Mary Chesnut's Civil War Author:Edited by C. Vann Woodward The incomparable Civil War diarist Mary Chesnut wrote that she had the luck "always to stumble in on the real show." Married to a high-ranking member of the Confederate government, she was ideally placed to watch and to record the South's headlong plunge to ruin, and she left in her journals an unsurpassed account of the old regime's death thro... more »es, its moment of high drama in world history.
In her own circles-aritocratic, patriarchal, slave-holding-Mary Chesnut was a figure of heresy and paradox. She had a horror of slavery and called herself an abolitionist from early youth. Against male domination, she expressed her rebellion in some of the most vehement feminist writing of her time: "There is no slave after all like a wife," she declared. A passionate participant in events, she was also a detached observer of all the strata of her society. The cast of characters that her journals endow with such vigorous life and reality includes slaves and brown half-brothers, poor whites and sand-hillers, common soldiers and solid yeomen, as well as the elite of government, army, and society who thronged her drawing room daily.
In Mary Chesnut's Civil War, C. Vann Woodward provides the first full and reliable edition of the journals, making use of surviving parts of four manuscript versions. He restores significant passages from the original diary of the 1860's, which was written in the heat of the moment and revealed much that the author suppressed in the version intended for publication.
Greatly gifted in intellect, charm, and independence of mind, Mary Chesnut was also a born writer. In this edition, her journals can finally claim their place in American literature as well as American history.« less