Share This Article

Mary Chesnut’s Illustrated Diary: Mulberry Edition Boxed Set

Mary Chesnut; Pelican Press

Mary Boykin Chesnut is the Confederacy’s most famous woman. The wife of James Chesnut, a South Carolina politician and Confederate general, she chronicled the rebellion in a massive diary that has since been published in a number of editions.

This most recent edition contains two volumes with a slipcase. Volume I is an illustrated version of the diary. Volume II is the first publishing of Chesnut’s extensive photograph album of many of the people mentioned in her diary. The long-lost album turned up on eBay in 2007, and a donor purchased and donated the treasure back to the Chesnut family.

More care should have been taken with the reproduction of the images in both volumes. Volume I is sprinkled with small, dark and muddy maps and engravings. The photographs in Volume II lack the sharp clarity that modern readers now expect and deserve.

Nonetheless, you should become familiar with this bedrock primary source if you have not already done so. This is a good place to start to learn about Mary Chesnut, her contemporaries and the world of plantations, slavery and war that burned down around them.


Originally published in the October 2012 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.