Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21, 1863: The Diary of John B. Jones


On this day 150 years ago, Confederate war clerk John B. Jones wrote in his diary of conscription and "blockade running"--by which he meant people slipping back and forth across the lines to smuggle supplies from the North.
October 21st.—Gen. Lee telegraphed last night that our cavalry had routed the enemy’s horse on Monday, capturing some 200, etc. etc.

The Legislature passed a series of resolutions yesterday, requesting the Secretary of War to impress free negroes for the public works; to detail the 2d class militia (over 45); and to order into the ranks the thousands of detailed soldiers and conscripts seen everywhere. The report of a committee states that conscripts and soldiers pay bonuses to contractors to have them detailed, and then they furnish negroes as substitutes to perform the work, engaging themselves in speculation. Also that one-third of the conscripts of one county have been detailed to get wood for certain iron works which have a year’s supply on hand! Surely the Secretary will attend to this.

There is a row about passports. It appears that Judge Campbell and Gen. Winder are competitors in the business. Judge C. yesterday remarked that, at Gen. Winder’s office, he understood a passport could be bought for $100; and this was repeated by Mr. Kean, the young Chief of the Bureau, and it somehow reached the ears of Gen. Winder. Perhaps Judge C. reported the fact of his belief to Mr. Secretary Seddon, who had ceased to grant any himself (to the United States), and of course was not aware of the great number his assistant, much less Gen. W., issued; and if so, it is probable he called Gen. W. to an account. The general, in a rage, charged Mr. Kean with the propagation of a damaging report. Mr. K. said he heard Mr. Chapman (a clerk) say so—and so off they started in pursuit of Chapman, who could not be found up to 3 p.m. By to-morrow Gen. W. may hear of Judge Campbell’s remarks and agency, and a pretty kettle of fish they will have, if Judge C.’s record be brought to the notice of the Secretary! It is all wrong, and if the business be not better regulated or terminated, it will terminate the government. Gen. Lee’s reputation as a great captain will be ruined, if the blockade-runners be allowed to continue to give information to the enemy of all his movements.

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