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.
Stone begins the new year with a diary entry — one of her longest — filled with details, cautious hope, and determination to hold out for ultimate Confederate victory.
Jan. 29, 1865
Uncle Johnny and Kate have just gone to their room after a lengthy discussion of the comparative merits of modern poets and novelists. Johnny has kissed me goodnight, Sister is wandering in dreamland, I am alone with a cheerful fire and a wakeful spirit, and so I may as well resume my neglected diary.
Mamma, with Sarah as her maid, started on Wednesday for the prairie to be absent two weeks, and I am left to administer affairs during her absence. The office of housekeeper is not entirely a sinecure now that there are so many to be provided for our family, Uncle John’s, and Mr. Gary’s. We tease Mamma and Mrs. Savage by telling them they are keeping boarding houses, a fact they indignantly deny. But it looks that way to an outsider. We hoped to get Mr. Smith’s house and live to ourselves, but he now declines to rent. But for the hall, we are as much crowded here as at the Ranch, which we had to give up to the owner as he wished to move back. This is a pretty-looking place if the house was painted but new and unfinished, a large yard with the native trees left. Mr. and Mrs. Gary, from whom Mamma rented it, are quite nice people. They have one little girl and they give very little trouble. We rarely see them except at meals, which is a relief, for we did so dread her living in our room. Even Kate leaves us to ourselves sometimes, and so we find it much easier to live together. Though both Uncle Johnny and Kate utterly ignore Johnny’s existence, it is wonderful that they will behave so.
Jimmy and Joe Carson have rejoined their command. It is Jimmy’s first trial as a soldier. I am trying to finish a pair of the prettiest riding gloves to send him by Jimmy Stone’s boy, who will get off Wednesday. I am sending Jimmy Stone a famous pair. Dr. Weir would feel himself awfully slighted and retire in disgust could he peep behind the scenes and see what becomes of the precious gauntlets he forced on my acceptance. He flattered himself I would knit a pair of gloves to them and kindly bestow them on him. But oh no, they go with the best I can make to Jimmy. I have knitted so many gloves, and Mamma knits socks in all her spare time. I wish I had kept account of the numbers of pairs. We froth up old black or blue silk, mix it with wool, and have it spun into a pretty silky thread that makes nice-looking gloves or stockings. …
So slowly news comes in that we have heard nothing since Sherman’s occupation of Savannah more than a month ago and Gen. Hood‘s retreat across the Tennessee River. … Hood is relieved from command and Gen. Johnston reinstated, a rumor that gives general satisfaction. The very air is rife with rumors but nothing reliable. The favorite is that the Confederacy will certainly be recognized by all foreign powers immediately after the fourth of March, and we may look for a speedy peace with much more to the same. But we have been exalted and depressed by these rumors too often to let them weigh with us now. Another topic of general interest is the subject of gradual emancipation said to be under discussion in the lower house [of the Confederate Congress]. …