The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983 Page: 449
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courtship of the beautiful Sally ("Buck") Preston by General John Bell
Hood, crippled at Gettysburg and Chickamauga, as a metaphor for the
rise and fall of Confederate hopes.
We now learn from C. Vann Woodward's definitive edition of the
diary that the work was actually written between 1881 and 1884. Mrs.
Chesnut did keep a journal during the war years, but only seven vol-
umes survive among her papers. The first five run consecutively from
February through December 8, 1861. Of the two others, one begins in
January and covers most of February, 1865, and the other runs from
May 7 to July 26, 1865. There are none for 1862, 1863, or 1864, and
these seven are all that appear to have survived anywhere, although
more once existed.
Woodward chose to edit the 188os version, supplementing it with
relevant passages from the original journal. He concludes in his intro-
duction: "Given the kind of liberties she took in revising and expand-
ing the original Journal, . . . Mary Chesnut can be said to have shown
an unusual sense of responsibility toward the history she records and a
reassuring faithfulness to perceptions of her experience of the period as
revealed in her original Journal" (MCCW p. xxvii). In the 188os ver-
sion, she tended to telescope events, to change third-person narrative
statements to dialogue, to turn her own thoughts into the words of
others, and to omit material about herself-evidence of vanity, arro-
gance, and smoldering ambition-and some of her outspoken remarks
Although Mary Chesnut's work can no longer be regarded as a diary
in the strictest sense of the word, but rather should be described as a
"simulated diary" or an autobiographical memoir in chronological
form, it remains one of the two best civilian records of the Confederate
experience-the other being the massive collection of letters of a Geor-
gia plantation family published by Yale in 1972 as The Children of
Pride. In Woodward's words, "The enduring value of the work, crude
and unfinished as it is, lies in the life and reality with which it endows
people and events and with which it evokes the chaos and complexity
of a society at war (MCCW p. xxvii). Unfortunately, historians and lit-
erary scholars, having perhaps been too credulous in their use of the
"diary" in the 1949 edition brought out by novelist Ben Ames Wil-
liams, may now be reluctant to make use of it as a source for the 186os,
marked as it is by the author's postwar experiences and perceptions.
This reviewer wishes that Woodward had published the original jour-
nal along with the 188os version, so that scholars could compare the
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983, periodical, 1982/1983; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101209/m1/497/: accessed May 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.