Diary of Orrin Brown—March 8, 1865

Jacob D Cox, 1865Diary of Orrin Brown, on Hitchcock’s Creek, outside Rockingham, North Carolina

Wednesday–March 8th

We were on the road at 6 AM. I got my Knapsack into the Ambulance today. It was very foggy this morning and about 10 AM it commenced raining and rained till about 3 PM and then it poured down almost in torrents till 10 PM. We went into camp about 7 PM pitched our tents and went to bed wet, cold, and without any supper, and that is the way a soldier enjoyes life. But all this time goes towards making up the term of service. We must have marched 24 or 25 miles today.

As Sherman’s two columns marched north, Maj. Gen John M. Schofield had been moving Federal troops inland from the ports of Wilmington and New Bern, North Carolina.  On the 8th of March, Gen. Jacob D. Cox and the XXIII Corps caught up with Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg’s forces falling back from the coast, near Kinston in Lenoir County.

The Battle of Wyse Fork ensued when Bragg—reinforced by veterans of the Army of the Tennessee newly arrived from the west—turned around and attacked the Union left.  North Carolina naive Gen. Robert Hoke captured an entire Federal regiment before Federal reinforcements plugged the lines.  Skirmishing continued through the 10th before Bragg withdrew with 1,500 casualties to the Union’s 1,100.  The Confederates had momentarily checked the Union advance, but were again on the defensive.

This engagement should not be confused with the earlier Battle of Kinston, fought on 14 December 1862, between troops under Union Gen. John G. Foster and Confederate Gen. Nathan Evans, with only several hundred casualties on either side.  The latter battle is sometimes referred to as the 2nd Battle of Kinston.  Cox later became Governor of Ohio, served as the 10th U.S. Secretary of the Interior under President U.S. Grant, and retired as the President of the University of Cincinnati.



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