James Chesnut, Jr.

James Chesnut, Jr., was born at Camden, South Carolina, January 18, 1815. He was graduated from Princeton in 1835, read law, and began practice in the town of his birth. After a number of terms in the South Carolina house and senate, he was elected to the United States Senate in 1858. He resigned before the secession of his state, in order to participate in the convention which took South Carolina out of the Union and initiated the war. He was an aide to General Beauregard at Fort Sumter, a member of the Provisional Confederate Congress, and in 1862 resigned from the South Carolina executive council to serve on the staff of President Davis. On April 23, 1864 he was appointed brigadier general. After the war General Chesnut played a prominent part in the Reconstruction politics of the state, and stood next in importance only to ex-generals Wade Hampton and Matthew C. Butler in the fight to regain control of South Carolina from the carpetbag regime. He died at his home, "Sarsfield," in Camden, February 1, 1885. His wife, Mary (Boykin) Chesnut, wrote the revealing and informative Diary from Dixie, which has come to be a virtual primer of wartime life in Richmond and in the plantation South. General Chesnut is buried in a family burial ground near Camden, at Knights Hill. One of his paternal aunts was the mother of General Z. C. Deas.

Previous Page

Ref: Generals in Gray, Lives of the Confederate Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Printed by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London.