Kate Stone’s Civil War: The blood of her children

Hard, historic days of decision, she knew, lay ahead.

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, the daughter of Louisiana cotton plantation owners who chronicled her turbulent life throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Independence Day, 1861, inspired Stone to reflect on the remnants of the Union her generation inherited from the Founding Fathers. Hard, historic days of decision, she knew, lay ahead.

July 4

Mamma is still in bed but is better. The boys have holiday in honor of the Fourth but more I think to keep up old customs than for any feeling of respect for the day. This is the first Fourth in our memory to pass without a public merrymaking of some kind, but we do not hear of the day’s being celebrated in town or country. There are other and sterner duties before us. It would ill become us as a Nation to be celebrating a day of independence when we are fighting for our very existence.

This July sun has set on a Nation in arms against itself, host against host. Those who have clasped each other’s hands in kindest spirits less than one short year ago, as friends, as countrymen, as children of one common Mother, now stand opposing each other in deadliest hate, eager to water Old Mother Earth with the blood of her children. Our Cause is right and God will give us the victory. Will the next July sun rise on a Nation peaceful, prosperous, and happy, or on a land desolate and disgraced? He alone knows.

Congress meets today. The lives of thousands hang on its decision. Will it be for peace or war? We should know by Saturday.

July 5

The Fourth and today passed without any trouble with the Negroes. The general impression has been that the Negroes looked for a great upheaval of some kind on that day. In some way they have gotten a confused idea of Lincoln’s Congress meeting and of the war; they think it is all to help them, and they expected for “something to turn up.” I hope the house servants will settle to their work now.

July 17

Mamma and I went out Monday and took dinner with Mrs. Savage and went up in the afternoon to call on Mrs. Carson. I remained there until this evening. Mamma came out and spent the day. Had a delightful visit. It is a most hospitable home, complete in all its appointments lovely gardens and orchards, an old place well taken care of with perfect service because of so many servants.

We admire Dr. Carson greatly. He is such a humane master and good Christian. He has the minister to preach regularly to his Negroes, or if there is no minister, he or one of the boys reads a sermon, hymns, and the Bible to them every Sunday afternoon. And he has Sunday school for them. He raises plenty of fruit and vegetables for everybody on the place, and his quarter lot is the prettiest place, a great stretch of thick green turf dotted with great forest trees and a double row of two-room cabins shining with whitewash. It is the cleanest-looking place I ever saw. He is a good man. Mamma has the minister to preach to our Negroes when he can find time, but that is not as often as we wish.