Diary of Orrin Brown—March 20, 1865

Battle of Bentonville map, 1895Diary of Orrin Brown, Bentonville, North Carolina

Monday–March 20th

The firing ceased on both sides last night after it got so dark that they could not see each other with the exceptions of occasional picket firing which was kept up all night. I packed up and went to the regt. this morning but still I was quite unwell. I learned that our company only lost 2 men wounded and none killed yesterday but our company was out on the skirmish line this morning and had one man killed. And then about 10 AM our regt. and the 16th Ill. charged the rebbel line and drove them out of their first line of works and persued them to the next line where the rebs drove our men back with their artilery a short distance where our men haulted and put up breastworks where we lay all day. It commenced raining about 2 PM and rained the rest of the day. We lost one man in the charge he was either killed or taken prisoner. I saw 20 rebs killed and about 10 or 12 wounded lying on the field the work of our regt. yesterday. Our regt. also captured two rebbel battel flags one of them was taken from the 54th Va. and they also captured a good many prisoners yesterday and some today.

Pvt. Brown joins the Battle of Bentonville

Suffering from his epilepsy or not, Orrin Brown joined his brothers in arms on the second day of his last battle of the war.  Lt. Col. Grummond had the 14th Michigan Infantry back in the Bentonville trenches on the morning of the 20th.

Battle of Bentonville, Day 2Grummond reported he heard heavy chopping across the field, and pressed a skirmish line within 20 yards of the Rebel works to prevent their shoring up defenses.  About 10 am, Capt. J. Walter Myers, Company D of the 14th Michigan, reported to Grummond that the Confederate troops to his front had started moving rapidly to their right (towards the center), which word was sent up the chain of command.  Brig. Gen. Vandever then ordered the 16th Illinois and the 14th Michigan to charge the Rebel works.  They pushed forward until facing fire from a battery of four guns.  Capt. Myers reported in the Official Records:

“I…ordered my line forward on double quick, and in a very short time the skirmishers were upon the rebel works, and as the support now came up and engaged the enemy heavily many of my skirmishers leaped over their defenses, seizing the battery horses and demanding the surrender of the battery.

Gen. Howard and the Right Wing, with Gen. Sherman, swung north and began arriving on the east end of the battlefield over the course of the morning, skirmishing as they probed the Confederates’ far left flank.  Grummond reported the 14th Michigan suffered 2 men killed, 1 officer wounded, 20 enlisted men wounded, and 4 missing for their day’s efforts.

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