'Almost Home: The 1864 Diary of Sergeant Samuel Grosvenor,' by Tim Jacobs. Cover photo courtesy Tim Jacobs
'Almost Home: The 1864 Diary of Sergeant Samuel Grosvenor,' by Tim Jacobs. Cover photo courtesy Tim Jacobs

Samuel Grosvenor was one of the lucky ones, if anyone who was imprisoned at Andersonville can be considered lucky. Grosvenor is one of those who got out with his life.

The story of Samuel Grosvenor is one of thousands resulting from the Civil War. Most of those stories never got told. Through the efforts of South Florida writer and genealogist Tim Jacobs, Grosvenor's has been told.

Jacobs is the president-owner of Jacobs Writing Consultants, president of the Gulf Coast Writers Association and serves on the board of directors of the Southwest Florida Historical Society. He's well-equipped to tell the story of Grosvenor and he's done it in his new book 'Almost Home: The 1864 Diary of Sergeant Samuel E. Grosvenor,' which is now available at amazon.com.

No subject in American history has been treated as heavily as the Civil War. More books on the Civil War have been written than on the rest of our wars combined. Most of those books, particularly the famous ones by the likes of Shelby Foote, Bruce Catton and James M. McPherson, are detailed and excellent. But they hit the Civil War with a broad brush. Their books tell us what Grant, Lee, Longstreet and Jackson were thinking and descriptions of overall battle scenes and troop movements.

Jacobs' book is not one of these. Books like 'Almost Home' are overdue. Samuel Grosvenor was a Connecticut soldier who was an enlisted man. This book is about a man in the trenches, and later, sadly, as a prisoner of war whose only connection with Grant, Lee and the other generals was the rumors he heard that might affect his immediate, and long term, future.

Jacobs reprints Grosvenor's diary, richly supplementing it with historical data to fill in all the blanks. Like Grosvenor, Jacobs hails from Connecticut.

I discovered the diary existed when I was researching something else,” Jacobs said. “The diary was not in Samuel Grosvenor's home town library in Guilford. I found it in Hartford, at the Connecticut State Historical Library.”

'Almost Home' leaves no stone unturned that Jacobs could turn. It has many pictures of Andersonville and from Connecticut. The footnotes are complete and what Grosvenor was thinking and writing is also accompanied by ample historical data to fill in the blanks. But by far the big chore in 'Almost Home' was the actual task of transcribing the diary itself.

The handwriting of the era was difficult. Also, I was short on knowledge of the Civil War – forts, battles, places, and so forth,” said Jacobs, whose area of expertise had been the Revolutionary War.

Although the diary is that of an enlisted man under the daily stress of war and all that goes with war, Grosvenor was a very consistent writer. His diary entries invariably began with what the weather was like and then told of what was going on that day, whether it was a forced march, doing kitchen duty or playing cards. Grosvenor spent a lot of time on picket duty. He did laundry. He was a religious man, but then war has a tendency to make men religious, then as now. Through it all Grosvenor was concise, consistent and seemed to disdain editorializing in favor of reporting the facts as they were in his immediate surroundings.

Diaries are a lost art. No one keeps one anymore,” Jacobs said. “For the day, Grosvenor's handwriting was pretty decent. Cursive handwriting is becoming less and less frequent. It's not really being taught anymore. Future researchers may struggle on projects like this one.

This is a book about the grunt soldier, a private from Connecticut. It's about one man and what he went through, not about generals, battle plans and massive troop movements,” Jacobs said.

Grosvenor handles his capture as a matter of fact. Then one can sense his daily apprehension as a prisoner. His apprehension was manifested in the horrors of the war's most infamous prison in Andersonville, Ga. He relates the dreadful conditions, the lawlessness among the prisoners and the sight of seeing men from his regiment die under the relentless Georgia sun. Once the war ended, Grosvenor became a man who was 'Almost Home.' In the end, he got there.

Jacobs, who lives in Fort Myers, is a student of the American Revolution who founded the magazine 'Common Patriot' in 2005.

Other works by Jacobs are 'H.E. Heitman: An Early Entrepreneur of Fort Myers' and 'The Basics of Research: Writing and Self Publishing.'