John Bodamer's diary begins on the day he mustered in for his second enlistment. His entries are uneventful and very brief until the beginning of May, but from that point for a solid month, beginning with the "Battle of Pine Plain" (near the Wilderness) on May 6th, Bodamer records an almost continuous sequence of hard marches, little sleep, poor food, skirmishes, and battles, as the 24th Cavalry fought successively through the Spotsylvania Campaign and the Battles of North Anna River, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg.
The heart of the diary is the passages recording his experiences as a prisoner at the notorious Belle Isle and Danville camps. Although the entries are brief, they are powerful testimony to the harsh conditions and inhumane treatment of prisoners. After December, Bodamer's diary entries become more scattered and shorter, perhaps as a result of his deteriorated condition.
The collection includes a tintype and two letters, one from his commander informing Bodamer's family of his capture and the other, his honorable discharge from the Army as 1st Lieutenant in the 10th Cavalry, November, 1870.