Indigo Insights

Friday, July 18, 2003
Mary's Diary

While looking for something else Southern in my Favorites today, I happened upon this old favorite. Mary Chestnut's journal as eyewitness to events pre- and post- the Civil War era is a priceless history. For those who may not have read her historical record, this from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries will get you started. May as well bookmark, since it will require several readings, unless the reader is starved for such information and is prepared to read all night. Thought this might be an interesting interlude in the Barbecue Wars! Enjoy.

Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut, 1823-1886
A Diary from Dixie

CHARLESTON, S. C., November 8, 1860. - Yesterday on the train, just before we reached Fernandina, a woman called out: "That settles the hash." Tanny touched me on the shoulder and said: "Lincoln's elected." "How do you know?" "The man over there has a telegram."
The excitement was very great. Everybody was talking at the same time. One, a little more moved than the others, stood up and said despondently: "The die is cast; no more vain regrets; sad forebodings are useless; the stake is life or death." "Did you ever!" was the prevailing exclamation, and some one cried out: "Now that the black radical Republicans have the power I suppose they will Brown 1 us all. " No doubt of it.

I have always kept a journal after a fashion of my own, with dates and a line of poetry or prose, mere quotations, which I understood and no one else, and I have kept letters and extracts from the papers. From to-day forward I will tell the story in my own way. I now wish I had a chronicle of the two delightful and eventful years that have just passed. Those delights have fled and one's breath is taken away to think what events have since crowded in. Like the woman's record in her journal, we have had "earthquakes, as usual" - daily shocks.

1. A reference to John Brown of Harper's Ferry.