Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 13, 1863: The diary of John B. Jones


In Richmond, John B. Jones worries about the cost of food--the Confederacy is slowly but surely starving to death.
November 13th.—No news of battles yet. But we have a rumor of the burning of the fine government steamer R. E. Lee, chased by the blockaders. That makes two this week.

Gen. Lee dispatched the President, yesterday, as follows:

“Orange C. H., Nov. 12th.—For the last five days we have only received three pounds of corn per horse, from Richmond, per day. We depend on Richmond for corn. At this rate, the horses will die, and cannot do hard work. The enemy is very active, and we must be prepared for hard work any day.—R. E. Lee.”

On the back of which the President indorsed: “Have the forage sent up in preference to anything else. The necessity is so absolute as to call for every possible exertion.—Jefferson Davis.”

Perhaps this may rouse the department. Horses starving in the midst of corn-fields ready for gathering! Alas, what mismanagement!

I cut the following from the Dispatch:

“Flour.—We heard yesterday of sales of flour at $110 per barrel. We do not, however, give this as the standard price; for, if the article was in market, we believe that even a higher figure would be reached. A few days since a load of flour was sent to an auction-house on Cary Street to be sold at auction. The proprietors of the house very properly declined to receive it, refusing to dispose of breadstuffs under the hammer, where men of money, and destitute of souls, would have an opportunity of buying it up and withdrawing it from market.

“Corn-meal.—This article is bringing from $18 to $20 per bushel, and scarce at that.

“Country Produce and Vegetables.—We give the following as the wholesale rates: Bacon, hoground, $2.75 to $3; lard, $2.25 to $2.30; butter, $3.75 to $4; eggs, $2 to $2.25; Irish potatoes, $7.50 to $8; sweet potatoes, $10.50 to $12; tallow candles, $4 per pound; salt, 45 cents per pound.

“Groceries.—Coffee—wholesale, $9 per pound, retail, $10; sugar, $2.85 to $3.25; sorghum molasses, wholesale, $10, and $14 to $15 at retail; rice, 30 to 35 cents.

“Liquors.—Whisky, $55 to $70 per gallon, according to quality, apple brandy, $50; high proof rum, $50; French brandy, $80 to $100.

“In the city markets fresh meats are worth $1.25 to $1.50 for beef and mutton, and $2 for pork; chickens, $6 to $8 per pair; ducks, $7 to $8 per pair; butter, $4.50 to $5 per pound; sweet potatoes, $2.50 per half peck; Irish potatoes, $2 per half peck.

“Leather.—Sole leather, $6.50 to $7.50 per pound; upper leather, $7.50 to $8; harness leather, $5.50 to $6; hides are quoted at $2.50 to $2.75 for dry, and $1.50 for salted green; tanners’ oil, $4 to $5 per gallon.

“Tobacco.—Common article, not sound, $1 to $1.25; medium, pounds, dark, $1.30 to $2; good medium bright, $2 to $2.75; fine bright, $2 to $4; sweet 5’s and 10’s scarce and in demand, with an advance.”

My friend Capt. Jackson Warner sent me, to-day, two bushels of meal at government price, $5 per bushel. The price in market is $20. Also nine pounds of good beef, and a shank—for which he charged nothing, it being part of a present to him from a butcher.

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