Digging into one's family history can reveal unusual surprises. In my case, I recently discovered my great grandfather, Jesse C. Davisson's first-hand account of his 25-year military experience during an epic period in American history. Jesse was no angel when he first joined the Army in 1893, as an ordinary young man in Philadelphia. His diary follows his subsequent adventures - from learning to ride a horse with the 7th Cavalry, and befriending Indian Scouts, to surviving ambushes, and water-boarding prisoners - all while serving in the American Indian Wars, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, and World War I.
A Soldier's Diary 1893-1918: From Philadelphia to the Philippines, Crawfish Jesse Tells It Like It Was, reveals the good and the bad in our human character. In fact, some of the descriptions of brutal killings and torture may not be suitable for some listeners. But for many military history devotees and fans, WWI scholars, and all those who study American history during this era, Jesse's story will not only educate - it will reveal a sordid side of our country's military history, which, up until now, has been either unknown, or largely overlooked.
"We all write through pain," a relative told me upon listening to Jesse's diary, and I can say with certainty, that this diary will take listeners to many extraordinary places, as it travels back in time to when this country was not a nation, but a series of staked claims, and territories. You will meet a motley crew of cattle rustlers, thieves, murderers, outlaws, and deserters, as Jesse himself, once became. Between his encounters in saloons with women of the night, Mexican banditos, Yaqui Indians, and German machine guns, it is amazing that he was not injured or killed in action. Instead, Jesse eventually died as a result of chest problems he suffered while being gassed in France, during WWI. Someone once said, "When a man dies, a library burns down." I hope that by reviving the unknown story of my great grandfather, you will also become fascinated with Jesse, and this epic period of American history.
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