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Kate Stone’s Civil War: My pen is powerless

August 16, 2013


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.

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)

Stone had little respect for anyone who lacked her sense of style and bearing. She hardly sympathized with the people of East Texas.

Aug. 16, 1863

“Elysian Fields,” Lamar County, Texas

We went to church this morning at a tumbledown schoolhouse called Liberty expecting to hear the funeral sermon of Mrs. Alexander, who was a near neighbor. The poor woman has been dead four months, and her husband married again six weeks after her death. But he says he is determined to pay proper respect to dear Mary and so will have her funeral preached, with the new wife sitting decorously near to hear it.

It was the oddest-looking crowd one could imagine, and the very funniest dressing we ever saw. My pen is powerless to describe it: one girl airy in pink tarleton and another sweltering in red woolen; high horn combs with long ribbon streamers waving from the top; immense hoops; and strand after strand of beads, all colors, wound around their necks.

Many of the men were barefooted, and nearly all of their slouched wool hats were decorated with ribbons or an artificial flower. There were few coats but many vests and a display of homemade knit galluses. It was a most unusual-looking crowd, all sitting on puncheons laid on supports, some of them constantly slipping down. …

  1. Even though Kate describes her pen as “powerless to describe it”, she does so very well.

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