Kate Stone’s Civil War: Gladden our hearts

As Stone celebrated one brother, she expressed deep discomfort with another.

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)

In mid-October 1861, Stone’s brother, who served in the Confederate army in Virginia, returned to Brokenburn for a rest. Stone was elated to see him. His stories from the battlefields fascinated and horrified her. He rejoined a family wracked by seasonal sicknesses. As Stone celebrated one brother, she expressed deep discomfort with another.

Oct. 19:

What a joyous evening to us all. My Brother came a complete surprise to us all. Sent home on sick furlough. He has had typhoid fever for a month and as soon as convalescent the surgeon sent him home. He looks taller and has lost forty pounds. Home life and love will soon build him up. He came at dusk. We have kept him talking until eleven, and that was not wise, as of course he is tired. He told us many funny anecdotes of his experiences as assistant provost marshal. He likes the marshal exceedingly. How horrible is the idea of the visitors to the Manassas battlefield rifling the graves of Northern soldiers for mementoes. They should be put in the front ranks of the next battle. It is positively ghoulish. Johnny went out for the mail and brought My Brother instead. Mr. Bledsoe kindly sent him out in his buggy. Our heartfelt thanks go up to God for having returned to us our best beloved brother.

Oct. 22:

My Brother is a bright yellow, even the skin of his head, like an orange or a pumpkin, and Dr. Lily has prescribed sugar cane for him. He is to eat all of it he can. Dr. Carson sent him a wagonload of it by the wagon that carried out the cotton that Mamma and others subscribed to the sewing society.

Oct. 28:

Today is but a catalogue of chills. Ashburn and Brother Coley shivered through the morning and burned all the evening. Timely doses of quinine kept them off Sister and Johnny. Sister has been sick since Friday and Mamma had Dr. Lily for her. Charles and Sarah are up today and Lucy and Prank down.

My Brother went out this evening to see Dr. Carson. His appetite is better and he is gaining strength.

They are digging potatoes today. Promises to be a noble lot. Annie is helping Uncle Hoccles gather the goober peas [peanuts]. It looks like a month’s job for him. Jimmy and I made some pecan and pull candy this evening and I wish we had not.

Brother Walter teased and worried us, and we all got tired of it and appealed to Mamma when Brother Walter flew into one of his unreasoning rages (fortunately such attacks are rare) and behaved so badly that we have all been uncomfortable ever since. He is the only one of my brothers I ever thought really needed punishing and the only one I ever feel like quarreling with. I believe he is the brightest of all the boys, converses so well, has Mamma’s gift in that, and looks more like her than any of her children.

Nov. 10:

My Brother left us today to join his regiment at Evansport on Occoquan Creek in Virginia. His health is quite restored but Oh! how we hate to give him up. His visit home has been such a delight to us. When will he come to gladden our hearts again?

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