Diary of Orrin Brown—Dec 16, 1864

Civil War - December 1864 Diary of Orrin Brown—

Friday–Dec. 16th

We cleaned up our street this morning then went out on drill for one hour but had no duty to do in the afternoon. The day has been very warm. The rebs are throwing shell up through here this evening and our battery is returning the complement. The weather is still clear and warm.

The Confederate collapse at the Battle of Nashville, and Sherman’s siege of Savannah, Georgia, left only Virginia firmly in Rebel hands by mid-month December, 1864, and that hold was loosening as well.  Lee and Grant sat entrenched in front of Richmond and Petersburg, but by this time Lee was feeling the worst of attrition with his 57,000 Southern troops defending against 125,000 Federal troops.  Earlier in the month, Grant had sent Maj. Gen. G.K. Warren on a raid towards Stony Creek against the Weldon & Petersburg Railroad, destroying track along the way.  In Southwest Virginia, Maj. Gen. George Stoneman brought 5,500 cavalry from Knoxville against CSA Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge at Saltville, scattering the Kentucky troops before returning to Tennessee. Later in the month, Gen. Phil Sheridan would send cavalry under George Custer on a raid into the Shenandoah as well.

In the wake of Sherman’s March, Confederate militia forces had re-occupied Atlanta, but posed no real threat to Federal authority.  Gen. John Bell Hood retreated from Nashville to Corinth, and then Tupelo, Mississippi, before being relieved of command of the Southern Army of Tennessee.  Both Confederate and Federal cavalry continued raiding behind enemy lines—Brig. Gen. Hylan Lyon‘s long ride as far north as Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Brig. Gen. John Wynn Davidson‘s unsuccessful Federal raid out of Baton Rouge on the Mobile & Ohio railroad in southern Mississippi, and Gen. Benjamin Grierson‘s successful late-month raid out of Memphis on the Mobile & Ohio Railroad in northern and central Mississippi.

In retrospect it may be easy to see December, 1864, as the beginning of the end of the Confederacy.  On the ground, there was hope but certainly much trepidation for the new year.



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