The Diary of Edmund Ruffin
The Years of Hope, April 1861-June 1863
In this second of a projected three-volume edition of The Diary of Edmund Ruffin, the fiery southern nationalist records the events of the first two years of the Civil War—from the aftermath of Fort Sumter (where Ruffin fired the first shot) to the simultaneous disasters at Gettysburg and Vicksburg that spelled doom for the Confederacy.
From his advantageous position as the resident and former owner of two Virginia plantations, Ruffin was able to write a vivid eyewitness account of the early Federal campaigns against Richmond. Both of the Ruffin homesteads, Marlbourne and Beechwood, were overrun during McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign of 1862, and the journal contains interesting observations about the conduct of Virginia slaves during this campaign, as well as the change it engendered in master-slave relations. Also included is a remarkable recollection of the Nat Turner revolt.
The day-to-day descriptions of the Civil War in Virginia are laced with illumination comments about civil and military leaders on both sides, the prospect of foreign intervention, the increasing strain upon the southern economy, the effect of the Emancipation Proclamation, and the possibility of detaching the northwestern states from the East.
Written by a man totally committed to the southern cause, The Diary of Edmund Ruffin is a literate, dependable source of information about the Civil War and its effects, as well as the political and social conditions in the South during the most critical period in its history. Meticulously edited by William Kauffman Scarborough, it will be of lasting value to anyone who wishes to study the Civil War from the insider’s point of view.
William Kauffman Scarborough, professor emeritus of history at the University of Southern Mississippi, is the author of The Overseer and Masters of the Big House and editor of the three-volume Diary of Edmund Ruffin.
Found an Error? Tell us about it.