Diary of Orrin Brown—March 18, 1865

Turpentine StillDiary of Orrin Brown, on the Bentonville Road in Bushy Swamp, Sampson County, North Carolina

Saturday–Mar. 18th

We broke camp at 5.30 AM, I got my blanket carried today but had to carry the rest of my things muself. Our Brig. was in the advance today and about 11 AM were fired into by a rebbel battery we lost one man killed and two wounded. Our brig. formed in line of battle and the rebs ran for dear life. The weather has been clear and warm yesterday and today with a gentle breeze. I saw Peach and Plumb trees all out in blossom today which looked very nice. After our brigade formed in line they drove the rebs about a mile and haulted, it was then 11 AM and we lay there till and went into camp on the line, and two companies of our regt. went on picket. I read 5 Chapts. in the Testament today.

Morgan’s Second Division report in the Official Records relates:

Division moved at 5:30 a.m. toward Goldsborough. Foragers found the enemy six miles out, drove them back to Bushy Swamp, where they opened with artillery on them.  First Brigade [Pvt. Brown’s] was deployed on right and Second Brigade on left of the road, Tenth Michigan and Thirty-fouth Illinois as skirmishers.  Both went forward together, when the skirmishers drove them from their position.  Command then halted by direct order of General Sherman.  At 4 p.m. were ordered to camp for the night…

North Carolina is known as the Tar Heel State due to the tar, pitch and turpentine industry created by the state’s pine forests.  Apparently, Federal troops found a number of turpentine stills in the swamps here and paused to burn them.  This of course sent up heavy black smoke that showed Wad Hampton’s cavalry exactly where Morgan’s division was advancing.



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