DIARY OF PRISON LIFE AS WRITTEN BY AN UNIDENTIFIED CONFEDERATE OFFICER ACCOMPANIED BY SPECTACLES AND A WELL-WORN SOLDIER’S HYMN BOOK

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Item Code: 766-1026

DIARY

Here we have a very interesting account of a Confederate officer’s perspective of life as a prisoner on Johnson’s Island, which contains a day by day look at happenings in the prison. This unidentified Georgia officer covers subjects such as his capture (he even includes a list of men he has been captured with!), his transport, and prison life, which includes things such as bathing, chores, and rations to YMCA meetings, Bible study groups, hospital committee meetings—and even a prison escape! Judging from his account, he is captured at the Battle of Atlanta on July 22nd 1864 and makes his arrival at the island on the first of August. He writes through the 13th of September; no account of his exchange or release is present. The diary concludes with a missive of heartfelt gratitude but it is not addressed to anyone and is seemingly out-of-place. This officer’s outlook is very strongly influenced by his faith making his perspective heartfelt, positive, and genuine. A transcription of the diary is included.

A few excerpts of diary content:

[Aug 7th] Sunday Clear and beautiful. There could be seen no differences among the prisoners between this day and 500 others in the early part of the morning there was the same dining and some bustle and light conversation that we have on other occasions. The sutlers keep open their little stock and continue to deal it out all day; but as soon as the day advanced a little some attention was paid to religious services in brazen singing and preaching…

[Aug 9th] To-day is one to be remembered by some. The whole prison was thrown into a good excitement by the discovering that 21 officers had made their escape from the prison by the gates which were left open by the wagon hauling in lumber to-day…

[September 13th] …It soon became warm and pleasant suitable for scouring and sunning bedding. scouring being a job wh [which] was very much needed and long neglected and to-day we do the job effectually; the floor had become covered with dirt even also of [?]. we have rice alone for dinner to-day but we had a splendid breakfast of hash. to-day the prisoners in close confinement here are released. A day of joy to them…

Diary measures 5.5 inches long by 3 inches wide; both front and back covers are missing. The front page exhibits some staining. This diary contains 54 pencil-written pages of one officer’s account of life as a Rebel prisoner at Johnson’s Island. The diary itself is in fair condition. While the middle pages are held in by a somewhat stable binding, the front few pages, along with the last few pages, are very loosely attached. Any major handling will cause these already loose pages to become detached from the rest of the diary as they are literally hanging on by a thread.

SPECTACLES

Post-war pince-nez spectacles in the C-bridge style are in excellent shape with the original lenses intact. Gilt finish on the metal frames has some minor tarnishing and wear but remain in fine condition. Glasses show no breaks, chips, or cracks; attachments on the bridge are sound.

 

SOLDIER’S HYMN BOOK

Second Edition Soldier’s Hymn Book dated 1863, published in Charleston, South Carolina measures 4.25 inches by 2.75 inches; front and back covers are present but the binding is not. Pages are intact, however. Hymn book contains 271 hymns on 256 pages which exhibit foxing and staining; one page is ripped but the page is still there and is able to be read, but it is in fragile condition. The book itself is in stable condition but is cosmetically flawed.

This grouping came to the Horse Soldier together and we believe it has not been married. Some research has been devoted to the personalities in this diary, but this is certainly a grouping which merits more research.  [cls] [ph:m/l]

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