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’ve come to the end of our journey through October 1864, and we’re drawing Civil War Voices to a close by checking in on the first “voice” we visited on October 1st. Wilbur Wightman Gramling, the Leon County soldier who had been imprisoned at Elmira, New York since the summer of 1864, had this to say, 150 years ago today:
Monday, Oct. 31, 1864. Weather warm and wet. We have a very good market here. The principal articles of trade are apples, cooked cabbage, Tobacco, clothing, potatoes, knives, etc. Officers have tried several times to break it up but have not succeeded and are not likely to.
Received a letter from Mrs. Sawyer yesterday. Boxes of clothing, etc. and money are being sent in daily to the men from their relatives and friends but I am somewhat among the unfortunate.
The way I spend my time. 1st. Set the table and then clean up afterwards, then 2nd, read and knock about until 3 o’clock and 3rd, it is dinner, which I have to take an active part in, working after the rest.
Gramling’s description of the daily routine at Elmira reveals that despite their difficult situation, the Confederate soldiers imprisoned there had at least a few creature comforts to enjoy. The informal trade Gramling speaks of provided soldiers with access to goods to supplement the meager rations and supplies given to them by the camp authorities. The lines of communication between the prisoners and their families appear to have been fairly open, although Gramling himself reveals that family members were not always in a position to do much more than write.
Wilbur Wightman Gramling would remain a prisoner of war at Elmira until he was paroled on June 21, 1865. He returned to his family’s home at Centerville in Leon County, Florida, but only lived another five years. Gramling died December 3, 1870 at the age of 27, reportedly from symptoms of a lingering lung ailment he contracted while imprisoned at Elmira.
The documents we have shared this month represent only a fraction of the information available on Florida and Floridians in the Civil War. Florida Memory, the State Library, and the State Archives of Florida are all excellent resources for further study, and we hope this sample will encourage you to learn more.
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:
- Wilbur Wightman Gramling Diary at the State Archives of Florida
- A Guide to Civil War Records 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!)