A REBEL WAR CLERK'S DIARY AT THE CONFEDERATE STATES CAPITAL.
BY J. B. JONES,
CLERK IN THE WAR DEPARTMENT OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES GOVERNMENT; AUTHOR OF "WILD WESTERN SCENES," ETC. ETC.
VOLS. I and II.
PHILADELPHIA: J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO. 1866.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
This Diary was written with the knowledge of the President and the Secretary of War. I informed them of it by note. They did not deprecate criticism on their official conduct; for they allowed me still to execute the functions of a very important position in the Government until the end of its career.
My discriminating friends will understand why I accepted the poor title of a clerkship, after having declined the Chargeship to Naples, tendered by Mr. Calhoun during the administration of President Polk.
J. B. J.
ONANCOCK, Accomac Co., Va.,
My flight from the North and escape into Virginia.— Revolutionary scene at Richmond.—The Union Convention passes the Ordinance of Secession.—Great excitement prevails in the South. 13
Depart for Montgomery.—Interview with President Davis.— My position in the Government.—Government removed to Richmond.—My family. 30
Troops pour into Richmond.—Beginning of hostilities.— Gen. Lee made a full general.—Major-Gen. Polk.—A battle expected at Manassas. 47
My family in North Carolina.—Volunteers daily rejected.— Gen. Winder appears upon the stage.—Toombs commissioned.— Hunter Secretary of State.—Duel prevented.—Col. B. Secretary for a few hours.—Gen. Garnett killed.—Battle of Manassas.—Great excitement.—Col. Bartow. 57
My son Custis appointed clerk in the War Department.—N. Y. Herald contains a pretty correct army list of the C. S.— Appearance of the "Plug Uglies."—President's rupture with Beauregard.—President sick.—Alien enemies ordered away.— Brief interview with the President.—"Immediate."—Large numbers of cavalry offering.—Great preparations in the North. 69
Four hundred thousand troops to be raised.—Want of arms.— Yankees offer to sell them to us.—Walker resigns.— Benjamin succeeds.—Col. J. A. Washington killed.—Assigned, temporarily, to the head of the passport office. 77
An order for the publication of the names of alien enemies.—Some excitement.—Efforts to secure property.— G. A. Myers, lawyer, actively engaged.—Gen. Price gains a victory in Missouri.—Billy Wilson's cut-throats cut to pieces at Fort Pickens.—A female spy arrives from Washington.—Great success at Leesburg or Ball's Bluff. 82
Quarrel between Gen. Beauregard and Mr. Benjamin.—Great naval preparations in the North.—The loss of Port Royal, S. C., takes some prestige.—The affair at Belmont does not compensate for it.—The enemy kills an old hare.—Missouri secedes.—Mason and Slidell captured.—French Consul and the actresses.—The lieutenant in disguise.—Eastern Shore of Virginia invaded.—Messrs. Breckinridge and Marshall in Richmond. 89
Gen. Lee ordered South.—Gen. Stuart ambuscaded at Drainsville.—W. H. B. Custis returns to the Eastern Shore.—Winder's detectives.—Kentucky secedes.—Judge Perkins's resolution.—Dibble goes North.—Waiting for Great Britain to do something.—Mr. Ely, the Yankee M. C. 96
Seward gives up Mason and Slidell.—Great preparations of the enemy.—Gen. Jackson betrayed.—Mr. Memminger's blunders.—Exaggerated reports of our troops in Kentucky and Tennessee. 103
Fall of Fort Henry.—Of Fort Donelson.—Lugubrious Inauguration of the President in the Permanent Government.—Loss of Roanoke Island. 108
Nashville evacuated.—Martial law.—Passports.—Com. Buchanan's naval engagement.—Gen. Winder's blunders.—Mr. Benjamin Secretary of State.—Lee commander-in-chief.—Mr. G. W. Randolph Secretary of War. 112
Gen. Beauregard succeeds Gen. Sydney Johnston.—Dibble, the traitor.—Enemy at Fredericksburg.—They say we will be subdued by the 15th of June.—Lee rapidly concentrating at Richmond.—Webster, the spy, hung. 118
Disloyalists entrapped.—Norfolk abandoned.—Merrimac blown up.—Army falling back.—Mrs. Davis leaves Richmond.— Preparing to burn the tobacco.—Secretary of War trembles for Richmond.—Richmond to be defended.—The tobacco.— Winking and blinking.—Johnston's great battle.—Wounded himself.—The wounded.—The hospitals. 122
Huger fails again.—A wounded boy.—The killed and wounded.—Lee assumes command.—Lee prepares to attack McClellan.—Beauregard watches the gold.—Our generals scattered.—Hasty letter from Gen. Lee.—Opening of grand battle.—First day, 26th June.—Second, etc.—Lee's consummate skill.—Every day for a week it rages.—Streets crowded with Blue Jackets.—McClellan retires. 131
Terrific fighting.—Anxiety to visit the battle-field.— Lee prepares for other battles.—Hope for the Union extinct.—Gen. Lee brings forward conscripts.—Gen. Cobb appointed to arrange exchange of prisoners.—Mr. Ould as agent.—Pope, the braggart, comes upon the stage.—Meets a braggart's fate.—The war transferred to Northern Virginia. 140
Vicksburg shelled.—Lee looks toward Washington.—Much manoeuvring in Orange County.—A brigade of the enemy annihilated.—McClellan flies to Washington.—Cretans.—Lee has a mighty army.—Missouri risings.—Pope's coat and papers captured.—Cut up at Manassas.—Clothing captured of the enemy. 147
Lee announces a victory.—Crosses the Potomac.—Battle of Sharpsburg.—McClellan pauses at the Potomac.—Lee moves mysteriously.—The campaign a doubtful one in its material results.—Horrible scene near Washington.—Conscription enlarged.—Heavy loss at Sharpsburg.—10,000 in the hospitals here. 151
McClellan has crossed the Potomac.—Another battle anticipated.—I am assured here that Lee had but 40,000 men engaged at Sharpsburg.—He has more now, as he is defending Virginia.—Radicals of the North want McClellan removed.— Our President has never taken the field.—Lee makes demonstrations against McClellan.—A Jew store robbed last night.—We have 40,000 prisoners excess over the enemy.— My family arrived from Raleigh.—My wife's substitute for coffee.—Foul passports.—My friend Brooks dines and wines with members of Congress.—The Herald and Tribune tempt us to return to the Union.—Lee writes, no immediate advance of McClellan.—Still a rumor of Bragg's victory in Kentucky.—Enemy getting large reinforcements.—Diabolical order of Governor Baylor.—Secretary's estimate of conscripts and all others, 500,000.—Bragg retreating from Kentucky.—Bickering between Bragg and Beauregard.—Lee wants Confederate notes made a legal tender.—There will be no second Washington. 160
Gen. Lee in Richmond: beard white.—First proposition to trade cotton to the enemy.—Secretary in favor of it.—All the letters come through my hands again.—Lee falling back.—5000 negroes at work on the fortifications.—Active operations looked for.—Beauregard advises non-combatants to leave the city.—Semmes's operations.—Making a nation.— Salt works lost in Virginia.—-Barefooted soldiers.— Intrigues of Butler in New Orleans.—Northern army advancing everywhere.—Breach between the President and Secretary of War.—President's servant arrested for robbing the Treasury.—Gen. J. E. Johnston in town.—Secretary has resigned.—Hon. J. A. Seddon appointed Secretary of War.— The enemy marching on Fredericksburg.—Lee writes that he will be ready for them.—Kentuckians will not be hog drivers.—Women and children flying from the vicinity of Fredericksburg.—Fears for Wilmington.—No beggars.—Quiet on the Rappahannock.—M. Paul, French Consul, saved the French tobacco.—Gen. Johnston goes West.—President gives Gov. Pettit full authority to trade cotton to France. 179
The great crisis at hand.—The rage for speculation raises its head.—Great battle of Fredericksburg.—The States called on for supplies.—Randolph resigns as brigadier-general.—South Carolina honor.—Loss at Fredericksburg.—Great contracts.—Lee's ammunition bad.—Small-pox here. 199
Lee in winter quarters.—Bragg's victory in the Southwest.—The President at Mobile.—Enemy withdraw from Vicksburg.—Bragg retreats as usual.—Bureau of Conscription.—High rents.—Flour contracts in Congress.— Efforts to escape conscription.—Ships coming in freely.— Sneers at negro troops.—Hopes of French intervention.— Gen. Rains blows himself up.—Davis would be the last to give up.—Gov. Vance protests against Col. August's appointment as commandant of conscripts.—Financial difficulties in the United States. 228
Proposed fixture of prices.—Depreciation in the North.— Gen. Hooker in command of the U. S. forces.—Lee thinks Charleston will be attacked.—Congress does nothing.— Some fears for Vicksburg.—Pemberton commands.—Wise dashes into Williamsburg.—Rats take food from my daughter's hand.—Lee wants the meat sent from Georgia to Virginia, where the fighting will be.—Gen. Winder uneasy about my Diary.—Gen. Johnston asks to be relieved in the West. 252
Removed into Clay Street.—Gen. Toombs resigned.—Lincoln dictator.—He can call 3,000,000 of men.—President is sick.—His office is not a bed of roses.—Col. Gorgas sends in his oath of allegiance.—Confederate gold $5 for $1.— Explosion of a laboratory.—Bad weather everywhere.— Fighting on the Mississippi River.—Conflict of views in the Conscription Bureau.—Confederate States currency $10 for $1.—Snow a foot deep, but melting.—We have no negro regiments in our service.—Only 6000 conscripts from East Tennessee.—How seven were paroled by one.—This is to be the crisis campaign.—Lee announces the campaign open. 265
Symptoms of bread riots.—Lee forming depots of provisions near the Rappahannock.—Beauregard ready to defend Charleston.—He has rebuffed the enemy severely.—French and British advancing money on cotton.—The Yankees can beat us in bargaining.—Gen. Lee anxious for new supplies.—The President appeals to the people to raise food for man and beast.—Federal and Confederate troops serenading each other on the Rappahannock.—Cobbler's wages $3000 per annum.— Wrangling in the Indian country.—Only 700 conscripts per month from Virginia.—Longstreet at Suffolk.—The President's well eye said to be failing.—A "reconnoissance!"—We are planting much grain.—Picking up pins.—Beautiful season.—Gen. Johnston in Tennessee.— Longstreet's successes in that State.—Lee complains that his army is not fed.—We fear for Vicksburg now.—Enemy giving up plunder in Mississippi.—Beauregard is busy at Charleston.—Gen. Marshall, of Kentucky, fails to get stock and hogs.—Gen. Lee calls for Longstreet's corps.— The enemy demonstrating on the Rappahannock. 284
Lee snuffs a battle in the breeze.—Hooker's army supposed to be 100,000 men.—Lee's perhaps 55,000 efficient.—I am planting potatoes.—Part of Longstreet's army gone up.— Enemy makes a raid.—Great victory at Chancellorville.— Hot weather.—Our poor wounded coming in streams, in ambulances and on foot.—Hooker has lost the game.— Message from the enemy.—They ask of Lee permission to bury their dead.—Granted, of course.—Hooker fortifying.—Food getting scarce again.—Gen. Lee's thanks to the army.— Crowds of prisoners coming in.—Lieut.-Gen. Jackson dead.— Hooker's raiders "hooked" a great many horses.—Enemy demand 500,000 more men.—Beauregard complains that so many of his troops are taken to Mississippi.—Enemy at Jackson, Miss.—Strawberries.—R. Tyler.—My cherries are coming on finely.—Ewell and Hill appointed lieutenant-generals.— President seems to doubt Beauregard's veracity.—Hon. D. M. Lewis cuts his wheat to-morrow, May 28th.—Johnston says our troops are in fine spirits around Vicksburg.— Grant thunders on.—Plan of servile insurrection. 303
Vicksburg refuses to surrender to Grant.—Spiritualism at the White House.—Lee is pushing a little northward.—It is said Grant has lost 40,000 men.—He is still pounding Vicksburg.—Petty military organizations.—Mr. Randolph busy.—Foolish passport rules.—Great battle imminent, but speculation may defeat both sides.—Early's victory.—We have only supplies of corn from day to day.—Chambersburg struck.—Col. Whiting complains of blockade-running at Wilmington.—False alarm.—Grant still before Vicksburg. 338
Enemy threatening Richmond.—The city is safe.—Battle of Gettysburg.—Great excitement.—Yankees in great trouble.— Alas! Vicksburg has fallen.—President is sick.—Grant marching against Johnston at Jackson.—Fighting at that place.—Yankees repulsed at Charleston.—Lee and Meade facing each other.—Pemberton surrenders his whole army.— Fall of Port Hudson.—Second class conscripts called for.— Lee has got back across the Potomac.—Lincoln getting fresh troops.—Lee writes that he cannot be responsible if the soldiers fail for want of food.—Rumors of Grant coming East.—Pemberton in bad odor.—Hon. W. L. Yancey is dead. 366
Some desertion.—Lee falling back.—Men still foolishly look for foreign aid.—Speculators swarming.—God helps me to-day.—Conscripts.—Memminger shipping gold to Europe.— Our women and children making straw bonnets.—Attack on Charleston.—Robert Tyler as a financier.—Enemy throw large shells into Charleston, five and a half miles.—Diabolical scheme.—Gen. Lee has returned to the army. 3
Situation at Wilmington.—Situation at Charleston.—Lincoln thinks there is hope of our submission.—Market prices.— Ammunition turned over to the enemy at Vicksburg.—Attack on Sumter.—Stringent conscription order.—Disaffection in North Carolina.—Victory announced by Gen. Bragg.—Peril of Gen. Rosecrans.—Surrender of Cumberland Gap.—Rosecrans fortifying Chattanooga.—Mr. Seward on flag of truce boat.— Burnside evacuating East Tennessee.—The trans-Mississippi army.—Meade sending troops to Rosecrans.—Pemberton in Richmond.—A suggestion concerning perishable tithes. 30
Suffering of our wounded at Gettysburg.—Prisoners from the battle of Chickamauga.—Charleston.—Policy in the Southwest.—From Gen. Bragg.—Letter from President Davis.— Religious revival.—Departure of the President for the Southwest.—About General Bragg.—Movement of mechanics and non-producers.—About "French" tobacco.—The markets.— Outrage in Missouri.—Speculations of government agents.— From Gen. Lee.—Judge Hastings's scheme.—Visit to our prisons.—Letter from Gen. Kirby Smith.—President Davis at Selma.—Gen. Winder's passports.—The markets.— Campbellites and Methodists.—From Gen. Lee.—From the Southwest. 57
Letters from various sections.—The President and Gen. Bragg.—State of the markets.—Causes of the President's tour.—Gen. Duff Green.—Return of the President.—Loss of Hoke's and Haye's brigades.—Letter from Gen. Howell Cobb.—Dispatch from Gen. Lee.—State of the markets.— Letter from A. Moseley.—Mrs. Todd in Richmond.— Vice-President Stephens on furloughs.—About Gen. Bragg and the battle of Lookout Mountain. 85
Assembling of Congress.—President's message.—The markets.—No hope for the Confederate currency.—Averill's raid.—Letter from Gov. Vance.—Christmas.—Persons having furnished substitutes still liable to military duty. 110
Hospitalities of the city to Gen. Morgan.—Call for a Dictator.—Letter from Gen. Lee.—Letters from Gov. Vance.—Accusation against Gen. Winder.—Treatment of Confederate prisoners (from the Chicago Times).— Change of Federal policy.—Efforts to remove Col. Northrop.—Breach between the President and Congress.— Destitution of our prisoners.—Appeal of Gen. Lee to the army.—New Conscription Act.—Letter from Gen. Cobb. 122
Gen. Lovell applies for a command.—Auspicious opening of 1864.—Mr. Wright's resolutions.—Rumored approach of Gen. Butler.—Letter from Gov. Brown.—Letter from Gen. Lee.— Dispatches from Gen. Beauregard.—President Davis's negroes.—Controversy between Gen. Winder and Mr. Ould.— Robbery of Mr. Lewis Hayman.—Promotion of Gen. Bragg, and the Examiner thereon.—Scarcity of provisions in the army.—Congress and the President. 140
Attempt to capture Richmond.—Governor Vance and Judge Pearson.—Preparations to blow up the "Libby" prisoners.— Letter from General Lee.—Proposal to execute Dahlgren's raiders.—General Butler on the Eastern Shore.—Colonel Dahlgren's body.—Destitution of the army.—Strength of the Southwestern army.—Destitution of my family.—Protest from South Carolina.—Difficulty with P. Milmo & Co.—Hon. J. W. Wall. 162
Return of Mr. Ould and Capt. Hatch from Fortress Monroe.— Quarrel between Mr. Memminger and Mr. Seddon.—Famine.—A victory in Louisiana.—Vice-President Stephens's speech.— Victory of Gen. Forrest.—Capture of Plymouth, N. C.—Gen. Lee's bill of fare. 179
Dispatch from Gen. J. E. Johnston.—Dispatch from Gen. Lee.—Mr. Saulsbury's resolution in the U. S. Senate.— Progress of the enemy.—Rumored preparations for the flight of the President.—Wrangling of high officials.— Position of the armies. 196
Beauregard's plan.—The battle.—Defeat near Staunton.— Fight at Petersburg.—Decision about Marylanders.— Beauregard in disgrace.—Dispatch from Gen. J. E. Johnston. 223
Gen. Lee's dispatch announcing Gen. Hampton's victory.—Cost of a cup of coffee.—From Gens. Johnston and S. D. Lee.— Gen. Early in Maryland.—Rumored capture of Baltimore.— Letter from Gen. Lee.—Dispatch from Gen. Hood.—Status of the local troops. 241
From the Northern papers.—Letter from J. Thompson, Canada.—From Mr. McRae, our foreign agent.—Dispatch from Major-Gen. Maury.—"General Order No. 65."—Battle of Reams's Station. 258
The Federal Presidency.—The Chicago Convention.—Fall of Atlanta.—Bureau of Conscription.—From Gen. Hood.— Vice-President Stephens on the situation.—Letter from Mrs. Mendenhall.—Dispatch from Gen. Lee.—Defeat of Gen. Early.—From Gov. Vance.—From Gov. Brown, of Georgia.— Gen. Lee's indorsement of Col. Moseby.—Hon. Mr. Foote.— Attack on Fort Gilmer.—Indiscriminate arrest of civilians. 275
Attempt to retake Fort Harrison.—A false alarm.—Dispatches from Gen. Lee.—Impressments.—Gen. Butler's generosity.— Matters in and about the city.—Beverly Tucker's contract with a New York firm for supplies. 297
Proclamation for a day of public worship.—Gov. Allen, of Louisiana.—Letter from Gen. Beauregard.—Departure for Europe.—Congress assembles.—Quarrel between Gens. Kemper and Preston.—Gen. Forrest doing wonders.—Tennessee.—Gen. Johnston on his Georgia campaign.—John Mitchel and Senator Foote.—Progress of Sherman.—From Gov. Brown, of Georgia.—Capture of Gen. Pryor. 320
Desertions.—Bragg and Kilpatrick.—Rents.—Gen. Winder's management of prisoners.—Rumored disasters in Tennessee.—Prices.—Progress of Sherman.—Around Richmond.—Capture of Fort McAlister.—Rumored death of the President.—Yankee line of spies.—From Wilmington and Charleston.—Evacuation of Savannah. 343
Waning confidence in the President.—Blockade-running.—From the South.—Beauregard on Sherman.—The expeditions against Wilmington.—Return of Mr. Pollard.—The Blairs in Richmond.—Arrest of Hon. H. S. Foote.—Fall of Fort Fisher.—Views of Gen. Cobb.—Dismal.—Casualties of the war.—Peace commissioners for Washington. 371
Gen. Lee appointed General-in-Chief.—Progress of Sherman.—The markets.—Letter from Gen. Butler.—Return of the peace commissioners.—The situation.—From Gen. Lee.— Use of negroes as soldiers.—Patriotism of the women.— Pardon of deserters.—The passport system.—Oh for peace!— Gen. Lee on negro soldiers.—Conventions in Georgia and Mississippi. 405
From the North.—Rumored defeat of Gen. Early.—Panic among officials.—Moving the archives.—Lincoln's inaugural.— Victory in North Carolina.—Rumored treaty with France.— Sheridan's movements.—Letter from Lord John Russell.— Sherman's progress.—Desperate condition of the government.—Disagreement between the President and Congress.—Development of Grant's combination.—Assault at Hare's Hill.—Departure of Mrs. President Davis. 436
Rumors of battles.—Excitement in the churches.—The South Side Road captured by the enemy.—Evacuation of Richmond.—Surrender of Gen. Lee.—Occupation of Richmond by Federal forces.—Address to the people of Virginia by J. A. Campbell and others.—Assassination of President Lincoln. 464
A REBEL WAR CLERK'S DIARY.
My flight from the North and escape into Virginia.—Revolutionary scene at Richmond.—The Union Convention passes the Ordinance of Secession.— Great excitement prevails in the South.
APRIL 8TH, 1861. BURLINGTON, NEW JERSEY.—The expedition sails to-day from New York. Its purpose is to reduce Fort Moultrie, Charleston harbor, and relieve Fort Sumter, invested by the Confederate forces. Southern born, and editor of the Southern Monitor, there seems to be no alternative but to depart immediately. For years the Southern Monitor, Philadelphia, whose motto was "The Union as it was, the Constitution as it is," has foreseen and foretold the resistance of the Southern States, in the event of the success of a sectional party inimical to the institution of African slavery, upon which the welfare and existence of the Southern people seem to depend. And I must depart immediately; for I well know that the first gun fired at Fort Sumter will be the signal for an outburst of ungovernable fury, and I should be seized and thrown into prison.
I must leave my family—my property—everything. My family cannot go with me—but they may follow. The storm will not break in its fury for a month or so. Only the most obnoxious persons, deemed dangerous, will be molested immediately.
8 O'CLOCK P.M.—My wife and children have been busy packing my trunk, and making other preparations for my departure. They are cheerful. They deem the rupture of the States a fait accompli, but reck not of the horrors of war. They have contrived to pack up, with other things, my fine old portrait of Calhoun, by Jarvis. But I must leave my papers, the accumulation of twenty-five years, comprising thousands of letters from predestined rebels. My wife opposes my suggestion that they be burned. Among them are some of the veto messages of President Tyler, and many letters from him, Governor Wise, etc. With the latter I had a correspondence in 1856, showing that this blow would probably have been struck then, if Fremont had been elected.
APRIL 9TH.—My adieus over, I set out in the broad light of day. When the cars arrived at Camden, I proceeded, with the rest of the through passengers, in the boat to the navy yard, without going ashore in the city. The passengers were strangers to me. Many could be easily recognized as Southern men; but quite as many were going only as far as Washington, for their reward. They were bold denouncers of the rebellion; the others were silent, thoughtful, but in earnest.
The first thing which attracted my attention, as the cars left the Delaware depot, was a sign-board on my left, inscribed in large letters, "UNION CEMETERY." My gaze attracted the notice of others. A mocking bon-mot was uttered by a Yankee wit, which was followed by laughter.
For many hours I was plunged in the deepest abstraction, and spoke not a word until we were entering the depot at Washington, just as the veil of night was falling over the scene.
Then I was aroused by the announcement of a conductor that, failing to have my trunk rechecked at Baltimore, it had been left in that city! Determined not to lose it, I took the return train to Baltimore, and put up at Barnum's Hotel. Here I met with Mr. Abell, publisher of the Baltimore Sun, an old acquaintance. Somewhat contrary to my expectations, knowing him to be a native of the North, I found him an ardent secessionist. So enthusiastic was he in the cause, that he denounced both Maryland and Virginia for their hesitancy in following the example of the Cotton States; and he invited me to furnish his paper with correspondence from Montgomery, or any places in the South where I might be a sojourner.
APRIL 10TH.—Making an early start this morning, I once more arrived at Washington City. I saw no evidences of a military force in the city, and supposed the little army to be encamped at the west end of the Avenue, guarding the Executive Mansion.
We took an omnibus without delay and proceeded to the steamer. As soon as we left the shore, I fancied I saw many of the passengers breathing easier and more deeply. Certainly there was more vivacity, since we were relieved of the presence of Republicans. And at the breakfast table there was a freer flow of speech, and a very decided manifestation of secession proclivities.
Among the passengers was Major Holmes, who had just resigned his commission in the U. S. army. He had been ordered to proceed with the expedition against Charleston; but declined the honor of fighting against his native land. The major is a little deaf, but has an intellectual face, the predominant expression indicating the discretion and prudence so necessary for success in a large field of operations. In reply to a question concerning the military qualities of Beauregard and Bragg, he said they were the flower of the young officers of the U. S. army. The first had great genius, and was perhaps the most dashing and brilliant officer in the country; the other, more sedate, nevertheless possessed military capacities of a very high order. President Davis, in his opinion, had made most excellent selections in the appointment of his first generals. The major, however, was very sad at the prospect before us; and regarded the tenders of pecuniary aid to the U. S. by the Wall Street capitalists as ominous of a desperate, if not a prolonged struggle. At this time the major's own State, North Carolina, like Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Missouri, yet remains in the Union.
We were delayed several hours at Aquia Creek, awaiting the arrival of the cars, which were detained in consequence of a great storm and flood that had occurred the night before.
APRIL 10TH AND 11TH.—These two days were mainly lost by delays, the floods having swept away many bridges, which had not yet been repaired. As we approached Richmond, it was observed that the people were more and more excited, and seemed to be pretty nearly unanimous for the immediate secession of the State. Everywhere the Convention then in session was denounced with bitterness, for its adherence to the Union; and Gov. Letcher was almost universally execrated for the chocks he had thrown under the car of secession and Southern independence. I heard very many who had voted for him, regret that they had ever supported the clique of politicians who managed to secure his nomination. And now I learned that a People's Spontaneous Convention would assemble in Richmond on the 16th of the month, when, if the other body persisted in its opposition to the popular will, the most startling revolutionary measures would be adopted, involving, perhaps, arrests and executions. Several of the members of this body with whom I conversed bore arms upon their persons.
APRIL 12TH.—To-day I beheld the first secession flag that had met my vision. It was at Polecat Station, Caroline County, and it was greeted with enthusiasm by all but the two or three Yankees in the train. One of these, named Tupps, had been questioned so closely, and his presence and nativity had become so well known, that he became alarmed for his safety, although no one menaced him. He could not sit still a moment, nor keep silence. He had been speculating in North Carolina the year before, and left some property there, which, of course, he must save, if needs be, at the risk of his life. But he cared nothing for slavery, and would never bear arms against the South, if she saw fit to "set up Government business for herself." He rather guessed war was a speculation that wouldn't pay. His volubility increased with his perturbation, and then he drank excessively and sang Dixie. When we reached Richmond, he was beastly drunk.
Arrived at the Exchange Hotel, Richmond. A storm rages above, and below in the minds of men; but the commotion of the elements above attracts less attention than the tempest of excitement agitating the human breast. The news-boys are rushing in all directions with extras announcing the bombardment of Fort Sumter! This is the irrevocable blow! Every reflecting mind here should know that the only alternatives now are successful revolution or abject subjugation. But they do not lack for the want of information of the state of public sentiment in the North. It is in vain that the laggards are assured by persons just from the North, that the Republican leaders now composing the cabinet at Washington were prepared to hail the event at Charleston as the most auspicious that could have happened for the accomplishment of their designs; and that their purpose is the extinction of slavery, at least in the border States; the confiscation of the estates of rebels to reimburse the Federal Government for the expenses of the war which had been deliberately resolved on; and to gratify the cupidity of the "Wide-Awakes," and to give employment to foreign mercenaries.
But it is not doubtful which course the current of feeling is rapidly taking. Even in this hitherto Union city, secession demonstrations are prevalent; and the very men who two days ago upheld Gov. Letcher in his conservatism, are now stricken dumb amid the popular clamor for immediate action. I am now resolved to remain in Richmond for a season.
After tea I called upon Gov. Wise, who occupied lodgings at the same hotel. He was worn out, and prostrated by a distressing cough which threatened pneumonia. But ever and anon his eagle eye assumed its wonted brilliancy. He was surrounded by a number of his devoted friends, who listened with rapt attention to his surpassing eloquence. A test question, indicative of the purpose of the Convention to adjourn without action, had that day been carried by a decided majority. The governor once rose from his recumbent position on the sofa and said, whatever the majority of Union men in the Convention might do, or leave undone, Virginia must array herself on one side or the other. She must fight either Lincoln or Davis. If the latter, he would renounce her, and tender his sword and his life to the Southern Confederacy. And although it was apparent that his physique was reduced, as he said, to a mere "bag of bones," yet it was evident that his spirit yet struggled with all its native fire and animation.
Soon after President Tyler came in. I had not seen him for several years, and was surprised to find him, under the weight of so many years, unchanged in activity and energy of body and mind. He was quite as ardent in his advocacy of prompt State action as Wise. Having recently abandoned the presidency of the Peace Congress at Washington, in despair of obtaining concessions or guarantees of safety from the rampant powers then in the ascendency, he nevertheless believed, as did a majority of the statesmen of the South, that, even then, in the event of the secession of all the Southern States, presenting thus a united front, no war of great magnitude would ensue. I know better, from my residence in the North, and from the confessions of the Republicans with whom I have been thrown in contact; but I will not dissent voluntarily from the opinions of such statesmen. I can only, when my opinion is desired, intimate my conviction that a great war of the sections might have been averted, if the South had made an adequate coup d'etat before the inauguration of Lincoln, and while the Democratic party everywhere was yet writhing under the sting and mortification of defeat. Then the arm of the Republican party would have been paralyzed, for the attitude of the Democratic party would at least have been a menacing one; but now, the Government has been suffered to fall into the possession of the enemy, the sword and the purse have been seized, and it is too late to dream of peace—in or out of the Union. Submission will be dishonor. Secession can only be death, which is preferable.
Gov. Wise, smiling, rose again and walked to a corner of the room where I had noticed a bright musket with a sword-bayonet attached. He took it up and criticised the sword as inferior to the knife. Our men would require long drilling to become expert with the former, like the French Zouaves; but they instinctively knew how to wield the bowie-knife. The conversation turning upon the probable deficiency of a supply of improved arms in the South, if a great war should ensue, the governor said, with one of his inevitable expressions of feeling, that it was not the improved arm, but the improved man, which would win the day. Let brave men advance with flint locks and old-fashioned bayonets, on the popinjays of the Northern cities—advance on, and on, under the fire, reckless of the slain, and he would answer for it with his life, that the Yankees would break and run. But, in the event of the Convention adjourning without decisive action, he apprehended the first conflict would be with Virginians—the Union men of Virginia. He evidently despaired, under repeated defeats, of seeing an ordinance of secession passed immediately, and would have preferred "resistance" to "secession."
APRIL 13TH.—After breakfast I accompanied Gov. Wise to his room. He advised me to remain a few days before proceeding elsewhere. He still doubted, however, whether Virginia would move before autumn. He said there was a majority of 500 Union men then in the city. But the other Convention, to meet on the 16th, might do something. He recommended me to a friend of his who distributed the tickets, who gave me a card of admission.
APRIL 14TH.—Wrote all day for several journals.
APRIL 15TH.—Great demonstrations made throughout the day, and hundreds of secession flags are flying in all parts of the city. At night, while sitting with Captain O. Jennings Wise in the editorial room of the Enquirer, I learned from the Northern exchange papers, which still came to hand, that my office in Philadelphia, "The Southern Monitor," had been sacked by the mob. It was said ten thousand had visited my office, displaying a rope with which to hang me. Finding their victim had escaped, they vented their fury in sacking the place. I have not ascertained the extent of the injury done; but if they injured the building, it belonged to H. B., a rich Republican. They tore down the signs (it was a corner house east of the Exchange), and split them up, putting the splinters in their hats, and wearing them as trophies. They next visited the mansion of Gen. P., who had made his fortune dealing in cotton, and had been a bold Northern champion of Southern rights. But the general flinched on this trying occasion. He displayed the stars and stripes, and pledged "the boys" to lead them in battle against the secessionists.
During the evening, a procession with banners and torch-lights came up the street and paused before the Enquirer office. They called for Captain Wise, and I accompanied him to the iron balcony, where he made them a soul-stirring speech. At its conclusion, he seized me by the arm and introduced me to the crowd. He informed them of the recent proceedings in Philadelphia, etc., and then ceased speaking, leaving me to tell my own story to the listening multitude. That was not my fault; I had never attempted to make a public speech in my life; and I felt that I was in a predicament. Wise knew it, and enjoyed my embarrassment. I contrived, however, to say to the people that the time for speaking had gone by, and there was no time left for listening. They proceeded up the street, growing like a snow-ball as they rolled onward. At every corner there were cheers uttered for Davis, and groans for Lincoln.
Upon returning to my boarding-house (the hotel being found too expensive), kept by Mrs. Samuels, and her sister, Miss Long, I found the ladies making secession flags. Indeed, the ladies everywhere seem imbued with the spirit of patriotism, and never fail to exert their influence in behalf of Southern independence.
APRIL 15TH.—To-day the secession fires assumed a whiter heat. In the Convention the Union men no longer utter denunciations against the disunionists. They merely resort to pretexts and quibbles to stave off the inevitable ordinance. They had sent a deputation to Washington to make a final appeal to Seward and Lincoln to vouchsafe them such guarantees as would enable them to keep Virginia to her moorings. But in vain. They could not obtain even a promise of concession. And now the Union members as they walk the streets, and even Gov. Letcher himself, hear the indignant mutterings of the impassioned storm which threatens every hour to sweep them from existence. Business is generally suspended, and men run together in great crowds to listen to the news from the North, where it is said many outrages are committed on Southern men and those who sympathize with them. Many arrests are made, and the victims thrown into Fort Lafayette. These crowds are addressed by the most inflamed members of the Convention, and never did I hear more hearty responses from the people.
APRIL 16TH.—This day the Spontaneous People's Convention met and organized in Metropolitan Hall. The door-keeper stood with a drawn sword in his hand. But the scene was orderly. The assembly was full, nearly every county being represented, and the members were the representatives of the most ancient and respectable families in the State. David Chalmers, of Halifax County, I believe, was the President, and Willoughby Newton, a life-long Whig, among the Vice-Presidents. P. H. Aylett, a grandson of Patrick Henry, was the first speaker. And his eloquence indicated that the spirit of his ancestor survived in him. But he was for moderation and delay, still hoping that the other Convention would yield to the pressure of public sentiment, and place the State in the attitude now manifestly desired by an overwhelming majority of the people. He was answered by the gallant Capt. Wise, who thrilled every breast with his intrepid bearing and electric bursts of oratory. He advocated action, without reference to the other Convention, as the best means of bringing the Unionists to their senses. And the so-called Demosthenean Seddon, and G. W. Randolph (grandson of Thomas Jefferson), Lieut.-Gov. Montague, James Lyons, Judge Robertson, etc., were there. Never, never did I hear more exalted and effective bursts of oratory. And it was apparent that messages were constantly received from the other Convention. What they were, I did not learn at the moment; but it was evident that the Unionists were shaking in their shoes, and they certainly begged one—just one—day's delay, which was accorded them. The People's Convention agreed to adjourn till 10 o'clock A.M. the next day. But before we separated a commotion was observed on the stage, and the next moment a Mr. P., from Gov. Wise's old district, rushed forward and announced that he had just arrived from Norfolk, where, under instructions, and with the acquiescence of Gov. Letcher, he had succeeded in blocking the channel of the river; and this would either secure to us, or render useless to the United States, certain ships of the navy, stores, armament, etc., of the value of millions of dollars. This announcement was received with the wildest shouts of joy. Young men threw up their hats, and old men buttoned their coats and clapped their hands most vigorously. It was next hinted by some one who seemed to know something of the matter, that before another day elapsed, Harper's Ferry would fall into the hands of the secessionists.
At night the enthusiasm increases in intensity, and no further opposition is to be apprehended from the influence of Tim Rives, Baldwin, Clemens, etc. etc. It was quite apparent, indeed, that if an ordinance of secession were passed by the new Convention, its validity would be recognized and acted upon by the majority of the people. But this would be a complication of the civil war, now the decree of fate.
Perhaps the occurrence which has attracted most attention is the raising of the Southern flag on the capitol. It was hailed with the most deafening shouts of applause. But at a quiet hour of the night, the governor had it taken down, for the Convention had not yet passed the ordinance of secession. Yet the stars and stripes did not float in its stead; it was replaced by the flag of Virginia.
APRIL 17TH.—This was a memorable day. When we assembled at Metropolitan Hall, it could be easily perceived that we were on the threshold of momentous events. All other subjects, except that of a new political organization of the State, seemed to be momentarily delayed, as if awaiting action elsewhere. And this plan of political organization filled me with alarm, for I apprehended it would result in a new conflict between the old parties—Whig and Democrat. The ingenious discussion of this subject was probably a device of the Unionists, two or three of them having obtained seats in the Revolutionary Convention. I knew the ineradicable instincts of Virginia politicians, and their inveterate habit of public speaking, and knew there were well-grounded fears that we should be launched and lost in an illimitable sea of argument, when the business was Revolution, and death to the coming invader. Besides, I saw no hope of unanimity if the old party distinctions and designations were not submerged forever.
These fears, however, were groundless. The Union had received its blessure mortelle, and no power this side of the Potomac could save it. During a pause in the proceedings, one of the leading members arose and announced that he had information that the vote was about being taken in the other Convention on the ordinance of secession. "Very well!" cried another member, "we will give them another chance to save themselves. But it is the last!" This was concurred in by a vast majority. Not long after, Lieut.-Gov. Montague came in and announced the passage of the ordinance by the other Convention! This was succeeded by a moment too thrilling for utterance, but was followed by tears of gladness and rapturous applause. Soon after, President Tyler and Gov. Wise were conducted arm-in-arm, and bare-headed, down the center aisle amid a din of cheers, while every member rose to his feet. They were led to the platform, and called upon to address the Convention. The venerable ex-President of the United States first rose responsive to the call, but remarked that the exhaustion incident to his recent incessant labors, and the nature of his emotions at such a momentous crisis, superadded to the feebleness of age, rendered him physically unable to utter what he felt and thought on such an occasion. Nevertheless, he seemed to acquire supernatural strength as he proceeded, and he spoke most effectively for the space of fifteen minutes. He gave a brief history of all the struggles of our race for freedom, from Magna Charta to the present day; and he concluded with a solemn declaration that at no period of our history were we engaged in a more just and holy effort for the maintenance of liberty and independence than at the present moment. The career of the dominant party at the North was but a series of aggressions, which fully warranted the steps we were taking for resistance and eternal separation; and if we performed our whole duty as Christians and patriots, the same benign Providence which favored the cause of our forefathers in the Revolution of 1776, would again crown our efforts with similar success. He said he might not survive to witness the consummation of the work begun that day; but generations yet unborn would bless those who had the high privilege of being participators in it.
He was succeeded by Gov. Wise, who, for a quarter of an hour, electrified the assembly by a burst of eloquence, perhaps never surpassed by mortal orator. During his pauses a silence reigned, pending which the slightest breathing could be distinctly heard, while every eye was bathed in tears. At times the vast assembly rose involuntarily to their feet, and every emotion and expression of feature seemed responsive to his own. During his speech he alluded to the reports of the press that the oppressors of the North had probably seized one of his children sojourning in their midst. "But," said he, "if they suppose hostages of my own heart's blood will stay my hand in a contest for the maintenance of sacred rights, they are mistaken. Affection for kindred, property, and life itself sink into insignificance in comparison with the overwhelming importance of public duty in such a crisis as this." He lamented the blindness which had prevented Virginia from seizing Washington before the Republican hordes got possession of it—but, said he, we must do our best under the circumstances. It was now Independence or Death—although he had preferred fighting in the Union—and when the mind was made up to die rather than fail, success was certain. For himself, he was eager to meet the ordeal, and he doubted not every Southern heart pulsated in unison with his own.
Hon. J. M. Mason, and many other of Virginia's distinguished sons were called upon, and delivered patriotic speeches. And finally, Gov. Letcher appeared upon the stage. He was loudly cheered by the very men who, two days before, would gladly have witnessed his execution. The governor spoke very briefly, merely declaring his concurrence in the important step that had been taken, and his honest purpose, under the circumstances, to discharge his whole duty as Executive of the State, in conformity to the will of the people and the provisions of the Constitution.
Before the sine die adjournment, it was suggested that inasmuch as the ordinance had been passed in secret session, and it was desirable that the enemy should not know it before certain preparations could be made to avert sudden injury on the border, etc., that the fact should not be divulged at present.
APRIL 18TH.—In spite of every precaution, it is currently whispered in the streets to-day that Virginia has seceded from the Union; and that the act is to be submitted to the people for ratification a month hence. This is perhaps a blunder. If the Southern States are to adhere to the old distinct sovereignty doctrine, God help them one and all to achieve their independence of the United States. Many are inclined to think the safest plan would be to obliterate State lines, and merge them all into an indivisible nation or empire, else there may be incessant conflicts between the different sovereignties themselves, and between them and the General Government. I doubt our ability to maintain the old cumbrous, complicated, and expensive form of government. A national executive and Congress will be sufficiently burdensome to the people without the additional expense of governors, lieutenant-governors, a dozen secretaries of State, as many legislatures, etc. etc. It is true, State rights gave the States the right to secede. But what is in a name? Secession by any other name would smell as sweet. For my part, I like the name of Revolution, or even Rebellion, better, for they are sanctified by the example of Washington and his compeers. And separations of communities are like the separations of bees when they cannot live in peace in the same hive. The time had come apparently for us to set up for ourselves, and we should have done it if there had been no such thing as State sovereignty. It is true, the Constitution adopted at Montgomery virtually acknowledges the right of any State to secede from the Confederacy; but that was necessary in vindication of the action of its fathers. That Constitution, and the permanent one to succeed it, will, perhaps, never do. They too much resemble the governmental organization of the Yankees, to whom we have bid adieu forever in disgust.
APRIL 19TH.—Dispatches from Montgomery indicate that President Davis is as firm a States right man as any other, perfectly content to bear the burdens of government six years, and hence I apprehend he will not budge in the business of guarding Virginia until after the ratification of the secession ordinance. Thus a month's precious time will be lost; and the scene of conflict, instead of being in Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, will be in Virginia. From the ardor of the volunteers already beginning to pour into the city, I believe 25,000 men could be collected and armed in a week, and in another they might sweep the whole Abolition concern beyond the Susquehanna, and afterward easily keep them there. But this will not be attempted, nor permitted, by the Convention, so recently composed mostly of Union men.
To-night we have rumors of a collision in Baltimore. A regiment of Northern troops has been assailed by the mob. No good can come of mob assaults in a great revolution.
Wrote my wife to make preparations with all expedition to escape into Virginia. Women and children will not be molested for some weeks yet; but I see they have begun to ransack their baggage. Mrs. Semple, daughter of President Tyler, I am informed, had her plate taken from her in an attempt to get it away from New York.
APRIL 20TH.—The news has been confirmed. It was a brickbat "Plug Ugly" fight—the result of animal, and not intellectual or patriotic instincts. Baltimore has better men for the strife than bar-room champions. The absence of dignity in this assault will be productive of evil rather than good. Maryland is probably lost—for her fetters will be riveted before the secession of Virginia will be communicated by the senseless form of ratification a month hence. Woe, woe to the politicians of Virginia who have wrought this delay! It is now understood that the very day before the ordinance was passed, the members were gravely splitting hairs over proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution!
Guns are being fired on Capitol Hill in commemoration of secession, and the Confederate flag now floats unmolested from the summit of the capitol. I think they had better save the powder, etc.
At night. We have a gay illumination. This too is wrong. We had better save the candles.
APRIL 21ST.—Received several letters to-day which had been delayed in their transmission, and were doubtless opened on the way. One was from my wife, informing me of the illness of Custis, my eldest son, and of the equivocal conduct of some of the neighbors. The Rev. Mr. D., son of the late B——p, raised the flag of the Union on his church.
The telegraphic wires are still in operation.
APRIL 22D.—Early a few mornings since, I called on Gov. Wise, and informed him that Lincoln had called out 70,000 men. He opened his eyes very widely and said, emphatically, "I don't believe it." The greatest statesmen of the South have no conception of the real purposes of the men now in power in the United States. They cannot be made to believe that the Government at Washington are going to wage war immediately. But when I placed the President's proclamation in his hand, he read it with deep emotion, and uttered a fierce "Hah!" Nevertheless, when I told him that these 70,000 were designed to be merely the videttes and outposts of an army of 700,000, he was quite incredulous. He had not witnessed the Wide-Awake gatherings the preceding fall, as I had done, and listened to the pledges they made to subjugate the South, free the negroes, and hang Gov. Wise. I next told him they would blockade our ports, and endeavor to cut off our supplies. To this he uttered a most positive negative. He said it would be contrary to the laws of nations, as had been decided often in the Courts of Admiralty, and would be moreover a violation of the Constitution. Of course I admitted all this; but maintained that such was the intention of the Washington Cabinet. Laws and Courts and Constitutions would not be impediments in the way of Yankees resolved upon our subjugation. Presuming upon their superior numbers, and under the pretext of saving the Union and annihilating slavery, they would invade us like the army-worm, which enters the green fields in countless numbers. The real object was to enjoy our soil and climate by means of confiscation. He poohed me into silence with an indignant frown. He had no idea that the Yankees would dare to enter upon such enterprises in the face of an enlightened world. But I know them better. And it will be found that they will learn how to fight, and will not be afraid to fight.
APRIL 23D.—Several prominent citizens telegraphed President Davis to-day to hasten to Virginia with as many troops as he can catch up, assuring him that his army will grow like a snow-ball as it progresses. I have no doubt it would. I think it would swell to 50,000 before reaching Washington, and that the people on the route would supply the quartermaster's stores, and improvise an adequate commissariat. I believe he could drive the Abolitionists out of Washington even yet, if he would make a bold dash, and that there would be a universal uprising in all the border States this side of the Susquehanna. But he does not respond. Virginia was too late moving, and North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Missouri have not seceded yet—though all of them will soon follow Virginia. Besides, the vote on the ratification in this State is to take place a month hence. It would be an infringement of State rights, and would be construed as an invasion of Virginia! Could the Union men in the Convention, after being forced to pass the ordinance, have dealt a more fatal blow to their country? But that is not all. The governor is appointing his Union partisans to military positions. Nevertheless, as time rolls on, and eternal separation is pronounced by the events that must be developed, they may prove true to the best interests of their native land.
Every hour there are fresh arrivals of organized companies from the country, tendering their services to the governor; and nearly all the young men in the city are drilling. The cadets of the Military Institute are rendering good service now, and Professor Jackson is truly a benefactor. I hope he will take the field himself; and if he does, I predict for him a successful career.
APRIL 24TH.—Martial music is heard everywhere, day and night, and all the trappings and paraphernalia of war's decorations are in great demand. The ladies are sewing everywhere, even in the churches. But the gay uniforms we see to-day will change their hue before the advent of another year. All history shows that fighting is not only the most perilous pursuit in the world, but the hardest and the roughest work one can engage in. And many a young man bred in luxury, will be killed by exposure in the night air, lying on the damp ground, before meeting the enemy. But the same thing may be said of the Northmen. And the arbitrament of war, and war's desolation, is a foregone conclusion. How much better it would have been if the North had permitted the South to depart in peace! With political separation, there might still have remained commercial union. But they would not.
APRIL 25TH.—Ex-President Tyler and Vice-President Stephens are negotiating a treaty which is to ally Virginia to the Confederate States.
APRIL 26TH.—To-day I recognize Northern merchants and Jews in the streets, busy in collecting the debts due them. The Convention has thrown some impediments in the way; but I hear on every hand that Southern merchants, in the absence of legal obligations, recognize the demands of honor, and are sending money North, even if it be used against us. This will not last long.
APRIL 27TH.—We have had a terrible alarm. The tocsin was sounded in the public square, and thousands have been running hither and thither to know its meaning. Dispatches have been posted about the city, purporting to have been received by the governor, with the startling information that the U. S. war steamer Pawnee is coming up the James River for the purpose of shelling the city!
All the soldiery, numbering some thousands, are marching down to Rocketts, and forming in line of battle on the heights commanding the approaches. The howitzers are there, frowning defiance; and two long French bronze guns are slowly passing through Main Street in the same direction. One of them has just broken down, and lies abandoned in front of the Post-Office. Even civilians, by hundreds, are hurrying with shot-guns and pistols to the scene of action, and field officers are galloping through the streets. Although much apprehension is apparent on many faces, it is but just to say that the population generally are resolved to make a determined defense. There is no fear of personal danger; it is only the destruction of property that is dreaded. But, in my opinion, the Pawnee is about as likely to attempt the navigation of the River Styx, as to run up this river within shelling distance of the city.
I walked down to the lower bridge, without even taking a pocket-pistol, and saw the troops drawn up in line of battle awaiting the enemy. Toward evening the howitzers engaged in some unprofitable practice, shelling the trees on the opposite side.
It was a false alarm, if not something worse. I fear it is an invention of the enemy to divert us from the generally conceived policy of attacking Washington, and rousing up Maryland in the rear of Lincoln.
Met with, and was introduced to, Gov. Letcher, in the evening, at the Enquirer office. He was revising one of his many proclamations; and is now undoubtedly as zealous an advocate of secession as any man. He said he would be ready to fight in three or four days; and that he would soon have arrangements completed to blockade the Potomac by means of formidable batteries.
APRIL 28TH.—Saw Judge Scarburg, who has resigned his seat in the Court of Claims at Washington. I believe he brought his family, and abandoned his furniture, etc. Also Dr. Garnett, who left most of his effects in the hands of the enemy. He was a marked man, being the son-in-law of Gov. Wise.
Many clerks are passing through the city on their way to Montgomery, where they are sure to find employment. Lucky men, some of them! They have eaten Lincoln bread for more than a month, and most of them would have been turned out of office if there had been no secession. And I observe among them some who have left their wives behind to take care of their homes.
APRIL 29TH.—I wrote to my agent on the Eastern Shore to send me the last year's rent due on the farm. But I learn that the cruisers in the bay are intercepting the communications, and I fear remittances will be impracticable. I hope my family are ready by this to leave Burlington. Women and children have not yet been interfered with. What if they should be compelled to abandon our property there? Mrs. Semple had her plate seized at New York.
At fifty-one, I can hardly follow the pursuit of arms; but I will write and preserve a DIARY of the revolution. I never held or sought office in my life; but now President Tyler and Gov. Wise say I will find employment at Montgomery. The latter will prepare a letter to President Davis, and the former says he will draw up a paper in my behalf, and take it through the Convention himself for signatures. I shall be sufficiently credentialed, at all events—provided old partisan considerations are banished from the new confederacy. To make my DIARY full and complete as possible, is now my business. And,
"When the hurly-burly's done, When the battle's lost and won,"
if the South wins it, I shall be content to retire to my farm, provided it falls on the Southern side of the line, and enjoy sweet repose "under my own vine and fig-tree."
APRIL 30TH.—Gen. Kearney has been brought here, having been taken on his way to Washington from Missouri. He manifested surprise at his captivity, and says that he is no enemy; being, I believe, Southern born. I learn it is the purpose of the governor to release him. And this may be a blunder. I fear about as much from ill-timed Southern magnanimity as from Northern malignity.
The Pawnee "scare" turned out just as I thought it would. She merely turned her nose up the river, and then put about and steamed away again. It may do good, however, if it stimulates the authorities to due preparation against future assaults from that quarter.
Depart for Montgomery.—Interview with President Davis.—My position in the Government.—Government removed to Richmond.—My family.
MAY 1ST.—Troops are coming in from all directions, cavalry and infantry; but I learn that none scarcely are accepted by the State. This is great political economy, with a vengeance! How is Gov. Letcher to be ready to fight in a few days? Oh, perhaps he thinks the army will spontaneously spring into existence, march without transportation, and fight without rations or pay! But the Convention has passed an act authorizing the enlistment of a regular army of 12,000 men. If I am not mistaken, Virginia will have to put in the field ten times that number, and the confederacy will have to maintain 500,000 in Virginia, or lose the border States. And if the border States be subjugated, Mr. Seward probably would grant a respite to the rest for a season.
But by the terms of the (Tyler and Stephens) treaty, the Confederate States will reimburse Virginia for all her expenses; and therefore I see no good reason why this State, of all others, being the most exposed, should not muster into service every well-armed company that presents itself. There are arms enough for 25,000 men now, and that number, if it be too late to take Washington, might at all events hold this side of the Potomac, and keep the Yankees off the soil of Virginia.
MAY 2D.—There are vague rumors of lawless outrages committed on Southern men in Philadelphia and New York; but they are not well authenticated, and I do not believe them. The Yankees are not yet ready for retaliation. They know that game wouldn't pay. No—they desire time to get their money out of the South; and they would be perfectly willing that trade should go on, even during the war, for they would be the greatest gainers by the information derived from spies and emissaries. I see, too, their papers have extravagant accounts of imprisonments and summary executions here. Not a man has yet been molested. It is true, we have taken Norfolk, without a battle; but the enemy did all the burning and sinking.
MAY 3D.—No letters from my wife. Probably she has taken the children to the Eastern Shore. Her farm is there, and she has many friends in the county. On that narrow peninsula it is hardly to be supposed the Yankees will send any troops. With the broad Atlantic on one side and the Chesapeake Bay on the other, it is to be presumed there will be no military demonstration by the inhabitants, for they could neither escape nor receive reinforcements from the mainland. In the war of the first Revolution, and the subsequent one with Great Britain, this peninsula escaped the ravages of the enemy, although the people were as loyal to the government of the United States as any; but the Yankees are more enterprising than the British, and may have an eye to "truck farms" in that fruitful region.
MAY 4TH.—Met Wm. H. B. Custis, Esq., to-day in the square, and had a long conversation with him. He has made up his mind to sign the ordinance. He thinks secession might have been averted with honor, if our politicians at Washington had not been ambitious to figure as leaders in a new revolution. Custis was always a Democrat, and supported Douglas on the ground that he was the regular nominee. He said his negro property a month before was worth, perhaps, fifty thousand dollars; now his slaves would not bring probably more than five thousand; and that would be the fate of many slaveowners in Virginia.
MAY 5TH.—President Tyler has placed in my hands a memorial to President Davis, signed by himself and many of the members of the Convention, asking appropriate civil employment for me in the new government. I shall be content to obtain the necessary position to make a full and authentic Diary of the transactions of the government. I could not hope for any commission as a civil officer, since the leaders who have secured possession of the government know very well that, as editor, I never advocated the pretensions of any of them for the Presidency of the United States. Some of them I fear are unfit for the positions they occupy. But the cause in which we are embarked will require, to be successful, the efforts of every man. Those capable of performing military duty, must perform it; and those physically incapable of wielding the bayonet and the sword, must wield the pen. It is no time to stand on ceremony or antecedents. The post of duty is the post of honor. In the mighty winnowing we must go through, the wheat will be separated from the chaff. And many a true man who this day stands forth as a private, will end as a general. And the efficient subordinate in the departments may be likewise exalted if he deserves it, provided the people have rule in the new confederacy. If we are to have a monarchy for the sake of economy and stability, I shall submit to it in preference to the domination of the Northern radicals.
MAY 6TH.—To-day a Yankee was caught in the street questioning some negroes as to which side they would fight on, slavery or freedom. He was merely rebuked and ordered out of the country. Another instance of Southern magnanimity! It will only embolden the insidious enemy.
MAY 7TH.—Col. R. E. Lee, lately of the United States army, has been appointed major-general, and commander-in-chief of the army in Virginia. He is the son of "Light Horse Harry" of the Revolution. The North can boast no such historic names as we, in its army. Gov. Wise is sick at home, in Princess Ann County, but has sent me a strong letter to President Davis. I fear the governor will not survive many months.
MAY 8TH.—The Convention has appointed five members of Congress to go to Montgomery: Messrs. Hunter, Rives, Brockenborough, Staples, and ——. I have not yet seen Mr. Hunter; he has made no speeches, but no doubt he has done all in his power to secure the passage of the ordinance, in his quiet but effective way. To-day President Tyler remarked that the politicians in the Convention had appointed a majority of the members from the old opposition party. The President would certainly have been appointed, if it had not been understood he did not desire it. Debilitated from a protracted participation in the exciting scenes of the Convention, he could not bear the fatigue of so long a journey at this season of the year.
MAY 9TH.—The Examiner still fires shot and shell at Gov. Letcher and the dominant majority in the Convention, on account of recent appointments. It is furious over the selection of Mr. Baldwin, recently a leading Union man, for inspector-general; and seems to apprehend bad results from thrusting Union men forward in the coming struggle. The Enquirer is moderate, and kind to Gov. Letcher, whose nomination and subsequent course were so long the theme of bitter denunciation. It is politic. The Whig now goes into the secession movement with all its might. Mr. Mosely has resumed the helm; and he was, I believe, a secessionist many years ago. The Dispatch, not long since neutral and conservative, throws all its powers, with its large circulation, into the cause. So we have perfect unanimity in the press. Per contra, the New York Herald has turned about and leap-frogged over the head of the Tribune into the front ranks of the Republicans. No doubt, when we win the day, the Herald will leap back again.
MAY 10TH.—The ladies are postponing all engagements until their lovers have fought the Yankees. Their influence is great. Day after day they go in crowds to the Fair ground where the 1st S. C. Vols. are encamped, showering upon them their smiles, and all the delicacies the city affords. They wine them and cake them—and they deserve it. They are just from taking Fort Sumter, and have won historic distinction. I was introduced to several of the privates by their captain, who told me they were worth from $100,000 to half a million dollars each. The Tribune thought all these men would want to be captains! But that is not the only hallucination the North labors under, judging from present appearances; by closing our ports it is thought we can be subdued by the want of accustomed luxuries. These rich young men were dressed in coarse gray homespun! We have the best horsemen and the best marksmen in the world, and these are the qualities that will tell before the end of the war. We fight for existence—the enemy for Union and the freedom of the slave. Well, let the Yankees see if this "new thing" will pay.
MAY 11TH.—Robert Tyler has arrived, after wonderful risks and difficulties. When I left Mr. Tyler in the North, the people were talking about electing him their representative in Congress. They tempted him every way, by threats and by promises, to make them a speech under the folds of the "star spangled banner" erected near his house. But in vain. No doubt they would have elected him to Congress, and perhaps have made him a general, if he had fallen down and worshiped their Republican idol, and fought against his father.
MAY 12TH.—To-day I set out for Montgomery. The weather was bright and pleasant. It is Sunday. In the cars are many passengers going to tender their services, and all imbued with the same inflexible purpose. The corn in the fields of Virginia is just becoming visible; and the trees are beginning to disclose their foliage.
MAY 13TH.—We traveled all night, and reached Wilmington, N. C., early in the morning. There I saw a Northern steamer which had been seized in retaliation for some of the seizures of the New Yorkers. And there was a considerable amount of ordnance and shot and shell on the bank of the river. The people everywhere on the road are for irremediable, eternal separation. Never were men more unanimous. And North Carolina has passed the ordinance, I understand, without a dissenting voice. Better still, it is not to be left to a useless vote of the people. The work is finished, and the State is out of the Union without contingency or qualification. I saw one man, though, at Goldsborough, who looked very much like a Yankee, and his enthusiasm seemed more simulated than real; and some of his words were equivocal. His name was Dibble.
To-day I saw rice and cotton growing, the latter only an inch or so high. The pine woods in some places have a desolate appearance; and whole forests are dead. I thought it was caused by the scarifications for turpentine; but was told by an intelligent traveler that the devastation was produced by an insect or worm that cut the inner bark.
The first part of South Carolina we touched was not inviting. Swamps, with cane, and cypress knees, and occasionally a plunging aligator met the vision. Here, I thought the Yankees, if they should carry the war into the far south, would fare worse than Napoleon's army of invasion in Russia.
But railroads seldom run through the fairest and richest portions of the country. They must take the route where there is the least grading. We soon emerged, however, from the marshy district, and then beheld the vast cotton-fields, now mostly planted in corn. A good idea. And the grain crops look well. The corn, in one day, seems to have grown ten inches.
In the afternoon we were whisked into Georgia, and the face of the country, as well as the color of the soil, reminded me of some parts of France between Dieppe and Rouen. No doubt the grape could be profitably cultivated here. The corn seems to have grown a foot since morning.
MAY 14TH.—The weather is very warm. Day before yesterday the wheat was only six or eight inches high. To-day it is two or three feet in height, headed, and almost ripe for the scythe.
At every station [where I can write a little] we see crowds of men, and women, and boys; and during our pauses some of the passengers, often clergymen, and not unfrequently Northern born, address them in soul-stirring strains of patriotic eloquence. If Uncle Abe don't find subjugation of this country, and of such a people as this, is truly a "big job" on his hands, I am much mistaken.
Passed the Stone Mountain at 11 o'clock A.M. It appears at a distance like a vast artificial formation, resembling the pictures of the pyramids.
Arrived at Montgomery 10 o'clock P.M., and put up at the Montgomery House. The mosquitoes bled me all night. Mosquitoes in the middle of May! And as they never cease to bite till killed by the frost, the pest here is perennial.
MAY 15TH.—From my window at the top of the house, I see corn in silk and tassel. Three days ago the corn I saw was not three inches high. And blackberries are in season. Strawberries and peas are gone.
This city is mostly situated in a bottom on the Alabama River.
Being fatigued I did not visit the departments to-day, but employed myself in securing lodgings at a boarding-house. Here I met, the first time, with my friend Dr. W. T. Sawyer, of Hollow Square, Alabama. A skillful surgeon and Christian gentleman, his mission on earth seems to be one of pure beneficence. He had known me before we met, it appears; and I must say he did me many kind offices.
In the afternoon I walked to the capitol, a fine structure with massive columns, on a beautiful elevation, where I delivered several letters to the Virginia delegation in Congress. They were exceedingly kind to me, and proffered their services very freely.
MAY 16TH.—Met John Tyler, Jr., to-day, who, with his native cordiality, proffered his services with zeal and earnestness. He introduced me at once to Hon. L. P. Walker, Secretary of War, and insisted upon presenting me to the President the next day. Major Tyler had recently been commissioned in the army, but is now detailed to assist the Secretary of War in his correspondence. The major is favorably known in the South as the author of several Southern essays of much power that have been published in a Review, signed "Python."
The principal hotel is the Exchange, as in Richmond; the entrance to the bar, reading-room, etc. is by a flight of stairs from the street to the second story, with stores underneath. Here there is an incessant influx of strangers coming from all directions on business with the new government. But the prevalent belief is that the government itself will soon travel to Richmond. The buildings here will be insufficient in magnitude for the transaction of the rapidly increasing business.
MAY 17TH.—Was introduced to the President to-day. He was overwhelmed with papers, and retained a number in his left hand, probably of more importance than the rest. He received me with urbanity, and while he read the papers I had given him, as I had never seen him before, I endeavored to scrutinize his features, as one would naturally do, for the purpose of forming a vague estimate of the character and capabilities of the man destined to perform the leading part in a revolution which must occupy a large space in the world's history. His stature is tall, nearly six feet; his frame is very slight and seemingly frail; but when he throws back his shoulders he is as straight as an Indian chief. The features of his face are distinctly marked with character; and no one gazing at his profile would doubt for a moment that he beheld more than an ordinary man. His face is handsome, and his thin lip often basks a pleasant smile. There is nothing sinister or repulsive in his manners or appearance; and if there are no special indications of great grasp of intellectual power on his forehead and on his sharply defined nose and chin, neither is there any evidence of weakness, or that he could be easily moved from any settled purpose. I think he has a clear perception of matters demanding his cognizance, and a nice discrimination of details. As a politician he attaches the utmost importance to consistency—and here I differ with him. I think that to be consistent as a politician, is to change with the circumstances of the case. When Calhoun and Webster first met in Congress, the first advocated a protective tariff and the last opposed it. This was told me by Mr. Webster himself, in 1842, when he was Secretary of State; and it was confirmed by Mr. Calhoun in 1844, then Secretary of State himself. Statesmen are the physicians of the public weal; and what doctor hesitates to vary his remedies with the new phases of disease?
When the President had completed the reading of my papers, and during the perusal I observed him make several emphatic nods, he asked me what I wanted. I told him I wanted employment with my pen, perhaps only temporary employment. I thought the correspondence of the Secretary of War would increase in volume, and another assistant besides Major Tyler would be required in his office. He smiled and shook his head, saying that such work would be only temporary indeed; which I construed to mean that even he did not then suppose the war was to assume colossal proportions.
MAY 18TH.—To-day I had another interview with the President. He advised me to see the Secretary of the Treasury without delay; but the Treasury would not answer so well for my Diary.
MAY 19TH.—The Secretary of War sent for me this morning, and said he required more assistance in his correspondence, then increasing daily; but the act of Congress limiting salaries would prevent him from offering me an adequate compensation. He could only name some ten or twelve hundred dollars. I told him my great desire was employment, and facilities to preserve interesting facts for future publication. I was installed at once, with Major Tyler, in the Secretary's own office. It was my duty to open and read the letters, noting briefly their contents on the back. The Secretary would then indicate in pencil marks the answers to be written, which the major and I prepared. These were signed by the Secretary, copied in another room, and mailed. I was happy in the discharge of these duties, and worked assiduously day and night.
MAY 20TH.—Mr. Walker, the Secretary of War, is some forty-seven or eight years of age, tall, thin, and a little bent; not by age, but by study and bad health. He was a successful lawyer, and having never been in governmental employment, is fast working himself down. He has not yet learned how to avoid unnecessary labor; being a man of the finest sensibilities, and exacting with the utmost nicety all due deference to the dignity of his official position. He stands somewhat on ceremony with his brother officials, and accords and exacts the etiquette natural to a sensitive gentleman who has never been broken on the wheel of office. I predict for him a short career. The only hope for his continuance in office is unconditional submission to the President, who, being once Secretary of War of the United States, is familiar with all the wheels of the department. But soon, if I err not, the President will be too much absorbed in the fluctuations of momentous campaigns, to give much of his attention to any one of the departments. Nevertheless Mr. Walker, if he be an apt scholar, may learn much before that day; and Congress may simplify his duties by enacting a uniform mode of filling the offices in the field. The applications now give the greatest trouble; and the disappointed class give rise to many vexations.
MAY 21ST.—Being in the same room with the Secretary, and seen by all his visitors, I am necessarily making many new acquaintances; and quite a number recognize me by my books which they have read. Among this class is Mr. Benjamin, the Minister of Justice, who, to-day, informed me that he and Senator Bayard had been interested, at Washington, in my "Story of Disunion." Mr. Benjamin is of course a Jew, of French lineage, born I believe in Louisiana, a lawyer and politician. His age may be sixty, and yet one might suppose him to be less than forty. His hair and eyes are black, his forehead capacious, his face round and as intellectual as one of that shape can be; and Mr. B. is certainly a man of intellect, education, and extensive reading, combined with natural abilities of a tolerably high order. Upon his lip there seems to bask an eternal smile; but if it be studied, it is not a smile—yet it bears no unpleasing aspect.
MAY 22D.—To-day I had, in our office, a specimen of Mr. Memminger's oratory. He was pleading for an installment of the claims of South Carolina on the Confederacy; and Mr. Walker, always hesitating, argued the other side, merely for delay. Both are fine speakers, with most distinct enunciation and musical voices. The demand was audited and paid, amounting, I believe, to several hundred thousand dollars.
And I heard and saw Mr. Toombs to-day, the Secretary of State. He is a portly gentleman, but with the pale face of the student and the marks of a deep thinker. To gaze at him in repose, the casual spectator would suppose, from his neglect of dress, that he was a planter in moderate circumstances, and of course not gifted with extraordinary powers of intellect; but let him open his mouth, and the delusion vanishes. At the time alluded to he was surrounded by the rest of the cabinet, in our office, and the topic was the policy of the war. He was for taking the initiative, and carrying the war into the enemy's country. And as he warmed with the subject, the man seemed to vanish, and the genius alone was visible. He was most emphatic in the advocacy of his policy, and bold almost to rashness in his denunciations of the merely defensive idea. He was opposed to all delays, as fraught with danger; the enemy were in the field, and their purposes were pronounced. Why wait to see what they meant to do? If we did that, they would not only invade us, but get a permanent foothold on our soil. We must invade or be invaded; and he was for making the war as terrible as possible from the beginning. It was to be no child's play; and nothing could be gained by reliance upon the blunders and forbearance of the Yankees. News had been received of the occupation of Alexandria and Arlington Heights, in Virginia; and if we permitted them to build fortifications there, we should not be able to expel them. He denounced with bitterness the neglect of the authorities in Virginia. The enemy should not have been permitted to cross the Potomac. During the month which had elapsed since the passage of the ordinance in Virginia, nothing had been done, nothing attempted. It was true, the vote on ratification had not been taken; and although that fact might shield the provisional government from responsibility, yet the delay to act was fraught with danger and perhaps irreparable injury. Virginia alone could have raised and thrown across the Potomac 25,000 men, and driven the Yankees beyond the Susquehanna. But she, to avoid responsibility, had been telegraphing Davis to come to the rescue; and if he (Toombs) had been in Davis's place, he would have taken the responsibility.
The Secretary of War well knew how to parry these thrusts; he was not responsible. He was as ultra a man as any; and all he could do was to organize and arm the troops authorized by Congress. Some thirty odd thousand were mustered in already; and at least five thousand volunteers were offering daily. Mr. Toombs said five hundred thousand volunteers ought to be accepted and for the war. We wanted no six or twelve months' men. To this the Secretary replied that the Executive could not transcend the limits prescribed by Congress.
These little discussions were of frequent occurrence; and it soon became apparent that the Secretary of War was destined to be the most important man among the cabinet ministers. His position afforded the best prospect of future distinction—always provided he should be equal to the position, and his administration attended with success. I felt convinced that Toombs would not be long chafing in the cabinet, but that he would seize the first opportunity to repair to the field.
MAY 23D.—To-day the President took the cars for Pensacola, where it had been said everything was in readiness for an assault on Fort Pickens. Military men said it could be taken, and Toombs, I think, said it ought to be taken. It would cost, perhaps, a thousand lives; but is it not the business of war to consume human life? Napoleon counted men as so much powder to be consumed; and he consumed millions in his career of conquest. But still he conquered, which he could not have done without the consumption of life. And is it not better to consume life rapidly, and attain results quickly, than to await events, when all history shows that a protracted war, of immobile armies, always engulfs more men in the grave from camp fevers than usually fall in battle during the most active operations in the field?
To-day I saw Col. Bartow, who has the bearing and eye of a gallant officer. He was attended by a young man named Lamar, of fine open countenance, whom he desired to have as his aid; but the regulations forbid any one acting in that capacity who was not a lieutenant; and Lamar not being old enough to have a commission, he said he would attend the colonel as a volunteer aid till he attained the prescribed age. I saw Ben McCulloch, also—an unassuming but elastic and brave man. He will make his mark. Also Capt. McIntosh, who goes to the West. I think I saw him in 1846, in Paris, at the table of Mr. King, our Minister; but I had no opportunity to ask him. He is all enthusiasm, and will rise with honor or fall with glory. And here I beheld for the first time Wade Hampton, resolved to abandon all the comforts of his great wealth, and encounter the privations of the tented field in behalf of his menaced country.
Arkansas and Tennessee, as I predicted, have followed the example of Virginia and North Carolina; and I see evidence daily in the mass of correspondence, that Missouri and Kentucky will follow in good time.
MAY 24TH.—Congress passed, in secret session, a resolution to remove the seat of government to Richmond; but I learn it has been vetoed by the President. There is a strong feeling against going thither among some of the secessionists in the Cotton States. Those who do not think there will be a great deal of fighting, have apprehensions that the border States, so tardy in the secession movement, will strive to monopolize the best positions and patronage of the new government. Indeed, if it were quite certain that there is to be no war for existence—as if a nation could be free without itself striking the blow for freedom—I think there would be a party—among the politicians, not the people—opposed to confederating with the border slave States.
Some of his fellow-members tell many jokes on Mr. Hunter. They say every time he passes the marble-yards going up to the capitol, and surveys the tomb-stones, he groans in agony, and predicts that he will get sick and die here. If this be true, I predict that he will get the seat of government moved to Richmond, a more congenial climate. He has a way of moving large bodies, which has rarely failed him; and some of his friends at the hotels, already begin to hint that he is the proper man to be the first President of the permanent government. I think he will be President some day. He would be a safe one. But this whisper at the hotel has produced no little commotion. Some propose making him Secretary of War, as a sure means of killing him off. I know a better way than that, but I wouldn't suggest it for the world. I like him very much.
To-day the Secretary placed in my hands for examination and report, a very long document, written by a deposed or resigned Roman priest. He urged a plan to avert the horrors of war. He had been to see Lincoln, Gov. Letcher, etc., and finally obtained an interview on "important business" with President Davis. The President, not having leisure even to listen to his exordium, requested him to make his communication briefly in writing. And this was it—about twenty pages of foolscap. It consisted chiefly of evidences of the exceeding wickedness of war, and suggestions that if both belligerents would only forbear to take up arms, the peace might be preserved, and God would mediate between them. Of course I could only indorse on the back "demented." But the old man hung round the department for a week afterward, and then departed, I know not whither. I forget his name, but his paper is in the archives of the government. I have always differed with the preachers in politics and war, except the Southern preachers who are now in arms against the invader. I think war is one of the providences of God, and certainly no book chronicles so much fighting as the Bible. It may be to the human race what pruning is to vegetation, a necessary process for the general benefit.
MAY 25TH.—There is to be no fight—no assault on Pickens. But we are beginning to send troops forward in the right direction—to Virginia. Virginia herself ought to have kept the invader from her soil. Was she reluctant to break the peace? And is it nothing to have her soil polluted by the martial tramp of the Yankees at Alexandria and Arlington Heights? But the wrath of the Southern chivalry will some day burst forth on the ensanguined plain, and then let the presumptuous foemen of the North beware of the fiery ordeal they have invoked. The men I see daily keeping time to the music of revolution are fighting men, men who will conquer or die, and who prefer death to subjugation. But the Yankee has no such motive to fight for, no thought of serious wounds and death. He can go back to his own country; our men have no other country to go to.
MAY 26TH.—Was called on by the Episcopal minister to-day, Dr. Sawyer having informed him that I was a member of the church—the doctor being one also. He is an enthusiastic young man, and though a native of the North, seems to sympathize with us very heartily. He prays for the President of the Confederate States. The President himself attends very regularly, and some intimate that he intends to become a candidate for membership. I have not learned whether he has been baptized. Gen. Cooper, the first on our list of generals in the regular army, is a member of the church. The general was, I think, adjutant-general at Washington. He is Northern born. Major Gorgas is likewise a native of the North. He is Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance. The Quartermaster-General, Major Myers, is said to be a Jew; while the Commissary-General is almost a Jesuit, so zealous is he in the advocacy of the Pope.
Mr. Mallory, the Secretary of the Navy, I have seen but once; but I have heard him soundly abused for not accepting some propositions and plans from Mobile and elsewhere, to build iron-clad steam rams to sink the enemy's navy. Some say Mr. M. is an Irishman born. He was in the United States Senate, and embraced secession with the rest of the "conspirators" at Washington.
I saw the Vice-President to-day. I first saw Mr. Stephens at Washington in 1843. I was behind him as he sat in the House of Representatives, and thought him a boy, for he was sitting beside large members. But when I got in front of him, it was apparent he was a man—every inch a man.
There is some excitement in official circles here against Mr. Browne, the Assistant Secretary of State, on the ground that he interfered in behalf of a Mr. Hurlbut, a Northern man (probably arrested), a writer in the English Reviews against slavery in the South, and a correspondent for the New York Tribune. Mr. B. is an Englishman, who came from Washington on the invitation of Mr. Toombs, and through his influence was appointed Assistant Secretary of State, and the Southern gorge rises at it. I doubt whether he will be molested.
I saw Major Tochman to-day, also a foreigner. He is authorized to enlist a regiment or two of Polanders in New Orleans, where I am told there are none.
And there are several Northern men here wanting to be generals. This does not look much like Southern homogeneity. God save us, if we are not to save ourselves!
How hot it is! But I like hot weather better than cold, and would soon become accustomed to this climate. This morning Mr. Hunter really seemed distressed; but he has four inches on his ribs, and I not the eighth of an inch.
Since writing the foregoing, I have seen Mr. Hunter again, and although there is no diminution of heat, he is quite cheerful: Congress has again passed the resolution to remove the seat of government to Richmond, and it is said the President will not veto it this time. The President himself came into our office to-day and sat some time conversing with Secretary Walker. He did not appear vexed at the determination of Congress, which he must have been apprised of.
MAY 26TH.—The President is sick to-day—having a chill, I believe. Adjutant-General Cooper was in, comparing notes with the Secretary as to the number of regiments in the field. The Secretary has a most astonishing memory, and could easily number the forces without referring to his notes. The amount is not large, it is true; but, from the eagerness to volunteer, I believe if we had the arms there might soon be organized an army of three or four hundred thousand men. And yet it would seem that no one dreams of armies of such magnitude. Wait till we sleep a little longer! A great many separate companies are accepted; all indeed that offer for three years or the war, provided they have arms—even double-barreled shot-guns and hunting rifles. What a deal of annoyance and labor it will be to organize these into battalions, regiments, brigades, and divisions! And then comes the appointment of staff and field officers. This will be labor for the President. But he works incessantly, sick or well.
We have an agent in Europe purchasing arms. This was well thought on. And Capt. Huse is thought to be a good selection. It will be impossible for Lincoln to keep all our ports hermetically sealed. Hitherto improvident, it is to be hoped the South will now go to work upon her own resources. We have plunged into the sea of revolution, and must, unaided, sink or swim. The Yankees say they are going to subdue us in six months. What fools!