Diary of Orrin Brown—April 20, 1865

Tryon Palace RebuiltDiary of Orrin Brown, New Bern, North Carolina

Thursday–Apr. 20th

It clouded up this morning and it has been showery all day. We drew fresh boiled beef this morning. I went out this afternoon and sold a pailfull of Lemonade for $1.20 then I went to the sutters and got 35 cts worth of Butter. I read 6 Chapt. today. There was an order came here signed by Gen. Sherman stating that he was going to have his army on their road home in a few days.

New Bern (aka New Berne) North Carolina, population about 30,000, was settled in 1710 by Swiss and Palatine German immigrants.  The town served as the British colonial capital, and briefly after the Revolution as State capital, as the largest city in the state at that time with a population of 2,500 in 1800.  New Bern became a thriving seaport in the Triangle Trade between England, Africa, and the Americas.

Early in the Civil War, on 14 March 1862, Union Gen. Burnside had captured the city in the first Battle of New Bern.  On 1-3 February 1864, Confederate troops and naval forces led an unseccessful attack on the city. The city attracted many escaped slaves as an outpost of Federal control during the war.  After the war, the area developed the timber economy, which thrived into the 1920s.  Today, the area is known as a retirement community.

New Bern plays a prominent role in Diana Gabaldon’s later Outlander novels, in addition to Cross Creek (Fayetteville).  Tryon Palace, in which the Outlander heroine was briefly imprisoned, was built in 1770 as the colonial government house, but was burned in the 1790s.  The Palace was reconstructed in 2008.



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