From the Charleston Mercury, 7/26/1862



RICHMOND, Wednesday, July 23.

     After a month's holiday, I find myself again in the Confederate capital. One feels the dread of infection as he gets nearer and nearer this war-scarred city. Soldiers crowd the cars - dirty convalescents from the country hospitals - sick trains pass him on the way; he catches the odor of suppurating wounds in Manchester, and this odor increases to a stench as he crosses the James river, where the tainted breezes from the vast wards on Chimborazo Heights have free play. Night has just fallen, but there is a strange stillness about the streets. Few people pass him. The doors of the great dry goods and clothing houses are open and guarded by sentinels. Looking in, he beholds multitudes of beds and ministering angels passing to and fro. Well he knows what forms lie stretched on those narrow beds. They are the heroes who have suffered in the great cause. How horrible is war!

     Our late victories have given us a respite, which the Administration has rather the wish than the nerve to improve. It complains of a want of men, and it must be confessed that there is a great deal of straggling. But this straggling the Government seeks to cure by moral suasion and the force of public opinion, as if the deserters, lost to all sense of shame, cared for opinions. It is said there are 100,000 men absent without leave from our various armies - gone nobody knows where. If this be true, the time has passed for milk and water measures.

     There is literally "trouble in the camp." Objection is made to Gen. Johnston's resuming his command. He is entitled to it, or else a wound becomes a badge of disgrace; but Lee is thought the safer man, and all things must yield to the country's safety. A. P. Hill is under arrest by order of Longstreet, and there is a quarrel between D. H. Hill and Toombs. "Reliable" says Hill called Toombs a coward on the field, and after the battle Toombs challenged him. The challenge was declined on religious grounds; but the epithet was re-applied. Magruder has been recalled from the command of the Trans-Mississippi Department, on account of the charge of incompetency preferred by Col. Chilton, formerly of the Adjutant General's Office, now on Lee's staff.

     These troubles should alarm nobody. War is a quarrelsome business, especially in a free country, where every man is as good as any other man, and better, too. We hate the Yankees none the less on account of these quarrels. After we have whipped them, we can fight each other in comfort.

     News from the lines is just no news at all. Indeed there seems to be a general stagnation except in Jack Morgan vicinage. Reported that Jackson has broke loose again, with as many as 60,000 rampant rebels at his heels. There is no telling where he will strike. He appears to be as eccentric as a comet - one of which, by the way, I think I saw in the northwest last night.

     Copies of the New York Herald were for sale this morning by the newsboys, for the moderate price of two dollars. The Herald of the 15th contains the proceedings of the big Union meeting held the day before, in which Dr. Francis Lieber figured, while his noble son, Oscar, was dying, a martyr to his father's folly, in this city. HERMES.

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