Diary of Orrin Brown—Oct 30, 1864


Diary of Orrin Brown, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Sunday–Oct. 30th

It was cool and cloudy this morning but has come off Clear and warm. The 4th Corpse is coming in yet this morning. I washed up and went down to Church and heard a good sermon from Psalms 20th verse, came home to camp and went to writing, wrote a letter to Elmer and one to Ad Hamilton. There was a large squad of Cavalry passed the Church while I was there, our rations were so short last night that we have nothing for dinner today. I went down to Church again tonight and heard a sermon from the 3rd Chapt. of John 14-15th verses, there was 7 came forward for prayers.

The Civil War Daily Gazette today catches up with our friend, Gen. John Bell Hood and his Confederate Army of Tennessee.  P.G.T. Beauregard, in command of Southern troops in the region, had consulted Hood on his plans to head north into West Tennessee (the attempt to distract Sherman we discussed on the 28th).  Beauregard just wasn’t sure HIS General wouldn’t get distracted by some new shiny thing:

The Army of Tennessee under Hood had a short history of wayward movements, especially since the fall of Atlanta. Hood had made plans, changed his mind, made plans again, changed his mind again, and then finally made some more plans. Most of this happened without the foreknowledge of Beauregard, who, upon this date, appeared to be nipping it in the bud.

Originally, Hood was going to cross the Tennessee River at Guntersville, Alabama.  Then his plan was to cross the river at Decatur, Alabama, where Beauregard and Hood had a conversation:

Once there, Beauregard warned Hood about following order (or at least trying to do what he said he was going to do). He also worried that Hood had already gone too far west to effectively cross the Tennessee. Such a distance might give Sherman’s Union forces time to cut them off.

But Hood wasn’t so sure. He knew that Gunterstown had been heavily fortified, but believed Decatur to be easy pickings. In this, he was mistaken, though Beauregard maintained that Hood could have taken the town and the crossing if he would have simply tried. But even by the afternoon of the 28th, the place was too well-held to cross.

Union Gen. Robert S. Granger and about 3,000 Federal troops turned away the 39,000 Southerners at the Battle of Decatur on 28 October.  So Plan C moved to Courtland, Alabama, and then Plan D moved to Tuscumbia, near Florence, Alabama.  It was here on the 30th and 31st that Hood finally crossed the Tennessee River, 170 miles west of Chattanooga.  Sherman trusted Thomas in Nashville could take care of the interlopers and moved on with his plans.



Posted in Pursuit of Happiness | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diary of Orrin Brown—Oct 29, 1864

Franklin-Nashville campaign map

Diary of Orrin Brown, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Saturday–Oct. 29th

It was quite cool last night but it has come of warm and pleasant there has about 400 new troops come in this morning from Ind. and Mich. wee were ordered to pack up and be ready to go to the front this morning. We packed up and were marched up to head quarters and set there till 3 1/2 Oclock PM when we were ordered beck to our quarters drew our rations fixed our tent and went to bed to sleep here another night. The 4th army Corpe is coming in tonight, they were in sight about 3 Oclock. I read 4 Chapt. in the Testament today and that finished the book of St. Mark.

Who were the IV Corp of the Army of the Cumberland?

The 4th Corp was formed in October 1863 from the remnants of the XX and XXI Corp after heavy casualties at Chickamauga (there was previously a 4th corp in the Army of the Potomoc, disbanded August 1863).  Wiki says:

[The IV Corp] was initially commanded by Gordon Granger and its division commanders were Philip Sheridan, Charles Cruft, and Thomas J. Wood. It served with distinction in the famous unordered attack on Missionary Ridge at Chattanooga, and served in the Knoxville and Atlanta Campaigns. During John B. Hood’s Franklin-Nashville Campaign, General William T. Sherman left the IV (and XXIII Corps), under the overall command of General George H. Thomas, to defend Tennessee, and the corps was heavily engaged in the battles at Spring Hill, Franklin, and Nashville. When the force Thomas commanded at Nashville was divided, he was left in command only of the IV Corps and cavalry under James H. Wilson and George Stoneman. The IV Corps was ordered to block the mountain passes and prevent a potential retreat by Lee’s army into the mountains.

So the war-weary soldiers of the 4th who marched by Orrin Brown’s encampment were returning from Georgia where they had served along side his 14th Regiment Michigan Volunteers in the 14th Corp.  Yet as Orrin and his comrades were heading south, they were heading north to Thomas’ rear guard in Nashville.  At this time it was under command of Major General David S. Stanley, who would be wounded at Franklin and relieved by Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Wood.  It was they whom Sherman was willing to sacrifice to Hood, so the Federals might march unimpeded through Georgia and break the back of the Confederacy.

(map from wikipedia user Hoodinski.)



Posted in Pursuit of Happiness | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diary of Orrin Brown—Oct 28, 1864

William Tecumseh Sherman, c.1864Diary of Orrin Brown, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Friday–Oct. 28th

Got up this morning feeling pretty well it is clearing off and is going to be a pleasant day, we were not called out today, three of us went down and bought 40 loaves of Bread at 10 cts a loaf sold it at 15 cts got our money back and had 9 loaves left for our own use. I went around the camp and sold about $4 worth of my trinkets such as thread and needles pins inkstand pens pencils etc, we went down town last night and bought 3 1/2 doz Pies at 20 cts and sold them for 25 cts apiece in Camp. I read 4 Chapters in the Testament today. I went down to Church last evening and heard a good sermon from Proverbs 3rd Chapt 17th verse. There was 7 soldiers came forward for prayers, there was two ladies out to church I think they were Soldiers wives.

At the end of October, 1864, Gen. William T. Sherman held Atlanta uncontested. So why did he dawdle?  Armies were known to do that, while they reinforced their troops and supply lines…or their leaders lay in drunken stupors, as the case may be.  In this case, Sherman was watching what Confederate General John Bell Hood was up to.  Hood had left Atlanta and tried to get Sherman to chase him north and west rather than raiding Georgia.  He was sitting in Alabama, feigning toward West Tennessee…and Sherman was just fine letting him go.  The excellent Civil War Daily project explains:

Sherman Still Waiting on Hood
– Would Rather Be Sacking Georgia

William Tecumseh Sherman badly wanted to march to the sea, laying waste to Georgia en route to Savannah. But the Confederate Army of Tennessee, commanded by John Bell Hood stood not in his way, but behind him. There was really no threat that Hood would fall upon his rear, but Sherman wanted to know just what the Rebels were planning before starting the march.

The last he knew, Hood and his command were in Gadsden, Alabama, over 100 miles west of Atlanta. But the last he knew was from nearly a week prior. Though he still believed Hood to be stationary, Sherman had some idea where he might be leaning. With the incorrect news that P.G.T. Beauregard was now in command of the Army of Tennesse, Sherman posited in a letter to George Thomas, commanding the Army of the Cumberland via Nashville, that the new old commander “may go on to perfect Davis’ plan for invading Tennessee and Kentucky to make me let go of Atlanta.”

This was indeed Jefferson Davis’ plan, though Hood would take credit for it from nearly its inception. “I adhere to my former plan,” Sherman continued, “proved always you can defend the line of the Tennessee. Decatur and Chattanooga must be held to the death.” Sherman’s former plan, of course, was the march to the sea. Thomas would be left in command, and though smaller outposts could be neglected and even the railroad to Atlanta abandoned, cities such as “Nashville, Murfreesborough, Pulaski, and Columbia” were to be strengthended.

Thomas was not to do anything but defend the Tennessee line “unless you know that Beauregard follows me south.” Sherman gave Thomas command of all of the troops he was not taking with him to the sea. This was namely the Fourth Corps, once under Oliver Otis Howard, but now commanded by David S. Stanley, a career military man from West Point and a veteran of only the Western Theater of the war.

[On] the 27th, in a letter to Chief of Staff Henry Halleck, Sherman expressed only hope that in a few days he would “Be all ready to carry into effect my original plan.” Sherman assured Halleck: “I will await a few days to hear what head he makes about Decatur, and may yet turn to Tennessee; but it woudl be a great pity to take a step backward. I think it would be better even to let him ravage the State of Tennessee, provided he does not gobble up too many of our troops.”

In another letter to Halleck, which he would pen three hours later, Sherman noted that he was “pushing my preparations for the march through Georgia.” The day after (the 28th), Sherman would ask Halleck to reinforce Thomas so that he might begin his march to the sea – “I do not want to go back myself [into Tennessee] with the whole army, as that is what the enemy wants.”



Posted in Pursuit of Happiness | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diary of Orrin Brown—Oct 27, 1864

October 1864 map

Diary of Orrin Brown, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Thursday–Oct. 27th

It rained last night verry hard for a while but our mess kept pretty dry but there was lots of them that had no tent and got a good soaking when we got out this morning we found our dusty Camp Ground verry muddy. There were 50 of our squad called out to work on the street and I among them, we worked till about 2 Oclock then came back to camp washed up and went to writing my journal, there is about 400 troops here at headquarters about ready to start for the front, went down town and tried to buy some bread for supper but could not get any.

Cat and Mouse

After Chickamauga (I just like to say that word, emphasis on the first sylable ala Buggs Bunny, “Chicamauga!”), Bragg laid siege to Rosecrans’ federal forces in Chattanooga.  Rosecrans was relieved of duty and Grant and Sherman, fresh off a successful campaign to open up the Mississippi River and cleave the West from the Confederacy, went to work.  Through October and November 1863, they rebuilt supply lines and brought in reinforcements. Bragg squabbled with his lieutenants on the hills over the city and was routed back into Georgia where he resigned to be replaced by Joseph Johnston.

Lincoln promoted Grant to the newly created rank of Lt. General (previously held only by George Washington), and Grant left to take command of the entire Union Army. Sherman then took responsibility of the Army west of the mountains.  While Grant began his historic match against Lee in Virginia, Sherman began preparations for his Atlanta Campaign.    He had James B. McPherson’s Army of Tennessee (Sherman’s previous command), John M. Schofield’s Army of Ohio, and George H. Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland, with about 100,000 men under command.  Johnston’s Army of Tennessee was commanded by William J. Hardee, John Bell Hood, Leonidas Polk, and Joseph Wheeler with about 50,000 men.

Sherman moved out of Chattanooga the beginning of May. driving Johnston down the rail line toward Atlanta.  Johnston would make a defensive stand, Sherman would try to flank, Johnston would withdraw, on thru May and June they danced.  When Sherman failed to dislodge dug-in positions on Kennesaw Mountain, he just went around and laid siege to the city.  In mid-July, Johnston was replaced by Hood.  The Confederate cavalry raided Union supply lines; the Union cavalry raided Confederate supply lines. At the end of August, Sherman took control of the last railroad line supplying the city and on 1 September 1864, Hood evacuated Atlanta.

After a visit from Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Hood moved back toward Chattanooga, attempting to lure Sherman out of the city and into the open.  Confederate cavalry commander Nathan Bedford Forrest was also making a nuisance of himself by raiding into western Tennessee and Kentucky from his base in northern Mississippi. Although Hood had some success along the drawn out line at Resaca and Dalton, Sherman was able to split his command and secure the rail corridor from points north.

Which brings us to the scene young Pvt Brown found in Chattanooga at the end of October, 1864.



Posted in Pursuit of Happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diary of Orrin Brown—Oct 26, 1864

The Triumph, 1862

Diary of Orrin Brown, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Wednesday–Oct. 26th

We got up this morning and found a cool chilly wind blowing, we were not any of us detailed to work today. I feel pretty well better than I have for several days, there is new troops coming in and going out to the front all of the time, they all draw their arms here we were calld up to head quarters about sundown and gave our names to draw our arms were marched to the assnell drew our arms and got back to camp at about 9 Oclock. The Christian Commition agent came into Camp today and gave us the Northwestern and Western Christian Advocat, the Christian Times and he gave some of us books.

Religion and religious belief played an important part in the U.S. Civil War.  On its face, the war was begun on States’ rights vs Federal prerogative, similar to the ever-present organizational spectrum from the Reformed church’s Congregationalists on one hand to the centralized Roman church.  Yet it was the philosophical and moral conundrum of slavery that brought the conflict to the state of crusade for many.  As a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary noted:

After Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter in April 1861, the vast majority of Northern religious bodies—with the exception of the historic “peace” churches which on principle adhered to pacifism—ardently supported the war for the Union…

The sense that God was decisively at work in the crisis of the Union also profoundly altered the way in which church leaders dealt with the problem of slavery. At the war’s outset, Northern churches were far from unanimous in their attitude toward human bondage… At the start of the war, the avowed aim of Northern policy was to save the Union, not to free the slaves; but mixed results on the battlefield prompted a reassessment of goals… Some churches were demanding emancipation as early as the fall of 1861 while others were months or even years behind; but whether early or late, religious groups concluded that the war had signaled God’s intention that slavery die and that it die now….

The pouring out of blood was cleansing the nation of its sin and preparing it for moral rebirth.



Posted in Pursuit of Happiness | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diary of Orrin Brown—Oct 25, 1864

Brandy Station, Virginia
Diary of Orrin Brown, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Tuesday–Oct. 25th

The weather is verry pleasant today although it was cool and foggy this morning as it always is for the most part of the time, my mess mates have all gone out to work on the fortifycations today but I am left with the tent. I wrote another letter home this morning, our boys had to work till about 3 Oclock without any dinner, we drew a pint cup full of Potatoes today they are ddryed and ground, we also drew some fresh Beef but it was dreadfull tough and no fat about it, we went down town tonight to buy some bread but could not find a particle for love or money. I went to church again this evening and we had a good prayer meeting before preaching and then heard a sermon from Pauls writings, we also had a good exhortation by a Chaplin that has server his 3 years. I read 6 Chapters in the Testament today besides some other religeous papers.

What did Civil War Soldiers Eat?

At the end of a long supply line, a soldier eats what a soldier gets served.  Or more accurately, what he could make from what the quartermaster doled out, with what he could carry on his back. Cast iron cooks nicely but it is deadly heavy on a hike.

According to the Civil War Preservation Trust, Union fare consisted of hardtack (hard crackers made with flour, salt and water), with saltpeter pork/bacon/beef, flour and cornmeal.  Confederate menus consisted of cornmeal (Johnnie Cakes of beef and cornmeal fried with bacon grease, yum), with salt beef or bacon, and dried peas.  If you were lucky, you got molasses, sugar, and dehydrated vegetables, or perhaps rice and beans.  Union troops often had coffee or tea, and might even get the new Borden’s condensed milk.  Peanuts, or “goober peas”, were relatively available throughout the South.

The Union soldier also added to his diet by receiving care packages from home or buying food from sutlers. These were traveling salesmen that followed the army’s regiments. Their prices were extremely high and sometimes their food was spoiled. Soldiers referred to them as vultures, and sometimes raided their supplies… In fall 1864 the Confederates were living mostly on sweet potatoes. Men were so hungry that they were ready to fight just to get food.

Foraging the countryside was not looked upon favorably, but in times of war you do what you have to do…and eat what you have to eat.



Posted in Pursuit of Happiness | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Diary of Orrin Brown—Oct 24, 1864

Map of Chattanooga, 1863

Diary of Orrin Brown, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Monday–Oct. 24th

We slept verry comfortable last night under our temporary tent, I took a dose of pill last night and feel a little better today, there has 3 or 400 new troops came in today and Sherman has sent in 1,300 Reb prisoners today taken between here and Atlanta from Hood. I washed my shirt drawers etc. we have no tints yet and draw about 1/4 rations. Read 2 Chapters in the Testament today, went down to Church this evening and heard a good sermon from 19th Chap. of Luke 41-42 verses the soldier meet and have prayer meeting before the hour for preaching there is no females attends in the evening, I also joined the Christian League Society this evening.

At the time Orrin Brown arrived in Chattanooga, William T Sherman was playing cat-and-mouse with John Bell Hood north of Atlanta.  The Union position in the city, however, was too strong for the Confederates, who moved west into Alabama with plans to move north into Middle Tennessee and Kentucky.  Sherman quickly grew bored and continued to prepare for his push to the sea.



Posted in Pursuit of Happiness | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diary of Orrin Brown—Oct 23, 1864

Pipestone, Minnesota, Canon

Diary of Orrin Brown, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Sunday–Oct. 23rd

I was quite sick all night on account of my cold but I feel a little better now and hope I shall get along. It was a little warmer last night but there has been quite a chilly wind blowing today. There was a large squad of men came in from Indiana this morning. They know no sunday in the army there is about 100 men out of this camp at work on the fortifycations today. I went up to the burrying ground this afternoon and went into a vault where there were a wooman and 4 children embalmed in metalic coffins, we went to work and made a tent out of our blankets, there is 7 of us in our mess all steady men, we do not draw more than 1/2 rations. There was 30 of our men called out tonight to stow away grain and other comisary stores at the depot, they worked 3 hours. I read 13 chapters in the testament today.

Gig City of the South

By 1864, Chattanooga had weathered battery and occupation by both the Confederate and Union armies.  Today, 150 years later, Chattanooga is a much different city—much bigger, and much better built.  Chattanooga is also a pioneer in internet infrastructure, a “Gig City” with broadband service of at least 1 gigabit per second.  That’s about 50 times faster than what you or I are likely to have, and light-years faster than much of America. Like my friends in (much smaller) rural Windom, Minnesota, the city led the way with their municipal utility dropping fiber to buildings across town, years before Google even heard of Kansas City.  This week, the city was one of the inaugural members of the Next Century Cities broadband economic development group, with other burgs as small as Winthrop, Minnesota, or Montrose, Colorado, and as large as Austin and San Antonio, Texas.

Chattanooga was a strategic center in the 19th century railroad economy, and today it is positioning itself as a strategic center of the 21st century.


Posted in Economy, Pursuit of Happiness | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diary of Orrin Brown—Oct 22, 1864

Chattanooga c.1894

Diary of Orrin Brown, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Saturday–Oct. 22nd

We got up this morning shivering and no wood to make a fire of, we managed to pick up enough to cook breakfast and dinner by going about a mile after it. I went down to the river and looked around and then down town came back and we got dinner and I have wrote a letter home. There is thieveing going on here in Camp every night more or less in the line of Coats Blankets Knapsecks etc. etc. Those Rebbel graves that I spoke of yesterday are holes dug in the ground by the rebs to protect them from our shell so I heard last night.

There is not many horses used here for teaming and the most of them are verry poor and the majority of the mules are as poor as crows. The new troops are coming in every day by the hundreds from all of the western states, we are scrimped on rations pretty close, last night each man drew 4 hardtack about 3 ozs. of salt poark one table spoon full of sugar 2/3 spoonfull of tea and less than a teacup full of beans and about an oz of soap for one days rations. I did not eat any breakfast but the boys bought 1 dos russ for 50 cts so we made out tolerably well.

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park spans numerous sites over a 150-mile front that saw blood shed in 1863 and 1864.  Lookout Mountain towers over Chattanooga from the southwest high above the Tennessee River, while Missionary Ridge’s Crest Road commanded the eastern side of the city.  Chickamauga, 26 miles south of the city, became Confederate Gen. Bragg’s wedge between pursuing Federal troops and their supply lines to the North.  The hunters became the hunted became the hunters with the ebb and flow of the War.  It could not last, however, as Washington threw General Joseph Hooker into the fray from Virginia; Gen. William T. Sherman from Mississippi; and finally Gen. U.S. Grant in command of all Union forces in the “West”.  The glow of victory turned swiftly to “the death-knell of the Confederacy”.

Fast Tube




Posted in Pursuit of Happiness | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diary of Orrin Brown—Oct 21, 1864

Orchard Knob Above Chattanooga, 1864

Diary of Orrin Brown, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Friday–Oct. 21st

At day light this morning we found ourselves in the verry midst of the Cumberland Mountains about 15 miles from Chattenooga and a verry rough country to rocks upon rocks nearly as high as I could see, we arrived in Chatenooga about 8AM, run arround town just as we were a mind to for two or three hours. I got a little to far and was ordered to show my pass, I had none so I had to go to the officer of the guard, he asked me a few questions and passed me out telling me to get a pass next time. I just got back in time to receive orders to march, we marched about a mile to Camp detatchment and here we are on a hill so that we can see all over the country and we cannot look in any direction only up or down without seeing camps of soldiers and earthworks in fact they are the principal part of the town for the town itself is’nt any larger than St. Joe, from where we are now we have a fair view of Lookout Mountain.

I should judge that there was at least 25,000 troops here the Rebs took some of our men prisoners at Dalton and tore up about 20 miles of railroad track last week, we are to go on to Atlanta as soon as the railroad is in runing order again, I am sitting within two rods of the graveyard where the Rebs burried their dead. There is 750 graves. It is hard to immagin how this place looks untill one sees it for himself it is cut up with entrenchments as far as the eye can see in every direction, the timber through here is all scrubby Oak seeder Pine hickory maple and a great many other kinds. The weather is generally quite warm through the day time but uncomfortably cool at night about like the 1st of Nov. in Michigan. We drew rations tonight of some soft bread and some hard tack a piece of salt pork, Coffee sugar and today we drew Beans and soap, we spread our blankets on the ground and went to bed with the sky for our shelter. The wind raised about noon and is blowing quite cool so that it is uncomfortable.

Chattanooga was a freight hub of about 2,500 population in the 1860s, with manufacturing and rail lines between Nashville and Atlanta crossing the navigable Tennessee River.  Confederate General Braxton Bragg held onto the heavily fortified city until September 1863, when Union General William Rosecrans forced the Rebels to withdraw into northern Georgia.  Bragg’s victory at Chickamauga (over the Georgia line) then pinned Union troops down in Chattanooga for the rest of the Autumn of 1863.  This is when General Ulysses S. Grant was given command of Union forces in the West.  After reinforcements poured through Central Tennessee, Grant’s forces moved Bragg off Lookout Mountain above the city and back into Georgia, setting the scene for Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign during the summer of 1864.


Posted in Pursuit of Happiness | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment