Diary of Orrin Brown—April 28, 1865

Harper's 24 Oct 1874Diary of Orrin Brown, New Bern, North Carolina

Friday–Apr. 28th

I feel rather unwell after my trip to the City and I think that I have taken some cold. There was about 50 men left here for the front this morning. The day has been very warm and sultry. I read 4 Chapts. today.

On 28 April 1865, Lincoln’s funeral train stopped at Cleveland, Ohio.  In North Carolina, Gen. Sherman prepared his armies to march out of the state.  First, he planned to return to Savannah, Georgia, and wrote to Gen. Grant:

We should not drive a people into anarchy, and it is simply impossible for our military power to reach all the masses of their unhappy country.

I confess I did not desire to drive General Johnston’s army into bands of armed men, going about without purpose, and capable only of infinite mischief…. I envy not the task of ‘reconstruction,’ and am delighted that the Secretary of War has relieved me of it.

Would the many troubles of Reconstruction and failures afterward been avoided if Sherman’s Peace had been granted?  Sherman the tactician saw the danger ahead.  And the South did suffer the “bands of armed men” in the Ku Klux Klan and other conspiracies of hate lasting much longer than the Civil War itself.  What might have been….



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