October 16, 1864: Robert Watson Diary Entry

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.

Today we return to the Confederate ship Savannah to check in on Key Wester Robert Watson. It looks like the chill he spoke of earlier in the month has taken a turn for the worse:

Excerpt from a transcript of the diary of Robert Watson (Collection M76-139, State Archives of Florida).

Excerpt from a transcript of the diary of Robert Watson (Collection M76-139, State Archives of Florida).

The term “holystoning” refers to the use of a chunk of soft sandstone to scrub the deck of a ship. A couple of possible origins exist for the “holy” part of the word. Some say that since it seems to have originated with the British Navy, it could be a reference to the ruined churches on the Isle of Wight where British naval crews often acquired the stones. Others say it’s a reference to the fact that holystoning often required a sailor to remain on his knees for long periods of time, as though in prayer.

As for Robert Watson, he was intent on demonstrating that scraping, cleaning, and holystoning were not enough to bring him down, even with a possible serious illness in the works. We’ll be hearing from him again later in the month. Until then, check out the related resources below, and don’t forget to join us tomorrow for another edition of Civil War Voices. We’ll be back in the Executive Office in Tallahassee to hear from Governor John Milton.

Related Resources on Florida Memory:

Related Resources at the State Archives of Florida:

Related Resources in Print:

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