Mary Chesnut

[Alexandria, Virginia]

Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut

set text:

Woodward, C. Vann, ed. Mary Chesnut’s Civil War. 1981. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1993.

[July 26th, 1865]:

I do not write often now - not for want of something to say, but from a loathing of all I see and hear. Why dwell upon it?

I even feel a repugnance toward making mention of the wedding.

Colonel C., poor old man, was worse. More restless. He seems to be wild with "homesickness." He wants to be at Mulberry. He cannot see the mighty giants of the forest, the huge old wide-spreading oaks. He says he feels that he is there as soon as he hears the carriage rattling across the bridge at the beaver dam.

I am reading French with Johnny. Anything to keep him quiet. We gave a dinner to his company, the small remnant of them, at Mulberry house. About twenty idle negroes, trained servants, came without leave or license and assisted. So there was no expense. They gave their time and labor for a good day's feeding. And I think they love to be at the old place.


Then I went up to nurse Kate Withers. That lovely girl, barely eighteen - she is dead, died of typhoid fever. Tanny wanted his sweet little sister to have a dress for Mary Boykin's wedding. Kate was to be one of the bridesmaids. So Tanny took his horses, rode one, led one thirty miles in this broiling sun to Columbia - sold the led horse - came back with a roll of Swiss muslin. As he entered the door he saw her lying there, dying.

She died praying that she might die. She was weary of earth. She wanted to be at peace. I saw her die. I saw her put in her coffin. No words of mine can tell how unhappy I am.


Six young soldiers, her friends, were her pallbearers. As they marched out with that burden sad were their faces.

And yet, that night all save one danced at a ball given by Mrs. Courtney from Charleston!


"Time's dull deadening,
The world's tiring;
Life's settled cloudy afternoon" - evening -
Night -


Forgiveness is indifference. Forgiveness is impossible while love lasts.
And - and the weight that hangs upon our eyelids - is of lead.

- Mary Chesnut's Civil War (1981): 834-36.

Select Bibliography:


Martin, Isabella D. & Myrta Lockett Avary, ed. A Diary from Dixie, as Written by Mary Boykin Chesnut, Wife of James Chesnut, Jr., United States Senator From South Carolina, 1859-1861, and Afterward an Aide to Jefferson Davis and a Brigadier-General in the Confederate Army (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1905)

Williams, Ben Ames, ed. A Diary from Dixie. 1949. New York: Gramercy, 1997.

Woodward, C. Vann, ed. Mary Chesnut’s Civil War. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1981.

Biography & Secondary Literature:

Woodward, C. Vann & Elisabeth Muhlenfeld. The Private Mary Chesnut: the Unpublished Civil War Diaries. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.

Homepages & Online Information:

Mary Chesnut: A Diary from Dixie (1905)

Wikipedia entry

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