Kate Stone’s Civil War: The heart of a boy

Stone’s brothers began a new school in Tyler, Texas, but bullies tormented them, and they nearly came to blows. Students brought guns to school to deal with these Louisiana refugees.

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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’s brothers began a new school in Tyler, Texas, but bullies tormented them, and they nearly came to blows. Students brought guns to school to deal with these Louisiana refugees.

As Kate fretted, she and her mother sewed winter clothes and celebrated the construction of impressive new bonnets.

Oct. 29, 1863

“Refugee Ranch,” Tyler, Texas

We have been at Tyler scarcely long enough to feel settled, and the first thing is a grand disturbance that threatens all our plans.

It seems there is a great prejudice existing here against the unfortunate refugees, a feeling strong in Mr. Kaiser’s school that made Jimmy and Eddie Carson very unpopular. There was no open outbreak, however, until Jimmy and Johnny were entered as pupils. For several days the disaffected could find no open cause of offense, and our boys, perfectly unsuspecting, rode, walked, hunted, and marched together perfectly happy to renew their old friendships and not dreaming they were making enemies. But all this was the head and front of their offending. When they added to this “wearing gold watch chains and black broadcloth” a slender little strand of gold and a secondhand suit of clothes the Tyler boys could stand no more, and they rose in their wrath to put down those “refugee upstarts” most unaffected little fellows.

They opened hostilities by sticking pins in Jimmy and Johnny at church during the prayer. … Johnny was so enraged that he challenged the boy to come out of the church at once and fight, but the boy excused himself as he had a lady with him. They made an appointment to meet the next day and have a regular fisticuffs. The boy failed to keep the promise, and Jimmy denounced the act at school as ungentlemanly. The fuss blew over without coming to blows, the boys agreeing not to speak to each other, and they thought everything was settled. But the father of the boy came to school very angry and told Mr. Kaiser that unless Jimmy Stone was dismissed from school all the other boys would be taken away. Several boys wore pistols to school today, and they had formed a plan to mob Jimmy last night, but as I was with him they put it off.

We knew nothing of all this until Mr. Kaiser came over this evening to advise Mamma and Mrs. Carson to keep the boys inside the yard and to make Jimmy Carson take off the chain and put on rough clothes. Mr. Kaiser has acted a very cowardly part. The boys have been taken from school, and Mamma and Mrs. Carson are trying to get a private tutor for them. Jimmy Stone was studying hard since he knows his school days are short. …

Oct. 30

The Tyler boys are trying to force Jimmy Carson into a fight. Half a dozen of them are going armed for him, and we are very anxious. Mamma and Mrs. Carson have made our boys promise they will not be first to start a row. They restrain themselves but they are boiling with rage. Mamma will not let Jimmy go to church as she hears the Tyler boys intend mobbing him, and Jimmy is in a dreadful state of mind. He says they will all call him a coward. We do not care what these rowdy roughs call our boys, just so they do not all get into a free fight with pistols. If it was only fisticuff, we would let them fight it out. Mrs. Carson went to see Mr. Williams, the father of the ring-leader, and we hope her pacific representations to him will calm the excitement.

Jimmy Stone has behaved as well as a boy could, with firmness but moderation. I do not think he has even been angry until tonight, when Mamma forbid his going to church unless she or I went with him. And he has not put on a pistol until this morning, though he has known for several days that half a dozen boys are wearing pistols to “do him up,” as they say. The entire household is wrought up, and Jimmy is furious. He says he intends to shoot down the first boy tomorrow who says a harsh word to him.

Mrs. Carson is a strong member of the peace party and has forbidden either of her boys to go to Tyler on any pretext whatever. This restraint chafes the boys extremely but is a most necessary one, excited and angry as all the boys are. Johnny and Eddie had been wearing pistols days before we knew there was any trouble. How little we can know what is in the heart of a boy. Here we were, so pleased with their innocent sports, thinking them absorbed in their marbles and horses and marching around, when every boy was expecting a deadly encounter and burning with hatred for his enemies. We were praising Johnny for his devotion to study when lie insisted on going to school one day when Mamma thought him too unwell. We found out afterwards they were expecting a battle royal that day, and Johnny had an appointment to fight. I hope Mr. Kaiser, for his cowardly truckling in dismissing Jimmy without cause, will lose his school.

I am glad it is a general refugee quarrel instead of being confined to Jimmy. Edward Levy and George Grissman, refugee boys, have both had to leave school.

Mamma has been busy remodeling and making bonnets. She has excellent ideas on the subject, and we tell her a first-class milliner was spoiled when she turned to other pursuits. Her bonnet is quite a triumph, a regular “skyscraper” of straw and silk. She finished mine today, a pretty mixture of black velvet and cherry. It is the same I sported at Monroe in uniform with Julia Barr and Shirley Crith, but it is much improved by the addition of the bright color. I have been forced to take off black. None to be bought.

I am still on the weary treadmill of work, work, work that commenced at Monroe. Our sewing seems endless. We have been hard at it for nearly six months and the end is not yet. Mamma bought two calicoes for me, one at $55 and the other $66. One is made and I am sewing on the last one. We still have two drill dresses to make over. Jimmy is without winter underclothes, and we cannot buy a piece of woolen. We fear in such thin clothes he will take pneumonia again.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: This is too disgraceful

Kate Stone’s brother returned with news of a beloved Louisiana crawling with Federal troops and Unionists. Stone was enraged, disgusted, and insulted.

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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)

Kate Stone’s brother returned with news of a beloved Louisiana crawling with Federal troops and Unionists. Stone was enraged, disgusted, and insulted.

Oct. 8, 1863

“Elysian Fields,” Lamar County, Texas

The last few days have been full of interest. First, Johnny returned only last night, and this opens the gates of release from this region of sin and woe. We think we can get off on Monday. Uncle Johnny has been awaiting only Johnny’s return to move on, and they will start on their long journey on Saturday over 300 miles. Thus Johnny’s arrival has been the signal trumpet calling us all to horse and away.

A letter from Julia in which she says My Brother was twice severely wounded in his right arm in the battle of Gettysburg. He has recovered and is with his command but has lost the use of his right hand. We are truly thankful it is no worse. If we could only hear all that has happened to him since seeing him last, but we know so little. Poor fellow, this is his fifth wound and the most severe of all. We so hope he can get a furlough this fall. It worries me to hear of Tom Manlove’s frolicking about, getting married and enjoying himself in every way, getting all the honor, while My Brother, who is worth ten of him, gets only the hard work of the camp and the wounds. … I can write and think myself into a fever about My Brother.

Julia is still at Camden. All wagons have been impressed to remove government stores, and so they cannot get away. She heard through Robert Norris, who wrote asking news of his aunt, that Uncle Bo is well and is now a 1st lieutenant. We are so glad of his promotion. Not a word of Brother Coley, and we are very anxious about him. Joe Carson is regimental colorbearer, a dangerous post. …

Johnny gives a dreadful account of affairs in and around Delhi and Monroe. Most of the citizens remaining boast of being Unionists and carry on a most profitable trade with Vicksburg. The Yankee cavalry came out to Monroe by invitation, and a number of citizens signed a petition asking them to come out and drive away our soldiers still there. This is too disgraceful to be true. Then, a great number of Louisianians have deserted. My cheek crimsons as I write this of our own beloved state, but I cannot believe that she has brought her name to be a disgrace and reproach to her loyal children. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Two distressed damsels

A simple carriage-ride day trip for Kate Stone and her friend Kate turned into a nightmare.

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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)

A simple carriage-ride day trip for Kate Stone and her friend Kate turned into a nightmare.

Oct. 2, 1863

“Elysian Fields,” Lamar County, Texas

We got a late start [on our shopping trip] … with a tired horse and in a drizzling rain, and we had not gone two miles before our bad luck caught up with us.

Uncle Johnny took the wrong road, and we soon found it out and urged him to turn around. He avowed his horror of anything like a backward movement and kept on his chosen way, thinking it would lead into the right road. We traveled on for several miles, leaving home farther and farther away, until at last our united persuasions induced him to turn and cut across the country instead of heading straight for Arkansas, as we were doing. After a wearisome ride thorough stubborn thickets and hogwallow prairie, we at last reached the Paris road and went on rejoicing, but our troubles were just beginning.

A slow pattering rain set in and the buckshot prairie soil grew heavy and more heavy, and our gallant grey was visibly tired. We got out of the Jersey in the pouring rain to cross Sulphur Creek, the bridge like most Texas bridges being only a trap for the unwary. With wet heads and muddy feet, we climbed in again, congratulating ourselves that we would soon be at home. Vain hope. Night came on apace, wrapped in her sable mantle and unbrightened by a star, and we were still four miles from our own hearthstone with a horse only able to drag on in a slow walk. Again we took the wrong road and wandered off on what looked in the uncertain light like a boundless prairie with not a house or road in sight. Again as in the morning we begged Uncle Johnny to turn back to the right road, but true to his expressed principles he refused. We journeyed on, leaving the horse to find his way and straining our eyes to discern a light, but the only lights were those shining up through the tangled grass, the countless glowworms with their gleaming crests. At last plodding along in the Egyptian darkness, the horse gave out entirely, and … we were forced to camp out.

We picketed out the poor horse and wrapped ourselves in bolts of calico and woolen, for we had not a wrap of any kind and it had grown very chilly. Crouching in the Jersey, we resigned ourselves to sweet slumber, but nature’s kind restorer, balmy sleep, was safely sheltered in warm homesteads and was not to be coaxed out on the bleak cold prairie. Twisting and turning we wore the hours away until we discovered that the horse was off picket, and such a chase as Uncle Johnny had to catch him, while we had visions of wandering lost on the prairie for days.

As soon as the first tints of day crimsoned the east, Uncle Johnny set off for home to bring relief to two distressed damsels. The horse was too spent to take us all home. How we laughed at the figure Uncle Johnny presented when he started off with a cushion for a saddle. Kate and I at once went to sleep. Jimmy found us cuddled down in the bottom of the Jersey fast asleep when several hours later he came to our relief with a fresh horse. We reached home at last just before dinner, two forlorn-looking wights and very hungry.