From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.
Stone’s new year of happiness — her brother home to recover from minor wounds, a stream of good news from the battlefields — ended abruptly, and as Union troops closed in on Brokenburn, her diary fell silent.
She did not write again until March 1863.
Jan. 1, 1863
My dear Brother came home this morning and in perfect health. How overjoyed we are to have him with us, but oh the disappointment that he is still only a captain. It seems he and the other gentlemen mentioned at the same time were recommended by the officers of their regiment for the field offices and a petition sent up for their promotion, but by the rules of war promotion could not go that way. The senior officers must go up first, and so Tom Manlove is lieutenant colonel and the senior captain, major. Tom Manlove headed a petition signed by all the officers of the regiment asking that My Brother be made colonel, but My Brother would not let it be sent up. I am awfully sorry. I fear now he will never be promoted. He has no ambition and a low opinion of his capabilities. It is foolish for me to feel so bad about it when I should be perfectly happy that he has escaped the myriad dangers and is with us again. He was mentioned for gallant conduct in Gen. Featherston’s report of the battles before Richmond. He was highly complimented on the field of battle at Sharpsburg by Gen. D. H. Hill and again in his official report.
Dear fellow, if anybody deserves promotion he does. He may get the colonelcy of his old batallion, now the 48th Miss. Regt. He was slightly wounded in the foot at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and that is why he was allowed to come home. He is looking well and cheerful. A piece of shell made a slight scar on his face but his whiskers conceal it. To me his coming was no surprise. I have been looking for him for two months, but the others were not so confident. He came by way of Mrs. Amis, and she sent him on by horseback.
Uncle Bo, he reports, is in the finest health and spirits, and our other soldiers are still at Grenada and well.
He brings encouraging news of successes. We have repulsed the enemy twice between the Yazoo and Vicksburg. Gen. Van Dorn has retaken Holly Springs and is threatening Memphis. Our victory at Fredericksburg was complete but barren of result, only it has depressed and surprised the North. Altogether we are getting the better of our foes.
Most of the family are troubled with inflamed eyes and mine are paining me so, from long writing I suppose. This has truly been a Happy New Year to us all, white and black.
Sunday. After three weeks of silence let me think of what has happened. The Yankees, after an absence of more than a week employed in taking Arkansas Post, have returned in large force, have invested Vicksburg, and are cutting another ditch across the point above DeSoto, or it may be deepening the first ditch. My Brother, Mr. Hardison, Dr. Waddell, and several other Louisiana gentlemen were in Vicksburg when the boats came in sight, and they had great trouble regaining their horses, just missing several encounters with scouting bands.
My Brother started off this morning with the best and strongest of the Negroes to look for a place west of the Ouachita. Only the old and sickly with the house servants are left here. He is sure we will all be forced to leave this place as the enemy intend going into camp at the Bend, and in the event of their defeat at Vicksburg which is certain, will lay this whole country waste, sending out bands of Negroes and soldiers to burn and destroy. My Brother thinks we had better leave at once, and we will commence packing tomorrow. The Negroes did so hate to go and so do we.
We have retaken Galveston under Gen. Magruder, and the Alabama and Florida are spreading death and destruction on the seas. We have fought another … battle at Murfreesboro, and the enemy have evacuated Island No. 10. Three days fighting at Vicksburg, and the enemy badly whipped.
Heard from the boys by Joe’s servant, who is home on a visit. All well. Their regiment is now under Van Dorn.
Preparing to run from the Yankees, I commit my book to the bottom of a packing box with only a slight chance of seeing it again.