Friday, January 8, 2010

So Many Books and So Little Time

Thanks to Christmas gifts from kind relatives, I now have a stack of new books to read for 2010. Unfortunately, I am not a particularly fast reader so I often despair of being able to read all of the books that I really want to read. Occasionally, I enjoy highlighting books that I have found personally rewarding. Among these is The Southern Journey of a Civil War Marine: The Illustrated Note-Book of Henry O. Gusley edited and annotated by Edward T. Cotham, Jr.; I found this to be an excellent and relatively quick read. Published by the University of Texas Press in 2006, The Southern Journey of a Civil War Marine is an attractive and well-designed book. A native Pennsylvanian, Henry O. Gusley, enlisted in the U. S. Marines in 1861 at age 24. Gusley served along the Gulf Coast and was involved in blockading duties and a number of skirmishes from the Texas coast to the Florida coast. Most notably, he served in the Louisiana Teche campaigns and the battles of Galveston and Sabine Pass. Confederates captured him after the battle of Sabine Pass, and imprisoned him at Camp Groce in Texas. His captured journal made its way into the hands of the editor of the Galveston Tri-Weekly News who published Gusley’s journal serially during the war; this became a popular feature of the newspaper and even led to a brief correspondence between the newspaper editor and the imprisoned Gusley. In the book, editor Edward T. Cotham, Jr. pairs Gusley’s journal with the wartime drawings of Dr. Daniel D. T. Nestell who also served in the Gulf and observed many of the same things that Gusley did. The journal and the drawings fit amazingly well together. Of course the heart of the book is Gusley’s journal. Gusley struck me as decent, thoughtful, and observant, and I suspect that many of the readers of the Galveston Tri-Weekly reached the same conclusion. Mr. Cotham is to be commended for pairing Gusley’s journal and Nestell’s drawings and for his excellent editing. The book offers many interesting insights into shipboard service in the trans-Mississippi.


  1. Thanks for this wonderful review--I need to find a copy of this as I am currently researching the Gulf Coast (especially Louisiana and Texas) during the Civil War.

  2. I'm glad that the posting helped you out. I wish you well on your project!