I think it was Winsor who copied the diary, as there is not one of his own in the papers we have, only letters home to his wife. His sister, Adrianna, married my great-great grandfather, Daniel Smith Kimball.
What lies in these pages are the tales of a group of men, banded together by war, trying to make sense of what they were doing, being courageous in captivity and noting those who did not survive. I cannot imagine what it was like to see a fellow soldier, a friend and brother, perish.
On August 18, 1864, the company was taken prisoner after an unsuccessful attempt at battle on the Weldon Road in Petersburg. There, they were taken into Petersburg, then moved to an "island in the Appomattox land". from there to the railroad station to board a train to Richmond. They were placed in the Libby Office, where a complaint was waged, and ignored. From Richmond, they were transferred to Belle Isle, "about 1100 men, no tents, sun very hot, dew very heavy. Received about 1000 prisoners at night."
From Belle Isle, the men were taken South to Danville, Westboro, Greensboro and, finally, Salisbury Prison, SC.
October 16, Sunday
Eleven men perished last night. Cap't Davis of the 155 N.H. shot dead by the guard, for no provocation whatever. Sun set hazy with the appearance of a storm."
December 25, 1864
A dull Christmas. No signs yet of getting out of here. The mortality continues about the same. About 3500 men have died since Oct. frequent rumors of Union success. There has been a rumor also of the death of Jeff Davis.
The Year has closed and I am a prisoner still. Year closed stormy. News scarce, mortality on the increase. Rations very poor, no meat and but little bread.
The last entry of the diary is from Feb. 23, 1865. It reads:
Rained during the night, marched at 8 A.M., passed through Lexington, crossed several streams, very slow and hard marching. Halted at night after making ten miles.
As the last entry of a mortality in the 16th Infantry is on Feb. 19, I assume that William and Winsor had been released. In all 37 of the men died and 8 deserted.
I cannot read this diary, and that of my great-great-grandfather, without felling swells of emotion within me, mostly sadness and anger.
This diary and others like it, are treasures. Links to the past from which we can learn from and, in some cases, relate to. I always tease my dad about the things that he keeps squirreled away in his office. Some of them are really not that interesting, but the things that are need to be kept, shared with the family, so that we will know who our ancestors are and what they did to help form the nation in which we live.
Family. History. Inseparable, needful and ours.