14 February 1862: It seems that on Monday the enemy got possession of Elizabeth City. Henningsen was there & retreated – When last heard from he was at Newby’s Bridge & probably escaped to Suffolk or some point on the Rail Road to Norfolk.

Item description: Entry, 14 February 1862, from the diary of Thomas Bragg (Attorney General of the Confederate States of America, 1861-1863), written in Richmond, Va. Bragg comments on the capture of Elizabeth City, military affairs, diplomacy, and the burden felt by Southern States to support the war.

[Transcription available below images.]

Item citation: From the Thomas Bragg Papers, 3304-z, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Friday, February 14, 1862

5 ½ P.M.  I made no memoranda yesterday. It seems that on Monday the enemy got possession of Elizabeth City. Henningsen was there & retreated – When last heard from he was at Newby’s Bridge & probably escaped to Suffolk or some point on the Rail Road to Norfolk. On the 12th the enemy took possession, without resistance, of Hertford & Edenton, landing at the latter place between 3 & 4000 men and several hundred horses, and that two of their Gun boats went up the Chowan River. It seems a few of the No. Ca. troops escaped from Ro. Island across Croatan Sound. Some few of the Va. Troops also escaped. O. Jennings Wise, Captain of the Richmond Blues and son of Gov. Wise was mortally wounded and is said to have died from his wounds. We hear nothing of the Roanoke, save that it was high and that the people in Scotland Neck, Halifax County, were taking steps to obstruct it. I heard that Gen’l Gatling was at Halifax, and again today that he was at Goldsboro. He will get a bad name if he does not move. But one Co. was at the Weldon Bridge yesterday & a part of Wise’s Cavalry were sent there yesterday. A Maryland Co. left here today with orders to report to Gen’l Gatling at Goldsboro. There is great excitement in No. Ca.  and the Gov’t is blamed – the Sec’y of War is censured and the Sec’y of the Navy denounced for not having a fleet of Gun boats large enough to cope with the enemy. Judge Saunders of Raleigh write a characteristic letter on the subject – says the Island, as the people believe, was defensible if more men and powder had been there &c, and that the opinion is that our men were sacrificed, and that volunteering will stop. Another portion say No. Ca. has been neglected, her troops sent to other points, while she is left to the tender mercies of the enemy. Many of our people I fear, influenced by these and considerations of safety for themselves & property will yield and make no resistance. I hear nothing of any effort to get out the militia or that our Gov’r or military authorities are making any attempt to put them in the field. There is too a surprising apathy pervading the community of Richmond. The Governor’s recommendation to the Legislature to enroll the militia in this and other towns and to close up business houses as in the towns of the South at 2 P. M. seems not to be heeded, nay is denounced in the Examiner of yesterday. The Gov’r sent such a message at the instance of the President and his Cabinet, he being present on Monday last. What it will all end in, God only knows.

Dispatches rec’d yesterday from Nashville say that an engagement took place  the day before, and continued the greater part of the day at Fort Donelson. It was mainly between the Artillery on both sides – they – (the enemy) – were held at bay, our men being behind entrenchments. We hear nothing today. Our troops are raw and I fear that are short of ammunition. If they are not, they may sustain themselves. Pillow commands them. Norfolk is alarmed and very despondent – they are (that is the residents) almost ready to give up. ‘Tis said Maj’r Gilman did not fall into the hands of the enemy at Fort Henry but escaped when that place fell, and had arrived safely at Fort Donelson.

Northern papers state that commissioners Mason & Slidell reached Southampton, England, on the 29th of January – they do not for ought that appears seemed to have attracted much notice in England – they had gone to Paris. For some time the Northern papers have been alarmed by foreign accounts public & private as to a supposed intention on the part of France and England to interpose in our affairs &c. It was supposed that France would take the initiative and that Emperor would manifest such an intention in his communication to the Legislative body to commence its Sessions late in Jan’y. Northern statements as to the tenor of his address do not seem to indicate on the part of the Emperor any such intention. Yet the N.Y. Herald still entertains the idea, and from private advices or some other reasons represents the public mind in N.Y. as uneasy & says that stocks had declined.

A letter tonight from Walter F. Leake, of the N. Ca. Convention says that he fears that our people will not bear a draft for the war or 3 years to fill up the quota of troops required of that State, and suggests whether it will not be well for the new Congress to modify the law. Our public men want more and our people, I fear, also –Strange that it should be so now.

10 ½ P. M. I have just had reliable information that a dispatch rec’d by one of the Tennessee members says that yesterday our troops beat the enemy at Fort Donelson, repulsing them three times with heavy loss, and then pursued and attacked them outside our entrenchments.  It was stated that Gov. Floyd & Gen’l Buckner were present with troops from Bolling Green. I hope it may be true, all of it – Something was needed to revive the drooping spirits of our people.

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