Diary of Orrin Brown—May 2, 1865

Lincoln lying in state at the Cook County CourthouseDiary of Orrin Brown, At Sea off the Maryland Shore

Tuesday–May 2nd

I got up this morning and about the first object of note that met my eyes was three of Uncle Sams Monitors two single Turrit and one double. They were quite a curiosity to most of the soldiers. We find the hand on the boat to be very kind to us if they have a piece of soft bread and meat or a cup of coffee left after eating their meals they will give it to some of the sick soldiers and they very often go and get an extra plate full and give to some sick soldier. When any of the sick men happen to get in their way they speak kindly to them instead of ordering them out of the way in snapping snarling terms. And the Capt. of the boat he is a short thick set and very fat man and he is very kind and good natured to the men not afraid to converse with any of us and always ready to answer any question asked by them. And our Surgeon in charge is also very good to us in every respect. We are not crowded but have pleanty of good comfortable quarters on the lower deck, so taking it alltogether we are haveing a very pleasant trip. While they were prepairing to take on coal this morning I went ashore and bought 2 loaves of bread for 15 cts and 1 lb of Butter for 50 cts. After taking on coal, and watter for cooking and drinking we pulled out to sea about 10.30 AM. I went out onto the Hurricane deck and had a good view of the Ft. and of that celebrated millitary prison called the Rip Raps situtated about half or 3/4 of a mile from the Ft. right in the bay or entrance of the roads. We passed Cape Charles about 1 PM. We have had a very nice day but we have had a head win all day, and we have been in sight of land all day but farther out than yesterday. I read 4 Chapts. today.

Abraham Lincoln returned to his home state.  In Chicago, about 125,000 mourners paid their respects at the Cook County Courthouse.  While Chicago was incorporated in 1837, there were only 112,000 residents counted in the Census of 1860.  The population of the city proper peaked in 1950 at 3,620,000.



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Diary of Orrin Brown—May 1, 1865

Funeral Car at Columbus, OhioDiary of Orrin Brown, off Hampton Roads, Virginia

Monday–May 1st

When I got up this morning I found myself in sight of Ft. Clark on Hattarass Inlett. The boat just haulted long enough for the Pilot to land and then we pulled out onto the broad Atlantic,there was quite a thunderstorm came up about 8 AM but it did not last but a short time and then faired off again. We passed Cape Hatterass about 8 AM and kept within from one to two miles of the coast all day. The sea was quite boistrous just after the storm for an hour or two and toward night the wind raised again which made it a little rough till we stoped in the Hamton roades on the west of Ft. Monroe about 11 PM they cast anchor for the night. I read 4 Chapts. today.

Hampton Roads is one of the world’s largest natural harbors, at the mouth of the James River on the Tidewater of Chesapeake Bay.  “Hampton” refers to the Earl of Southampton. “Roads” refers not to a highway or crossroads, but to the term “roadstead” indicating the safety of  port.  Who knew?

Meanwhile, Abraham Lincoln’s Funeral Train continued its long journey home.  On 29 April, 50,000 people viewed the president at Columbus, Ohio, followed by 100,000 mourners at Indianapolis the next day.  On the first of May, 1865, the train reached Chicago.

Thank you for following along with Pvt. Orrin O. Brown as he marched through Georgia and the Carolinas with Gen. William T. Sherman.  His war is over and recovery begun, now parted ways with the good general and the rest of the 14th Michigan volunteers, who were on the march again, this time to Richmond, Washington, DC, and then home.  We shall, however, follow my ancestor’s journey a few days more.



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Diary of Orrin Brown—April 30, 1865

USS UnadillaDiary of Orrin Brown, off Cape Hattteras, North Carolina.

Sunday–Apr. 30th

We had quite a shower of rain in the night but it came off pleasant this morning. Those men that were examined yesterday were sent off this PM myselfe with the rest. We got aboard of the ocean steamer Kennebeck at the city of Newberne N. C. at about 7 PM and we left the dock at 9 PM and had a very nice still time. I read 6 Chapts. today. I begin to feel a little better.

The USS Kennebec that served in the Civil War was an Unadilla-class gunboat launched in 1861.  The ship displaced 691 tons, and was 158′ long by 28′ wide, with two steam engines and two-mast schooner sails.  Armament included an 11″ Dahlgren smoothbore, two 24 pound smoothbore cannon and two 20 pound Parrot rifles.  The Kennebec served Admiral David Farragut’s blockade off the Gulf Coast and up the Mississippi River, seeing action at Vicksburg and Mobile.  It was reported the Unadilla-class ships sailed well in a strong wind, but rolled badly.  At this time, the Kennebec was under command of LCDR Trivet Abbot.  The gunboat was decommissioned at Boston Navy Yard 9 August 1865.

During World War II, the Kennebec-class oiler ships included 16 U.S. Navy medium oilers in three related designs, some of which are sill in commercial service.  In 1942, the name USS Kennebec (AO-36) was given to the SS Corsicana, built in 1939.  The ship was decommissioned four times before being scrapped in 1982.



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Diary of Orrin Brown—April 29, 1865

William T. Sherman 1860Diary of Orrin Brown, New Bern, North Carolina

Saturday–Apr. 29th

I am very unwell today hardly able to sit up at all. The Dr. came to camp this PM and examined the men to send the worst ones north, he took my name and I suppose we will on a Hospital boat. It was very warm and sultry AM but the wind raised and it clouded up and turned quite cool PM.

Gen. Sherman’s armies began their journey north on this date in 1865, in line with his orders of the 27th.  The men were of course glad to be on their way home, and mostly adapted to marching without the disorder of foraging along the way.  Some in the officer corps, however, got carried away betting among themselves who could reach Richmond first, pushing their men to march faster and farther than than suitable for a warm, humid Southern spring.

As Pvt. Brown’s fellows in the Union Army departed Raleigh, I would pause and acknowledge the work of Wilson Angley (UNC-Chapel Hill), Jerry L. Cross (SUNY-Binghamton), and Michael Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill), historians, in their work Sherman’s March through North Carolina: A Chronology (2015), tracking both armies across the state in both time (day-by-day) and by place.



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The LivIndex at Work in Three Rural Communities

Livability Index for Aztec, Durango, PagosaLast week, the AARP introduced a new data tool, the Livability Index, which provides a snapshot of community indicators, and allows us to compare communities.  Let’s drill down a bit with a comparison on three Rocky Mountain cities of similar, but different, setting.

  • Aztec, New Mexico, is a city of 6,578 population, and is the county seat of San Juan County, NM.  Aztec has a total index score of 44 (where 50 is national average).
  • Durango, Colorado, north of Aztec and west of Pagosa Springs, is a city of 17,557 population, and is the county seat of La Plata County, CO.  Durango has a total index score of 54.
  • Pagosa Springs, Colorado, is a town of 1,719 population, and is the county seat of Archuleta County, CO.

Each community benefits from the regional tourism economy, and rises and falls with oil and gas extraction, while still supporting working agricultural lands.  However, each has a unique character.  Aztec is part of the depressed Farmington Metropolitan Area, which the US Census estimates is losing population faster than any other metro area in the nation.  Durango has a mixed service-based economy with regular air service and Ft. Lewis College, leading to a steady growth rate.  Pagosa Springs relies more on seasonal traffic, and has had a fairly steady population with slight growth.

The Livability Index compares community indicators, and then summarizes the data based on AARP’s policy preferences.  Each category is broken down and evaluated, with a “green light” for a good indicator, or a “red light” as a warning indicator.  So why do Durango and Pagosa Springs score higher overall?

On Housing, Aztec scores a 45, Durango 50, and Pagosa Springs 54.  AARP values availability of multi-family housing, which provides options for young people getting started, and for seniors aging in place.  Durango scores highly, but as a college town one would expect more multi-family housing.  Durango then scores poorly on housing affordability, at $1,255 per month it earns a red light.  Many folks would ratchet up the importance of housing costs, perhaps–what good is a great place to live if you can’t afford to live there?

On the Neighborhood scale, Pagosa Springs scores poorly.  In particular, the tool uses a “food desert” indicator of particular grocery stores and farmers’ markets within 1/2 mile of… someplace (it’s not clear).  I have a real problem with this data set, and discount it out of hand.  Does that mean it’s not an issue?  No, but its not an accurate comparison.  Aztec and Durango score highly for neighborhood parks, and all three get green lights for libraries.  Pagosa Springs score poorly for a large number of vacant units; however, these are typically seasonal (vacation) homes, not abandoned units.  Aztec and Pagosa Springs also score “red lights” for a low number of jobs and people per square mile.  Sprawl is a difficult and expensive condition, but this density measure is unfair for small towns and rural areas.

All three communities score better than average Transportation systems.  None score for transit (although there are limited systems running).  Durango scores highly in walkability and lack of congestion; Pagosa Springs score highly on congestion and low speed limits; Aztec scores highly for 100% ADA-accessible transit.  Aztec and Pagosa Springs get red lights for high average transportation costs–as rural communities, people tend to drive farther for work, shopping and entertainment.

On the other indicators, Pagosa Springs scores highly on Environment (4 green lights), Aztec scores poorly on Public Health (4 red lights).  The largest range in on Civic Engagement.  All three get red lights for no high-speed broadband access.  Aztec also scores a red light for few civic organizations (although many people participate in nearby Farmington and Bloomfield); and both Durango and Pagosa Springs score red lights for poor neighborly-ness.

The last category is difficult to decipher.  One indicator is income inequality, on which all three are fairly close, but vary enough to score Durango a green light and Pagosa Springs a red light, which at first glance makes no sense to me.  I suspect Ft. Lewis’ college students may throw Durango’s statistics off.  None score well for high school graduation rates, which is a problem across the region.  And none score well for jobs per worker, again not necessarily a fair statistic for small towns and rural areas.

Overall, I have to applaud AARP’s effort to assemble the Livability Index.  It’s a good way to easily access US Census and other “big data” at multiple geographies.  It’s interesting at the neighborhood or small town level, but probably more reliable at larger aggregations of cities, counties and metro areas.  Most important, it gives us a hint of how we might make “big data” more accessible and interesting for citizens and decision-makers, urban and rural.


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Diary of Orrin Brown—April 28, 1865

Harper's 24 Oct 1874Diary of Orrin Brown, New Bern, North Carolina

Friday–Apr. 28th

I feel rather unwell after my trip to the City and I think that I have taken some cold. There was about 50 men left here for the front this morning. The day has been very warm and sultry. I read 4 Chapts. today.

On 28 April 1865, Lincoln’s funeral train stopped at Cleveland, Ohio.  In North Carolina, Gen. Sherman prepared his armies to march out of the state.  First, he planned to return to Savannah, Georgia, and wrote to Gen. Grant:

We should not drive a people into anarchy, and it is simply impossible for our military power to reach all the masses of their unhappy country.

I confess I did not desire to drive General Johnston’s army into bands of armed men, going about without purpose, and capable only of infinite mischief…. I envy not the task of ‘reconstruction,’ and am delighted that the Secretary of War has relieved me of it.

Would the many troubles of Reconstruction and failures afterward been avoided if Sherman’s Peace had been granted?  Sherman the tactician saw the danger ahead.  And the South did suffer the “bands of armed men” in the Ku Klux Klan and other conspiracies of hate lasting much longer than the Civil War itself.  What might have been….



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Diary of Orrin Brown—April 27, 1865

Funeral car at BuffaloDiary of Orrin Brown, New Bern, North Carolina

Thursday–Apr. 27th

The weather still holds out fine beautifull growing weather. I got a pass and went down to Newberne today. The whole City was trimed in mourning even to the collored people they show great respect for their diliverer from bondage. I went to the Christian Commition rooms and they gave me a book entitled the Soldier of the Cumberland. And a tract The Mothers last words, and some paper and envelopes, some thread, needles and Pins, and they gave me some Religious Papers to read and then gave me 40 more to distribute through camp. I returned to camp about 5 PM just about tired out for it has been a very warm day. There was a few more men came to camp today. I read 9 Chapt. today.

On the 26th, Lincoln’s funeral train had traveled through Albany, where about 60,000 people had paid their respects, then traveled overnight through Upstate New York to Buffalo, where another 100,000 people filed by the casket.  At 10pm, the train departed for Cleveland.

In North Carolina, Gen. Sherman wasted no time in issuing orders for his troops to leave the state and march to Washington, D.C., by way of Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia, starting on the 29th.  Howard’s Army of the Tennessee would march by way of Louisburg and Warrenton.  Slocum’s Army of Georgia would march by way of Oxford, including Union Gen. Jefferson C. Davis and the XIV Corps.  Gen. Terry’s X Corps and Gen. Schofield’s XXIII Corps would stay as garrison troops for the time being.  Strict orders were given that “All foraging will cease.”  Not only did Sherman end his Bummers’ reign, but he also supple 250,000 rations to Gen. Johnston for the paroled Confederate troops’ to begin their own marches home.



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Diary of Orrin Brown—April 26, 1865

Surrender of Gen. Joe Johnston 1865Diary of Orrin Brown—

Wednesday–Apr. 26th

The nights are just cool enough so that we can sleep comfortable and it comes off quite warm through the day. I caught a little cold yesterday while washing. There was about 300 more men left here today for different departments. There was a salute of 15 guns fired this morning in town and then there was a gun fired every 30 minutes all day in mourning for the nations boss. The firing on the 21st was from the diferent forts in this vacinity. I read 25 Chapts. today.

Before dawn on 26 April 1865, Union intelligence officer Lt. Col. Everton Conger tracked down the assassin John Wilkes Booth in hiding at Richard Garrett’s farm south of Port Royal, Virginia. When Booth refused to surrender, Union troops fired the barn where he had been sleeping.  Booth was fatally shot and died soon after.

In North Carolina, Gen Johnston met Gen. Sherman again at Durham and quickly concluded the terms of surrender in line with Appomattox.  Sherman believed he had been within his rights, but yielded with grace to the military and political order.  Gen. Grant approved the terms that evening and the parole of Confederate troops commenced at Greensboro under command of Gen. John Schofield.  What would have happened if Johnston had fought to the last man?  What if Jeff Davis had gotten away?  Fortunately the majority of Confederate troops were more interested in going home than taking the fight to the hills.  Yet that same day, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his remaining cabinet left Charlotte, North Carolina, with the intention of removing their government west of the Mississippi River.

Angley, Cross & Hill relate this observation by Gen. Jacob D. Cox in his memoirs:

No trait of Sherman’s character was more marked than his loyal subordination to his superiors in army rank or in the State.  Full of confidence in his own views, and vigorous in urging them, he never complained at being overruled, and instantly adapted his military conduct to the orders he received when once debate was closed by specific directions from those in authority.  He had shown this in the Vicksburg campaign and at Savannah; and, hurt and humiliated as he now was, his conduct as an officer was the same, thou he resented the personal wrong…

This was Sherman’s character.



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Diary of Orrin Brown—April 25, 1865

The funeral of president Lincoln, New York, April 25th 1865: passing Union SquareDiary of Orrin Brown, New Bern, North Carolina

Tuesday–Apr. 25th

We had a cool night but it came off warm and pleasant. I done a quite a large washing roday 3 shirts one pr drawers one pr socks and two blankets and when I got through I was pretty tired, but I am gaining in health slowly. There was a squad of men left here for the front today and my Corporal friend went with them. I sold the rest of my Lemonade today. The material cost my $1.30 and I sold it for $3.11 I read 5 Chapts. today. We got some dinner today consisting of a pint of Been soup without any Beens in.

Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train left New York City.  The Library of Congress:

In New York City, the funeral procession numbered 60,000 participants. Spectators crowded the streets “standing in a dense human hedge twelve or fifteen people deep,” by one account. Between New York and Albany large crowds congregated in the small towns and cities to witness the train pass. The path of the train between the cities followed the same route, but in reverse, as Lincoln’s journey to Washington for his inauguration as president.



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Diary of Orrin Brown—April 24, 1865

Lincoln and His GeneralsDiary of Orrin Brown, New Bern, North Carolina

Monday–Apr. 24th

We had a cool night but it came off warm and pleasant through the day with a gentle S. W. wind. There was some more troops came in today and some started out but came back the same as yesterday. I am gaining in health-slowly. I bought a doz Lemons and some sugar of my Corp friend today on tick and have sold one pailfull of Lemonade today. I read 6 Chapts. today.

Half a million mourners viewed President Lincoln’s remains at New York City on this day. In North Carolina, Gen. Sherman must have felt like he had been assassinated as well, by an assassination of character by Edwin Stanton and Henry Halleck.  Major Hitchcock returned early on the morning of 24 April 1865, accompanied by Gen. U.S. Grant who had been ordered by the Secretary of War to take command of negotiations with the Confederates.  However, Grant—always the practical one—simply slapped Cump Sherman’s hand and told him to offer the same terms Grant had offered Lee, no more and no less.  And sat back and let Sherman continue negotiations.

Nobody knows the truth of the rebuke, whether Stanton and Halleck were simply bitter at being left out of the pantheon of Union heroes, or if they truly believed they alone preserved the dignity and honor of Lincoln’s Administration.  Either way, if anyone thought they had seen William Tecumsah Sherman fight at Shiloh, or Vicksburg, or on the March through Georgia, they had not seen anything until Gen. Sherman lashed into these old rivals.  The war may be almost over, but the battle for the peace was just beginning.



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