Diary of Orrin Brown—April 11, 1865

One-mule drag. Wayne County, North CarolinaDiary of Orrin Brown, New Bern, North Carolina

Tuesday–Apr. 11th

We drew our Coffee and Hardtack again this morning and a small piece of Salt Beef but we have notheng to cook it in so it will not do us much good. We had a damp night and it is still cloudy but warm. I read 4 Chapts. today. We drew our cup of Coffee and one days rations of Hardtack tonight. There was a rhumor came this PM that Lee had Surendered with his whole army to Gen. Grant and there was a salute fired in Newberne on the strength of it. I went at here to a little Lake a fishing this PM but did not catch any. There has been a high South wind blowing most all day.

While many of us are taught in school that the Civil War ended at Appomattox, Civil War Daily reminds us today that Confederate President Jefferson Davis, camped out at Danville, Virginia, certainly hadn’t got the message yet.  And Gen. Johnston still held his army at Smithfield, attempting to block Sherman’s route to the North Carolina capital at Raleigh.  Johnston was also impressing any and all livestock, goods and materials he could find between the two armies.  This won no love from the locals, who needed their horses and mules for spring fieldwork.

As Pvt. Brown mentioned as the reason for his evacuation, Gen. Sherman did issue marching orders for the 10th of April.   Slocum’s left wing left Goldsboro on the direct roads west to Smithfield.  The right wing was to march by way of Pikeville and Whitley’s Mill, while Kilpatrick’s cavalry rode by way of Cox’s Bridge.  After skirmishes on the 10th, Johnston pulled back to Raleigh.

About noon on the 11th, the Third Division of the XIV Corps entered Smithfield to light resistance.  The last Confederate troops burned the bridge across the Neuse River as the retreated towards Raleigh.  Gen. Sherman suspended the usual policy of destruction of mills and factories, in response to a query from Gen. Howard:

I will wait our reception at Raleigh to shape our general policy. You will instruct General Logan to exact bonds that the factory shall not be used for the Confederacy.  Of course, the bond is not worth a cent, but if the factory owners do not abide by the conditions, they cannot expect any mercy the next time.

That evening, however, there was great jubilation and celebrations when the word came in of Lee’s surrender.  Yet the question of how this War was going to end finally was still very much up in the air.



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