Kate Stone’s Civil War: A besom of destruction

Stone glories over desperately-needed good news from the battlefield: the Confederate victory at Mansfield, La. But she also realizes that she doesn’t view death as she once did.

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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 glories over desperately-needed good news from the battlefield: the Confederate victory at Mansfield, La. But she also realizes that she doesn’t view death as she once did.

April 15, 1864

Tyler, Texas

Jimmy, Sister, and I are keeping house in lonely state. Mamma and Johnny are on a visit to the prairie. …

People do not mourn their dead as they used to. Everyone seems to live only in the present just from day to day otherwise I fancy many would go crazy.

Carrie Lowry was married last month to Col. Polk of Arkansas. Her family are all pleased at the match. It was a grand wedding, and Julia was first bridesmaid.

A letter from Aunt Sarah to Mamma enclosing one from My Brother. He was on the Rapidan when he wrote, on picket duty but was soon after detailed as brigade inspector and ordered to headquarters at Orange County Court House. He expected a nice time there, a tent, and little to do. He has lost hope of a transfer. They will not even give him a furlough. We still have strong hopes of his transfer through Gen. Kirby Smith’s application. As Mamma was away, I opened the letter with a sinking heart, sure that it contained bad news.

The papers are filled with news of our great victory at Mansfield, La., where the Yankees were so confident of success. They had boasted that in two weeks the last armed rebel would be driven from Louisiana, Shreveport would be taken without a struggle, and then they would sweep over Texas, a besom of destruction. Then they would leisurely march back, after establishing freedom, law, and order in this benighted country, to the river, going in time to join Grant in his “On to Richmond.”

But they find themselves mistaken. We did the gobbling act. We have taken over 5,000 soldiers and many stores. It is our first great success on this side of the river, and the effect will be magical, inspiring both citizens and soldiers. Our loss was heavy, especially in officers, Gens. Green and Mouton both killed and Gen. Polignac dangerously wounded. Our gallant Southern soldiers who can praise them enough? As much as they deserve? We will never laugh at our soldiers on this side of the Mississippi again. …

Capt. King has married recently a pretty little Creole refugee from New Orleans. It was a short acquaintance. We have exchanged calls and find her very pleasant, but I doubt she will have a happy life. We find Capt. King is quite a drinker.

Dr. McGregor from Arkansas in one of the Departments here is our most frequent visitor. Dr. Johnson, of laboratory fame/ has presented us with such a nice chessboard and backgammon box made by himself, and I have vanquished him in a game of chess much to my delight and his chagrin. It was his first game lost to a lady he says. He is something like Dr. Buckner in manner, and about his age. Dr. McGregor is a jolly, good-natured bachelor not overly refined. He is something like our New Orleans friend, Mr. McGregor. The same clan, I suppose.

Willy Carson is at home. He has not grown any but looks well. … He is awfully shy and ill at ease. As I succeeded in melting Jimmy Carson’s reserve, I do not despair of Willy. I am about the only young lady in the world that Jimmy is not afraid of. We are great chums. …

We have had several trashy novels, the best, The Dead Secret. The papers are most interesting and a great resource, particularly the Houston papers.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Rumsfeld’s no McNamara / Search for the black box / Second novels / American dynasties / No more Turkish miracle

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This week: Rumsfeld’s no McNamara / The race to find the black box / Second novels / American dynasties / No more Turkish miracle

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Donald Rumsfeld Hasn’t Learned a Damn Thing
By James G. Blight and Janet M. Lang | Politico Magazine | April 4
“Bush’s unrepentant defense secretary and the dark art of B.S.”

2. Clock ticking on search to find Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370’s black box
By Swati Pandey | Thomseon Reuters | April 4
“On Monday, it will be 30 days since the jetliner lost communications and disappeared from civilian radar.”

3. Letterman Wasn’t That Funny, Which Is Exactly Why He Matters
By Isaac Chotiner | The New Republic | April 4
“I can’t think of a mass cultural figure of such large importance who was so committed to his own idea of artistic integrity.”

4. Are We Entering a Golden Age of the Second Novel?
By Bill Morris | The Millions | April 4
“Writers get only one shot at becoming The Next Big Thing, which, to too many publishers, is The Only Thing. Failure to do so can carry a wicked and long-lasting sting.”

5. The Work Hitler Despised and the One from Above His Fireplace
By R.C. Baker | The Village Voice | April 2
“The art of hate.”

6. Allegheny Arsenal Explosion
By Maggie MacLean | Civil War Women | April 3
“On September 17, 1862, seventy-eight girls and young women were killed in an explosion at the Allegheny Arsenal in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — the worst civilian disaster of the Civil War.”

7. Bush 41 Reunion Looks to Burnish His Legacy
By Peter Baker | The New York Times | April 3
“This seems to be a season for presidential rehabilitation, if not for the incumbent then for his predecessors.”

8. Karzai Is Trying to Keep His Sway After Term Ends
By Matthew Rosenberg | The New York Times | April 3
“American officials have ignored him, and Afghanistan’s presidential contenders have tried to persuade voters that they will be different from him. But those hoping to see President Hamid Karzai slip into a quiet retirement may be disappointed in the months to come.”

9. Dynasty Isn’t Just for Monarchies Anymore
By Larry J. Sabato | Politico Magazine | March 31
“A Bush-Clinton matchup in 2016 would hardly be unusual. American politics is more of a family affair than you think.”

10. Turkey Goes Out of Control
By Christopher de Bellaigue | The New York Review of Books | April 3
“Large parts of the civil service have been eviscerated, much of the media has been reduced to unthinking carriers of politically motivated revelation and innuendo, and the economy has slowed down after a decade of strong growth. The Turkish miracle is over.”

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TUNES

Tonight I’m spending some time with the blues, specifically with the Texas Blues Café. Check out the line-up and then listen here.

1. ZZ Top — Whats Up With That
2. Eddie Turner — I’m A Man
3. Carolyn Wonderland — Ain’t Nobody’s Business
4. Guitar Shorty — A Little Less Conversation
5. Jimi Hendrix — Electric Church Red House
6. Paul Rodgers — Walk In My Shadow
7. North Mississippi Allstars — Shake (Yo Mama)
8. Too Slim And The Taildraggers — Mexico
9. Walter Trout — May Be A Fool
10. The Black Keys — Hurt Like Mine
11. R.L Burnside — Goin Down South
12. Janiva Magness — Slipped,Tripped And Fell
13. Steve Miller — Driven Wheel
14. Bo Cox — Gone

Videos I Love: Life swirling around me

Leave it to “Mad Men” to again capture life’s sadness, loneliness, and joy in seemingly simple and definitely beautiful moments.

Leave it to “Mad Men” to again capture life’s sadness, loneliness, and joy in seemingly simple and definitely beautiful moments.

One of their new teasers for the final season did just that. It looks like what I feel as I walk through life swirling around me.

I’m occasionally sharing some thoughts on a few videos that make me smile, make me think, or preferably do both. Read more from this special series here.