Sunday, April 25, 2010

'The Civil War Reminiscences of Major Silas T. Grisamore, C.S.A.'

    ''The Civil War Reminiscences of Major Silas T. Grisamore, C.S.A.'' edited by Arthur W. Bergeron Jr.; Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, LA 70893; 227 pages; photographs, maps; footnotes, bibliography, index; $34.95 hardback.
    One of the best accounts of the War Between the States in Louisiana can be found in ''The Civil War Reminiscences of Major Silas T. Grisamore, C.S.A.''
    Grisamore first served as an enlisted man, and then as an officer in the 18th Louisiana Infantry Regiment, which took part in most of the major battles fought on Louisiana soil.
    Grisamore, a native Yankee from Indiana, moved to Louisiana in the 1840s and sided with his adopted state when the conflict between North and South erupted in 1861.
    A resident of Thibodaux where he ran a store, he joined the Lafourche Creoles, which became Company F of the 18th Louisiana that was mostly made up of French-speaking Acadians.
    Grisamore, who had the eye and writing talent of a newspaper reporter, kept a diary during the war and later wrote his memoirs from it for the Thibodaux newspaper.
    He recounts the early experiences of adapting to military life, many of them humorous, the difficulties of life in camp and on the march, and especially the horrors of battle.
    Grisamore gives one of the best eye-witness accounts of the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee on April 6-7, 1862.
    In the fall of that year, he and his regiment were transferred back to Louisiana to defend the state from an invasion led by Union General Benjamin ''Beast'' Butler.
    The regiment took part in the Battle of Labadieville soon after, and in 1863 fought in the Battle of Bisland.
    Grisamore also gives a stirring account of the Battle of Mansfield on April 8, 1864, where General Alfred Mouton and the colonel of the 18th Louisiana, Leopold Armant, died heroic deaths.
    Serving much of the war as the quartermaster of his company and regiment, Grisamore gives rare insight into how Confederate soldiers in Louisiana were uniformed, fed and sheltered.
    He also presented biographical sketches on the leading officers in the regiment and the book contains outstanding uniformed photographs of Cpl. Paul Thibodaux of Company F and Colonel Armant, among others.
    This book is a valuable addition to the literature on the history of the Civil War in Louisiana.

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