Mary Chesnut kept her diary from early in 1861, just before the Civil War began, to shortly after the end of the war, in 1865. Though not a day-by-day account of the conflict, the diary gives an up-close-and-personal view of this critical period in American history. Her commentary on the conversations and events of her day reveals a keen awareness of the oppression to which women--lack or white, slave or free--were subjected during that period. While she would not consider herself a feminist, her diary reveals sensibilities and concerns that place her far ahead of her time. The wife of a Confederate general, Mary Chesnut moved in the elite circles of Southern society and had a keen interest in politics. Her diary is an important historic document and, because of her sharp wit and often irreverent attitude, a fascinating window into Southern society of the time.