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Kate Stone’s Civil War: I suffered intensely

November 1, 2014

KS2

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)

As Stone works her way back to Texas, a toothache adds to her discomfort and fear throughout a journey through wild and war-torn swampland.

November 1864

On the road to Texas

We got off from Col. Templeton’s Monday morning, all sorry to part after a delightful summer and fall with not a disagreeable incident to mar our intercourse. They have been the soul of kindness to me, one and all. The direct road through the swamp is impassable, and so Capt. Wylie piloted us a new route. Capt. Wylie, Johnny, and I were on horseback, and about 2 o’clock we reached the hill road without getting bogged down as Johnny had in coming through the old road. We dismounted, entered the carriage, and bade Capt. Wylie a warm farewell, thanking him for his many courtesies. …

It was a rainy day and we did not reach Monroe until about sunset. Capt. Brigham met us, and we waved him adieu as we crossed the Ouachita on a flat. We passed the night at Mrs. Scale’s at Trenton, much to Johnny’s disgust as he does not like them. Some gentlemen called, and we had cards. After they left, Lucy and I tried our fortunes in divers ways as it was “All Hallow’e’en.” We tried all magic arts and had a merry frolic, but no future lord and master came to turn our wet garments hanging before the fire. There were no ghostly footprints in the meal sprinkled behind the door. No bearded face looked over our shoulders as we ate the apples before the glass. No knightly forms of soldiers brave disturbed our dreams after eating the white of an egg half-filled with salt. …

The third morning we left in a cold drizzling rain with a splendid lunch and a jar of pickles, and with kisses and good wishes of the family. I had a raging toothache, because of sitting all day in wet shoes after passing the swamp. Capt. Wylie’s solicitude on the subject of my thin, wet shoes was not uncalled for at last.

Our trip to Vienna was disagreeable. We stopped at twelve, built a fire, enjoyed our dinner, and then smoked leaf cigarettes. They relieved my tooth for a time, but the pain returned. For several days I suffered intensely, nearly ruining all my teeth I fear by using creosote, caustic, and any strong thing people recommended. Our supper at the hotel at Vienna consisted of cold stewed pumpkins, cold greens, and cold white cornbread. Nothing else but cold well water. The breakfast was nearly as unpalatable, but it was warm. We had nothing to eat all day except the pickles, which Johnny first ate and then drank the vinegar. …

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