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.
An era that began on May 15, 1861, ends in early June 1865 when William, Stone’s oldest brother, returns from his shattered army. He returns not only bearing wartime defeat but also more bad family news.
June 12, 1865
My Brother is with us at last, safe and well, and words are powerless to tell how thankful we are. He came last Thursday evening with Jimmy and Johnny, whom he met at Homer and turned back, as he had come by home and accomplished all that they could do.
He came by way of Cincinnati and was one month reaching Vicksburg from Lynchburg. He brings the sad news of Aunt Laura’s death in February. She died of grief at Beverly’s loss. She never left her bed after the little darling’s death. She just lost her interest in life and faded away. The doctors attending said she had no disease, only heartbreak and no desire to live, and they could not rouse her nor give her a hold on life. Hers was a sensitive, fine, high-strung soul that could not brave disaster.
Dr. Buckner is in Vicksburg utterly desolate. How kind he was to My Brother, giving him a horse, clothes, and all that he needed. Dr. Buckner is well-fixed financially as his clerk, Mr, Peters, kept his drugstore going on and made a lot of money. The first time Dr. Buckner came home on furlough, some friends told him Mr. Peters was robbing him right and left. Dr. Buckner went right on to his store, caught Mr. Peters by the collar, gave him a good shaking and cursing, and told him, “If, when I come back again, I find that you have cheated me, I shall kill you.” Ever since, they say, Mr. Peters has been scrupulously honest, straight as a siring, and has turned over a lot of money to Dr. Buckner. Mr. Peters is a Vermonter, six feet one, and Dr. Buckner is five feet five but a fighter all over.
Aunt Laura died while at Bladen Springs, Ala., with Aunt Sarah, and Dr. Buckner was with her at the last.
My Brother’s parole gave permission for him and his servant with two horses and his sidearms to return home free of charge, hut he arrived at Vicksburg without a thing. Wesley was forced away at the point of the bayonet when he insisted on following Marse William on the boat. Then My Brother was attacked by a mob and broke his sword over his knee and threw it in the Ohio River rather than give it up to the haughty Federal soldiers. They would not furnish transportation unless he would take the oath of allegiance, and so he sold his horses to get money to get to Vicksburg, where he fortunately met Dr. Buckner.
Mamma is up on the prairie and does not yet know of My Brother’s return. Johnny has gone for her, and we expect her on Thursday. What an immense relief it will be to her.