It was written as a school exercise in composition and deals primarily with lessons, weather, and short newspaper reports.
Significant news reports include notice of the militia organization in Wilmington, the siege at Fort Sumter, sightings of Union military vessels at Charleston and Savannah harbors, and the taking of a Confederate prize off Cape Hatteras. There are numerous notes on troop movements through Wilmington, including one in which an attempted escape by a Zouave is stopped with a bayonet and another in which plans are made to guard prisoners at the hospital. In addition, there are short notes concerning battles and skirmishes at Fairfax Courthouse, along the Potomac, at Leesburg, Virginia, and at Hatteras and Newport, N.C. Mention is made of an attempted sabotage of the Wilmington-Weldon Railroad, smuggling of pistols into Kentucky inside hoop skirts of Confederate ladies, and the proposal that Southern soldiers have a large metal "S" on their uniforms as means of identification.
References are made to speeches given by Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens in Wilmington during this period. One personal experience Miss Costin relates is that of a friend, a cotton merchant, who received cotton planted by Georgia slaves for pocket money and had requested that half the profit be used "against Yankee abolitionists." Mention is also made of the arrest and release of Confederate agents Slidell and Mason.