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Kate Stone’s Civil War: That land of desolation

May 29, 2014

KS52

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)

Martial optimism mixes with frustration as Stone sits down to sew, only because her seamstress slave has escaped.

May 29, 1864

Tyler, Texas

The news this morning is enough to make one hurrah. Grant is repulsed with a loss of 45,000 and Johnston is victorious at Dalton with 10,000 prisoners captured. Providence is smiling on our arms this year. Not a defeat. Peace, glorious Peace, will gladden our hearts before the spring flowers bloom again.

It is the fairest of May days and Mamma has gone to church. I stayed with Johnny, who is feeling unwell and is in bed. Mamma will find it unpleasantly warm walking that mile from church. Oh, for a carriage! My ambition reaches out only for a carriage and a riding horse for Johnny, then I shall be satisfied for a little while. I doubt that I was ever intended for a poor girl. Deprivations go hard with me. Mamma has more strength of mind than to worry about it.

A wagon just arrived from the prairie loaded with eatables. … Not a cent of money in the house for a week and only hard fare. As the wagon has come, Jimmy’s trip was useless. All the Negroes are well and affairs are flourishing in that land of desolation. The last few days have been as dismal as a rainy Sunday. We miss Julia. No letters, no visitors, and even the boys have half-way deserted us. … Mrs. Savage grows ruder every day. She is so often rough and unkind in her speech that the boys all stand in terror of her tongue and will hardly venture to go there.

May 30

Our first busy day this spring, sewing on the cloth from the prairie. We are at last using homespun. Hemmed a dozen towels today, looking much like the dish towels of old. Little Sister is to have an outfit from the same piece, but she quite glories in the idea of wearing homespun and coming out a regular Texan. The house servants are charmed to see the cloth. They have been fit suspects for the ragman for weeks. Mamma is readying up Charles, who has been a regular ragamuffin.

We are sorry Adeline, the seamstress, selected this as a fit time to run away. It keeps our hands full. Mamma sent Felix back to Mr. Smith and has Thomas in his place. We think he will be an improvement. …

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