Mary Boykin Chesnut Essay

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Pages: 10


In every regard, Mary Boykin Chesnut was a remarkable woman. She penned the best known diary that detailed the Civil War from a southerner’s point of view. Despite her being a staunch defender of the Confederate cause, Mary also spoke openly about her opposition to slavery. She was raised in a family that depended on slavery for their very existence, but she still felt deeply that somehow it was morally wrong. Mary Boykin Miller was born on March 31, 1823. She was born on her grandparents’ plantation near Statesburg, South Carolina. She was the eldest child of Mary Boykin and Stephen Decatur Miller. (Chesnut - #4, pg xviii) Her father was elected governor of South Carolina when Mary was only five
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Here he participated in the South Carolina Secession Convention and was appointed to a committee to prepare an Ordinance of Secession. An epidemic of smallpox interrupted the convention, however, and it was moved to Charleston, where Chesnut joined her husband. There she became caught up in the excitement of preparing for war: "Minutemen arming with immense blue cockades and red sashes soon with swords and gun marching and drilling" ( Chesnut continued her diary during these hectic times, although some of the war years are not included in the records that remain. Chesnut wrote in longhand at least fifty volumes of her diary, which became a source of valuable information for future generations" (The diary was edited after the war, however, which led historians to question its accuracy.). At the outset of the Civil War, Chesnut was still living at Mulberry even though her husband's political activities often took him away from home. While she entertained at home, she listened to the news of the war. Chesnut sat many hours in her private room sewing shirts for the Confederate soldiers. All the while, she wished that her own husband would become involved in the battles, but he was at first involved only in affairs of the state. For the next five years, the two spent little time at Mulberry. James Chesnut was convinced that the southern states could form an independent Confederacy that could become a reality without bloodshed. When