A Confederate Girl's Diary by Sarah Morgan Dawson ; Introduction by Warrington Dawson. Edited with foreword and notes by James I. Robertson, Jr.
Bloomington, IN. : Indiana University Press, 1960. Hardcover. 473 pages ; 21 cm. Torn dust jacket with $7.50 price mark. Foxing to spine with a light hint on front and rear cover cloths. Pages are unmarked. Binding is firm.
This first book in the Centennial Series to view the war through a woman's eyes is chiefly notable as a vivid and psychologically perfect self-portrait of a young girl. Douglas S. Freeman has praised its fairness and superb style. E. Merton Coulter has termed it "one of the best war diaries related to the Confederacy."
Sarah began her journal just prior to the seizure of Baton Rouge by Federal troops on May 9, 1862. She was barely twenty at the time—an attractive, much-courted belle whose father and brothers were divided in their sympathies between North and South.
Originally fascinated by the struggle, Sarah came to view it with horror. In her first few weeks as a refugee she wrote hu¬morously of her trials—but the wanderings soon became stale, and by the last year of the war her entries reflect the dreariness of defeat and despair.
Sarah's greatest virtue was a calmness which surmounted all crises. Though she could and did at times display signs of recklessness, she possessed a self-control, initiative, and fortitude quite remarkable in a girl who had never before known any¬thing akin to the brutality of war. As Mr. Robertson says in his introduction, "Her diary is feminine, fresh, and frank. It is a panorama of Southern life, painted with local colors, framed in social history, and situated on the easel of The Brothers' War.'"
First published in 1913, this journal has enjoyed a wide and merited popularity. Reviewers at the time characterized it as "a deeply touching, dramatic and tragic story," "fraught with an unexpected wisdom and comprehension of the larger movements of the war," and "one of the most remarkable diaries penned by an American."
JAMES I. ROBERTSON, JR.
Mr. Robertson's interest in the Civil War is lifelong (he was born on July 18, 1930, in Danville, Virginia) and derives from his great-grandfather, who was General Lee's cook. "I hasten to add," he says, "that Great Grandpa was not responsible for the ailment that plagued the General at Gettysburg."
Educated at Randolph-Macon College and Emory University, and caught in the usual financial plight of the graduate student, he not only taught history at Emory during the three years of his doctoral studies but played drums in a dance band and worked in a funeral home in his spare time. He is well known to Civil War enthusiasts as editor of Civil War History, published at the State University of Iowa. His forth¬coming publications include a history of the Stonewall Brigade and a new edition of General James Longstreet's From Manassas to Appomattox, the latter to be issued by Indiana University Press late in 1960.