February 22, 1864
Just at home from fathers where Mr E says he has been leading the life of an Old Bailey Lawyer. I hope the worst is now over. Jesse Bartley (near sixty years of age) seems to be the prime mover. He, by the inducement of a fine suit of clothes & a pr of boots, has persuaded several of fathers prime hands to agree to desert and run off to the Yankees. Lewis & Hillard seem to have been the pioneers, but Dow, Elzey, Rimmon, & Joe Spier are so deeply criminated that today they go off to Richmond. Joe Axe, the husband of my maid Fanny, & many others are by no means free from suspicion, but it has been determined on account of their youth to deal more mildly with them. Hoody Manuel, a hoary headed old traitor, it has been decided to keep & by his aid to arrest the arch apostate “Cumbo.” The Yankees give him $200 for every ablebodied negro he brings in to them & out of this sum he bribes his middlemen Jesse & Manuel who unsuspected work on the victims.
Whilst at Fathers we received the parting sting of our weak & imbecile Congress — the suspension of the Act of Habeas Corpus (or what is the same, delegating the power to suspend to the President), the Military, the Currency, and the Tax Bills. The first puts our liberties in the grasp of a simple man; the second resolves us with a Military despotism by putting all men between seventeen & fifty five into the service, allowing the President to detail whom he sees fit for domestic police, raising food for the Army, etc.; the third repudiates one third of the currency now in circulation, if not funded in four per cent bonds before the 1st of April; & the fourth taxes us so heavily that after Government has taken what it wants it leaves us little else to live on. Those who have their property out at interest are taxed 5 per cent leaving them one per cent for themselves, whilst the owners of slaves & whose money is invested in farming are so heavily mulcted that it almost amounts to an abolition of Slavery entirely so far as the profits are concerned. Well may we sing “Jubilate” over the death of such a body. I preserve the acts in my repertory . . . monuments of weakness on the part of Congress & of Ulysses like endurance on the part of the people.
In Kanawa we have captured & destroyed a gunboat & brought Gen Scammon & Staff prisoners to Richmond — to tunnel themselves out I suppose a-la-Streight & his 108 comrades. In Florida and on Johns Island Beauregard telegraphs that we have repulsed the enemy. In Missippi a column has advanced upon & taken possession of Jackson which was evacuated by us on their approach. Gen Polk, the Comdg Gen, has retired from Meridian & thrown himself between the enemy and Mobile. An attack from three points simultaneously is meditated upon that place: One from the Sea, another from Grant’s Pass on the coast from N O, & a third from Jackson, Sherman in command. Bishop Polk’s force is said to be feeble & his policy is to keep Sherman in play & detach him from his supports, draw him further from his base, & then suddenly to turn and fall upon him. Sixty five of the escaped Yankee officers have been recaptured, leaving forty four still at large. I hear of nothing being done to Turner, the Comdt of the Prison. We ought to call him “the Ration Saver.”
The Alabama is again striking terror into the Yankee Pocket by the destruction she makes in their East India Shipping. When last heard from she was off Sumatra, having burnt one & bonded another A No 1 Clipper Ship.
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