Diary of Orrin Brown—April 12, 1865

Jefferson Davis, 1865Diary of Orrin Brown, New Bern, North Carolina

Wednesday–Apr. 12th

We drew our cup of Coffee and a small piece of Salt Poark for our breakfast. There was a man came in this morning with Religious Papers from the U. S. C. C. and I got a New York Observer. We drew some Bean Soup for our dinner today. There was a rhumor caime in today that Gen. Lee had sent a dispatch to Gen. Johnson and Gen. Beaurigard ordering them to surrender at once for there was not use of fighting any longer, and another rhumor says that Gen. Grant sent an order to Gen. Sherman not to attact Gen. Johnson but there are so many rhumors that we cannot tell what to give credit to. We had a nice night and it has been warm and pleasant today with a South West wind I read 4 Chapt. We drew our cup of Coffee and one days rations of Hardtack for supper.

Jefferson Davis gets the Message

The Confederate government had fled further south on learning of Lee’s surrender, making camp in Greensboro, North Carolina.  The night of the 11th, Gen. Joe Johnston left Raleigh by train to confer with Rebel President Jefferson Davis and what was left of his cabinet, their office also several railroad cars in transit.  As Angley, Cross & Hill,* relate, Johnston and Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, advised the cabinet, the “only power of government left in the President’s hands was that of terminating the war, and that this power should be exercised without more delay.”

Wikipedia relates a quote from Johnston to Davis—without attribution, I can’t confirm the source, but it seems worth repeating here:

Our people are tired of the war, feel themselves whipped, and will not fight. Our country is overrun, its military resources greatly diminished, while the enemy’s military power and resources were never greater and may be increased to any extent desired. … My small force is melting away like snow before the sun.

This was four years to the date that South Carolina opened fire on Union Fort Sumter.

*Wilson Angley, Jerry Dross, Michael Hill (2015) Sherman’s March through North Carolina: A Chronology.



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