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 diary of Leon Countian Wilbur Wightman Gramling to see what he has been up to at the prisoner of war camp in Elmira, New York:
Transcript: Sunday, Oct. 23, 1864. Cloudy but no rain today. My health has generally been good. Read my Testament almost every day. They have a Library here now and I have a book reading. The title is “The Story of a Pocket Bible.” Very good.
The book Gramling refers to, The Story of a Pocket Bible, was written by George Eliel Sargent and originally published in 1857. It was intended as an inspirational text, told from the perspective of a Bible that passed through many owners in its lifetime. A digitized version of the book is available for free through Google Books.
Gramling’s description of the camp’s library accords with secondary histories of the Elmira prison camp, which explain that a number of religious authorities supplied the camp with reading material and ministry. The U.S. Christian Commission and the Y.M.C.A. were both involved with this effort. One annual report from the Y.M.C.A. claimed the organization had distributed 4,175 testaments, 21,735 religious newspapers, and 1,000 daily newspapers to the inmates at Elmira.
For more information on Florida in the Civil War, check out the related resources below. Also, come back tomorrow for another Civil War Voices post. We’ll be heading out to Savannah Harbor for another diary entry from Robert Watson of Key West.
Related Resources on Florida Memory:
- Florida Memory Learning Unit: Florida in the Civil War
- Florida Memory Exhibit: Distant Storm: Florida’s Role in the Civil War
Related Resources at the State Archives of Florida:
Related Resources in Print:
- Biographical Rosters of Florida’s Confederate and Union Soldiers, 1861-1865 (find in a library near you!)
- Florida in the Civil War, by Nicholas Wynne and Robert Taylor (find in a library near you!)