Cobb’s Ordeal
The Diaries of a Virginia Farmer

Edited by Daniel W. Crofts


"This book is a valuable, revealing source on the life, attitudes, and values of a Virginia slaveholder. Cobb's diary is especially useful in two areas: the light it sheds on marriage and family relationships, and the information it contains on master-slave relation and racial attitudes."
—Paul D. Escott, editor of North Carolina Yeoman: The Diary of Basil Armstrong Thomasson, 1853-1862

"Cobb's Ordeal is a welcome addition to the growing shelf of first-hand narratives of rural life in the nineteenth-century South. . . . Superbly edited by Crofts, the resulting record is an intimate portrait of male experience by a member of the South's much-heralded, but still understudied, 'plain folk.'"
Journal of the Early Republic

Daniel W. Cobb, a farmer and small slaveholder from Virginia's rural tidewater, was unhappily married, resentful of his prosperous in-laws, and terribly lonely. His closest friend was the diary he kept for more than thirty momentous years in American history, from 1842 until his death at age sixty-one in 1872.

The devout, plainspoken Cobb wrote in a conversational style, candidly recording his innermost thoughts. His diary's intimate account of a troubled marriage provides a painfully frank chronicle of incompatibility. The diary also illuminates the momentous impact of the Civil War and emancipation. Offering many insights into the oral culture from which he sprang, Cobb's Ordeal reveals the great differences that separate his world from our own.

Page count: 384 pp.
Trim size: 6.125 x 9.25


List price: $51.95

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Daniel W. Crofts is professor of history at The College of New Jersey. His books include Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis; Old Southampton: Politics and Society in a Virginia County, 1834-1869; and A Secession Crisis Enigma: William Henry Hurlbert and “The Diary of a Public Man”, forthcoming in 2010.