"This Hell-upon-earth of a Prison": Samuel J. Gibson's Andersonville Diary

Transcribe the diary kept by Union soldier Samuel J. Gibson (1833-1878) while he was imprisoned at Camp Sumter in Georgia, the notorious Confederate prisoner of war camp commonly known as Andersonville Prison. Gibson was captured by Confederate soldiers on April 20, 1864, while serving with Company B, 103rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. In his diary, he documented the capture of the Federal garrison at Plymouth, North Carolina, in April 1864, war news and rumors received by the prisoners, the state of his physical and emotional health, and the deaths of fellow prisoners. In June 1864 he described Andersonville as “this Hell-upon-earth of a Prison”. His diary helped him to maintain a sense of self and time during this harrowing experience. In December of 1864 Gibson was paroled to Florence, South Carolina, where he finally had an opportunity to write a letter to his wife. His letter and diary are important evidence of POW experiences of the Civil War.

We set a 2019 Veterans Day challenge to honor the sacrifices of POWs by transcribing and reviewing all of Gibson’s writings. Volunteers completed all pages in just 36 hours! If you are interested in the writings of Union Vets, help us review Civil War Soldiers: “Disabled but not Disheartened” Campaign.