Diary of Orrin Brown, Lumpkin’s Station (Munnerlyn), 10 miles north of Millen, Georgia
It is cloudy and cool this morning and some sign of rain. We had orders to march at 7AM but did not move till about noon we marched very slow till 2.30 PM and haulted for dinner. Here the Major came up and asked the privalige of reading my diary, he is now reading it, he spoke well of it and asked me my name and occupation. We marched very steady in the afternoon we had a great deal of swamp to march through tonight and did not go into camp till 3 Oclock AM.
Major Thomas C. Fitz Gibbon, 14th Michigan Regiment Infantry, enlisted on 19 September 1861 as a Captain at the age of 27, and was promoted to Major on 25 March 1863. Before the war he had been a US Mail agent on the Detroit & Milwaukee Railroad. In Detroit, he had been involved with two Detroit-area Catholic newspapers. During the war, he edited his regimental newspaper, The Sentinel, and corresponded with at least one Union newspaper. The Major would be injured on 27 February 1865, near Lancaster, South Carolina, when he was shot under a white flag of truce trying to deliver a message to Confederate Gen. Wade Hampton. He subsequently died on 5 June 1865, at his home in Detroit. His widow, Sarah Fitzgibbon, left with three children, received a pension after the war. They are buried in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Capt. George W.Pepper recounted a story from the Major’s service at Atlanta in August, 1864. Durking a skirmish on 7 August, 14th Michigan troops under Fitzgibbon’s command drove Rebel forces from their rifle pits and captured some 50 prisoners, including three officers. Mortally wounded, Confederate Lt. William R. Ross, 66th Georgia, implored the Major to spare his life. Fitzgibbon had him taken to the rear and promised to send his personal effects home, including a fine ambrotype of his fiancé, Miss Emma Jane Kennon, of Oxford, Georgia. After several days, a truce was called to bury the dead, allowing a meeting between several officers where Ross’ belongings were conveyed, along with a letter from Fitzgibbon to Ms. Kennon, which read in part:
“From his dying lips he told me he loved you above all else in the world; and committing these effects to my charge, his last sigh was turned into a prayer that I would, if possible, send you your likeness, which he carried next to and in his hart.
The asperities that demagogues engender in the minds of those separated from the field of battle and the scenes of death—the unnatural bitterness of feeling that has seemingly soured the better nature of our countrymen and women in both extreme sections of our common country—finds neither home nor resting place in the hearts of this army of ours, and I assure you that I took as tender and respectful hold and care of your betrothed as if he were my own comrade or brother. The innocence depicted in his fair and beautiful face—his heroic efforts at staying the retreat of his fleeing comrades, won my heart and assured him its sympathies and respect.