This Week In 1865: Confederate Diary posts for Feb 28, 1865

Tuesday, February 28, 1865

J. B. Jones

John Beauchamp Jones (1810-1866) was a writer who worked in the Confederate War Department in Richmond during the war. His diary was published in 1866 as “A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary at the Confederate States Capital.”

“The President’s inflexible adherence to obnoxious and incompetent men in his cabinet is too well calculated to produce a depressing effect on the spirits of the people and the army.”

The Northern papers announce the capture of Wilmington. No doubt the city has fallen, although the sapient dignitaries of this government deem it a matter of policy to withhold such intelligence from the people and the army. And wherefore, since the enemy’s papers have a circulation here-at least their items of news are sure to be reproduced immediately.

The Governor of Mississippi has called the Legislature of the State together, for the purpose of summoning a convention of the people. Governor Brown, of Georgia, likewise calls for a convention. One more State calling a convention of all the States may be the consequence-if, indeed, rent by faction, the whole country does not fall a prey to the Federal armies immediately.*

Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown

Governor Joseph E. Brown of Georgia

Governor Brown alleges many bitter things in the conduct of affairs at Richmond, and stigmatizes the President most vehemently. He denounces the President’s generalship, the Provost Marshals, the passport system, the Bureau of Conscription, etc. etc. He says it is attempted to establish a despotism, where the people are sovereigns, and our whole policy should be sanctioned by popular favor. Instead of this it must be admitted that the President’s inflexible adherence to obnoxious and incompetent men in his cabinet is too well calculated to produce a depressing effect on the spirits of the people and the army.

T. N. Conrad, one of the government’s secret agents, says 35,000 of Thomas’s army passed down the Potomac several weeks ago. He says also that our telegraph operator in Augusta, Ga., sent all the military dispatches to Grant

* For more on the convention of the states idea, see States rights would doom the Confederacy even if they won the war.

Emma Leconte

Emma Florence LeConte (1847-1932) lived in Columbia, SC and witnessed Sherman’s burning of the city.

“At the market place we saw the old bell – ‘Secessia’ – that had rung out every State as it seceded, lying half buried in the earth.”

Cousin Ada and I went to call on Mrs. Carroll yesterday but found she is not in town, having run away just before the advent of the Yankees!

Coming home we walked down Main Street – slowly in the middle of the street for fear of falling walls, trying to conjure up the well-known shops and buildings from the shapeless heaps. At the market place we saw the old bell – “Secessia” – that had rung out every State as it seceded, lying half buried in the earth and reminding me of Retzsch’s last Outline in “The Song of the Bell”, showing “That all things earthly disappear.”

We walked through the State-house yard and examined the marks of the shells in the new Capitol. Large pieces of granite are sometimes broken off. On one end alone we counted places where eight shells had struck and exploded. We have since heard that in the accidental explosion of the Charleston freight depot, from the igniting of powder strewn upon the floor, 150 or 200 people were killed.

Judith Brockenbrough McGuire

“Ministers of the Gospel and others have gone out to the various county towns and court-houses, to urge the people to send in every extra bushel of corn or pound of meat for the army.”

Judith Brockenbrough McGuire (1813-1897) was the daughter of a member of the Virginia state Supreme Court and the wife of an Episcopalian minister. A Confederate sympathizer, she fled with her husband from her Alexandria, VA home when the city was occupied by Union forces in May of 1861. For rest of the war the McGuires lived in the Richmond, VA area as refugees. Judith McGuire published “Diary Of A Southern Refugee During The War” in 1867.
Judith Brockenbrough McGuire

Judith Brockenbrough McGuire

Our new Commissary General is giving us brighter hopes for Richmond by his energy. Not a stone is left unturned to collect all the provisions from the country. Ministers of the Gospel and others have gone out to the various county towns and court-houses, to urge the people to send in every extra bushel of corn or pound of meat for the army.

The people only want enlightening on the subject; it is no want of patriotism which makes them keep any portion of their provisions. Circulars are sent out to the various civil and military officers in all disenthralled counties in the State, which, alas, when compared with the whole, are very few, to ask for their superfluities. All will answer promptly, I know, and generously.

Louis Leon

Louis Leon (1842-1919) was a Jewish Confederate soldier who was born in Germany, but settled in Charlotte, NC. He joined the rebel army in 1861, fought at Gettysburg in 1863, and was captured in May 1864. He spent the rest of the war in Northern prisons. His 1865 diary entries were written as a prisoner of war.

“The smallpox is frightful. There is not a day that at least twenty men are taken out dead.”

February – The smallpox is frightful. There is not a day that at least twenty men are taken out dead. Cold is no name for the weather now. They have given most of us Yankee overcoats, but have cut the skirts off. The reason of this is that the skirts are long and if they left them on we might pass out as Yankee soldiers.

Ron Franklin

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About RonElFran

Ron Franklin is pastor of Covenant Community Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
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