Born in Camden, Colonel James Chesnut (1815-1885) graduated from Princeton and began a law practice in Camden. He served several terms in the South Carolina state legislature from 1840 to 1858. In 1858 he was named to the U.S. Senate, but he resigned on November 10, 1860. As a delegate to the South Carolina Secession Convention, he helped to draft the Ordinance of Secession, and as a delegate to the provisional Confederate Congress in 1861, he helped to draft the permanent Confederate Constitution. Chesnut was commissioned as a Colonel in the Confederate Army and served as an aide to P.G.T. Beaureguard (see General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard), carrying back and forth the messages of negotiation leading to the attack on Fort Sumter, and was later at the Battle of First Manassas. He was an aide-de-camp on President Davis's military staff during the remainder of 1861. From 1862 until 1864 he served in a military staff position in Richmond. In 1864 he was promoted to Brigadier General in charge of all reserve forces on the South Carolina coast and served until the war's end. After the war, he returned to his law practice and his plantation in Camden, where he remained until his death in 1885.
Courtesy of the South Caroliniana Library.