Shadows on My Heart: Civil War Diary of Lucy Rebecca Buck of Virginia

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When the Civil War began in 1861, Lucy Rebecca Buck was the eighteen-year-old daughter of a prosperous planter living on her family's plantation in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. On Christmas Day of that year Buck began the diary that she would keep for the duration of the war, during which time troops were quartered in her home and battles were literally waged in her front yard. The extraordinary chronicle mirrors the experience of many women torn between loyalty to the Confederate cause and dissatisfaction with the unrealistic ideology of white southern womanhood. In the environment of war, these women could not feign weakness, could not shrink from public gaze, and could not assume the presence of protection that was supposedly their right. This radical disjuncture, coming as it did during a period of extreme deprivation and loss, caused Buck and other so-called southern belles to question the very ideology with which they had been raised, often between the pages of private diaries. In powerful, unsentimental language, Buck's diary reveals her anger and ambivalence about the challenges thrust upon her after upheaval of her self, her family, and the world as she knew it. This document provides an extraordinary glimpse into the shadows on the heart of both Lucy Buck and the American South.