Diary of Orrin Brown—March 10, 1865

“Dawn attack by Confederates at Monroe’s Crossroads.”

Diary of Orrin Brown, on modern Ft. Bragg outside Fayetteville, North Carolina

Friday–Mar. 10th

We broke up camp at 7.30 AM but our Brig. was train guards today and did not start out till about 10 AM some of the train did not get in till after daylight this morning on account of the bad road yesterday. I was quite lame and had to ride in the ambulance today but the road was rough and muddy and I had to walk some. The rebbel cavelry attackted our cavelry this morning and captured 100 of our cavelry with horses and equipments and 2 pieces of Artilery and several of their prisoners held by our cavelry. But our cavelry rallied and recaptured the artilery and some of the men and drove the rebs all through the woods. We marched 11 miles today and went into camp about 9 PM. The weather has been cool and cloudy today. Jim Gifford had his gun stole today while the regt. was resting.

The Battle of Monroe’s Cross Roads of which our hero accounts took place when Maj. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick (known as “Kilcavalry” / “Kill-Cavalry” for his recklessness) got surprised in the night.  Kilpatrick’s cavalry had been screening Sherman’s left flank, and last night encamped at the Charles Monroe House near a settlement known as Solemn Grove.   He planned to cut off Confederate cavalry coming down the Morganton Road from reinforcing retreating Rebel troops at Fayetteville.

Map from Fiery Dawn (NPS)

Instead, Confederate Gen. Wade Hampton, operating jointly with Gen. Joe Wheeler, scouted the Union position during the night and gave Kilpatrick a wake up call at 5:30 in the morning.  Fleeing his bed and mistress in his nightshirt, Kilpatrick hid in a nearby swamp while the Rebels looted his camp before recovering command (and assumably his pants).  Union infantry marched back in relief and Hampton disengaged by mid-morning, withdrawing toward Fayetteville.  There were limited casualties on either side, but the engagement gave Confederate Gen. William J. Hardee time for an orderly withdrawal across the Cape Fear River, burning the bridge as he went.

The battlefield, now part of Hoke County, is located on the grounds of modern Fort Bragg, where the site still is used to offer lessons to military officers.  There are monuments marking the site; special permission is required to enter the restricted area.



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