The following post is part of an ongoing series entitled Civil War Voices from Florida. Each day in October 2014, Florida Memory will post a document from the collections of the State Archives of Florida written exactly 150 years before that date, in October 1864.
We begin our journey through October 1864 with a diary entry from Wilbur Wightman Gramling, a young private from the Tallahassee area who enlisted in Company K of the Fifth Florida Infantry in February 1862. After seeing action at Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, Gramling was captured by Union soldiers on May 4, 1864 during the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia. His right arm was wounded during the battle, and he spent time in Union hospitals at Fredericksburg and Washington, D.C. before being transferred to a prisoner-of-war camp in Elmira, New York.
During the camp’s existence, more than 12,000 Confederate soldiers were brought there. Estimates suggest that nearly 25% of these inmates died of diseases brought on by poor sanitation, malnutrition, or exposure to cold weather. Wilbur Wightman Gramling wrote about these conditions on numerous occasions in a small black pocket diary that he kept until the end of the war. The State Archives of Florida holds type-written transcripts of the diary, from which today’s document is taken:
Transcript: Saturday, Oct. 1, 1864. No news of interest stirring today. Weather is cloudy and very cold and unpleasant. Don’t expect to sleep much tonight as I only have one blanket to cover with and it is quite thin. Don’t see how I am to live this winter without more cover.
We’ll hear more from Wilbur Wightman Gramling several times this month. In the meantime, check out our list of helpful related resources below, and join us tomorrow on Civil War Voices from Florida for a diary entry from Robert Watson, a Key West native who joined the Confederate Coast Guard.
- Wilbur Wightman Gramling Diary at the State Archives of Florida
- Florida Memory Learning Unit: Florida in the Civil War
- Florida Memory Exhibit: Distant Storm: Florida’s Role in the Civil War
- Book: Biographical Rosters of Florida’s Confederate and Union Soldiers, 1861-1865 (find in a library near you!)