December 4, 1863
No fighting as yet on the Rapid Ann, Meade is it is said fortifying. An Artillery duel took place on the 30th with some slight infantry skirmishing, our loss slight, one officer, Capt Raines, only of the Artillery killed, none hurt. An impression prevails that Meade does not mean to fight unless attacked, his object being only to occupy Lee and prevent reinforcements being sent to Georgia where Bragg, the unlucky or the incapable, still continues to retreat sternly, as the Yankees say, pursued by the mounted infantry. We learn that at his own request he was on last Monday releived from command & the command tendered to Lieut Gen Hardee who with great modesty declined it but consented to retain it until another appointment can be made. Who Murad the Unlucky’s final successor will be does not yet appear, but whoever he is, he will have a difficult post to fill. To remedy all Bragg’s blunders & releive his disasters will take much military ability & a keen insight into men. There it appears that Mr Davis is deficient.
Fears are now expressed for Longstreet, but not one word have we from him beyond the fact that Knoxville was invested. Sherman has been sent to reinforce Burnside the Christian, so our fears are not without basis. But Faith! faith! & courage — by God’s help tho all seems dark around us we will yet prevail! God keep us true to ourselves and our cause. The Northern papers report the loss by guerrillas of seventeen fine boats on the Mississippi within the last four months valued at seven million, together with sixty lives. “Free navigation” that! The Father of Waters is opened with a vengeance! Mrs Winder of Baltimore, mother of Gen Winder, age 85 has been imprisoned in her house in Baltimore under Military surveillance upon charge of corresponding with the South. What next?
Saturday — Mr E. at Dawson’s X Roads drilling his Company. I & my handmaids busy all day making “auld clarthes look amaist as weel as new” & am wearied to death stitching & fitting! Ah! for the days of dress makers & Tailors! — days I hope not far in the future!
Better news from Georgia, & the mental thermometer has gone up in consequence, so am gay & bouyant once more! Cleburne’s Division engaged Osterhause this side of Ringgold driving him back with a loss of 1500 killed, 320 prisoners, & four stand of colours. On their retreat they burned a portion of Ringgold & destroyed the bridge and R R track at Chickamauga. Kelly’s Cavalry defeated them, inflicting heavy loss on them at Cleaveland on Wednesday. News reliable but not official that Longstreet has forced Burnside to capitulate. Now for the barber to shave that Christian head as he had Morgan’s shaved & a cell for him in a Confederate Penitentiary! Justice is a heaven born virtue, Mrs E, see that you do not allow it to degenerate into vindictiveness!
A new Military department has suddenly sprung up for us like an oasis in the Desert, that of “West Tennessee.” Col Richardson commencing with a single Cav Regt has increased it to a Brigade and four Battalions, all mounted & equipped at Abolition expense besides turning over to the Confed Gov. $600,000 worth of arms, clothing, & stores, all captured! He is a thorn in the Yankee side, cutting off R R communication, capturing waggon trains, & keeping a large force fully occupied in looking after him. Walker keeps the Mississippi closed to all but iron clads. The Yankees admit that the ravages of the guerrillas are “quite troublesome.” Meade is falling back. The mail which has this moment come in brings us Gen Lee’s Dispatch dated Orange Court House Dec 2d which tells us that “The enemy retreated during the night. Pursuit was made but he had recrossed the Rapid Ann before we reached it. A few prisoners were captured. Signed R E Lee”
The paper of the day before told us that our Cavalry had penetrated to Meade’s rear in the neighborhood of Fredericksburg, surprised & captured a train of one hundred waggons & a number of prisoners, all of which were brought off safely. So the “alarums as of a battle joined” have all ended in smoke. For a time at least, thank God, the blood shed has been stayed! Official telegram from Bragg confirm the retreat of the Abolitionists across the Chickamauga “destroying everything in their route.” Their loss heavy in their attack on our rear guard under Gen Cleburne.” So there is a lull there too in the storm of battle. Our interest now all centers on Longstreet, of whose capture of Knoxville we have still only rumours, nothing official which seems strange. The N Y Herald announces the escape of Gen John Morgan & six other Confederate Officers from the Ohio Penetentiary & of Morgan’s arrival at Toronto. God grant it be true!
“One blast upon his bugle horn” is “worth ten thousand men.” Perhaps he may reach home in time to see his Christian enemy shaved, for be assured he will not “tarry at Jerico until his head be grown.” Revenge will be the best hair oil that can be applied to him.
Source: Edmondston, Catherine Ann Devereux, 1823-1875, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston 1860-1866. Crabtree, Beth G and Patton, James W., (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979). http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/478.html
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