January 7th.—To-day I was requested to aid, temporarily, in putting in operation a new bureau, created by the military authorities, not by law, entitled the Bureau of Conscription. From conscription all future recruits must be derived. I found Gen. Rains, the chief, a most affable officer; and Lieut.-Col. Lay, his next officer, was an acquaintance. I shall not now, perhaps, see so much of the interior of this moving picture of Revolution; my son, however, will note important letters. It is said that Sumner’s corps (of Burnside’s army) has landed in North Carolina, to take Wilmington. We shall have news soon.
We are sending troops rapidly from Virginia to North Carolina.
The Northern papers say the following dispatch was sent to Washington by our raiding Stuart: “Gen. Meigs will in future please furnish better mules; those you have furnished recently are very inferior.” He signed his own name.
A large body of slaves passed through the city to-day, singing happily. They had been working on the fortifications north of the city, and go to work on them south of it. They have no faith in the efficacy of Lincoln’s Emancipation.
But it is different in Norfolk; 4000 enfranchised slaves marched in procession through the town the other day in a sort of frantic jubilee. They will bewail their error; and so will the Abolitionists. They will consume the enemy’s commissary stores; and if they be armed, we shall get their arms.
Lee and Beauregard were telegraphed to-day in relation to the[Pg 234] movement on Wilmington; and the President had the cabinet with him many hours.
Gen. Rains is quite certain that the fall of New Orleans was the result of treachery.
By the emancipation, Gen. Wise’s county, Princess Ann, is excepted—and so are Accomac and Northampton Counties; but I have no slaves. All I ask of the invaders is to spare my timber, and I will take care of the land—and I ask it, knowing the request will never be known by them until the war is over.