Kate Stone’s Civil War: Years of grinding toil
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.
The Stone family’s plans to move to Tyler, Texas, were shattered when their guide was taken away to serve in the militia. Kate Stone’s mother demanded his return.
Sept. 14, 1863
“Elysian Fields,” Lamar County, Texas
Our affairs are in a state of confusion worse confounded. All our plans were nipped in the bud by Mr. Smith’s being taken to camp to serve in the militia in spite of Gen. Smith’s detail. Everything is at a standstill with us. Mrs. Smith insulted the men who came for Mr. Smith, and so they waylaid him and took him off to camp, not allowing him even to come by home and get a change of clothes. Mrs. Smith was deadly angry, and an ironical message from one of Mr. Smith’s captors has made her rabid. Her abuse of everything and everybody in Texas is eloquent. We were to have started to Tyler. Mr. Smith was going to Shreveport on important business for Mamma, Mrs. Smith and Miss Mary were going to live at Mr. Vaughn’s and take charge of his children, but all our plans have come to naught.
I hear the crickets and see the stars so the storm must have passed us by, and we will not sleep under a dripping roof.
A most pleasant surprise this morning. Uncle Johnny, his wife, and baby arrived at our Retreat. They are fleeing from the Yankees in Arkansas and are on their way to Austin, where Uncle Johnny hopes to edit a newspaper. They came 150 miles out of their route to see us. His wife, Kate, is a sweet, innocent-looking woman. She looks about sixteen, though she is twenty-one. The baby, Sally, is the tiniest mite of a creature. Texas air will have to do much for her before she gets a strong hold on life. We will be here several weeks longer, and this new family will be a great pleasure. We can at least talk to the newcomers, and Mamma and I have about exhausted all our well-worn topics.
Mamma thinks now affairs are entrain to get Mr. Smith again detailed by paying $500 and swearing she is in need of his services. Mamma went Thursday all the way to Charleston, the militia camp, to get Mr. Smith released. She met there her Paris friend, Gen. Smith, who was very polite and who really seemed to wish to do her a kindness. He will do all in his power to get Mr. Smith off. He is the second man we have met in Texas who seemed to have goodwill for refugees and sympathy for their troubles. If the officers had any sense, they could see that Mamma is forced to have someone to manage for her. Mamma and Miss Mary saw a funny set at Charleston.
We have had a succession of callers recently. The unadulterated natives are all eager to hire Negroes. There is a furor for them. All the old ladies in the county are falling sick just to get their “Old Men” to hire a servant. Who can blame them after their years of grinding toil for seeking a little rest?