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

By Krowl, Michelle A. | The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Autumn 1997 | Go to article overview

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


Krowl, Michelle A., The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography


Shadows on My Heart: The Civil War Diary of Lucy Rebecca Buck of Virginia. Edited by ELIZABETH R. BAER. Southern Voices from the Past: Women's Letters, Diaries, and Writings. CAROL BLESER, General Editor. Athens and London: University of Georgia Press, 1997. xxviii, 355 pp. $50.00.

IN her introduction to Shadows on My Heart, editor Elizabeth R. Baer suggests that southern women expressed in their diaries the unspoken "anger and ambivalence" they felt when the Civil War destroyed long-standing societal assumptions, thereby forcing women to "question the very ideology with which they had been raised" (pp. xxiv, xxxi). Although it is not clear that Lucy Buck rejected the substance of her upbringing as a result of the war, her diary vividly records the challenges she experienced in trying to live within a world that radically changed around her.

Only nineteen when her diary begins in 1861, Lucy Buck quickly reveals herself as an ardent Confederate. Because her brothers, relatives, and friends fight for the Confederacy, her patriotism for the Rebel cause rarely wanes, even when battlefield defeats and personal tribulations test her faith about the war's outcome. While she painfully records Yankee depredations on her father's Front Royal farm, she also reveals conflicting emotions about the individual Union officers she meets. Although hating the enemy in general, she cannot help but recognize the humanity of her acquaintances. Keenly interested in wartime events, Buck also notes the information she acquires and the source of it. Such entries shed light on the ways in which ordinary citizens haphazardly monitored the conflict's progress.

Buck's youthful passions, however, color her reactions to and record of the war. Her brave talk about wishing to shoot the Yankees herself mingles with fits of crying when the war intrudes too closely on her domestic tranquility. News about the latest battle quickly gives way to describing her evening's entertainment or her most recent round of visiting. The diarist provides a thorough account of life, both the mundane and exciting, in the heavily contested Shenandoah Valley.

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