Diary of Orrin Brown, Atlanta, Georgia
Our forces blowed up & burned all public Buildings in Atlanta today. They finished taring up the Rail Road to Chattanooga today. There has a large number of troops came in today and with them came our Regt. I was assigned to Co. E 14th Mich. Inft. under Capt. Earnest. Lieutenant Kelley having command of the Company at present. We drew our tents and other clothing then went back to our old tent to stay over night. The day has been warm and pleasant.
Finally, Pvt. Orrin Brown found the 14th Regiment. Now, who was Capt. Earnest? It might have been Caspar Ernst; the NPS database has him in Company F & S (Battle Unit Note – E), rank in First Lieutenant, rank out Major. Asking about a Kelley in the Civil War, you might as well ask for Smith. Henry K. Kelley, Company A, did rank in Third Sergeant and rank out Second Lieutenant, although Patrick Kelley, Company C, B and E, ranked in Private and ranked out as Captain.
This is an instance where the ease of the interwebs lets us down. I’m certain if I went to a sufficiently stocked library, I could look up the rosters of the 14th Regiment, Michigan Infantry, and run my fingers down the rolls of the 3,167 men served. Due to my current remote location outside the Great Lakes State, and my impatience in blogging rather than writing a research tome, the question remains unanswered for now.
Edit: Reading ahead to 27 Feb 1865, Pvt. Brown gives a run-down of his Commanding Officers on the March, including Capt. Casper Earnest, 1st Lieut Patrick Kelley, 2nd Lieut Edward S. Simonds, Orderly Sg. Harvey M. Smith, 2nd Sargt Wm. H. Adams 3rd Sgt Saml. M. Browner, and 4th Sgt. Wm. Dunbar.
This week’s 150th anniversary of the start of Sherman’s march to the sea (yes, they will get on with it soon) has brought out some pointed commentary on the General’s Total War tactics.
Megan Kate Nelson wrote in the New York Times’ Disunion column of mixed feelings of the troops for the seemingly “uncivilized” conduct of the Siege of Atlanta, and rumors of the coming March. She writes of Union Lt. Col. Charles Fessenden Morse, a Harvard-trained architect and engineer, who had been charged with much of the preparation for destruction of what the Confederate army hadn’t destroyed on their way out of town. On the evening of 15 November, he sat on a roof and watched the city burn:
It was a “magnificent and awful spectacle,” he wrote later to his brother Robert. “For miles around the country was as light as day, … the flames shooting up for hundreds of feet into the air.” Earlier, over the roar and crackle of the flames, Morse had heard the 33rd Massachusetts band serenade Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, who ordered the city torched. “It was like fiddling over the burning of Rome.” The next morning, nothing was left of the city “except its churches the city hall and the private dwellings. You could hardly find a vestige of the once splendid R.R. depots, warehouses, &c. It was melancholy,” Morse lamented, “but it was war, prosecuted in deadly earnest.”