Diary of Orrin Brown—Jan 30, 1865

Gen Henry Warner SlocumDiary of Orrin Brown, Sister’s Ferry near Clyo, Georgia

Monday–Jan. 30th

We had a pretty cold night but it came off clear and warm in the middle of the day, we had company drill this AM and then we had orders for all that had loaded guns to go out and fire them off. We had company drill again this PM and dress parade at 5 PM. It is cool again this evening. The mail came in again tonight but none for me. I read 7 Chapts. in the Testament today.

Gen. Henry Slocum (continuing in command of the Federal Army of Georgia on the Left Wing) had come up from Savannah on the Georgia side, the river having flooded the causeway there.  On the 30th of January, he met Gen. A.S. Williams (in command of the XX Corps, who had come up on the Carolina side) having crossed the river by gunboat from Sister’s Ferry the day before.  As he reported:

Nearly all the country bordering the river was overflowed by water from one to ten feet in depth.  After landing on the side on which Williams’ troops were encamped I was obliged to use a row-boat in opening communications with him, yet I had not only to open communication with him but to place at the point he occupied at least 20,000 troops, with an immense train of wagons, numbering at least 1,000.

It took five days to construct a pontoon bridge, then clear flood debris and “torpedoes” (land mines) buried in the road, before building corduroy to make the roads passable.  The torpedoes did effectively slow down the Federal troops (2 troops from the 77th Pennsylvania were killed clearing this road on the 31st), yet also increased their resolve to punish South Carolina’s Original Sin as the initiators of this Great Civil War.

It is somewhat ironic that Slocum should have such trouble with boats and water.  In June, 1904, the namesake passenger steamer PS General Slocum caught fire and sank in the East River of New York City on a charter for a church picnic party, killing over 1,000 of the 1,300 passengers.



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