Diary of Orrin Brown—Feb 25, 1865

Map of Memphis c1862Diary of Orrin Brown, Rocky Mount, South Carolina

Saturday–Feb. 25th

It rained all night & till about 8 AM steady and it has been damp and cloudy all day. Our regt. went out on detail at 5.30 PM. I was not very well and got excused from duty and my eyes have been nearly smoked out of my head this PM.

After the despair of Louisville and redemption at Shiloh, William T. Sherman was promoted to Major General, and hitched his rising star to U.S. Grant for the remainder of the war (and beyond).  However, after chasing the Confederates out of the railroad center of Corinth, Mississippi, at the end of May 1862, Sherman was assigned in July to oversee occupation of the city of Memphis. Here he was faced with a porous trade in goods and intelligence between the city and Southern agents.  Essentially, he faced what we recognize today as an un-uniformed insurgency.    Sherman had experience with guerrilla tactics, such as he saw the Seminoles use in Florida, but at this point he still saw the general Southern population as misguided countrymen rather than as potentially hostile combatants.  Biographer Robert O’Connell notes:

From the perspective of the twenty-first century, it’s easy to see that such insurgencies were and remain capable of paralyzing whole armies, turning them into targets, not instruments of coercion, emasculating them strategically.  This Southern rebellion had all the ingredients for success—inspired leadership, a clever and bellicose support network, and a commitment to wait out the invader.

The pattern of irregular warfare in parallel to the regular Confederate army was repeated across the border states, from Kansas and Missouri to western Virginia and East Tennessee.  Memphis proved an important training site, with lessons to be applied throughout Sherman’s career.



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1 Response to Diary of Orrin Brown—Feb 25, 1865

  1. Pingback: Diary of Orrin Brown—March 7, 1865 -JC Shepard(dot)com

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