Later, as the Civil War swelled around her, Chesnut began a diary in which she wrote down bits of gossip about the neighbors as well as comments on the people she met, including Jefferson Davis, the future president of the Confederacy, and his wife, Varina, as well as many local politicians and plantation owners...
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Typical of the tidbits that helped to liven her days on the too-peaceful plantation is this 1861 entry: "Tom River has a horn blown every morning before day to wake up his people. Dr. Tom and Sally have no clock, so when they hear the horn, they get up and prepare breakfast. Some time ago ... they heard the horn, got up and cooked their breakfast and ate it, and still had to wait for day...