desperate men, and killed several regiments of the enemy. They have burned a number of towns (Union), and taken the large town of Boonville. These are the men against whom Kansas Abolitionists have sworn vengeance—no quarter is to be granted them. I suspect they are granting no quarter!

            Yesterday I saw a Captain Commissary on Broad Street give his dog a piece of beef for which I would have given a dollar. Many little children of soldiers stood by with empty baskets. He would not sell a shank!

            Dispatch from Alabama:

“SELMA, October 18th, 1863.

            “President Davis arrived here this evening, and was welcomed by the citizens en masse. An immense crowd gathered in front of the hotel. The President congratulated the people on meeting them under such favorable circumstances, and spoke in glowing terms of the gallantry of Alabamians on every battle-field. He said if the non-conscripts of Alabama would gather their guns and go to the rescue, by guarding Courtland and other points, thereby relieving regular soldiers who are now, from necessity, discharging that sort of duty, such blows would be dealt the enemy as he would find it difficult to recover from. In this way most effective aid could be given the gallant men and officers who are carrying out the plans of the noble Longstreet, under the supervision of the heroic Bragg.

            “In this way the President was confident that Rosecrans could be crushed to dust. It was only by force of arms that the Yankees could be brought to reason and their plans for our subjugation defeated. Self-reliance and energy were now our only duty. We should not look to Europe for aid, for such is not to be expected now. Our only alternative was to sustain ourselves with renewed energy and determination, and a little more sacrifice upon the part of the people, and the President firmly believed that next spring would see the invader driven from our borders. Then farmers, who are now refugees, could return to their families and pursue their business undisturbed as heretofore. In fact, he believed that the defeat of Rosecrans would practically end the war.”

            Mr. Randolph has signified his purpose to vote for the bill reducing prices, rather than resign; but Mr. Wyndham Robertson, the delegate, has resigned. Nearly all the papers have taken ground against the “Maximum Bill.” To-night a mass meeting is called, to urge the passage of the bill.

            The “mass meeting” to-night was a small affair. Mr. Robinson, my old compositor, made a speech, abusing the editors; but the editors have succeeded in putting down for the present the cry for bread. I fear, however, it is but the work of Sisyphus, and it may destroy them; for, if the measure fails before the Legislature, the prices will be sure to advance, and then the people will attribute their woes to those who were instrumental in the defeat of the plan of relief. It is a dangerous thing to array one’s self against a famishing people, even when the remedy they demand is not calculated to alleviate their distresses. I saw flour sell at auction to-day for $61 per barrel. This, too, when there is an abundant crop of new grain but recently harvested. It is the result of the depreciation of a redundant currency, and not of an ascertained scarcity. Timber and coal are as abundant as ever they were; and the one sells at $32 per cord, and the other at $30 per load of 25 bushels. And cotton is abundant, while brown domestic is bringing $3.00 per yard. Many are becoming very shabby in appearance; and I can get no clothes for myself or my family, unless the government shall very materially increase our salaries.

Previous post:

Next post: