On September 28, 1863, the Galveston Tri-Weekly News caught its readers' attention with an item headlined "A Yankee Note-Book." It was the first installment of a diary confiscated from U.S. Marine Henry O. Gusley, who had been captured at the Battle of Sabine Pass. Gusley's diary proved so popular with readers that they clamored for more, causing the newspaper to run each excerpt twice until the whole diary was published. For many in Gusley's Confederate readership, his diary provided a rare glimpse into the opinions and feelings of an ordinary Yankee—an enemy whom, they quickly discovered, it would be easy to regard as a friend.
This book contains the complete text of Henry Gusley's Civil War diary, expertly annotated and introduced by Edward Cotham. One of the few journals that have survived from U.S. Marines who served along the Gulf Coast, it records some of the most important naval campaigns of the Civil War, including the spectacular Union success at New Orleans and the embarrassing defeats at Galveston and Sabine Pass. It also offers an unmatched portrait of daily life aboard ship. Accompanying the diary entries are previously unpublished drawings by Daniel Nestell, a doctor who served in the same flotilla and eventually on the same ship as Gusley, which depict many of the locales and events that Gusley describes.
Together, Gusley's diary and Nestell's drawings are like picture postcards from the Civil War—vivid, literary, often moving dispatches from one of "Uncle Sam's nephews in the Gulf."
"Journals of nineteenth-century U.S. Marines are rare, and Henry Gusley's is a truly outstanding account of the shipboard experiences and observations of an enlisted marine.... Edward Cotham's scholarship in the introduction and in annotating the journal is outstanding, and he has drawn on the appropriate sources. This is one of the best jobs of editing in the field."
Joseph G. Dawson III, Professor of History, Texas A&M University
"I found Gusley's 'notebook' fascinating, informative, and ultimately moving.... Civil War historians will find the information about the inner workings and day-to-day life aboard U.S. naval vessels patrolling the Gulf of Mexico and the major river systems of the Trans-Mississippi interior highly informative.... This book should also find a popular audience. Bright, literate, constantly upbeat, and good-humored despite the many difficult circumstances he found himself in, Gusley is good company for his readers."
Patrick Kelly, Associate Professor of History, University of Texas at San Antonio