The Daniel B. Hutchins collection consists of two pocket diaries, covering the years 1864 and 1866. In 1864, Hutchins was enrolled as a sergeant in the 111th New York Infantry, serving in eastern Virginia. After his capture at the Battle of Spotsylvania on May 10, his journal records his singularly awful experiences as he was transported through a succession of Confederate prison camps, including Libby, Andersonville, Charleston, S.C., and Florence. Hutchins' entries throughout the year are quite brief, due partly to the constraints imposed by the size of the diary page, and partly by exhaustion. These entries, though, are highly literate, with frequent literary touches and pithy quotes, and they include several allusions to his life prior to his imprisonment.
The heart of this diary is the five months in which he is imprisoned at Andersonville. From the moment of his arrival, Hutchins considered the conditions at the prison severe and inhumane, suggesting that "the treatments of State's Prison would be far preferable to this," adding, "The fiery elements of hell would be to[o] good for men that would treat a brute in this way" (1864 June 4). His writing is impassioned, and he carefully includes important details on the amount of food, living conditions, relations with other prisoners and guards, and morale.
The 1866 journal includes some retrospective commentary on his prison experiences, but is consumed more with Hutchins' search and discovery of a suitable university at which to study.