Mary Boykin Chesnut, Witness to War

Four A. M., April 12, 1861

Charleston,  South Carolina

During the politically turbulent months after the election of Abraham Lincoln, Mary Boykin Chesnut realized that the nation was on the verge of a crisis which would become a major chapter in American history.  Mrs. Chesnut began keeping a journal to record the events as they unfolded, and became one of the most notable and objective diarists of the Civil War era.

The Chesnuts were in Charleston when the attack on Fort Sumter began.   James Chesnut, a prominent Senator from South Carolina, was out in the night attempting to negotiate a surrender.  Alone in her bedroom, Mrs. Chesnut writes, "I do not pretend to sleep. . ."  She relates the tension-filled hours during which she, and all of Charleston, wait to see if Major Robert Anderson would evacuate Fort Sumter by 4 A.M. as ordered by Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, or if he would stand fast and the firing would begin.  She hears the bells of St. Michael's Church chime four times, then anxiously listens for further indication that an attack has begun.  As moments pass in silence, her hope that war can be avoided begin to build, but for naught.  At approximately 4:30  A.M. on April 12, 1861, the first shot of the American Civil War is fired.

Mary Boykin Chesnut -- Witness to War is intended to capture her mood during the early morning hours of that fateful day. The quote seen below her image, "Woe to those who began this war if they were not in bitter earnest," is taken from a later entry in Mrs. Chesnut's journal.


Original Artwork
Framed Dimensions:  41 ½ x 35 ½
Image:  30 ¼ x 24 ¼
Price:  $1800.00

Offset Lithograph Reproductions
30 Artist’s Proofs
300 Signed & Numbered Limited Editions
Image Size:  18 ½ x 15
Overall Size:  20 x 16
Price:  Artist’s Proofs $115.00
Limited Editions $75.00

Small Framed Open Edition Reproductions


View the next painting in the series:
Hard Road to Travel

Direct Links to All Civil War Artwork:
Beyond the Battlefield - The Battle of Gettysburg - More Civil War Drawings - Gettysburg Civilians During the War
Christmas During the Civil War -
Gettysburg Today - Plein Air Drawings of Gettysburg

Contact the Artist

Site Map
 August 22, 2009