Diary of Orrin Brown—March 12, 1865

Bridge over Cape Fear RiverDiary of Orrin Brown, Fayetteville, North Carolina

Sunday–Mar. 12th

We had a quite a cool night but the day came off Clear and pleasant. We got word about 10 AM that the mail was going out at 1.30 PM and the boys all shouted and started for their Pens paper and went to writing letters and about noon they told us that we would get a mail at 5 PM and then there was another shout went up and the boys waited with all the patience they could muster. I was surely as anxious as any of them but when 5 Oclock came it brought no mail and about 6 PM we had orders to pack up. We broke camp marched down through the town crossed the river, the name of the river is Cape Fear. We then marched out about 1 1/2 miles and came upon the rebbel pickets. The brigad haulted all but the 14th and they marched out in the advance, drove in the rebbel pickets and persued them for about two miles and then we put out our pickets for the night. There was quite a number of shots exchanged we killed one reb and captured two prisoners with loss on our side. When our forces came up the rebs were just tearing up a bridge but a few shots from our men stoped their fun. We signed for clothing tonight after we went on Picket so I think we will not leave here for a day or two yet. I wrote a letter home today. I read 6 Chapt in the Testament today.

At Fayetteville, Sherman was able to reestablish communication down the Cape Fear river to Wilmington, and with the Federal command beyond.  This promised regular supplies coming up-river, but Sherman’s primary objective was the railroad at Goldsboro, further north.  In the meantime, Sherman arranged to send refugees following his train downriver, either on emptied supply boats or by foot overland, accompanied by the 116th Illinois Infantry along with men eligible for discharge.  There were estimated to be about 25,000 refugees with the several columns after their march through South Carolina.



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