Kate Stone’s Civil War: I was young again

Stone’s last three entries in her diary are from September 1867 and 1868. They form a somber epilogue to her chaotic journey. They capture a bitter reflection of a shattered Southern slaveholding society, adrift, confused, and afraid of a world in which they no longer rule.

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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 three entries in her diary are from September 1867 and 1868. They form a somber epilogue to her chaotic Civil War journey. They capture a bitter reflection of a shattered Southern slaveholding society, adrift, confused, and afraid of a world in which they no longer rule.

Read her first entry in this series here.

Sept. 22, 1867

Brokenburn

A long silence and a year of hard endeavor to raise a crop, reconstruct the place with the problem of hired labor, high water, and cotton worms. Mamma had little trouble in getting advances in New Orleans to plant. Cotton is so high that merchants are anxious to advance to put in a crop, and there is much Northern capital seeking investment in that field. … The Negroes demanded high wages, from $20 to $25 for men, in addition to the old rations of sugar, rice, tobacco, molasses, and sometimes hams. Many of the old hands left, and My Brother went to New Orleans and brought back a number of ex-Negro soldiers, who strutted around in their uniforms and were hard to control. I was deadly afraid of them.

During the spring while Mamma and I were in New Orleans (Mamma on business and she took me for my pleasure), and Uncle Bo and My Brother and Jimmy were away for a few hours, Johnny had a fight with a young Negro in the field, shot and came near killing him, and was mobbed in return. Johnny would have been killed but for the stand one of the Negroes made for him and Uncle Bo’s opportune arrival just as the Negroes brought him to the house a howling, cursing mob with the women shrieking, “Kill him!” and all brandishing pistols and guns. It came near breaking up the planting, and it is a pity it did not as it turned out. Johnny had to be sent away. He was at school near Clinton [Miss.] and the Negroes quieted down and after some weeks the wounded boy recovered, greatly to Johnny’s relief. He never speaks now of killing people as he formerly had a habit of doing. He came home when school closed and there was no further trouble.

Then the water came up and we were nearly overflowed. The cotton planted was very late, and when it was looking as luxuriant and promising as possible and we saw ease of mind before us, the worms came. In a few days the fields were blackened like fire had swept over them. We made about twenty bales and spent $25,000 doing it. What most distresses me is that none of that money went for our personal comfort. All of it went to the Negroes. Mamma would buy only bare necessaries for the table and plainest clothes for the family. Not a luxury, no furniture, carpets, or anything. We are worse off for those things than even in Texas and such a sum spent! But Mamma said it was not honest to spend the money on anything but making the crop. All in this section have suffered in the same way, and for awhile they seemed stunned by their misfortunes. But now the reaction has come, and all are taking what pleasure offers.

Old neighbors and new ones have come in and all seemed to be anxious to be together and talk over their trials and tribulations. There has been much visiting and various picnics and fish frys. I would not go at first. I felt like I did not want to see anybody or ever dance again. I felt fully forty years old, but Mamma made me go after a good cry. Once there, I was compelled to exert myself, and soon I was enjoying it all. The burden of some of the years slipped from my shoulders, and I was young again. It was pleasant to talk nonsense, to be flattered though one knew it was flattery, and to be complimented and fussed over. So since then, Mamma, the boys, and all of us have been going to everything and have found even poverty in company more bearable than when suffered alone. …

September 1868

Rose Hill

In January My Brother rented this place knowing that Brokenburn would be again overflowed, and we moved out the latter part of the month. My Brother lost money again last year planting, and this year he determined to farm, planting a little of everything.

Johnny and Jimmy are both at home, and having nothing to do pulled off their coats and rolled up their sleeves and went to work to raise a crop of corn and potatoes for themselves. They have succeeded well as they will clear several hundred dollars.

We all regret so much Jimmy’s refusal to go buck to the hospital. … We fear he is throwing away the best chance of his life. The boys are so hot and tired when they come in from the fields. …

Sept. 28, 1868

Rose Hill

Mother has been in Vicksburg for a month on a visit to Aunt Sarah. It is her first outing for eighteen months. We hope it will benefit her — her health has been bad for more than a year. She is seldom out of bed more than a week at a time. It took great persuasion and the pointed urging of the whole family to induce her to go on this visit that Aunt Sarah has been begging her to take for months.

Jimmy is now on the wharf boat, Johnny at Omega, and Sister, My Brother, and I have it all our own way with but little to do. My Brother is making an excellent crop and is much more cheerful. …

How we wish Sister could be sent off to school for two years, but it has been impossible. No money. … Let us hope that now the current will change and success will be our portion, as the outlook is brighter than for three years.

This is a pleasant neighborhood … and everybody has been kind and polite about calling and coming in at all times. [The other day we] had another of those inevitable dances that have been given so often this summer. Mary and Katie Byrnes, Louise Meagher, and the other girls never seem to tire of them, but they wear me out — such a sameness. I doubt not that I am getting too old for such gaieties. The men and boys about here are so silly and boyish in conversation. …

It has been an enjoyable life since we came here in January. It is a pleasant enough cottage house, after we got it thoroughly cleaned. There is a lovely little flower yard and a splendid orchard, and the kindest and most sociable neighbors with various little entertainments and dances. …We have new books and papers ad libitum, a luxury we missed for years.

My Brother has just sent Mamma money to buy our winter clothes, and Sister and I are jubilant at the prospect of new dresses and bonnets. We have lived on very little of late years, little bought that was not absolutely necessary. They have dressed me better than any of the others. I have not wanted for anything indispensable for a young lady, but the only money I have spent really as I wished was five dollars of the ten Uncle Bob gave me when Mamma and I went to New Orleans three winters ago. …

What splendid fellows my brothers are. They are all so good to us and such handsome boys. Sister looks almost the same, scarcely older than three years ago. We hope she can go to school this fall and make her debut next fall. If not, I shall beg Mamma to put long dresses … on her and bring her out this winter. She has a gay cheerful nature, and I hope will have a happy girlhood.

Mamma’s bright hopeful spirit never change. She is us always the ruling power with us all, the center and light of our home. How much she will have to tell us on her return, and maybe Aunt Sarah will come with her.

Well, this is the last page of the book that has gone with me through all our journeying. Looking back to the beginning so many years ago, I realize what an unthankful, wicked girl I was not to be supremely happy. With youth, health, and everything surrounding me for comfort and happiness. with unmistakable blessings, I was yet an unsatisfied, discontented girl. It has taken trouble to teach me my faults, and how earnestly I try now to enjoy instead of repine, to be thankful instead of fault-finding. I will try always to see the silver lining to the cloud. All my life I have been surrounded with love and care, far more than I deserved, and I will try in the future to be more worthy of the blessings that brighten my pathway.

So this is the end — shall I ever care to write again?

FINIS

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.

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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. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: At home again

Stone finally achieves her dream of returning to Brokenburn. But what she tries to reclaim no longer exists. War remade her into a woman who can no longer exist in a plantation world.

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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 finally achieves her dream of returning to Brokenburn. But what she tries to reclaim no longer exists. War remade her into a woman who can no longer exist in a plantation world.

Nov. 16, 1865

Brokenburn

At home again but so many, many changes in two years. It does not seem the same place. The bare echoing rooms, the neglect and defacement of all — though the place is in better repair than most and the stately oaks and the green grass make it look pleasant and cheerful, though gardens, orchards, and fences are mostly swept away. But if the loved ones who passed through its doors could be with us again, we might be happy yet. But never, never, never more echoes back to our hearts like a funeral knell at every thought of the happy past. We must bear our losses as best we can. Nothing is left but to endure. …

Mamma and Johnny went yesterday to Vicksburg. Mamma hopes to make arrangements for planting next year and will buy indispensable housekeeping articles and replenish our wardrobes, now sadly in need, if she can get the money.

We have by dint of much scrubbing and little furniture made the east room habitable. Mamma, Sister, and I occupy that. So vividly it brings back the memory of dear Aunt Laura and little Beverly that I start at the slightest noise and almost fancy I can see them. Jimmy joined us at Shreveport and brought the intelligence of little Elise’s death, poor, frail little flower. No one could look at her tiny white face and fancy her long for the world. She was a dear good baby.

How still and lifeless everything seems. How I fear that the life at Tyler has spoiled us for plantation life. Everything seems sadly out of time. But no thoughts like these. We must be brave, and to give way to the “blues” now is cowardly. … We think we shall be able to pick up enough of our furniture scattered through the country to make two or three rooms habitable and that must suffice us until better. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The bitterness of defeat

Stone is reunited with her brothers, who were sent ahead to evaluate the condition of the Brokenburn plantation. They bring back disastrous news.

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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 is reunited with her brothers, who were sent ahead to evaluate the condition of the Brokenburn plantation. They bring back disastrous news.

Oct. 10, 1865

Lamar County, Texas

Jimmy and My Brother joined us about ten days ago, and we have never passed ten more unhappy days. Our future is appalling: no money, no credit, heavily in debt, and an overflowed place. No wonder Mamma is so discouraged. Since My Brother’s return, we have all had the blues and look forward with dread to our return to Louisiana. But there is nothing else to do. Nothing for us here. Mamma, Sister, and I, with Johnny or Jimmy, will get off early next week, going straight on, while My Brother will bring the Negroes back. The contrabands are all crazy to return to Louisiana, as soon as they realized that My Brother did not wish to take them, and are on their best behavior. What a treacherous race they are! I doubt whether one will remain with us a week after we return.

The name “Vexation” we have given this place is most appropriate. It has been a most trying job settling up the business, and My Brother and Mr. Smith say everyone they have had dealings with has not only tried but succeeded in cheating them. We are in all the stir and disagreeable confusion of moving, yet preparations to get off advance but slowly, though all four of the menfolks are doing their best to expedite our departure. We have to send such a distance for everything we need.

It seems an ill-advised move to take the Negroes back unless they could be bound by some contract to remain on the place, and that is impossible. It is so expensive and troublesome to move about eighty or ninety Negroes such a distance. …

Jimmy goes to Tyler this week and will join us somewhere on the road. We will camp out just as we did when we came to Texas but will have a more comfortable vehicle and a more careful driver. …

Mamma and Mrs. Smith are away today visiting the dentist at Ladonia, the boys are off on business, and so Sister and I have the house to ourselves. It is delightful to be alone sometimes, a pleasure we have rarely enjoyed since we left Brokenburn. We have lived in crowded quarters all the time. I shall be glad to get to the solitude of my own room at Brokenburn, even if it will be but sparsely furnished. My Brother says all our furniture has been divided out among the Negroes and Yankees.

How exceedingly quiet he is. Rarely talks at all. He was never very fluent and being in the army has intensified his silence and reserve, and he seems to take little interest in hearing others. We hope home life will brighten him up and make him more cheerful. He feels the bitterness of defeat more than anyone we have met. He cannot reconcile himself to give up everything but honor. …

Our trip will probably take a month. The weather is lovely, and we hope to get home over good roads and to arrive before the fall rains set in. A sad journey to the old scenes.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Our pleasant Tyler life

Stone faces the moment she has waited so long for: the return to Brokenburn. And yet, she realizes her time in Texas may be among the best years of her life.

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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 faces the moment she has waited so long for: the return to Brokenburn. And yet, she realizes her time in Texas may be among the best years of her life.

Sept. 3, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Just rested after our long, warm walk to church. Mollie and I appeared in all the glories of new caps and bodices, and pretty they are. We think the caps would please the most exacting milliner and Olympia would be charmed with my velvet waist. Mamma and I have worked untiringly to finish them in time, and our labors were only completed at nine last night. We never worked harder in our lives, but the combination of white silk, velvet, and embroidery meets with unqualified approval. Mamma fashioned our caps after we made the braids, and I embroidered both waists, mine in bunches of blue flowers and Mollie’s in pale pink roses. They are beauties.

September is here but My Brother still tarries. Mamma is so impatient to be off that she will not wait many more days on him. She wishes to start everything to the prairie next Thursday, and so our pleasant Tyler life will be broken up forever and a day. I fear we will look back to this last year of our life in Texas with regret. The happiest year of my life. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: We fear it cannot last

Stone savors her new house in Tyler and fears the day when she must leave it behind to return to a ravaged Brokenburn plantation in Louisiana.

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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 savors her new house in Tyler and fears the day when she must leave it behind to return to a ravaged Brokenburn plantation in Louisiana.

Despite Stone’s insistence that she and Holmes are only friends, she spends virtually every moment with him, sews for him, and now even fights off rumors of their engagement.

May 9, 1865

Tyler, Texas

How comfortably our move was accomplished. Mamma gave general orders to the Corps d’Afrique [the Stones’ black servants] to move all our “duds” to the new house. We have only the bare necessaries except servants. They are plentiful. Then Mamma seated herself to the perusal of Burns, Kate went to sewing, I went off calling, returned to dinner, and then went out again.

Late in the afternoon … I went up to meet Mamma and welcome her to her new home, which we have named “The Rest” and which we intend to enjoy to the fullest until stern Fate again casts us out on the world.

Lt. Holmes came to tea, though we had explained to him we would not be ready for visitors before Tuesday. He said he forgot our warning. He has a settled habit of coming every day. I suppose he could not break himself of it. Lt. Holmes and I went over to Mrs. Savage’s to tea the other day taking Sister with us. … Spent rather an uncomfortable evening. Mrs. Savage and Mrs. Carson amuse themselves spreading the news of my engagement to Lt. Holmes. But I cannot really blame them. When two people are as much together, such reports will arise, and it does no good to tell them, as we do, that there is no engagement. Have not an idea of marrying him or anyone else. We are friends, nothing more. Such reports die out after a time and meanwhile we see much pleasure and amusement together. …

We find ourselves so comfortable that we are frightened. We fear it cannot last — a pretty six-room house, nicely improved grounds and surroundings with the flowers in full bloom. We are thankful to be at rest once more. I am busy embroidering a black velvet tobacco bag with scarlet fuchsias for Lt. Holmes.

1864: Day to Day

Exiled in Texas, Kate Stone refused to dwell on death. ‘People do not mourn their dead as they used to,’ she wrote. ‘Everyone seems to live only in the present — just from day to day — otherwise I fancy many would go crazy.’

This is Part 4 of a five-part essay series on Kate Stone and her Civil War which was modified from a paper I presented at the New York Military Affairs Symposium in October 2011.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences.

As the war ground on into 1864, the men and women around Stone made the most of their lives of exile in East Texas. Dances were held. Men and women married. new boys studied for classes.

In Tyler, Texas, Stone cleaned the house, played chess, and read. The wall Stone built in her mind to hold back the crush of mounting tragedies in the Eastern Theater became a permanent fixture. Not even the drama of death breached the barrier anymore.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

“People do not mourn their dead as they used to,” she wrote. “Everyone seems to live only in the present — just from day to day — otherwise I fancy many would go crazy.”

In 1864, Confederate victories brightened the situation in the Trans-Mississippi Theater. In the spring of 1864, Federal forces under Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks began the Red River Campaign, in which Federal forces from Vicksburg, New Orleans and Arkansas were supposed to meet near Shreveport, seize Louisiana once and for all, amputate Texas from the Confederacy, and then abort any nascent relationship between the Confederacy and the French-controlled Mexican government.

But the plan failed to consider Confederate audacity. In early April 1864, Maj. Gen. Taylor beat back the Federal invasion at the Battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill.

Stone practically leapt for joy in her journal. “It is our first great success on this side of the river. … We will never laugh at our soldiers on this side of the Mississippi again. …”

The Confederate conscription act lowered the age range for enlistment to seventeen, and in August, Kate Stone lost a third brother to the Confederate Army. James Stone joined a unit named Harrison’s Brigade at Monroe, La.

She and her mother accompanied him to Louisiana, and Federal raids through the area frightened her, especially when conducted by black soldiers.

“The Paternal Government at Washington,” she wrote, “has done all in its power to incite a general insurrection throughout the South, in the hopes of thus getting rid of the women and children in one grand holocaust. We would be practically helpless should the Negroes rise, since there are so few men left at home.”

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Works cited or consulted for this essay series:
Faust, Drew Gilpin. Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War. Chapel Hill: North Carolina UP, 1996. Print.
. Southern Stories: Slaveholders in Peace and War. Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri, 1992. Print.
Foote, Shelby. The Civil War: A Narrative. New York: Vintage, 1986. Print.
Johnson, Ludwell H. Red River Campaign: Politics and Cotton in the Civil War. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1958. Print.
Kronk, Gary W. “C/1861 J1 (Great Comet of 1861).” Cometography.com. n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2011.
Long, E.B. and Barbara Long. The Civil War: Day by Day. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1971. Print.
McPherson, James M., ed. The Atlas of the Civil War. New York: Macmillan, 1994. Print.
. Battle Cry of Freedom. New York: Oxford UP. 1988. Print.
Parrish, T. Michael. Richard Taylor: Soldier Prince of Dixie. Chapel Hill: North Carolina UP. 1992. Print.
Stone, Kate. Brokenburn: The Journal of Kate Stone, 1861-1868. Ed. John Q. Anderson. Baton Rouge: Louisiana UP. 1995. Print.
Sullivan, Walter. The War the Women Lived: Female Voices from the Confederate South. Nashville: J.S. Sanders & Company. 1995. Print.
Wilson, Edmund. Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War. New York: W.W. Norton, 1962. Print.
Wooster, Ralph A. Civil War Texas. Texas State Historical Association. 199. Print.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The heart of a boy

Stone’s brothers began a new school in Tyler, Texas, but bullies tormented them, and they nearly came to blows. Students brought guns to school to deal with these Louisiana refugees.

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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 brothers began a new school in Tyler, Texas, but bullies tormented them, and they nearly came to blows. Students brought guns to school to deal with these Louisiana refugees.

As Kate fretted, she and her mother sewed winter clothes and celebrated the construction of impressive new bonnets.

Oct. 29, 1863

“Refugee Ranch,” Tyler, Texas

We have been at Tyler scarcely long enough to feel settled, and the first thing is a grand disturbance that threatens all our plans.

It seems there is a great prejudice existing here against the unfortunate refugees, a feeling strong in Mr. Kaiser’s school that made Jimmy and Eddie Carson very unpopular. There was no open outbreak, however, until Jimmy and Johnny were entered as pupils. For several days the disaffected could find no open cause of offense, and our boys, perfectly unsuspecting, rode, walked, hunted, and marched together perfectly happy to renew their old friendships and not dreaming they were making enemies. But all this was the head and front of their offending. When they added to this “wearing gold watch chains and black broadcloth” a slender little strand of gold and a secondhand suit of clothes the Tyler boys could stand no more, and they rose in their wrath to put down those “refugee upstarts” most unaffected little fellows.

They opened hostilities by sticking pins in Jimmy and Johnny at church during the prayer. … Johnny was so enraged that he challenged the boy to come out of the church at once and fight, but the boy excused himself as he had a lady with him. They made an appointment to meet the next day and have a regular fisticuffs. The boy failed to keep the promise, and Jimmy denounced the act at school as ungentlemanly. The fuss blew over without coming to blows, the boys agreeing not to speak to each other, and they thought everything was settled. But the father of the boy came to school very angry and told Mr. Kaiser that unless Jimmy Stone was dismissed from school all the other boys would be taken away. Several boys wore pistols to school today, and they had formed a plan to mob Jimmy last night, but as I was with him they put it off.

We knew nothing of all this until Mr. Kaiser came over this evening to advise Mamma and Mrs. Carson to keep the boys inside the yard and to make Jimmy Carson take off the chain and put on rough clothes. Mr. Kaiser has acted a very cowardly part. The boys have been taken from school, and Mamma and Mrs. Carson are trying to get a private tutor for them. Jimmy Stone was studying hard since he knows his school days are short. …

Oct. 30

The Tyler boys are trying to force Jimmy Carson into a fight. Half a dozen of them are going armed for him, and we are very anxious. Mamma and Mrs. Carson have made our boys promise they will not be first to start a row. They restrain themselves but they are boiling with rage. Mamma will not let Jimmy go to church as she hears the Tyler boys intend mobbing him, and Jimmy is in a dreadful state of mind. He says they will all call him a coward. We do not care what these rowdy roughs call our boys, just so they do not all get into a free fight with pistols. If it was only fisticuff, we would let them fight it out. Mrs. Carson went to see Mr. Williams, the father of the ring-leader, and we hope her pacific representations to him will calm the excitement.

Jimmy Stone has behaved as well as a boy could, with firmness but moderation. I do not think he has even been angry until tonight, when Mamma forbid his going to church unless she or I went with him. And he has not put on a pistol until this morning, though he has known for several days that half a dozen boys are wearing pistols to “do him up,” as they say. The entire household is wrought up, and Jimmy is furious. He says he intends to shoot down the first boy tomorrow who says a harsh word to him.

Mrs. Carson is a strong member of the peace party and has forbidden either of her boys to go to Tyler on any pretext whatever. This restraint chafes the boys extremely but is a most necessary one, excited and angry as all the boys are. Johnny and Eddie had been wearing pistols days before we knew there was any trouble. How little we can know what is in the heart of a boy. Here we were, so pleased with their innocent sports, thinking them absorbed in their marbles and horses and marching around, when every boy was expecting a deadly encounter and burning with hatred for his enemies. We were praising Johnny for his devotion to study when lie insisted on going to school one day when Mamma thought him too unwell. We found out afterwards they were expecting a battle royal that day, and Johnny had an appointment to fight. I hope Mr. Kaiser, for his cowardly truckling in dismissing Jimmy without cause, will lose his school.

I am glad it is a general refugee quarrel instead of being confined to Jimmy. Edward Levy and George Grissman, refugee boys, have both had to leave school.

Mamma has been busy remodeling and making bonnets. She has excellent ideas on the subject, and we tell her a first-class milliner was spoiled when she turned to other pursuits. Her bonnet is quite a triumph, a regular “skyscraper” of straw and silk. She finished mine today, a pretty mixture of black velvet and cherry. It is the same I sported at Monroe in uniform with Julia Barr and Shirley Crith, but it is much improved by the addition of the bright color. I have been forced to take off black. None to be bought.

I am still on the weary treadmill of work, work, work that commenced at Monroe. Our sewing seems endless. We have been hard at it for nearly six months and the end is not yet. Mamma bought two calicoes for me, one at $55 and the other $66. One is made and I am sewing on the last one. We still have two drill dresses to make over. Jimmy is without winter underclothes, and we cannot buy a piece of woolen. We fear in such thin clothes he will take pneumonia again.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Destroyed by the Yankees

Stone at last received news of the rest of her family and was left despondent. War scattered her relatives, destroyed their communities, and turned them into disgraced refugees.

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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 at last received news of the rest of her family and was left despondent. War scattered her relatives, destroyed their communities, and turned them into disgraced refugees.

Note how Stone almost admired how she managed to get on with her life with “almost nothing but servants, and yet we are comfortable.”

Sept. 20, 1863

“Elysian Fields,” Lamar County, Texas

Uncle Johnny was at Richmond, Va., a month ago and heard from nearly every member of the family. How thankful we are to know that they are all alive, though perhaps in distress. My Brother was neither killed nor hurt in the Pennsylvania campaign. Uncle Bo is as usual in fine health and spirits and is under [Confederate commander Braxton] Bragg. Dr. Buckner and Brother Coley are also with Gen. Bragg, and Aunt Laura is at Chattanooga within reach of Dr. Buckner. How glad we are that she is comfortably settled and not suffering all the discomforts of life in Texas. …

Aunt Sarah is at Bladen Springs, Ala. Poor little Horace is dead, a most bitter blow to his mother. He was her favorite. She was keeping house at Cooper’s Well when the Yankees marched on Jackson. She just escaped on the last train with only their wearing clothes. Everything else was destroyed by the Yankees, house and furniture burned, piano hacked to pieces, and the portraits torn to shreds. … It looks like the whole family is to be ruined, root and branch. Every member of it is broken up and all the women and children fleeing from the Yankees, while all the men and half-grown boys are in the army.

We are thankful Mamma has saved most of Uncle Bo’s Negroes, and if we can keep what we have now we can help the others. But I have a strong presentment that we shall yet lose all that we have and be compelled to labor with our hands for our daily bread.

Mrs. Smith had moved up to Mr. Vaughn’s just in time to give room for Uncle Johnny. How glad we are to have a house to ourselves once more. Mrs. Smith was very kind in leaving everything we needed for housekeeping. It is surprising how little one can get on with. We seem to have almost nothing but servants, and yet we are comfortable, comparatively so.

I have finished knitting those tiresome gloves and can read with a clear conscience. Fingered and gauntlet gloves are a trouble to knit.

Sept. 22

The news today is discouraging. Charleston [S.C.] has fallen, Louisiana and Arkansas are to be entirely deserted by our troops, and all the available forces of the Trans-Mississippi Department are to be concentrated at Tyler, Texas. If Charleston has fallen, it is because it was not in the power of man to hold it. Everything possible had been done, and it had made a most gallant defense. No disgrace can sully the name of its Gen. Beauregard, as the name of Lovell and Pemberton have been darkened. …

How I long for a glimpse at Brokenburn these pleasant autumn days radiant in flowers and crowned with fruit, the grassy yard and tall oaks, the clump of sassafras changing now to bright crimson, and the fragrant sweet gum showering down its leaves of gold, the flower garden sparkling across the grass, its many kinds of fall flowers gay in the mellow September sun, and the wide fields stretching away, white with cotton and vocal with the songs of the busy pickers. Shall we ever see it so again?

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Years of grinding toil

The Stone family’s plans to move to Tyler, Texas, were shattered when their guide was taken away to serve in the militia.

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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)

The Stone family’s plans to move to Tyler, Texas, were shattered when their guide was taken away to serve in the militia. Kate Stone’s mother demanded his return.

Sept. 14, 1863

“Elysian Fields,” Lamar County, Texas

Our affairs are in a state of confusion worse confounded. All our plans were nipped in the bud by Mr. Smith’s being taken to camp to serve in the militia in spite of Gen. Smith’s detail. Everything is at a standstill with us. Mrs. Smith insulted the men who came for Mr. Smith, and so they waylaid him and took him off to camp, not allowing him even to come by home and get a change of clothes. Mrs. Smith was deadly angry, and an ironical message from one of Mr. Smith’s captors has made her rabid. Her abuse of everything and everybody in Texas is eloquent. We were to have started to Tyler. Mr. Smith was going to Shreveport on important business for Mamma, Mrs. Smith and Miss Mary were going to live at Mr. Vaughn’s and take charge of his children, but all our plans have come to naught.

I hear the crickets and see the stars so the storm must have passed us by, and we will not sleep under a dripping roof.

Sept. 19

A most pleasant surprise this morning. Uncle Johnny, his wife, and baby arrived at our Retreat. They are fleeing from the Yankees in Arkansas and are on their way to Austin, where Uncle Johnny hopes to edit a newspaper. They came 150 miles out of their route to see us. His wife, Kate, is a sweet, innocent-looking woman. She looks about sixteen, though she is twenty-one. The baby, Sally, is the tiniest mite of a creature. Texas air will have to do much for her before she gets a strong hold on life. We will be here several weeks longer, and this new family will be a great pleasure. We can at least talk to the newcomers, and Mamma and I have about exhausted all our well-worn topics.

Mamma thinks now affairs are entrain to get Mr. Smith again detailed by paying $500 and swearing she is in need of his services. Mamma went Thursday all the way to Charleston, the militia camp, to get Mr. Smith released. She met there her Paris friend, Gen. Smith, who was very polite and who really seemed to wish to do her a kindness. He will do all in his power to get Mr. Smith off. He is the second man we have met in Texas who seemed to have goodwill for refugees and sympathy for their troubles. If the officers had any sense, they could see that Mamma is forced to have someone to manage for her. Mamma and Miss Mary saw a funny set at Charleston.

We have had a succession of callers recently. The unadulterated natives are all eager to hire Negroes. There is a furor for them. All the old ladies in the county are falling sick just to get their “Old Men” to hire a servant. Who can blame them after their years of grinding toil for seeking a little rest?