And now for a little public news. From Chattanooga our accounts are most gloomy. Every mind seems prepared to hear that, spite of all the loud boastings of what he could at pleasure do, that Bragg will soon be “falling back.” Thomas has been heavily re-inforced & commands Lookout Valley & is shelling the mountain of that name. He has reopened his communication & instead of being annihilated threatens to advance on Bragg. The country rings with curses loud & deep both of Bragg & Mr Davis for keeping him in command. The pressure brought to bear upon the President in order to induce him to remove him is prodigious, yet nevertheless he resists it & obstinately persists, in the face of evidence of incompetency which is, to say the least, overwhelming, in risking the Cause & the Country even in the hands of a General who has already cost us rivers of the best blood in our land which is “as water spilled upon the ground.” God sees the end & He only can bring success out of so discordant & jarring elements! Generals at variance with their Commander, soldiers who have lost confidence in his abilities & even his courage (for D H. Hill has openly charged him with a personal want of it), Division Commanders petitioning to be removed & threatening to throw up their Commissions, & even (as is the case with Lieut Gen Polk) refusing to serve under him, a country loudly clamoring against his incapacity & want of Generalship — such are some of the obstacles in the way of our success. Mr Davis is in fact his only friend!
Before Charleston the enemy have been unusually active, having recommenced the Bombardment of Sumter with greater fury than ever & with a signal failure to accomplish more than the entire destruction of the upper works. The casemates protected by sand mounds & bags remain intact & we are assured that the stern old Fort can resist it indefinitely.
We have had a serious disaster in Northern Va. Two Brigades — Hoke’s N C & Hays’ Lou — being on picket on the North bank of the Rappahanock were surprised by a sudden motion of the enemy, surrounded by an entire Army Corps (Sedgwicks), & after a desperate resistance & being almost cut to peices in the encounter, were the greater portion of them captured, 600 only escaping out of both Brigades. Our entire loss, killed, wounded, & prisoners, mounts up to 1500 (fifteen hundred). This coming as it does on the sad affair at Bristow Station has been a severe blow to us & makes us if possible more deeply lament the loss of Jackson, who was never surprised or taken at unawares. But God’s will be done! He saw fit to take him; we should not murmur.
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