edited by Daniel E. Sutherland
University of Tennessee Press, 1996
Cloth: 978-0-87049-944-9 | Paper: 978-1-57233-646-9
Library of Congress Classification E605.H83 1996
Dewey Decimal Classification 973.782

Ellen Renshaw House was only nineteen years old in 1863 when she began a detailed journal of her experiences in Knoxville, Tennessee, amid the turmoil of the Civil War. Her diary, now published for the first time, is a remarkable document of the divided loyalties that were so pronounced in that part of the state and of the daily effects the war had on civilians.

A member of a middle-class family that had moved to Knoxville in 1860 from Georgia, Ellen House became, like her parents and siblings, a fervent Confederate—or, as she called herself, “a very violent Rebel.” When the city fell to Federal forces in September 1863, Ellen’s resentments ran deep, and she filled her diary with scornful words for the occupying Yankees. She eagerly followed the news of military actions that might mean the recapture of the city and became an eyewitness to the war’s dangers when Confederate General James Longstreet launched an ill-fated attack on Knoxville late in 1863. Despite her own privations, Ellen gave much of her time to providing relief to Confederate prisoners of war in the city. Since she made no secret of where her sympathies lay, Federal military authorities eventually suspected her of spying and expelled her to Georgia, where she continued to record her impressions and observations.

Only recently brought to light by the diarist’s descendants, this compelling personal record has been meticulously edited and annotated by Daniel Sutherland. The resulting volume adds a spirited and articulate voice to the chorus of available firsthand testimony on America’s bloodiest conflict.