Saturday, August 17, 2013

August 16, 1863

August 16, 1863

---John Beauchamp Jones, of Richmond, a clerk in the War Department of the Confederate States, writes in his journal about the scarcity of food and other privations being endured by the Southern populace.  He tells of one planter in Mississippi who petitions Pres. Davis to end the war.  Jones also talks about his garden---a very necessary pastime:

I often wonder if, in the first struggle for independence, there was as much suffering and despondency among certain classes of the people as we now behold. Our rich men are the first to grow weary of the contest. Yesterday a letter was received by the Secretary of War from a Mr. Reanes, Jackson, Mississippi, advising the government to lose no time in making the best terms possible with the United States authorities, else all would be lost. He says but a short time ago he was worth $1,250,000, and now nothing is left him but a shelter, and that would have been destroyed if he had not made a pledge to remain. He says he is an old man, and was a zealous secessionist, and even now would give his life for the independence of his country. But that is impracticable—numbers must prevail—and he would preserve his wife and children from the horrors threatened, and inevitable if the war be prolonged. He says the soldiers that were under Pemberton and Lovell will never serve under them again, for they denounce them as traitors and tyrants, while, as they allege, they were well treated by the enemy when they fell into their hands.

Yet it seems to me that, like the Israelites that passed through the Red Sea, and Shadrach and his brethren who escaped unscorched from the fiery furnace, my family have been miraculously sustained. We have purchased no clothing for nearly three years, and had no superabundance to begin with, but still we have decent clothes, as if time made no appreciable change in them. I wear a hat bought four years ago, and shoes that cost me (government price then) $7.50 more than a year ago, and I suppose they would sell now for $10; new ones are bringing $50.

My tomatoes are maturing slowly, but there will be abundance, saving me $10 per week for ten weeks. My lima beans are very full, and some of them will be fit to pull in a few days. My potatoes are as green as grass, and I fear will produce nothing but vines; but I shall have cabbages and parsnips, and red peppers. No doubt the little garden, 25 by 50, will be worth $150 to me. Thank Providence, we still have health!

But the scarcity—or rather high prices, for there is really no scarcity of anything but meat—is felt by the cats, rats, etc., as well as by the people. I have not seen a rat or mouse for months, and lean cats are wandering past every day in quest of new homes.

What shall we do for sugar, now selling at $2 per pound? When the little supply this side of the Mississippi is still more reduced it will probably be $5! It has been more than a year since we had coffee or tea. Was it not thus in the trying times of the Revolution? If so, why can we not bear privation as well as our forefathers did? We must!

---Confederate artilleryman George Michael Neese, on duty in the Shenandoah Valley, writes dispiritedly in his journal:

August 16 — The second section relieved the first this evening. I am still on the sick list, and feel sickish, bad, and dull; broke-upness is creeping and crawling all over me, the zest and vivacity that render camp life worth living have both gone on a scout and left me dispirited and languid.

---Captain Josiah Marshall Favill, of Gen. Caldwell’s staff, engages in brigade inspection on behalf of the division commander, and on this day visits the famous Irish Brigade’s camp:

August 16th. Sunday morning, immediately after breakfast, four officers were detailed from the staff to inspect the several brigades, notice of which had been given to their commanders. I was ordered to the Irish brigade, Colonel Kelly commanding, a painstaking, competent, and excellent officer. I followed my instructions closely, and made the most critical inspection of arms, accoutrements, contents of knapsacks, and of the three days’ supply of rations supposed to be in the men’s haversacks, subsequently of company quarters. I was surprised to find the brigade in such excellent condition, and made a very favorable report; after the inspection I accepted an invitation to the colonel’s quarters, and was regaled with champagne and fine cigars; there were, of course, all the regimental commanders present and we had an agreeable half hour. They are a brilliant lot of soldiers, and jolly boon companions.

---A Rebel blockade runner, the Alice Vivian, is captured today by the USS De Soto, commanded by Capt. William Walker.

---Kate Cumming, a nurse in a Confederate army hospital in the northern Georgia countryside, writes in her journal of a sermon on the Sabbath, and her thoughts about the divisions and strife in sectarian Christianity:

Sunday, August 16.—To-day Dr. Quintard preached twice. As our chapel is not yet up, he had service under a large oak tree. In the morning his text was one I had heard him preach from in Chattanooga: “We are journeying on to the place of which the Lord hath said, I will give it you.” He asked me before preaching if I would object hearing it again. I told him, on the contrary, that I would be much pleased.

As the text is taken from Numbers, which is a history of the children of Israel and their wanderings, a more appropriate one to the scene before us, could not have been selected. Here we were, wanderers, pitching our tents, wo know not for how long. Nearly every patient in the hospital was there; among them the lame and the halt. The tents in the distance, and God’s messenger before us, delivering God’s commands, as Moses and Aaron did to the children of Israel, could not but be an impressive scene. It struck me as such, and I have no doubt many others who were there. O, how earnestly I prayed that we, with all the warning of that unhappy race before us, might not forget the Lord our God, and he cast us wanderers over the earth.

Mr. Green, our chaplain, sat with Dr. Q., and I observed he did not assist him with the service. This caused me to reflect on the diversity of the Christian religion, and I thought what a pity it is that there should be any difference about it.

I do not think that any one will deny the necessity of having a stable government in the church. Surely, as in every thing else, God has made order predominant. He never meant that his church should be without it.  Who can not see the evil effects produced by the many different sects which are constantly springing up around us? . . .

Many say, were not the apostles ignorant men? forgetting that they were so, like all others, until they were taught. They had no mean teacher; none less than our blessed Savior himself, who instructed them daily. And even then their education was not completed until the day of Pentecost, when a miracle was performed, and they spake in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. We have no miracles now-adays, but we have colleges and teachers, which answer the same purpose.

But I must drop this subject, it has carried me much further than I had any idea of going. I was only deploring this state of affairs, and wondering which body of Christians ought to yield. I must think, with religion, as with many other things, that which is the most stable and makes most use of the Bible, must certainly be the best. . . . I am so much rejoiced when a man tells me he is a professor of religion, and trying to be a follower of the lowly Jesus, that I never think or care of which Christian church he is a member. . . .

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