Diary of Orrin Brown—May 4, 1865

David's Island, New YorkDiary of Orrin Brown, Davids’ Island, New York

Thursday–May 4th

We lay anchor till 10.30 AM when the Hospital Boat Thomas PWay came alongside took us on board and at 11 AM we were on our way for Grant, U. S. Hospital situated on Davids Island 20 miles up east river from N.Y. City. We passed on our trip some of the most beautifull scenery that I ever saw. We arrived at the barracks about 1 PM and found it a very beautifull place and every thing kept in the very best of order. I expect there are representatives here fron nearly every county in the U. S. We have a good comfortable beds and good living, I feel tolerably well today with the exceptions of a slight cold taken on the boat. They are sending men away from here to the City to be discharged every day so I think my turn will come after a while and I will be as patient as possible. I read 5 Chapts. today. I wrote a letter home today.

Davids’ Island is a 78-acre island off the coast of New Rochelle, New York, in Long Island Sound.  The island was leased by the U.S. Army during the Civil War from hotelier Simeon Leland for De Camp General Hospital.  The U.S. Government purchased the island after the war, and later became known as Ft. Slocum.  It served as a recruitment and training center until 1965.  The City of New Rochelle purchased Davids’ Island in 1967.  In 2008, the city demolished the remaining army structures, with plans to turn the island into a park.

Brown - Record of Service Michigan Volunteers 14th RegimentPvt. Brown continues his daily diary for a couple more weeks at the hospital until he is discharged on 23 May 1865.  I will leave his journey here, however.  Orrin will recover enough to go home to Berrien County, Michigan, and return to the sawmill and farm his brother kept going during the last six months.  It must not have been an altogether happy return, as he was soon divorced, though he eventually remarried.  His son Elroy Orrin Brown, born in 1859, married, had three daughters, and died in 1943.  His daughter Rhoda E. Brown, born in 1862, also married and had a daughter and a son, before she passed away in 1894.  Orrin and his second wife raised Rhoda’s children—the daughter, Lucy Marie Pugh, I knew when I was very young.

You can read the entire story here in PDF, as transcribed by my sister, Mary, and I.  Credit to Mary as well for today’s photo from New York.



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