Wilber Wightman Gramling Diary

(From: Wilber Wightman Gramling Diary, Collection M88-70)

Wilber Wightman Gramling's diary is one of the few surviving diaries written by a Florida soldier during the Civil War.

The entries are short, concentrating on topics such as food, weather, living conditions, illnesses among the prisoners, war news, condition of family and friends, and the hope for exchange. Among the entries are seven references to Abraham Lincoln or "Abe."

Wilber Wightman Gramling lived in Leon County, Florida, and enlisted in Company K of the 5th Florida Infantry Regiment at Tallahassee on February 20, 1862. Gramling saw action with the5th Florida in several battles, including Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.

Gramling Diary

Sunday, May 22, 1864. A beautiful morning. Shower rain at noon. Health good and wound doing well. I see negroes riding out in fine carriages with their drivers. Sometimes a negro man and a white woman riding together in a carriage with a negro driver — frequently see them walking together.

Monday, May 23, 1864. Everything the same. Saw President Lincoln and Lady pass yesterday. Just saw them on their hack & could not tell how he looks. He passes here nearly every day. Some die here nearly every day. Wrote a letter to Pa and Irvin today. [1]

Tuesday, May 24, 1864. Weather very pleasant. I am in better spirits. A battery of artillery has just passed going toward the front. Lot of wounded came in this morning. Amused myself by looking at the pleasure-riding folks pass.


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Monday, Nov. 7, 1864. Weather fair and very pleasant. It is very changeable. One day freezing, the next almost boiling, comparatively. No new dispatches today. Tomorrow is looked upon as the great day. General impression is that it will be a close run between Abe and Mc. [2]

Tuesday, Nov. 8, 1864. Nothing has occurred today more than usual. Far as I know, it is quite still for election day. Generally thought that it will be a close run between Abe and Mc, rather than in the latter's favor.

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 1864. It is reported that Lincoln is ahead as far as known. Little hopes of an exchange. Heath good. Weather fair and quite pleasant.


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Thursday, Nov. 10, 1864. Weather remains the same. Some of the boys have been plundering potatoes and the Yanks stopped the rations of all until the interested parties were found out. They soon came to light.

Friday, Nov. 11, 1864. Great speculation about the election. Some say that Lincoln is elected and some say Mac. Very fair but some colder though pleasant. Great many boxes and packages of clothing come in daily for the rebs.

Saturday, Nov. 12, 1864. Very much surprised this morning to find it snowing. Has been drifting a little all day and has grown much colder. Melts nearly as fast as it falls. Irwin is well & all the boys at the Fort.

Sunday, Nov. 13, 1864. Has been quite a dull day though not uncommonly so. I get along pretty well. Have a stove and plenty wood to sit by every day and all day except late in the evening. Papers state Col. Mulford has sailed with a truce flag for Port Royal for Union prisoners about to be exchanged. [3]

Monday, Nov. 14, 1864. Have not heard who is elected yet for president — it is a very close run. I believe it inclines to be in Lincoln's favor. Weather unsettled. Little snow and very cold. Health generally very good.

Tuesday, Nov. 15, 1864. No news today, neither from the election nor from anywhere else, only it is reported that 1500 are to be exchanged from this place—well men. Very cold and snowing all day a little.


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Saturday, Nov. 19, 1864. Unusually pleasant today and fair. Seems to be no doubt but Abe is reelected. No news of interest. Health improving. Everything very quiet in camp. Bought a blanket today for 75 cents. [4]

Sunday, Nov. 20, 1864. More prisoners came in last night and today about 400 or 500. Some militia from Florida looking very bad, Louisiana and Mississippi. No news yet as I can hear. Day passed very dull.

Monday, Nov. 21, 1864. Cloudy and warm. No news. Am quite well. I have been repairing my bunk all day, whittling up plank. Today I'm nearly finished.


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Thursday, April 13, 1865. Seems to be settled that General Lee and army surrendered to Grant. Some seem to rejoice — while others lament the capture of so noble an army.

Friday, April 14, 1865. Great rejoicing throughout the U.S. Great exultation and crowing in the papers, picturing Richmond as entirely destitute of provisions and receiving the Federals with great joy.

Saturday, April 15, 1865. Excitement has only begun. Abe and Seward were murdered last night. First rumored — by a Virginian, and lastly, a S.S. clerk rumored that all Rebel officers at Washington were killed. [5]


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Sunday, April 16, 1865. Cloudy and quite cold. Lincoln's murderer is supposed to be one Booth. Johnson took his seat yesterday at 2 o'clock. Seward considered dangerous. The assassin not apprehended yet.

Monday, April 17, 1865. Cloudy and unpleasant. Various rumors reported that General Grant was assassinated also, but it is false I believe. Had bad luck with my chains today. Had two confiscated worth $1.50.

Tuesday, April 18, 1865. General Johnson has not surrendered his army. General opinion is that he will soon. Health of the camp is tolerably good at present.


Notes

[1] Wilber Gramling's father, Andrew Peter Gramling (1809-1870). Wilber's brother, Irvin (1840-1904), served with Wilber in the 5th Florida Infantry. Irvin was wounded and captured at Gettysburg. He was imprisoned at Fort Delaware and released after taking the oath on June 10, 1865.
[2] The presidential election of 1864 between Lincoln, the National Union or Republican candidate, and General George B. McClellan, the nominee of the Democratic Party.
[3] Major John Elmer Mulford (he was promoted to Lt. Col. in December 1864) was the U.S. Assistant Agent for Exchange. In November 1864, Mulford headed a prisoner of war exchange mission from Fort Monroe, Virginia, to Port Royal, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia.
[4] Lincoln won in an electoral landslide: 212 electors to McClellan's 21. The popular vote was closer: Lincoln - 2,218,388 and McClellan - 1,812,807.
[5] Secretary of State William H. Seward almost died in the assassination plot. His assailant, Lewis Powell, forced his way into the secretary's bedroom, where he stabbed and slashed the invalid Seward (he was in bed recovering from a carriage accident) repeatedly before fleeing into the night. A resident of Florida when the war began, Powell was living near Live Oak when he volunteered for military service in 1861. He served in the 2nd Florida Infantry Regiment.