“Patrick emerges from this diary as the GI Joe of 1861–1865.” —Charles L. Dufour
In April, 1861, Private Robert Patrick, a talented clerk in the Commissary and Quartermaster departments of the Fourth Louisiana Infantry, began a diary that he continued until the last days of the Civil War. A keen observer who had a flair for descriptive writing, Patrick offers a fascinating look behind the Confederate front lines.
In his memoir, originally written in Ben Pitman shorthand and intended for no one’s eyes but his own, this articulate and practical-minded young Louisianian provides a colorful narrative of events—both on and off duty. He vividly recounts the siege around Port Hudson and Vicksburg, the Battle of Shiloh, and the retreat from Atlanta, episodes in which his regiment had one of the highest records for casualties in the entire Confederate Army. Especially enlightening are his comments on logistics, supply, and the competence of supply officers, issues relatively ignored in Confederate history. His descriptions of conditions and civilian sentiment in the residential areas near army camps and along the route of the march are also revealing.
Patrick’s honesty and literary craftsmanship give his narrative unusual realism. Full of anecdotes ranging from humorous to horrifying, his diary adds significant details to the portrait of the Confederate soldier in the rear echelons.
F. Jay Taylor was chairman of the Department of History at Louisiana College. He is the author of The United States and the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939.
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