Saturday, June 18, 2011

Five best US Civil War diaries

Harold Holzer, editor of Hearts Touched by Fire: The Best Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, named a five best list of Civil War diaries for the Wall Street Journal, including:
A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital
by John B. Jones (1866)

John B. Jones's lively account of how Confederate military and civilian authorities managed the war may be the most realistic glimpse into a history that Lost Cause authors later sanitized. Jones was no ordinary clerk but a popular fiction writer, one of whose novels had sold 100,000 copies in 1841. Too old at 51 to volunteer, he instead joined the Confederate War Department determined to keep "a diary of the revolution." It is an invaluable primary source regarding social, political and economic upheaval in Richmond. At one point Jones painstakingly complains of price fluctuations in leather, liquor and groceries. And when Lincoln celebrates Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in July 1863, Jones condemns his assertion that "all men are created equal." "He means the negro," the diarist warns. Chilling stuff.
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see: Ten best novels about the American Civil War.

--Marshal Zeringue