James Chesnut, Jr.
|Birthplace:||Camden, Kershaw, SC|
|Death:||Died in Camden, Kershaw District, SC|
|Place of Burial:||Knights Hill Cemetery, Camden, Kershaw County, South Carolina|
|Managed by:||Erin Spiceland|
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About Gen. James Chesnut, Jr. (CSA), U.S. Senator
James Chesnut, Jr. (January 18, 1815 – February 1, 1885) of Camden, South Carolina, was a planter, lawyer, United States Senator, a signatory of the Constitution of the Confederate States of America, and a Confederate Army general. His wife was Mary Boykin Chesnut; she became notable for her diary of the Civil War years, first published in 1905 nearly 20 years after her death. In 1982 a version edited by the historian C. Vann Woodward and published as Mary Chesnut's Civil War Diary (1981) won the Pulitzer Prize for history.
Chesnut participated in the South Carolina secession convention in December 1860 and was subsequently elected to the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America. He was a member of the committee which drafted the Constitution of the Confederacy.
In the spring of 1861, he served as an aide-de-camp to General P.G.T. Beauregard and was sent by the general to demand the surrender of Fort Sumter in Charleston. After the commander of the fort, Major Robert Anderson of the U.S. Army declined to surrender, Chesnut gave orders to the nearby Fort Johnson to open fire on Fort Sumter. In consequence the first shots of the Civil War were fired, on April 12, 1861. In the summer of 1861 Chesnut also took part in the First Battle of Manassas as an aide-de-camp to Beauregard.
In 1862 Chesnut served as a member of the South Carolina's Executive Council and the Chief of the Department of the Military of South Carolina. Later in the war he served the Confederate Army as a colonel and an aide to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. In 1864 he was promoted to brigadier general and given command of South Carolina reserve forces until the end of the war. After the war, he returned to the practice of law in Camden and formed the Conservative Party of South Carolina.