Mary Chesnut's Diary

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An unrivalled account of the American Civil War from the Confederate perspective.

One of the most compelling personal narratives of the Civil War, Mary Chesnut's Diary was written between 1861 and 1865. As the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner and the wife of an aide to the Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, Chesnut was well acquainted with the Confederacy's prominent players and-from the very first shots in Charleston, South Carolina-diligently recorded her ...

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Mary Chesnut's Diary

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An unrivalled account of the American Civil War from the Confederate perspective.

One of the most compelling personal narratives of the Civil War, Mary Chesnut's Diary was written between 1861 and 1865. As the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner and the wife of an aide to the Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, Chesnut was well acquainted with the Confederacy's prominent players and-from the very first shots in Charleston, South Carolina-diligently recorded her impressions of the conflict's most significant moments. One of the most frequently cited memoirs of the war, Mary Chesnut's Diary captures the urgency and nuance of the period in an epic rich with commentary on race, status, and power within a nation divided.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143106067
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/26/2011
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 335,650
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Boykin Chesnut (1823-1886) married James Chesnut, Jr., at the age of seventeen. Her writings were first published in 1905.

Catherine Clinton holds a chair in U.S. history at Queen's University Belfast, where she heads a postgraduate program in American history. She is the author of biographies on Fanny Kemble, Mary Lincoln, and Harriet Tubman.

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Table of Contents

Introduction Catherine Clinton xi

Suggestions for Further Reading xxv

A Note on the Text xxvii

Mary Chesnut's Diary

Chapter I Charleston, S. C., November 8, 1860-December 27, 1860.

The news of Lincoln's election

Raising the Palmetto flag

The author's husband resigns as United States Senator

The Ordinance of Secession

Anderson takes possession of Fort Sumter 1

Chapter II Montgomery, Ala., February 19, 1861-March 11, 1861.

Making the Confederate Constitution

Robert Toombs

Anecdote of General Scott

Lincoln's trip through Baltimore

Howell Cobb and Benjamin H. Hill

Hoisting the Confederate flag

Mrs. Lincoln's economy in the White House

Hopes for peace

Despondent talk with anti-secession leaders

The South unprepared

Fort Sumter 6

Chapter III Charleston, S. C., March 26, 1861-April 15, 1861.

A soft-hearted slave-owner

Social gaiety in the midst of war talk

Beauregard a hero and a demigod

The first shot of the war

Anderson refuses to capitulate

The bombardment of Fort Sumter as seen from the housetops

War steamers arrive in Charleston harbor

"Bull Run" Russell

Demeanor of the negroes 19

Chapter IV Camden, S. C., April 20, 1861-April 22, 1861.

After Sumter was taken

the jeunesse dorée

The story of Beaufort Watts

Maria Whitaker's twins

The inconsistencies of life 37

Chapter V Montgomery, Ala., April 27, 1861-May 20, 1861.

Baltimore in a blaze

Anderson's account of the surrender of Fort Sumter

A talk with Alexander H. Stephens

Reports from Washington

An unexpected reception

Southern leaders take hopeless views of the future

Planning war measures

Removal of the capital 42

Chapter VI Charleston, S. C, May 25, 1861-June 24, 1861.

Waiting for a battle in Virginia

Ellsworth at Alexandria

Big Bethel

Moving forward to the battleground

Mr. Petigru against secession

Mr. Chesnut goes to the front

Russell's letters to the London Times 50

Chapter VII Richmond, Va., June 27, 1861-July 4, 1861.

Arrival at the new capital

Criticism of Jefferson Davis

Soldiers everywhere

Mrs. Davis's drawing-room

A day at the Champ de Mars

The armies assembling for Bull Run

Col. L. Q. C. Lamar 60

Chapter VIII Fauquier White Sulphur Springs, Va., July 6, 1681-July 11, 1861.

Cars crowded with soldiers

A Yankee spy

Anecdotes of Lincoln

Gaiety in social life

Listening for guns

A horse for Beauregard 68

Chapter IX Richmond, Va., July 13, 1861-September 2, 1861.

General Lee and Joe Johnston

The battle of Bull Run

Colonel Bartow's death

Rejoicings and funerals

Anecdotes of the battle

An interview Robert E. Lee

Treatment of prisoners

Toombs thrown from his horse

Criticism of the Administration

Paying the soldiers

Suspected women searched

Mason and Slidell 72

Chapter X Camden, S. C., September 9, 1861-September 19, 1861.

The author's sister, Kate Williams

Old Colonel Chesnut

Roanoke Island surrenders

Up Country and Low Country

Family silver to be taken for war expenses

Mary McDuffie Hampton

The Merrimac and the Monitor 111

Chapter XI Columbia, S. C., February 20, 1862-July 21, 1862.

Dissensions among Southern leaders

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Conscription begins

Abuse of Jefferson Davis

The battle of Shiloh

Beauregard flanked at Nashville

Old Colonel Chesnut again

New Orleans lost

The battle of Williamsburg

Dinners, teas, and breakfasts

Wade Hampton at home wounded

Battle of the Chickahominy

Albert Sidney Johnston's death

Richmond in sore straits

A wedding and its tragic ending

Malvern Hill

Recognition of the Confederacy in Europe 115

Chapter XII Flat Rock, N. C., August 1, 1862 August 8, 1862.

A mountain summer resort

George Cuthbert

A disappointed cavalier

Antietam and Chancellorsville

General Chesnut's work for the army 183

Chapter XIII Portland, Ala, July 8, 1863-July 30, 1863.

A journey from Columbia to Southern Alabama

The surrender of Vicksburg

A terrible night in a swamp on a riverside

A good pair of shoes

The author at her mother's home

Anecdotes of negroes

A Federal Cynic 188

Chapter XIV Richmond, Va., August 10, 1863-September 7, 1863.

General Hood in Richmond

A brigade marches through the town

Rags and tatters

Two love affairs and a wedding

The battle of Brandy Station

The Robert Barnwell tragedy 199

Chapter XV Camden, S. C., September 10, 1863-November 5, 1863.

A bride's dressing-table

Home once more at Mulberry

Longstreet's army seen going West

Constance and Hetty Cary

At church during Stoneman's raid

Richmond narrowly escapes capture

A battle on the Chickahominy

A picnic at Mulberry 209

Chapter XVI Richmond, Va., November 28, 1863-April 11, 1864.

Mr. Davis visits Charleston

Adventures by rail

A winter of mad gaiety

Weddings, dinner-parties, and private theatricals

Battles around Chattanooga

Bragg in disfavor

General Hood and his love affairs

Some Kentucky generals

Burton Harrison and Miss Constance Cary

George Eliot

Thackeray's death

Mrs. R. E. Lee and her daughters

Richmond almost lost

Colonel Dahlgren's death

General Grant

Depreciated currency

Fourteen generals at church 220

Chapter XVII Camden, S. C., May 8, 1864-June 1, 1864.

A farewell to Richmond

"Little Joe's" pathetic death and funeral

An old silk dress

The battle of the Wilderness

Spottsylvania Court House

At Mulberry once more

Old Colonel Chesnut's grief at his wife's death 265

Chapter XVIII Columbia, S. C., July 6, 1864-January 17, 1865.

Gen. Joe Johnston superseded and the Alabama sunk

The author's new home

Sherman at Atlanta

The battle of Mobile Bay

At the hospital in Columbia

Wade Hampton's two sons shot

Hood crushed at Nashville

Farewell to Mulberry

Sherman's advance eastward

The end near 273

Chapter XIX Lincolnton, N. C., February 16, 1865,-March 15, 1865.

The flight from Columbia

A corps of generals without troops

Broken-hearted and an exile

Taken for millionaires

A walk with Gen Joseph E. Johnston

The burning of Columbia

Confederate money refused in the shops

Selling old clothes to obtain food

Gen. Joe Johnston and President Davis again

Braving it out

Mulberry saved by a faithful negro

Ordered to Chester, S. C. 300

Chapter XX Chester, S. C., March 21, 1865-May 1, 1865.

How to live without money

Keeping house once more

Other refugees tell stories of their flight

The Hood melodrama over

The exodus from Richmond

Passengers in a box car

A visit from General Hood

The fall of Richmond

Lee's surrender

Yankees hovering around

In pursuit of President Davis 320

Chapter XXI Camden, S. C., May 2, 1865-August 2, 1865.

Once more at Bloomsbury

Surprising fidelity of negroes

Stories of escape

Federal soldiers who plundered old estates

Mulberry partly in ruins

Old Colonel Chesnut last of the grand seigniors

Two classes of sufferers

A wedding and a funeral

Blood not shed in vain 335

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