The Diary of Pvt. Orrin Brown: Marching Through Georgia and the Carolinas with General Sherman

Sherman’s March to the Sea

As best we know, Orrin O. Brown was born in September 1836, at Wayne County, Michigan, to Orrin Brown, Sr. and Rhoda Weaver Brown of New York State. Orphaned at birth, his mother moved in with family in Will County, Illinois, only to become sick and die, leaving the baby to the care of relatives. In 1863, he went into the lumber trade and milling business at Sodus Township, Berrien County, Michigan. Answering the final call for service in the great War between the States for his older brother Norman, in October of 1864 he entered Company E, Fourteenth Michigan Infantry.

Company E mustered in at Kalamazoo, Michigan on the 13th of October, taking the train through Michigan City to Indianapolis where it met men from Illinois, going on to Nashville, Tennessee. The company helped with the clean up at Chattanooga from the 21st to November 3rd, when they departed on the train to Atlanta. Orrin saw the battlefield at Kennesaw Mountain and watched the city burn. Leaving on 15 November with General William T. Sherman’s army, he marched 300 miles through Georgia to Savannah, reaching that city on 11 December. The day after Christmas, he started marching northward towards Augusta and eventually ended up at Fayetteville, North Carolina, on 12 February 1865. His health failing, Orrin went to New Bern, NC, and boarded the U.S. Kennebeck on 30 April for a hospital at New York, leaving service in June 1865. He returned to Michigan and took up a career as a farmer. Orrin Brown passed away on 9 January 1909.

This is his story, written in his own words.

The original diary has been handed down through the family for 125 years. This version was set to disk from a typed manuscript in 1989 by John Shepard and Mary Shepard Gin, Orrin Brown’s great-great-great-grandchildren by way of his daughter Rhoda Brown Pugh, her daughter Lucy Pugh Tillstrom, her daughter Florence Tillstrom Shepard.  The transcription in PDF is available here. Original spelling and style has been left intact.

Please join us as we follow Pvt Orrin Brown, Company E, 14th Regiment Michigan Infantry, as he marches through Georgia and the Carolinas with General Sherman, 150 years ago.

(c) 2014 for format and presentation, JC Shepard, Farmington, NM

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