Diary of Orrin Brown—Dec 9, 1864

Land Mines (in KY)

Diary of Orrin Brown, Dr. Cuyler’s Plantation, near Rincon, Georgia

Friday–Dec. 9th

We left camp at 9 AM marched back to where we went into camp first last night, the regt. haulted and I was detailed to go on about 1 1/2 miles to assist in building a bridge but the Pioneers had the bridge about done when I got there. I lay there untill the regt. came up then fell in and we marched about 2 miles and went into camp about 15 miles from Savannah at about 5 PM, we just had time to get supper when we received orders to pack up, we fell in and marched about 1 1/2 miles and went into Camp in a cotton feld about 8 PM.

Our advance came in contact of a rebbel battery planted in the road this afternoonm they did not fire but two shots, we lost one man killed and 2 wounded and 3 horses killed. They then retreated and we marched right along. The rebs were badly scared for when we came to where their battery was we found Guns Catridge boxes blankets etc. etc. scattered all along the road. I learned afterward that the cause of their scare was two or three charges shot at them from one of our batteries and the rebs had quite a fort. Read 5 Chapt. in Testament.

Sources record that Lt. Coe, commanding the Union battery, was one of the men killed in the cannonade.  In front of the XIV Corps, Rebel troops had planted crude land mines in the road.  This device (torpedoes they called them) had been invented by Confederate Gen. Gabriel J. Rains and first used in 1862 during the Peninsula Campaign.  This ticked off Gen. Sherman as a cowardly act.  As he recalled in his memoirs:

There had been no resistance at that point, nothing to give warning of danger, and the rebels had planted eight-inch shells in the road, with friction-matches to explode them by being trod on. This was not war, but murder, and it made me very angry. I immediately ordered a lot of rebel prisoners to be brought from the provost-guard, armed with picks and spades, and made them march in close order along the road, so as to explode their own torpedoes, or to discover and dig them up.

The mores of war are an ever ebbing flow (“mores” itself a term not coined until well after the war).



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