Emma Holmes

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Emma Holmes was a resident of South Carolina who kept a diary during the American Civil War. This document has since been published as The Diary of Miss Emma Holmes, 1861-1866 by the Louisiana University Press. It is thought to be a historically significant document due to Emma's in-depth accounting of events occurring during the American Civil War.


Miss Holmes was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the daughter of a wealthy planter. She was living in Charleston at the time of the 1861 attack on Fort Sumter that began the Civil War.

As a Confederate, Miss Holmes' writings reflected the early confidence of the Southern United States at the start of the war, but later turned to despair as the conflict grew closer to home. From February 13, 1861 until April 7, 1866, Emma kept a detailed diary of life in Charleston, the affairs of her family and the swirl of history around her. Through that diary a day-to-day narrative was produced of the life of the Holmes family and of Charleston in general. In the diary’s introduction, John F. Marszalek states in regard to Emma Holmes:
"A believer in aristocracy, Miss Holmes felt that people could be classed as betters or inferiors, and she often spoke of the mobocracy...she accepted slavery without question...she was a woman of considerable intellect and curiosity...she read widely…her intellectual bent drew her to the teaching profession…she remained a teacher most of her life."

The diary provides a portrait...
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