Diary of Orrin Brown—March 14, 1865

LtGen US Grant, 1864Diary of Orrin Brown, Fayetteville, North Carolina

Tuesday–Mar. 14th

The nonveterans of our regt. was mustered out today and they are to start for home tomorrow morning. The weather was clear and warm AM but clouded up and some sign of rain PM. Our Brig. had orders to clean up their guns for inspection tomorrow. I have been very unwell now for a day or two on account of a bad cold in the head. I read 4 Chapt. in the Testament today.

After breaking Vicksburg on the Mississippi, Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant was assigned to clean up the mess Gen. Rosecrans made of Chattanooga after the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863.  Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman brought the XV Corps and a division of the XVII Corps in the Army of the Tennessee, Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas commanded the IV Corps and XIV Corps (those are our boys) in the Army of the Cumberland, and Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker commanded the XI Corps and a division of the XII Corps.  After opening supply lines North, Grant shook off the Confederate siege over 23-25 November, with Union troops in pursuit.  This set up Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign of 1864 which preceded our hero’s enlistment, and cleared the way for Lincoln to promote Grant to the newly revived rank of lieutenant general (different than the the modern rank) with command of the entire Union Army in March 1864.

Lincoln had been frustrated throughout the war with his Army commanders.  Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott, a distinguished veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War was General-in-Chief from 1841-1861, ill-prepared for the disintegration of the Union Army he had built over 20 years.  Maj. Gen. George McClellan served November 1861 – March 1862, and Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck served July 1862 – March 1864.  During the gap between McClellan and Halleck, US Secretary of War Edwin Stanton exercised direct overall control.  McClellan was methodical and well-liked by his soldiers, but moved too slow for Lincoln, and Halleck (as Sherman well-knew his West Point classmate) was a master of paperwork not a commander of men.  In Grant, Lincoln found his man who could both plan strategically and adapt to the conditions in the field, as he had proved a year into his overall command.  As the President told Grant’s critics after Shiloh, “I cannot spare this man. He fights.”

On 16 February, and again today a month later, Pvt. Brown’s health failed to the point he gave out complete.  Soon we will learn the doctors believe today was his 2nd epileptic episode, just as the action heats up a final time.  The boys who had put in the time headed downriver;  I’m surprised our hero didn’t join them on transports to Wilmington at this time, although it looks like he tried his best to do his part and not fall back into the ambulances.  That would be my family, working through it instead of heading to the doctor if you could possibly help it.



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