A Rebel War Clerk's Diary, Volume 1
At the Confederate States Capital, April 1861-July 1863
J. B. Jones Edited by James I. Robertson, Jr.
Amidst the vast literature of the Civil War, one of the most significant and enlightening documents remains largely unknown. A day-by-day, uninterrupted, four-year chronicle by a mature, keenly observant clerk in the War Department of the Confederacy, the wartime diary of John Beauchamp Jones was first published in two volumes of small type in 1866. Over the years, the diary was republished three more times—but never with an index or an editorial apparatus to guide a reader through the extraordinary mass of information it contained. Published here with an authoritative editorial framework, including an extensive introduction and endnotes, this unique record of the Civil War takes its rightful place as one of the best basic reference tools in Civil War history, absolutely critical to study the Confederacy.
A Maryland journalist/novelist who went south at the outbreak of the war, Jones took a job as a senior clerk in the Confederate War Department, where he remained to the end, a constant observer of men and events in Richmond, the heart of the Confederacy and the principal target of Union military might. As a high-level clerk at the center of military planning, Jones had an extraordinary perspective on the Southern nation in action—and nothing escaped his attention. Confidential files, command-level conversations, official correspondence, revelations, rumors, statistics, weather reports, and personal opinions: all manner of material, found nowhere else in Civil War literature, made its meticulous way into the diary. Jones quotes scores of dispatches and reports by both military and civilian authorities, including letters from Robert E. Lee never printed elsewhere, providing an invaluable record of documents that would later find their way into print only in edited form. His notes on such ephemera as weather and prices create a backdrop for the military movements and political maneuverings he describes, all with the judicious eye of a seasoned writer and observer of southern life.
“Any serious scholar of the Civil War will find this indispensable.”
—New York Military Affairs Symposium
“James I. Robertson, Jr. has produced two magnificently edited volumes along with an excellent introduction.”
—Civil War Book ReviewSee all reviews...
“Jones remains one of the cornerstone works on the war, but always difficult for want of index and authoritative annotations. This edition is superb.”
—William C. Davis, author of Jefferson Davis: The Man and His Hour
“I think Jones’s diary is a very important firsthand account about the Confederacy. There is nothing else quite like it, in fact. Jones’s position in Richmond, ear for rumors and swings in morale, skill at conveying a great deal of quotidian information about life in the capital, and informed, though often biased, opinions of political and military leaders makes for a wonderful account. Robertson's long-needed edition will be a long-term seller, as the much-preferred edition of a major Civil War classic.”
—Gary W. Gallagher, author of The Confederate War and Becoming Confederates: Paths to a New National Loyalty
“John B. Jones’s A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary is a classic of Civil War literature and an indispensable primary source for wartime Richmond and the inner workings of the Confederate government.”
—Steven E. Woodworth, author of While God is Marching On: The Religious World of Civil War Soldiers
“A Rebel War Clerk's Diary has long been a seminal source for Confederate history, and Bud Robertson has been one of our most accomplished historians for decades. Now, these two staples of Civil War history are combined in this first truly academic edition of the diary. The result is nothing short of magnificent.”
—Timothy B. Smith, author of Shiloh: Conquer or Perish and Corinth 1862: Siege, Battle, and Occupation
“John B. Jones has offered us one of the most enduring views of the Confederate States of America from the perspective of an insider in the war office. With the deft guidance of James I. Bud Robertson, Jr., as editor, we have the opportunity now to delve more deeply into this important resource and enhance our understanding of the wide-range of events that Jones observed and experienced.”
—Brian S. Wills, author of George Henry Thomas: As True As SteelSee fewer reviews...
James I. Robertson Jr., provides introductions to each volume, over 2,700 endnotes that identify, clarify, and expand on Joness material, and a first ever index which makes Jones's unique insights and observations accessible to interested readers, who will find in the pages of A Rebel War Clerk's Diary one of the most complete and richly textured accounts of the Civil War ever to be composed at the very heart of the Confederacy.