Silas T. Grisamore was born in Indiana in 1825 and moved to Louisiana in 1846, settling first in Napoleonville and then in Thibodaux. He engaged in a variety of occupations but found most success as a merchant, selling goods from a flatboat that plied the waterways of the southern part of the state. When the Civil War began, Grisamore enlisted with the Lafourche Creoles, son to become Company G of the 18th Louisiana Infantry Regiment. Because of his experience as a merchant, much of Grisamore’s service during the war was as a quartermaster, first for the 18th Louisiana and later for an infantry brigade and an infantry division.
After the war, Grisamore resettled in south Louisiana, where he wrote a series of reminiscences concerning his experiences and those of his fellow soldiers. These articles appeared in the Weekly Thibodaux Sentinel from December, 1867, through April, 1871, under the pseudonym “Uncle Silas.” Grisamore’s recollections are now available to the modern reader in this skillfully edited and annotated volume. Because few Louisiana soldiers left behind written accounts of the war, Grisamore’s memoir fills an important gap in the Civil War story.
The narrative provides detailed information not found in other sources. Grisamore describes, for example, the status of General Alfred Mouton during the Battle of Labadieville and the actions of General Henry H. Sibley at the Battle of Bisland. He also offers a stirring account of his company’s experiences in the Battle of Shiloh. In many cases Grisamore’s accounts supply data—such as enlistment and discharge dates, records of illnesses and battle casualties—missing from official records.
Grisamore’s recollections if the shooting war are lively and compelling, but equally important are his reminiscences of the operations of the support branches of the army. As quartermaster, Grisamore was responsible for procuring food, clothing, tents, and other supplies for his fellow soldiers and transporting them under frequently arduous conditions. His descriptions of the trials and tribulations of the quartermaster add a significant dimension to the history he wrote.
Grisamore had an unmistakable flair for the written word, and his narrative is enlivened by the droll sense of humor he frequently employed in describing people and events. For those interested in the life of the everyday soldier, and especially in the war as it was fought in Louisiana, The Civil War Reminiscences of Major Silas T. Grisamore, C.S.A. will be a welcomed volume.
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