As the well-educated and socially skilled wife of a prominent Confederate, Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut (1823-86) was ideally situated--and intellectually equipped--to record the narrative of daily life in the Confederacy during the Civil War. Yet while she is widely recognized for the significant contribution of her "diaries," Mary Chesnut's other works chronicling her experiences in the Civil War South have remained--until now--unpublished and virtually unknown.
Intensely autobiographical novels, The Captain and the Colonel and Two Years--or The Way We Lived Then are Chesnut's fictionalized accounts of the world as women experienced it in the mid-nineteenth-century South. These short, unfinished novels address a wide range of subjects related to women and serve as an extension of the valuable source material found in the diaries, revealing much about southern history and culture, gender roles, slave-mistress relations, childhood, education, the experiences of westward migration, and the impact of the Civil War on private lives and relationships.
With an Introduction by Elizabeth Hanson that places Chesnut's novels in their social context, and thoughtfully edited by Elisabeth Muhlenfeld, Mary Chesnut's fiction is a fascinating and long overdue addition to the library of southern history.