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

by John Beauchamp Jones

            NOVEMBER 30TH.—It is clear and cold. The boat in which my son and the battalion of clerks went down the river yesterday, sunk, from being overloaded, just as it got to the landing. It is said some of the boys had to wade ashore; but none were lost—thank God!

            This morning early, Lee and Meade confronted each other in battle array, and no one doubts a battle is in progress to day this side of the Rapidan. Lee is outnumbered some two to one, but Meade has a swollen river in his rear. It is an awful moment.

            I took my remaining son to the office this morning, to aid me in Custis’s absence.

            At night. Nothing has yet been heard from the battle, if indeed it occurred to-day. It is said that Meade is ordered to fight. They know at Washington it is too late in the season, in the event of Meade’s defeat, for Lee to menace that city, or to invade Pennsylvania. It is a desperate effort to crush the “rebellion,” as they suppose, by advancing all their armies. And indeed it seems that Meade is quite as near to Richmond as Lee; for he seems to be below the latter on the Rappahannock, with his back to Fredericksburg, and Lee’s face toward it. If Meade should gain the victory, he might possibly cut off Lee from this city. Nevertheless, these positions are the result of Lee’s manœuvres, and it is to be supposed he understands his business. He has no fear of Meade’s advance in this direction with his communications cut behind him.

            Captain Warner has sold me two pieces of bacon again, out of his own smoke-house, at $1 per pound, while it is selling in the market at $3.50 per pound—and he has given us another bushel of sweet potatoes. Had it not been for this kind friend, my little revenue would not have sufficed for subsistence.

            While the soldiers are famishing for food, what is called “red tapeism” prevents the consummation of contracts to supply them. Captains Montgomery and Leathers, old steamboat captains, with ample capital, and owning the only steamboats in certain waters of Florida, have just proposed to furnish the government with a million pounds salt beef, on the main line of railroad in Florida, at a reduced price. The cattle are exposed to incursions of the enemy, and have to be transported by steamboats. They endeavored to make a proposal directly to the Secretary, which was so expressed in the communication I prepared for them—as they were unwilling to treat with Col. Northrop, the Commissary-General, who has become extremely obnoxious. But it was intercepted, and referred to the Commissary-General. Learning this, the captains abandoned their purpose and left the city—the Secretary never having seen their proposal. Our soldiers will not get the beef, and probably the enemy will.

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