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

by John Beauchamp Jones

            NOVEMBER 7TH.—No news from any quarter, except the continued bombardment of the debris of Fort Sumter, and the killing and wounding of some 10 or 12 men there—but that is not news.

            There is a pause,—a sort of holding of the breath of the people, as if some event of note was expected. The prices of food and fuel are far above the purses of all except speculators, and an explosion must happen soon, of some sort. People will not perish for food in the midst of plenty.

            The press, a portion rather, praises the President for his carefulness in making a tour of the armies and ports south of us; but as he retained Gen. Bragg in command, how soon the tune would change if Bragg should meet with disaster!

            Night before last some of the prisoners on Belle Isle (we have some 13,000 altogether in and near the city) were overheard by the guard to say they must escape immediately, or else it would be too late, as cannon were to be planted around them. Our authorities took the alarm, and increasing the guard, did plant cannon so as to rake them in every direction in the event of their breaking out of their prison bounds. It is suspected that this was a preconcerted affair, as a full division of the enemy has been sent to Newport News, probably to co-operate with the prisoners. Any attempt now must fail, unless, indeed, there should be a large number of Union sympathizers in the city to assist them.

            Several weeks ago it was predicted in the Northern papers that Richmond would be taken in some mysterious manner, and that there was a plan for the prisoners of war to seize it by a coup de main, may be probable. But the scheme was impracticable. What may be the condition of the city, and the action of the people a few weeks hence, if relief be not afforded by the government, I am afraid to conjecture. The croakers say five millions of “greenbacks,” and cargoes of provisions, might be more effectual in expelling the Confederate Government and restoring that of the United States than all of Meade’s army. And this, too, they allege, when there is abundance in the country. Many seem to place no value on the only money we have in circulation. The grasping farmers refuse to get out their grain, saying they have as much Confederate money as they want, and the government seems determined to permit the perishable tithes to perish rather than allow the famishing people to consume them. Surely, say the croakers, such a policy cannot achieve independence. No, it must be speedily changed, or else worse calamities await us than any we have experienced.

            Old Gen. Duff Green, after making many fortunes and losing them, it seems, is to die poor at last, and he is now nearly eighty years old. Last year he made a large contract to furnish the government with iron, his works being in Tennessee, whence he has been driven by the enemy. And now he says the depreciation of the money will make the cost of producing the iron twice as much as he will get for it. And worse, he has bought a large lot of sugar which would have realized a large profit, but the commissary agent has impressed it, and will not pay him cost for it. All he can do is to get a small portion of it back for the consumption of his employees, provided he returns to Tennessee and fulfills his iron contract.

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