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Wilbur Wightman Gramling was born on March 30, 1843. At some point before the Civil War his parents, Andrew Peter Gramling and Elizabeth Gramling, moved from Madison County to Centerville, Leon County, with their five children. Wilbur Gramling enlisted in Company K of the Fifth Florida Regiment at Tallahassee on February 20, 1862. His brother Irvin enrolled in the same unit. Gramling missed several months' service during the winter of 1862-1863 due to illness, but otherwise was present for all the pitched battles in which the Floridians participated, including Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.
On May 6, 1864, at the beginning of the Battle of the Wilderness, Gramling was wounded in the right arm and captured by Federal troops. After spending a short time in a field hospital at Fredericksburg, Gramling was transferred to the U.S. Army General Hospital at Columbian College in Washington, D.C. and then to Lincoln General Hospital in the same city. Following this recovery, he was briefly placed in the Old Capital Prison before being sent on July 23, 1864, to the prisoner-of-war camp at Elmira, New York. One of the major Union POW camps, Elmira was noted for its particularly high death rate.
Gramling languished at Elmira for the remainder of the war. He took the oath of allegiance to the United States government on June 21, 1865, more than two months after Lee's Army of Northern Virginia had laid down its arms. Gramling's parole, signed at the time of his release, listed his place of residence as Thomasville, Georgia.
Gramling apparently lived in Centerville, Florida after the war. He died on December 3, 1870, from a lung ailment contracted at Elmira. He was twenty-seven years old at the time of his death and is believed to be buried in the Pisgah Church Cemetery in Leon County.
This collection comprises one of the very few surviving diaries written by a Florida soldier in the Civil War. It is even rarer in that it documents the experiences of a Florida serviceman who was incarcerated in a Union prisoner-of-war camp. The entries are relatively 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. Of particular interest is Gramling's May 23, 1864, entry in which he mentions seeing President and Mrs. Lincoln pass by his prison in a carriage. The original diary entries were written in ink in a small black pocket diary.
Additional Physical Form:
Typescript also available.
Location of Originals/Duplicates:
Mr. Owen Gramling, Jr. is the great-nephew of Wilbur Wightman Gramling.
Electronic Records Access:
Subject Access Fields:
Confederate States of America. Army. --Florida Infantry Regiment, 5th.
Military prisons. Wilderness, Battle of the, Va., 1864. Military hospitals.
Elmira (N.Y.) Fredericksburg (Va.) United States History Civil War, 1861-1865