John Beauchamp Jones is a successful novelist and newspaper man who is now working as a clerk in the Confederate war office in Richmond, Virginia. Formerly living in the American West, his novels focus on the West and the South.
While working for the Confederate government, Jones maintains a daily diary of his wartime experiences. The diary is published after the war. Today Jones recollects a recent encounter with Confederate President Jefferson Davis:
Fighting for our homes and holy altars, there is no intermission on Sunday. It is true, Mr. Memminger came in the other day with a proposition to cease from labor on Sunday, but our Secretary made war on it. The President, however, goes to church very regularly—St. Paul’s.
On last Sunday the President surprised me. It was before church time, and I was working alone. No one else was in the large room, and the Secretary himself had gone home, quite ill. I thought I heard some one approaching lightly from behind, but wrote on without looking up; even when he had been standing some time at the back of my chair. At length I turned my head, and beheld the President not three feet from me. He smiled, and said he was looking for a certain letter referred by him to the Secretary. I asked the name of the writer, which he told me. I said I had a distinct recollection of it, and had taken it into the Secretary with other papers that morning. But the Secretary was gone. We then proceeded into the Secretary’s office in search of it. The Secretary’s habit was to take the papers from his table, and after marking on them with his pencil the disposition he wished made of them—, he threw them helter-skelter into a large arm-chair. This chair now contained half a bushel; and the President and I set to work in quest of the letter. We removed them one by one; and as we progressed, he said with an impatient smile, “it is always sure to be the last one.” And so it was. Having found it, he departed immediately; and soon after I saw him on his way to church.
Meanwhile, Julie Stanford, a young Baptist lady, in her diary makes a brief note of military activities in Forsyth, Georgia on this Saturday:
All the men of proper Age and capacity – are mustering.
Written by Bruce Gourley
Filed under: Archive: This Day in Civil War History · Tags: american civil war, civil war, confederacy, confederate states of america, csa, jefferson davis, john beauchamp jones, julia stanford, richmond