The Southern Journey of a Civil War Marine: The Illustrated Note-Book of Henry O. Gusley

The Southern Journey of a Civil War Marine: The Illustrated Note-Book of Henry O. Gusley

The Southern Journey of a Civil War Marine: The Illustrated Note-Book of Henry O. Gusley

The Southern Journey of a Civil War Marine: The Illustrated Note-Book of Henry O. Gusley


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 Accompanying the diary entries are previously unpublished drawings by Daniel Nestell, a doctor who served in the same flotilla and eventually on the same ship as Gusley, which depict many of the locales and events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."


On September 28, 1863, an unusual item made its first appearance in the Galveston Tri-Weekly News. By this time, midway through the Civil War, the Galveston newspaper was actually being published in Houston, where most of its regular readers had fled from the coast to escape the threat of Union blockade and bombardment. These transplanted readers opened their papers to see featured on page 1 the beginning installment of what was referred to in a large headline as “A Yankee Note-Book.” This “Note-Book,” covering more than 150 pages and eighteen months of time, was in reality a journal that had been seized by Confederate authorities from a U.S. Marine captured on September 8, 1863, after the Battle of Sabine Pass.

Over the course of almost two months, the readers of the News, then one of the most influential newspapers in the South, were treated to the full contents of Henry O. Gusley’s remarkable narrative. This diary, or “Note-Book” as Gusley described it in the published version, recorded the private thoughts and experiences of one very articulate and witty Marine. Never intended for general publication, Gusley’s journal was originally created only as a convenient way for the Pennsylvania Marine to record his wartime experiences for the future amusement of his friends and family. He had no idea that his writings would eventually be front-page material in an enemy newspaper. the Note-Book covered an eventful period in its author’s life. During the period chronicled in his Note-Book, Gusley took part in a series of military operations up and down the Mississippi River and all along the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas. These battles included large engagements at New Orleans and Vicksburg, as well as smaller conflicts in the coastal waters of Louisiana and Texas.

The Yankee Note-Book quickly became one of the most popular . . .

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