Kate Stone’s Civil War: How many idle hours

Stone’s last entry of 1865 is filled with sadness and gives hints of what a grim future holds. But amid those dark hints, a small flame of romance stirs.

KS43

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)

Stone’s last entry of 1865 is filled with sadness and gives hints of what a grim future holds. But amid those dark hints, a small flame of romance stirs.

Nov. 17, 1865

Brokenburn

My Brother amd Jimmy are off hunting, fishing, and spying on the land. Little Sister is absorbed in papers a month old, and I, having made my afternoon toilet — a habit of old that I may as well forget now that evening visiting is a thing of the past — have literally nothing to do and nothing to read except Shakespeare, and one cannot read him all the time. We certainly conned that book in Texas and on our various carriage trips. Mamma and Johnny should nearly know it by heart. There is no resort but scribbling. How many idle hours this book has filled.

Uncle Bob is the best old darkie. He has done the best he could to care for things and is as humble and respectful as ever. Every now and then he brings up presents of candy, raisins, and nuts. Aunt Laura’s silver service was buried in the yard, and Uncle Bob in walking one day stepped into a hole. He investigated and found the barrel head had decayed and sunken in. He did not say anything as the Yankees were on the place at the time. He quickly covered it up and that night slipped out and took it to his house, carefully hiding it, but it became noised about among the Negroes and a few spoons were stolen. I suppose his wife, Mary Ann, told as she is the real typical free darkie. The next day he packed the silver all up and took it down to Mrs. Graves to keep. He said he could no longer care for it, and now we have it all. He is the only Negro we know that would not at once on finding it have given or sold it to the darkies. He wants to rent some of the land and plant for himself next year. Mamma will let him have the land rent free. He sold his last cotton for $1 a pound. I wish we had a thousand bales.

Mamma should be back today. I wonder what she will bring us. We bought our first piece of Yankee finery in Shreveport, a broad black belt with an immense buckle for me.

In camping out this trip, we had every appliance for camping, and people who like camping would have found it pleasant. …

Shreveport seemed nearly as busy a place as New Orleans in the old times. … From there to Judge N. Richardson’s, the prettiest place on Bayou DeSaird. How more than comfortably they live in that stately comfortable home with the beautiful yard with its trees and shrubbery, splendid orchard, and well-worked garden, and with all the old servants and the most lavish table. … Lt., or Mr. Holmes now, came out twice to see us while we were there. He is looking handsome and was beautifully dressed. But alas, he has been spending a wild summer and fall, and though he assured me marrying would reform him, I believe not, A dreadful risk for any woman. I fear there is little hope for him. Ho expects to go to Maryland soon on a visit to his mother. That may save him. …

Author: Fernando Ortiz Jr.

Handsome gentleman scholar, Civil War historian, unpretentious intellectual, world traveler, successful writer.

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