COLUMBIA, -- Even most Civil War scholars were unaware famed diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut was a multi-media chronicler of her times.
The Camden resident, who spent six weeks in Chester as the Confederacy crumbled, collected photographs of many of the characters she so richly described in her prose.
After a mysterious disappearance and a journey of several decades in the crossroads of Civil War collectors, those photographs finally have been wedded for the first time with the diaries in a two-volume set of books that accentuates Chesnut's brilliance as a writer.
"She was creating a companion piece (with the photograph albums) that was supposed to be together with the diary," said Marty Daniels, Chesnut's sister's great-great-granddaughter, who along with archivist Barbara E. McCarthy worked on the project.
"It's satisfying to us to be able to get it together."
The first volume of the set provides a new look at the original 1905 version of "A Diary from Dixie," with cameo photos and woodcut maps in the margins at first references to people and places. Their addition entices readers to pay closer attention to Chesnut's vivid descriptions. It's like a 3D update of a movie you enjoyed in 2D.
But the real star is the second volume, "Mary Chesnut's Civil War Photograph Album."
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