Description[Andersonville Prison]. Fair Copy of the Civil War Diary of Joseph C. Bowman detailing his service in Company 'A', 16th Iowa Infantry in operations with General William Tecumseh Sherman during the Atlanta Campaign, his subsequent capture and imprisonment at notorious Andersonville Prison following the surrender of his regiment at the Battle of Atlanta, his involvement in the Savannah and Carolina Campaigns, and his documentation of the surrender of the Confederacy's two top generals and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. The diary is copied in two parts, the first "...copied word for word from the original...January 1870, By Henrietta Weaver..." and the second by Bowman himself, beginning with the entry dated January 1, 1865, "...coppied [sic] from the original word for word this 4th day of March 1870...JC Bowman." It gives a day-to-day account of his service from January 14, 1864, through June 15, 1865.
Bowman had originally enlisted in October 1861 and re-enlisted on March 1864 with his regiment (they were re-enlisted as a veteran regiment) in Vicksburg before being sent to Georgia to support Sherman in operations to capture Atlanta. By July 21, 1864, the regiment was within sight of the city and battle was joined: "Our brigade made charge on rebel works. got repulsed, 16 men lost, 60 killed and wounded...our brigade moved to left if Leggets division..." The next day, July 22, he wrote: "Built brestworks [sic] in morning, and was attacked by rebs under Gen Hardee got flanked & our Regt. taken prisoner. part of 15th Iowa captured. 2 Cos of 13th Iowa, and 2 companies of 11th also by Claybornes division. marched to Atlanta; from there to east port. marched all night."
From this point Bowman begins the narrative of his harrowing journey to imprisonment and life in the infamous camp: "Mon [July] 25. Started under guard to march to Griffin...July 26th...report that Sherman occupies Atlanta...Wednesday 27. marched 8 mi, got to Griffin took the cars for Andersonville Prison...Thursday 28. Got into Macon at 12...Officers left there in prison. Rank and file taken on to Andersonville...Prisoners searched, and turned into corral, with 29 thousand others." Bowman describes the state of the rations in an entry a few days later, dated July 30: "Drew rations. putrid beef Bacon cornbread...75 died today." What follows are two months worth of entries of this nature, describing the rations, living conditions, the arrival of new prisoners, reports of the war, and the constant tally of sick and dead for the day. In addition, every day brought rumors of prisoner exchanges, needlessly raising the hopes of the inmates, until the dream became a reality on September 22, 1864: "All well. were exchanged at 9 AM. cars came up...under flag of truce. Rebel guards used us well..."
Bowman was immediately transferred back to his old regiment and was back to marching in nine days. He went on to participate in (and document) Sherman's Savannah and Carolina Campaigns, including his involvement in the capture of Columbia, South Carolina, and his report of the Confederate defeat at Bentonville. He mentions the surrender of Robert E. Lee, "April 12...had general order from Sherman stating the surrender of Genl. Lees army...," the death of Lincoln, "...April 18th...alwell [sic], but a gloom prevads [sic] the army on account of the reported assassination of President Lincoln...", and the surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston, also dated April 18, "...Sherman went to greensborro [sic] meet Johnston today and returned he gave Johnston until at 10:00 am to come to terms of surrender."
Found within is a 4.5" x 3.5", gelatin silver photograph of the Confederate cemetery at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois. This is a wonderful journal of the experience of a Union soldier during the final years of the war.
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