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Diary of George Nichols, March 8, 1865


Diary of George Nichols, March 8, 1865


George Nichols, a lieutenant-colonel under Major-General William Sherman in the Union Army, wrote of the army’s entrance into North Carolina, on March 8, 1865, in Richmond County. Nichols addressed his belief that the residents of North Carolina were better than South Carolinians because of “the strong Union sentiment which has always found utterance here.” Nichols also associated North Carolinians with a better work ethic than their neighbors in South Carolina. Nichols commented on how much better the fields and barns were maintained by those in North Carolina. Nichols fully expected that North Carolina would embrace “the old flag again if they can have the opportunity.” Nichols, not an elite in the Union Army, demonstrated the belief held by men in the army, that North Carolina and its citizens would embrace the Union once it came because of the supposed pro-Union sentiment. Nichols found out a short time later that the Union sentiment he expected to find was not prevalent. Above is an image of the original cover page from Nichols’ book.


George W. Nichols


George Nichols, The Story of the Great March: From the Diary of a Staff Officer, ed. Maurice Filler (Williamstown, MA: Corner House Publishers, 1984), 221-223.




Tim Justice




Laurel Hill, North Carolina
Richmond County, North Carolina

Original Format



         The line which divides South from North Carolina was passed by the army this morning. It was not in our imagination alone that we could at once see the difference between the two states. The soil is not superior to that near Cheraw, but the farmers are a vastly different class of men. I had always supposed that South Carolina was agriculturally superior to its sister state. The loud pretensions of the chivalry had led me to believe that the scorn of these gentlemen was induced by inferiority of the people of the Old North State, and that they were little better than “dirt-eaters;” but the strong Union sentiment which has always found utterance here should have taught me better.

        The real difference between the two regions lies in the fact that the plantation owners work with their own hands, and do not think they degrade themselves thereby. For the first time since we bade farewell to salt water I have today seen an attempt to manure land. The army has passed through thirteen miles or more of splendidly-managed farms; the corn and cotton fields are nicely plowed and furrowed; the fences are in capital order; the barns are well built; the dwelling-houses are cleanly, and there is that air of thrift which shows that the owner takes a personal interest in the conduct of affairs.

        Our men seem to understand that they are entering a state which has suffered for its Union sentiment, and whose inhabitants would gladly embrace the old flag again if they can have the opportunity, which we mean to give them, or I am mistaken as to our future campaigns


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George Nichols Cover.jpg


George W. Nichols, Diary of George Nichols, March 8, 1865, Civil War Era NC, accessed April 15, 2024,