Diary of Orrin Brown—Jan 5, 1865

Sherman as a Young OfficerDiary of Orrin Brown—

Thursday–Jan. 5th

We received orders this morning to be ready for fatigue duty at 6 AM, we were marched down to the city and had to work on the Fortifycations our whole Brigade was out they work a Brigade every day. We worked with a relief on hour on and one off the day was warm and pleasant. I had nothing in camp to take along for dinner and I bought some bread for my dinner it cost me $1.25. We were at work for $16 a month and board ourselves for we do not draw more than half rations enough but never mind it will be all right in the spring.

In 1836, sixteen-year-old William Sherman was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  Being the foster son of a Senator helped, but Sherman also had to pass a rigorous entrance exam.  Here he became fast friends with roommate George H. Thomas, who we saw anchor the Western Front at Nashville during the March to the Sea, and was one year behind Henry Halleck, setting the framework for the two as wary allies and long-term rivals.  U.S. “Sam” Grant, Sherman’s future boss, started at West Point in Sherman’s final year.  Sherman later related in his memoirs:

“At the Academy I was not considered a good soldier, for at no time was I selected for any office, but remained a private throughout the whole four years. Then, as now, neatness in dress and form, with a strict conformity to the rules, were the qualifications required for office, and I suppose I was found not to excel in any of these. In studies I always held a respectable reputation with the professors, and generally ranked among the best, especially in drawing, chemistry, mathematics, and natural philosophy. My average demerits, per annum, were about one hundred and fifty, which reduced my final class standing from number four to six.”



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