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Kate Stone’s Civil War: Out of time

April 1, 2015


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)

An early-spring Texas cold front has scattered Stone’s beloved flowers, and she sinks into a depression as friends suddenly turn their backs and her brother wants to fight his school nemesis again.

April 1, 1865

Tyler, Texas

A wild March wind is howling around the house, scattering the glory of the white and pink blossoms that have made the town so lovely for the last week. The white and purple lilacs yesterday were in full bloom, great plumes, redolent of perfume, but today the rude norther has drifted the fragrant petals far and wide. On the mantle is our first spring bouquet, wreathes of flowering almond, tufts of brilliant phlox, a handful of the coral honeysuckle loved by the boys, gold and purple pansies, as large as those in Louisiana, and sweetest of all, the cluster of purple and white lilac. Lilacs grow so much better in this red soil than in the swamp.

Though the buds and flowers of fair spring are with us, we are feeling the truth of the poet’s song, “What is friendship but a name?” Our refugee friends, Mrs. Carson and Mrs. Savage, have grown cold toward us, and we do not know what is wrong. It worries Mamma very much. Though we may pretend not to feel the wound, it is no less painful. As to Mrs. Carson, Mamma long ago realized that she had no conception of real friendship. Her nature is too shallow to be true to anyone. The last friend is always the best with her. But Mamma had a right to look for real friendship at Mrs. Savage’s hands, but she has not secured it. Her friendship is … worthless. … She showed plainly in the affair of the house that Mamma’s interest was as nothing to her compared to Mrs. Alexander’s, a friend of a few months. Mamma is disturbed by it, for she considered Mrs. Savage one of her very best friends.

Mrs. Alexander sent to ask Mamma to let her keep the house, but that would deprive us entirely of a home as Mamma had given up the one we are in and planted a garden at the Alexander house. It was impossible and we will move in May. We will be glad to move to the Brazos this fall and put the past and its false friends behind us. …

Beauregard is all right. We hear that Gen. Sherman is dead. …

Johnny is in a dreadful humor and makes us all feel it because Mamma will not allow him to have another fight with Charley Ligruski. Boys of Johnny’s age are generally self-willed and disobedient, Mamma can do but little with him, and now he is of no assistance to her. Everything seems to be going wrong, most probably because I myself am out of time, and so no more scribbling until I am myself again.

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