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

by John Beauchamp Jones

NOVEMBER 11TH.—NO news. I saw, to-day, Gen. Lee’s letter of the 7th instant, simply announcing the capture of Hoke’s and Haye’s brigades. They were on the north side of the river, guarding the pont de tete. There is no excuse, no palliation. He said it was likely Meade’s entire army would cross. This had been sent by the Secretary to the President, who indorsed upon it as follows: “If it be possible to reinforce, it should be done promptly. Can any militia or local defense men be made available?—J. D.”

Gen. Whiting writes that he has refused to permit Mr. Crenshaw’s correspondence with Collie & Co. to pass uninspected, from a knowledge of the nature of previous correspondence seen by him.

The Northern papers state that Mr. Seward has authorized them to publish the fact that the French Government has seized the Confederate rams building in the ports of France.

I have written Custis Lee, the President’s aid, that but one alternative now remains: for the President, or some one else, to assume all power, temporarily, and crush the speculators. This I think is the only chance of independence. I may be mistaken—but we shall see.

Capt. Warner, who feeds the 13,000 prisoners here, when he has the means of doing so, says Col. Northrop, the Commissary, does not respond to his requisitions for meat. He fears the prisoners will take or destroy the city, and talks of sending his family out of it.

I condemned the reign of martial law in this city, in 1862, as it was not then necessary, and because its execution was intrusted to improper and obnoxious men. But now I am inclined to think it necessary not only here, but everywhere in the Confederacy. Many farmers refuse to get out their grain, or to sell their meat, because they say they have enough Confederate money! money for the redemption of which their last negro and last acre are responsible. So, if they be permitted to maintain this position, neither the army nor the non-producing class of the population can be subsisted; and, of course, all classes must be involved in a common ruin. A Dictator might prevent the people from destroying themselves, and it seems that nothing short of extreme measures can prevent it. But, again, suppose the Federal Government were to propose a sweeping amnesty, and exemption from confiscation to all who should subscribe to a reconstruction of the Union—and this, too, at a time of suffering and despondency—and so large a body were to embrace the terms as to render a prolongation of the war impracticable? What would the money the farmers now possess be worth? And what would become of the slaves, especially in Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri?

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