The day has been cool but clear. I had another bad spell today and I feel very miserable. The mail went out at 2.30 PM but I could not write any.
On 25 March, Gen. Sherman hopped a train for City Point (Hopewell), Virginia, for a sit-down meeting with Gen. Grant and President Lincoln. He left Gen. Schofield in command in Goldsboro. Kilpatrick’s cavalry were busy foraging the countryside, running three mills at Mount Olive (south of Goldsboro) to grind corn for man and beast.
The newcomers in the 9th New Jersey posting guard in town were veterans, but they weren’t used to the rough and tumble manners of Sherman’s “bummers”. Angley and Cross* recount a diarist:
Sherman’s westerners, when they came into the town, wanted to paint things red, but the orders and discipline of the men of the Ninth New Jersey did not permit conduct of this character, whereupon the Jerseymen were twitted as “white-gloved soldiers.” A number of “bummers,” having a contempt for men whose hands were covered with white gloves, got into trouble and the lock-up by attempting to do as they pleased—the Jerseymen having seen too much service and knowing their duty too well to permit themselves to be imposed upon, even by these heroes who had been on a picnicking march from “Atlanta to the sea.”
In Pvt. Brown’s own Division, Gen. James D. Morgan did not hold a high opinion of the “bummers” either. Angley and Cross relate:
I regret that I have to except anyone from praise and credit, but I have some men in my command…who have mistaken the name and meaning of the term foragers, and have become under that name highwaymen, with all of the cruelty and ferocity and none of their courage…
Not all of the depredations visited upon the countryside were by officially sanctioned troops either, as deserters from both armies and other “hangers-on of the army” were active throughout the state.