Diary of Orrin Brown, Atlanta, Georgia
Got up this morning and found a heavy frost and a chilly air, there were a great many holes in this and surrounding buildings made by our shell when our forces took the place. Atlanta is a verry nice City and the nicest country arround it that I have seen since I left the Ohio river. It is built principaly of Brick, about 9 AM we received marching orders, were marched about 1 1/2 miles to the Fairground where the rebs had built some nice barracks for Hospitals. Here we drew about 1/2 rations, the first we have drawn since Thursday morning, we drew today a small piece of fresh beef two hard tack and full rations of Coffee and sugar and some dried vegetables for soup, it was composed of Potatoes, Onions, Cabbage, Rice, Beans, Peas, Turnips and I don’t know what else & there was Red Peppr enough to make it as hot as we could eat it, perhaps you think it was not good well it was you know for we were hungry enough to eat raw dog if we could have got it.
The weather here today is cool and showery, our forces burned the town of Rome yesterday. There was a man came into our Barracks about noon that was taken prisoner by the rebs in August he jumped off the train down near Savannah he has been skulking in the woods three weeks, he came 200 miles mostly in the night, he said the rebs took his money and all of his clothes but his Pants and shirt. He had a new pair of $12 Boots & they took them & gave him an old pair of shoes cut full of holes. He sayes that the rebs have 48,000 of our men prisoners now but he talks as though he thought the rebs were almost panicstriken. He sayed some of the rebel officers asked him what Sherman intended to do, he told them that Sherman proposed to take Atlanta. Old Hood sayed that Sherman could not take Atlanta he sayed Atlanta was his. So it is evident that the rebs will not stand & fight like they would a year ago for Atlanta is verry strongly fortifyed & none but a discouraged army would give it up as they did. This man sayed the rebs had taken all of the Prisoners from Richmond to Savannah and they were leaving Savannah when he escaped, he was with the rebs over two months and ought to be pretty well poated. I read two Capts, in the Testament today.
Welcome to Atlanta, a city with a population of 9,554 before the war broke out. Although founded in 1837 as the terminus of the new railroad line from the North, the Western & Atlantic railroad did not arrive until 1851. The Georgia Railroad began service first, from Augusta to the east, in 1845, and the Macon & Western was completed from the southeast in 1846. A fourth rail line began service in 1854 to the southwest. By the time of the Civil War, Atlanta was a regional manufacturing and distribution center.
When Pvt. Brown was in Indianapolis, I touched on Civil War prisoner-of-war camps. We again encountered prisoners of war in Nashville and Chattanooga. Early in the war, each side typically paroled or exchanged officers and enlisted men captured. This gentleman’s arrangement ended in 1863, when Federal armies began enrolling black soldiers, whom the Confederacy refused to treat as lawful combatants.
The soldier Orrin met this day, if he had been a prisoner for two months would have been captured the beginning of September or the end of August, 1864. He may have put in time at Andersonville in southern Georgia, which was activated in April 1864. With Gen. U.S. Grant applying pressure on the seaboard in Virginia, the Confederates also started moving prisoners of war further South. After the fall of Atlanta, prisoners who were well enough to move were sent to Millen Junction, Georgia, and Florence, South Carolina, although many were returned to Andersonville or moved on to Savannah once Sherman began his march to the sea.