Chesnut, Mary

Chesnut, Mary (Boykin Miller)

(1823–86) diarist; born near Camden, S.C. Daughter of a former South Carolina governor, she married James Chesnut, a wealthy planter, defender of slavery, and staunch secessionist; joining the U.S. Senate (Dem., S.C.) in 1859, he resigned in 1860 to lead in forming the Confederacy. He then served with the Confederate army, leaving his wife to write her journal of life on the southern homefront (especially in Richmond, Va., and South Carolina) from 1861–65. First published in 1905 as A Diary from Dixie, it is recognized as a lively and compelling contribution to the literature of the Civil War.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.