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Johnny Green of the Orphan Brigade

Johnny Green of the Orphan Brigade: The Journal of a Confederate Soldier

Edited by A. D. Kirwan
With a new foreword by Kent Masterson Brown
Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Johnny Green of the Orphan Brigade
    Book Description:

    John W. Green (1841-1920), an enlisted man with Kentucky's famed Confederate Orphan Brigade throughout the Civil War, fought at Shiloh, Baton Rouge, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, Atlanta and many other crucial battles. An acute observer with a flair for humanizing the impersonal horror of war, he kept a record of his experiences, and penned an exciting front-line account of America's defining trial by fire.

    Albert D. Kirwan provides a brief history of the Orphan Brigade and a biography of Johnny Green. Introductions to each chapter explain references in the journal and also set the context for the major campaigns.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5937-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Kent Masterson Brown

    The exploits and losses of the Orphan Brigade of Kentucky, without a doubt the most remarkable military organization in any Civil War theater, rival and indeed surpass those of other famous commands, including the Stonewall Brigade, the Texas Brigade, and Cleburne’s Arkansas Brigade. The Orphans campaigned over more territory (eight states), suffered higher casualties, and lost more brigade commanders than any other comparable unit in the war. And as if those trials were not enough, the brigade was never able to return to fight for its native state of Kentucky after February 1862.

    The Orphan Brigade was composed of the...

    (pp. xiii-xxxii)

    This is the story of the Civil War in the West told by a soldier in the ranks who experienced as much of it, perhaps, as any man in either army. Johnny Green, a Kentucky boy not yet twenty years of age, enlisted in the Confederate Army at Bowling Green, Kentucky, in the autumn of 1861. From then until the surrender in April, 1865, he was in continuous service, drilling, marching, or fighting.

    Green was a sensitive observer who had a flair for descriptive writing. He saw the things he should have seen and recorded them in delightful fashion. His...

    (pp. 1-20)

    Feeling that when I have been called to Heaven to join a long line of God loving ancestors, especially my dear Sainted mother who taught me to love my Creator & Heavenly Father with all my heart & to love my neighbor as myself; my daughters would have great interest in knowing many things about my life which they had not heard before; I jot down these lines.

    I was born Oct 8th 1841 on a large farm in Henderson Co Ky about 8 miles from Henderson on the Madisonville road.

    My Grand father John Green came from Fa[u]quier Co...

  6. 2 SHILOH
    (pp. 21-37)

    April 6th 1862 Sunday, each orderly Sergt shook the men of his company to waken them without noise. We wanted to surprise the Yankies & attack them at day light. We began to make coffee but just as it was boiling Genl Breckinridge galloped along the line & said, “Boys fall in. You have better work before you than eating.”

    Just then the firing commenced & we hurried towards Genl Hardee’s line who had begun the fight.⁵ As we drew near the battle we were halted & told to unsling knapsacks. We were ordered to pile them & detail a...

  7. [Map]
    (pp. None)
    (pp. 38-51)

    Our army arrived at Corinth Apr 11th, four days after the last days fight at Shiloh. Here we got tents & went into camp & cleaned up. Many of us brought from the battlefield clothes that we had captured from the quarters of yankee officers. I remember that I was delighted with some fine under clothes that I had captured until I discovered that I had captured some undesirable inhabitants along with the clothes which caused me to feel utterly disgraced until I found that nearly all the boys had received a visitation from the same uncomfortable visitors, & nothing...

    (pp. 52-61)

    Nov. 4th 1862. Genl Breckinridge’s whole force took up line of march in battle order moving towards Nashville. At night we were permitted to lie down for a short rest. At 9 oclock P.M. we fell into line again marching towards Nashville, we supposed to make an attack at day light.

    At dawn on Nov 5th Forrest¹ drove in the enemies picketts & we were formed in line ready to advance & followed up to the sound of the guns until ordered to halt. The cannons were booming but fighting in our front was only skirmish fireing. We now learned...

    (pp. 62-73)

    Dec 28th 1862. The cannon’s boom has for the past two days told us that the cavelry are constantly skirmishing with the Yankies & that our boys are being pressed back, for the firing gets closer & closer every day & to-day the whole army is formed in line of battle to meet Rosecrans. Col Thos H Hunt who was just last week granted a thirty days leave of absence has returned to us. He learned the enemy were advancing & he hastened back to join in the fight. Our boys were delighted to see him ride in & take...

  11. [Map]
    (pp. None)
    (pp. 74-85)

    On may 24th 1863 we marched to Wartrace Tenn. Orders to have three days cooked rations in our haversacks made us all fear that we were to go back to Mississippi, which proved to be true. Bragg had tried to sholder the responsibility for the failure of our charge on Friday at Mufreesboro upon Genl Breckinridge, saying that he should have made it on the previous Wednesday when the Yankies on our left were almost in a rout. But Breckinridge had asked Bragg for permission to charge on that day & Bragg after taking some of his troups from him...

  13. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
    (pp. 86-100)

    The brigade camped in a woods near Tyners station. Rations very scarce & very poor [with] the coarsest kind of meal which seemed to have been ground in a cob crusher, for actually a good deal of the cob was ground up in the meal, & the poorest kind of blue beef. This is beef packed in barrels of brine & shipped up to us, and is certainly very poor eating.

    Some of the boys killed some hogs in the neighborhood, and as the citizens had hard times to feed their families many complaints were made to head Quarters about...

  15. [Map]
    (pp. None)
    (pp. 101-114)

    On the morning of the 24th [of September] we thought we surely now would move against the enemys works & as their position was a strong one we pittied ourselves that we had not pressed upon them the day after the drubbing we gave them at Chic[k]amauga. It was after noon however before we were finally called to attention; the hour apparently had arrived for action; but instead of being ordered forward to attack the enemy we were ordered to fall back to the foot of Mission ridge. Here we attempted to build breast works, but the ground was so...

  17. [Map]
    (pp. None)
  18. 9 DALTON
    (pp. 115-123)

    We reached Dalton late in the afternoon of Nov 27th 1863. This is almost a mountainous country. Rock[y] Face Ridge looms up as a young mountain; the dirt road & the Rail Road find their way through this range by way of Mill Creek Gap & here we go into camp just out side of the Gap. It is drizzling & cold, & such a piercing wind blowing that it chills the marrow in our bones. Our wagons soon reach us in which each mess has an axe, a frying pan, a camp Kettle & a skillet & we were...

  19. 10 RETREAT
    (pp. 124-142)

    May 1st 1864. To-day we heard artillery firing at the front; the cavelry report that the enemy are getting ready to move forward.

    May 2nd. General inspection to day. Every thing is ready for an engagement.

    May 7th 1864. Our wagons all sent to the rear, & we move from our winter quarters & take position in line of battle on Rocky Face Ridge near Mill Creek Gap. The yanks came up about noon & the fighting began; pretty brisk skirmishing every day until the night of May 12th. Our sharp shooting corps was organized here & did most effective...

  20. [Map]
    (pp. None)
  21. 11 ATLANTA
    (pp. 143-166)

    July 20th 1864. A short sharp fight we had at Peachtree Creek to day. Lost seve[r] al men killed & wounded. The army is massed around Atlanta now. We were slowly moving from one position to another nearly all night July 20th & in the afternoon of July 21st set in motion & after marching in a rather aimless way nearly all day were finally placed in the trenches west of the Burkhead road. As we passed by Genl Johnston’s old Head Qrs (still occupied by him) so continuous from our men was the call for him that he came...

  22. [Map]
    (pp. None)
  23. 12 MOUNTED
    (pp. 167-180)

    Sept 19th 1864. We are back in Dixie at Forsythe Ga. The small remnant of our Brigade, now about 300 men, are gathered together here for the purpose of being mounted, with the hope in mind that the time may come when all that are left of the five thousand young men, good & true, who so gallantly gave themselves at Bowling Green Ky to the Southern cause, may press the enemy back and driving him from our beloved land reach our native Kentucky soil & there recruit our depleted ranks & redeem our state from the oppression of the...

  24. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  25. 13 SURRENDER
    (pp. 181-196)

    The night of Dec 22nd¹ 64 we evacuated Savannah, marched across the very long pontoon bridge over into South Carolina & then burned the bridge & left Sherman & his gun boats in possession of Savannah.

    It is sad indeed to realize that the yankee army has so devastated our dear Southland [and] That our armies have not yet been able to hurl them back & teach them that coercion is a sin which a wicked tyranical majority can never fasten upon a liberty loving people. Our cause is just & surely God will not let us fail. The Lord...

  26. 14 HOMEWARD
    (pp. 197-208)

    We were permitted to keep our horses & side arms. I am sorry to say that I did not keep my Sergeant Majors sword. I was foolish enough to be a little ashamed that the war should close before I was entitled to carry a commissioned officers sword.

    What to do was now a problem. $2.50 in silver, a pocket full of confederate money, a horse & one days ration, but no home & no one on whom I had any claim.

    Jim Bemis & Dr Hester & I determined to start in the direction of Talledega Ala where Dr...

  27. INDEX
    (pp. 209-220)