Item description: Entry, 8 January 1862, from the diary of Thomas Bragg (Attorney General of the Confederate States of America, 1861-1863), written in Richmond, Va. Bragg comments on Confederate foreign relations, arrangements for the delivery of mail abroad, events in Missouri, and comments on President Jefferson Davis’ feelings about several Confederate leaders.
[Transcription available below images.]
Wednesday, January 8, 1862
We had a Cabinet meeting today chiefly on the propriety of making a contact with a Spanish gentleman to run a line of steamers during the War from Havana to Matamoras in Mexico – ostensibly to carry our mail, abroad, but really as a War measure, sending dispatches & getting somethings wanted by us. It was agreed that the President should ask Congress for sixty thousand dollars a year to keep up foreign communications without saying more, as it was desirable to keep the arrangement private. Mr. Benjamin was authorized to offer that sum per annum for carrying mails. The President thought if the Spanish authorities give countenance to the line, which it is supposed they will, the most probable result would be that the Yankees would seize the Steamer and that would bring on a war with Spain.
There was afterwards much desultory conversation about a great many matters – the State of things in Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia and incidentally Gen’l Bragg’s command. The Missourians have provoked the President a good deal about Price. Neither he or his troops have as I before said never mustered into Confederate service, and they seem to be making no effort to get them into that service, they are State Malitia – Congress appropriated one million of dollars for their aid & a Quarter Master &c was sent out to aid them. The President thought that all Price’s operations had rather been useless or worse than useless, save that it had been to some extent, drawn a large force of the enemy from the Mississippi. There was a good deal of canvassing as to a general officer to be sent there. They had been willing to send Gen’l Bragg there but could not agree spare him after the South was threatened. I believe Gen’l Van Dorn will be sent. It seems Gen’l Pillow is dissatisfied and has sent his resignation – why, does not exactly appear. The treatment of the Volunteers in the Army of the Potomac was again mentioned by the President, who read a severe article, communicated ot the Whig N’s Paper. Some of the changes he said were true and there were many abuses. Drinking in the Army could not be stopped unless the officers set an example. In this connection he again spoke of Gen’l Bragg – said he had put down drinking and that his had been the only well disciplined and managed Army in the field. that he set a proper example to his men. In speaking of the other Generals, their quantities &c, he ranked him with Sidney Johnson and some others. He never names Beauregard. I think, after all, he does not like him or think much of him. I am not sure but the Sec’y of War is in the same category.
The newspaper press here was named – the Examiner is virtually assailing the Administration everyday. It is not defended by either the Dispatch or Whig, and very seldom & very faintly by the Enquirer – The thing has gone to that extent it has almost become a necessity to have some paper to reply to these attacks, or at least to give the facts from which the public may form correct opinions and not be misled – The Examiner is conducted with much talent, but its tendency is mischievous and injurious to the Southern Cause – It is copied I see into the Herald & other Northern papers –
Mr. Hunter was to see something about obtaining in some way an interest in one of the papers named, or as to the means of establishing a new paper. There is great objection to having a Government Ogran, but a paper friendly to the Administration would receive a large support –
Had a letter from home today – wife doing well and infant was improving –