The following are excerpts from the diary of Joseph Flower Jr. of Hartford, a corporal in Company C of the 16th Regiment of the Connecticut Volunteers. Flower was captured in battle and was held as a prisoner of war in Andersonville, Georgia, where he died on August 9, 1864.
Andersonville was the largest and most notorious Confederate military prison camp, used from February 1864 to May 1865, after the Union and Confederacy decided to abolish prisoner exchanges. At its peak Andersonville held more than 32,000 Union prisoners on 26 acres. The death toll reached almost 13,000 mostly from malnutrition and disease. After the war the camp’s commanding officer, Captain Henry Wirz, was tried and executed for war crimes.
Courtesy of the Connecticut State Library.
April 17: Rebs attacked Plymouth about 3 in the afternoon. Heavy firing until late evening.
April 20: The town was surrendered in the morning and our troops marched out as prisoners of war.
April 22: Started off at six o’clock in the morn. –marched all day, confined at night in an open lot.
The prisoners spent the next eleven days marching to Georgia.
May 4: The first day in a prisoners’ camp.
May 9: Sixth day. It is still very hot and no rain.
May 14: Eleventh day. We had more rain last night. It is pleasant this morning. I have been down and washed myself, and a shirt and towel. I would like to be home to day very much.
May 27: Twenty-fourth day. A splendid morning. I live in hopes of getting out of this place some day. Yet at times am almost discouraged. The Cap’t. commanding the prisoners says we will be out of here in about four weeks.
May 30: Twenty-seventh day. I had the chills and fever last night and am about played out today. More Yanks came in today. Have been to see the Dr. He gave me some pills, as yet have not done any good.
June 2: The thirtieth day. I feel about bad enough this morning. The Dr. says I have got the dysentery. Afternoon. I feel a little better. We have had a thundershower. It rained right smart.
June 3: The thirty-first day. I am almost discouraged. I don’t see as I am like to get rid of the pain in my bowels. It has rained most of the afternoon. About 5 or 6 hundred more prisoners came in today.
June 4: The thirty-second day.
June 5: The thirty-third day.
June 6: The thirty-fourth day.
June 7: The thirty-fifth day.
June 12: The fortieth day. I feel better this morning but was in great suffering for about two hours last night from pain in my kidneys, the gravel I expect. A few more Yanks came in today. More rain with thunder etc.
June 17: The forty-fifth day. It still continues to rain. It is disagreeable weather about these days. I am better this morning, would like something good for breakfast but have nothing but bacon & rice. It continues to rain, rain, rain.
June 18: The forty-sixth day. It is rainy, cold disagreeable weather, especially to be laying on the ground. I am feeling right smart again and very much in want of something to eat. A few more prisoners came in this afternoon.
June 20: The forty-eighth day. Two months to day since we were captured. Afternoon. It has rained hard most all the afternoon. I feel quite smart today. There are lots of poor fellows here that have nothing for a shelter. Bosworth of Co. D died today, first one of the 16th.
June 23: The fifty-first day. It is a most lovely morning and I should like to be at home. I got up at 4 o’clock and had a good wash all over, and wish now I could take a little breakfast with my wife; but shall have to eat some fried bread and bacon.
June 26: The fifty-fourth day. We have not got anything for breakfast. We shall draw something this forenoon I suppose. It is fine this morning. It was nearly noon before we got anything to eat.
June 30: The fifty-eighth day. It is a pleasant morning, but I have not got anything for my breakfast; we did not draw anything last night. We may draw this forenoon and we may not. […] We did not draw until afternoon. We had a little shower this afternoon.
July 3: The sixty-first day. It is a lonely morning. I had some fresh beef for breakfast and it tasted very nice. I feel right smart this morning. If I could keep my bowels in good shape I should be all right, but I cannot on this corn feed.
July 11: The sixty-ninth day. It is cloudy and muggy this morning. One of our company died last night… I feel miserable this morning…
July 13: The seventy-first day. This morning is very fine; there is a slight breeze blowing… Three fellows were killed this morning by the caving in of a well.
July 17: The seventy-fifth day. We are going to have another hot day. I am not hungry enough to eat anything this morning. There are all sorts of rumors here in the camp today, and I wish I could believe them. 12 marines were brought in that were take on James Island and they say our forces hold the island. I hope it is so.
July 21: The seventy-ninth day. The weather is fine. Fried mush for breakfast. The Rebs are very busy throwing up breastworks just outside the stockade. It looks very much as though they expect a cavalry raid in here of Yankees and I hope they won’t be disappointed.
July 24: The eighty-second day. The weather last night was quite cool. The air this morning is very refreshing. I have no appetite at all, but enough for the kind of food we have to eat… am so weak that it is difficult for me to get around. I long for potatoes.
July 27: The eighty-fifth day. The weather is fine… I feel some-what better this morning but have lost most all my courage, no appetite, diarrhea all the time. I am very anxious to see my wife and children. There are more prisoners outside to come in. Another one of the boys is dead.
July 28: The eighty-sixth day. The weather is fair but hot and close, regular dog days. I feel about as usual this morning, very weak, no ambition but my trust is in Christ, the Savior of the world. He alone can save me.
August 2: The ninety-first day. Cloudy and looks very much like rain. [Two illegible names] of Co G have died. Most of the boys have got sore mouth and throat. Mine is quite sore. I feel some better this morning. My diarrhea is better. A very heavy thunderstorm this afternoon.
August 4: The ninety-third day, it is a lovely morning, cool and nice, but my health is too poor to enjoy it much. I am so weak that I can barely wash myself. I have the diarrhea yet and sore mouth and throat and feel very nearly played out. Eat nothing but rice.
August 5: The ninety-fourth day. It is but a little after daylight. My bones ached so I could not lay any longer and so I got up and am sitting on a log. I have got so weak that I can’t get my coat on without help, and have a bad cough. A lovely morning. My only trust is in Christ.
Corporal Flowers grave site, marked as Joseph Flowers, is number 5122 at the Andersonville National Cemetery.