The Diary of a Civil War Marine

Private Josiah Gregg

Edited by Adrienne Sachse, Wesley Moody

Hardback - £65.00

Publication date:

12 October 2012

Length of book:

158 pages

Publisher

Fairleigh Dickinson University Press

ISBN-13: 9781611475784

The Diary of a Civil War Marine: Private Josiah Gregg is a rare firsthand account of a United States Marine during the Civil War, written within hours of the events described. Gregg enlisted as a private at the beginning of the war, and served as a shipboard Marine on the Vanderbilt as it hunted Confederate raiders in the Caribbean and Atlantic. He also served aboard the Brooklyn at the battles of Mobile Bay and Fort Fischer. Part war story and part travel log, Gregg tells a good story with the confident prose of a man who worked as a school teacher and a clerk before the war. Seen by only Gregg's descendants for the last 140 years, the diary entries have been edited to include notes that explain what might be unclear to a modern audience. Also included are brief histories of the ships and the events described in the journal, and eight black and white photographs that were found inside the journal.
The diary is well-written, and the author takes time to write about life on board ship, his own sea sickness, being caught sleeping on watch, eating hardtack, waiting for mail, runs ashore, rumors circulating, desertion, boredom, entertainment, preparation for battle, battle, and the aftermath of battle. The diary covers both personal actions and ship-wide activities. We are thus able, through Gregg’s writing, to develop the ability to know the man penning this diary. In addition, the editors have done a commendable job of fleshing out and expanding the comments made by Gregg within his diary. . . .[R]eaders interested in the Marine Corps or the U.S. Navy during the Civil War will want this book in their library. It is a must-read for anyone considering writing on CSS Alabama or the Battle of Mobile Bay.