Civil War Diaries
of William Owen, Co K., 86th NYSV

Aug 1. Heard a sermon by a Methodist 
minister from Florida. He also read in the
Macon paper (copy from the N.Y. Herald) 
that an aggreement that would affect a
speedy exchange had without a doubt been made. 
Good news to us.

Aug 2. A few prisoners came in from Gen. 
Shermans army. Report a terrible battle 
fought on the 28th of July in Atlanta. 
Terrible shower in the PM.

[transcribers note: The next few entries appear to be from 1865 or after.]

Sep 7. Three detatchments went out of 
the prison on their way to our lines for
exchange also some sick.

Sep 8. Some more prisoners left for exchange 
as we expect.

Sep 13. Left Camp Sumpter in the morning 
at sun rise. Took the cars for I do
not know where.

Sep 14. Arrived in Augusta early in the morning.

Sep 15. Arrived in Kingsville.

Sep 16. Arrived at Florance, went into the 
prisoners camp.

Sep 17. Slipped the guard with ___ of my 
friends and am now on my way to our
lines. May God prosper us.

Sep 18. In the woods living on sweet 
potatoes and beans. Traveled all night.

Sep 19. Stayed in the wood all day. 
Traveled all night.

Sep 20. Stayed in the wood all day and 
traveled all night. Met an old colored
man who proved to be our friend and gave 
us a good supper and bread to carry
with us.

Sep 21. Stayed in the wood all day and 
traveled all night. Rained hard.

Sep 22. Stayed in the woods all day and 
traveled all night, rained very hard.

Sep 23. Stayed in the woods all day. 
Traveled all night.

Sep 24. Stayed in the woods all day. 
Traveled all night.

Sep 25. Stayed in the woods all day 
and traveled a part of the night.

Sep 26. Stopped in a peace of woods 
all day. Traveled all night.

Sep 27. Stopped in a peace of woods 
all day. Came very near being discovered 
by a man hunting. Evening set out on our 
travel, only traveled part of the night.

Sep 28. Stopped in the woods all day 
and traveled all night.

Sep 29. Stayed in the woods all day and 
traveled all night. Lived high to-day
on raw potatoes, cabbage and sugar cane.

Sep 30. Stayed in the woods all day and 
traveled all night. Passed through
Charlotte and around the Danville rail-road.

Oct 1. Stayed in the wood all day and 
traveled but a short distance during the
night on account of the dark and rain.

Oct 2. Stopped by a haystack through the 
day and night.

Oct 3. Stopped in a peace of woods, rained 
hard. Ventured to approach a house and 
found that they were union people. Was 
treated very kindly by them (seems
like home).

Oct 4. Stayed in the woods all day. 
Evening went out to look for meat and

Oct 5. Stayed in the woods all , was 
treated very kindly by the union ladies.
Evening took our leave of our friends 
and started on our journey, with all the
information that they could possibly give 
us. Also a four haversacks full of bread 
and potatoes.

Oct 6. Stayed in the wood part of the day 
and traveled through the woods part of 
the day. Rained very hard.

Oct 7. Reached the Catawba river early 
in the morning, river very high from the
recent rains. But set to work and made a 
float of rails with grape-vine withs
and floated over. Traveled all night.

Oct 8. Stayed in the wood all day, came 
very near being retaken. Started out on
my journey and was taken prisoner before 
going two miles. Treated very kindly.

Oct 9. Was taken to Simonton, about 17 
miles. Rode in a bugy. Put in jail.
Treated very kindly by the people of the jail.

Oct 10. Took the cars at Simonton for 
Salisbury. Passed through Charlotte.
Arrived in Salisbury at eleven PM. 
Was safely landed in the Salisbury prison.
About ten thousand prisoners in the prison.

[Oct 11 through Nov 24 there are no entries that appear to be from 1864.]

Nov 25. A brake made in camp by the 
prisoners. Several killed & wounded. Myself
wounded very slightly on the arm. But very 
few if any made their escape.

transcribers note: There are no further daily entries in Mr. Owens diary. Under
the memoranda pages in the back are several lists of mens names with what
appears to be pay received or perhaps owed. It isnt clear what he was
documenting. We would never know whether or not he survived prison & being
wounded were it not for the extra entries he made that are either dated or
appear to be from 1865. For example, he made the following entry on the page
for Thursday, July 28, 1864. Feb 22nd left Salisbury Prison, Feb 27th arrived
in our own lines & exchanged. Friday the 4th left Wilmington on the steamer
Rebeka Barton. Friday the 10th arrived at Annapolis Md.

On the page for Thursday, August 4, 1864 he wrote January 27th, 1865. My friend
Henry A. Pierce went to the hospital. Very sick.

transcribers note: The following was written on the page for Sunday, August 7,

To Cousin Will

May you my friend be ever blessed
with friends selected from the best 
and in return may you extend
a gem of love for every friend.
Friendship is a lot to few assigned
The ofspring of a noble mind.
A general warmth that fills the breast
Whats better full, than are expressed
Let memory oft times bare thee back
to other days almost forgot
and when you think of other friends
that love thee will forget-me-not.   M.J. Owen

transcribers note: On the page for Friday, August 26, 1864 Mr. Owen wrote the
S.T. Pierce, Norwich, Schemango Co. N.Y. 
My beloved brother in Christ (Henry A. 
Pierce) died February 7th, 1865 in 
prison at Salisbury, N.C. As he lived 
so he died. A faithful Christian trusting 
fully in Christ & having perfect peace of 

transcribers note: The following letter was with Mr. Owens diaries:

Addison, June 10, 65

	My dear friend,

		You will not be surprised at this mode of address, for you
already know that I honor myself by counting our true, brave, noble soldiers,
not only among my dear friends, but among my brothers!

	The evening after the little visit with you which I enjoyed so much, I
met a very lovely young lady, one of my particular friends, to whom I mentioned
you, and my fruitless efforts to obtain an Atlantic for your perusal. She was
interested at once, and immediately said Send him my March number. I would like
to have him read it. So I walked home with her, and brought away the magazine,
and I should have mailed it without delay, only that I wished to write this
little letter to send with it. 

	When you have finished the Atlantic you will please return it to me, as
Miss Bonham is keeping the numbers to be found. I hope you will enjoy reading
it, and that I shall sometime have the pleasure of talking it over with you. I
am afraid that your own memories of Andersonville transcend all the horrors
described there. God bless you abundantly for all you suffered. God bless you
for that noble saying, I would not have suffered less for my country!

	I declare when I think I have talked with, saw & shaken the hand of one
of that hard land of martyrs, one of those dear sufferers for whom I would
willingly, if I know my own heart, lay down my life, it sends a thrill through
all my frame. And when I suddenly remember that the doors of those Southern
prisons are all opened now, I can only call upon my soul, and all that is
within me to bless and praise His Holy Name who hath wrought this wonderful

	I would like to know your plans with regard to your future life. I
think you will decide to go to school, and I hope you will. A man who has felt
himself starving for an education, will never be satisfied without one. And,
pardon me for saying that I hold you worthy of all the happiness an education,
or anything else this life can furnish.

	My sister was sorry to miss your visit. Let us hope to see you here
again at no distant day.

	With best regards and heartsick good wishes, 

						Truly your friend,

						Mary A. A. Dawson

Mr. Wm. Owen

Jasper, N.Y.

Transcribers note: William Owen kept up a diary in 1866 until March 26 when the
entries became very sporadic. He moved to his sisters in Westfield, Pa where he
worked in the woods, continued to attend his prayre meetings & apparently cut a
lot of wood for his sister's household. He took Mary's advice & enrolled in the
Old Union Academy, starting his studies on January 10, 1866. He, quite
naturally, made note of the weather at that time (snow & hard traveling etc).
While in town he met some of his soldier friends & the topic was, of course,
the recent war. The question discussed was resolved that Gen Sherman is
deserving of more praise than Grant. On Feb 3rd he sent Newton Rhinevautts
affidavit to him for to get his pension. On Feb 7 a young lady by the name of
Nora M. Barbery, from Miltown, Tioga Co. Penn. wrote him the following:

When I am in a distant land
and you these lines do view,
remember they are from a friend
who often thinks of you?

On March 20, 1866 he writes Some strange birds ___ or shot. Said to be swans or
wild goose specie. No one knows what they are. The wonder of world.

         * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Transcribers final note: And so we take leave of William Owen, Co K, 86th New
York Volunteers, a man who saw a terrible carnage, was wounded three times,
imprisoned in a hellish place yet never lost his faith in God, and did his duty
for his country.

Maintained by Sue Greenhagen. E-mail: