Tuesday, December 10, 2013

November 21, 1863

November 21, 1863

--- Harper’s Weekly publishes an editorial that expressed the feelings of many in the North, since it had been obvious since Gettysburg (and more so since the small victories at Bristoe Station and Rappahannock Station, and the huge Federal build-up at Chattanooga which was soon to be loosed upon the heads of the Confederates besieging that city) that the Confederacy certainly could have no chance of victory:


THE war has now reached a point at which the continued resistance of the rebels is a mere question of endurance. They are suffering privations as severe as were ever borne by a belligerent people, Their currency is depreciated in the ratio of 12 to 1, and while the soldiers and civil employees of Government are paid in this depreciated currency on the scale which was fair when that currency was at or near par, provisions, clothing, and all the necessaries of life have adjusted themselves to the depreciation, so that it takes a soldier’s wages for a month to support his family for a day. Of manufactured articles—boots, shoes, dry goods, hardware of all kinds, agricultural implements, etc. —the stock has fallen so low that fabulous prices are asked and obtained by its fortunate possessors. The capture of Morris Island has nearly closed the port of Charleston, and within a month the blockade of Wilmington—the only port at which any considerable blockade running is now done—will also be sealed. When this happens, no more foreign goods will enter the Confederacy till the peace. . . .

This picture is not exaggerated. Yet it is hardly possible to conceive a more complete aggregate of wretchedness. Without food, without clothes, without coal, without hope of succor from abroad, and with the ever-present Federal anaconda tightening its grip round them week by week and month by month, sometimes moving fast, sometimes slowly, but never losing an inch of ground once occupied, can it be possible to conceive a people in more cruel straits than the rebels? Hew long can they endure such a complication of miseries? To which side shall they look for relief? . . .

---Jenkin Lloyd Jones, a Union artilleryman with the Wisconsin artillery, has just arrived at Chattanooga with Sherman’s column.  They are quickly put on a battle footing, as he notes in his journal:

3 P. M. A circular has just been received from General Sherman to hold ourselves in readiness to march at any moment. Three days’ cooked rations and one blanket is all that is to be taken along, the ambulances to follow to the river and there await orders. The enemy have been playing from Lookout all day and it is told that sharp musketry is going on, but that general engagement will probably not come off until we cross the river, which it is said we will do to-night if the rain will not sweep off our pontoon. The crisis is fast approaching and it cannot be long ere we meet in deadly contest; of the final result I have but little doubt. I am confident in the ability of those contesting for the right. But alas! many must of necessity close their eyes in death. It is not for me to ask whom or when, but to trust to Him that noticeth the fall of a sparrow, and endeavor to do my duty. I pray that strength may be given me to meet my fate with courage.

---John Beauchamp Jones, of the War Department of the Confederate States, writes in his journal once again of the scarcity rampant in the Rebel capital:

We are a shabby-looking people now—gaunt, and many in rags. But there is food enough, and cloth enough, if we had a Roman Dictator to order an equitable distribution.

The Secretary of War is destined to have an uncomfortable time. After assuring the Legislature and the people that provisions in transitu would not be impressed*, it is ascertained that the agents of the Commissary-General are impressing such supplies, and the Secretary is reluctant to interfere, the Commissary-General being understood to have the support of the President.

A committee of the Grand Jury yesterday submitted a paper to the President, on the subject of provisions—indicating the proximity of famine, and deprecating impressments. The President sent it to the Secretary, saying Mr. Seddon would no doubt take measures to keep the people of Richmond from starving; and directing the Secretary to “confer” with him. But to-day he is off to the army, and perhaps some may starve before any relief can be afforded.

A genteel suit of clothes cannot be had now for less than $700. A pair of boots, $200—if good. I saw to-day, suspended from a window, an opossum dressed for cooking, with a card in its mouth, marked “price, $10.” It weighed about four pounds. I luxuriated on parsnips to-day, from my own little garden.

 (* confiscated by the Army commissary troops)

A young Confederate soldier trying to look warlike and obviously failing to do so

---The S.S. Banshee, a blockade runner, is captured just off Cape Fear, near Wilmington, North Carolina, by the Navy vessels U.S.S. Delaware and U.S.S. Fulton.

---In Little Rock, Arkansas, a Union meeting is held, and a large crowd gathers, to declare their intent to form a new Union state government.  A large number of people take the oath of allegiance to the United States and also enlisted in a Home Guard unit.

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