Diary of Orrin Brown—Feb 1, 1865

Unruly Conduct 1865Diary of Orrin Brown, Sister’s Landing, Georgia

Wednesday–Feb. 1st

We are haveing beautifull weather just now, the nights are just cool enough to sleep good and it is warm and pleasant through the day. I was put under guard and made to carry a fence rail two hours but it was done through a false report of some of the company. We had company drill at 1PM and drill parade and Battalion drill at 4.30 PM. We drew one days rations of fresh Beef today. I wrote a letter to J. Meeker. I read 6 Chapts. in the Testament today whech finished the Book of Mathew.

Army discipline is never taken lightly, but I am surprised how Pvt. Brown seems to wave off being falsely accused (and punished), but it seems to be the typical attitude for the time.  While courts martial were the rule, often under the pressures of time the commanding officer would dole out punishment on the spot.  Petty offenses, like shirking camp chores or not taking care of equipment would earn extra duties.  Punishment such as carrying a rail, standing on a barrel or wearing a sign would have been reserved for something more serious, such as insubordination, thievery or sleeping on guard duty.  Other times, particularly in artillery units, the offender would be tied to the spare wheel of the caisson and left for a few hours.  Capital crimes, including cowardice or desertion, could draw the firing squad, but often resulted in the villain’s simply being drummed out of the unit and left stranded to his own devices.  So our hero may have been made to do guard duty carrying a log, or it could read a guard was put to watch him hold a log for two hours akin to the stocks.  It makes one wonder.

Thank you for following Pvt. Orrin Brown on his march with Gen. Sherman.



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