Loreta’s Civil War: Villains of the blackest dye

Despite her frustration with Confederate military setbacks, Velazquez turns her attention to a secret logistical operation that will take her back to Cuba.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart shared edited excerpts from the extraordinary memoir of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who chronicled her adventures throughout the Civil War — either as herself, as a Confederate spy, or in disguise as Confederate Lt. Harry T. Buford. She fought and led men in terrible battles, fell in love, bore and lost children, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, ultimately fulfilling her childhood dream of a rich and adventurous life.

You can read the entire 1876 memoir online here. Learn more about Velazquez (and the incredible documentary film Maria Agui Carter made about her) here.

Read previous chapters of her incredible story here.

Part 46: Despite her frustration with Confederate military setbacks, Velazquez turns her attention to a secret logistical operation that will take her back to Cuba.

******

It was a comparatively easy matter to persuade me to continue to act as a Confederate secret service agent, although I was too angry over the Johnson’s Island matter to be willing to place myself in peril very soon again by attempting to play a double game, as I had been doing with Col. Baker and other Federal officials. I was willing to risk as much as anyone when there was a fair chance of accomplishing anything, but I was not willing to undertake enterprises of extraordinary peril, and to run the chance of being betrayed through either the stupidity or the treachery of those who professed to be working with me. … I did not care to cultivate the acquaintance of Baker and the members of his corps any further just then and was not sorry to have an opportunity to leave the country for a time.

This opportunity was afforded in a proposition that I should purchase a quantity of goods in Philadelphia and New York to fill Southern orders, and should go to the West Indies with them as a sort of supercargo for the purpose of arranging for their shipment to different Southern ports. I was also to supervise the shipment of a variety of goods of various kinds from Europe.

It was thought that, as in the cases of the proposed raid, a woman would be able to do a great many things without exciting suspicion that it would be hazardous for a man to attempt. It was daily getting to be more and more difficult to smuggle goods, especially merchandise of a bulky nature, through the blockading fleet. The tribulations of the blockade-runners, however, did not begin when they approached the beleaguered ports of the Confederacy. There were great difficulties in the way of purchasing goods, especially at the North, and of getting them shipped in safety, and then, in the majority of cases, they had to be taken to some point in the West Indies to be re-shipped, all of which involved trouble, expense, and risk.

The purchase and shipment of goods at places like New York and Philadelphia required particularly discreet management. There were, doubtless, some merchants and manufacturers who would not knowingly have sold to Confederate agents or for Confederate uses in any shape. For such, I had and have every respect, for they were entirely honest and consistent in their opposition to the secession of the Southern States. I am very much afraid, however, that these were few in number, and I know that the prospect of cash payments and handsome profits caused many men — who were loud in their profession of loyalty to the Federal government and bitter in their denunciations of the South — to close their eyes to numerous transactions of a doubtful character when opportunities for making a good round sum without danger of detection were presented.

Some Northern merchants and manufacturers sold goods, either immediately or at second hand, to Confederate agents innocently enough, being deceived as to the nature of the transactions. No dealers could be expected to maintain a corps of detectives for the purpose of watching their customers and of tracing out the destination of the goods purchased from them, and thus the most ardent and enthusiastic supporters of the Federal government were liable to be imposed upon. That some of these men were honest I know, for I am aware of instances where the sale of goods has been refused, on the plea that there was reason to believe that the intention was to send them South. These refusals have been made where the sales could have been effected with entire safety and with perfect propriety, so far as outward appearances went.

These very fastidious people were not numerous, however, and in the majority of business houses the practice was to welcome all customers and to ask no questions. In many large establishments, the chiefs of which were noted for their “loyalty,” confidential clerks could be found with whom it was possible to transact any amount of contraband business, especially if the cash was promptly forthcoming. Some of these people, I am sure, were well aware of what their subordinates were doing. With regard to others, I am in doubt, but think that they could scarcely have been ignorant of what was going on and only wanted to be able to say, in case of any difficulties occurring, that they, personally, were not to blame.

There were, of course, numerous manufacturers, merchants, jobbers, brokers, and others, who were eager to make money wherever it could be made, and whose only object in concealing their transactions, so far as the Southern market was concerned, was to avoid getting into trouble. Some of these people were loyal to the Federal government after a fashion, while others were as undisguised in their expressions of sympathy for the South as they dared to be. Political partisanship was, however, not a very strong point with either set — they considered it legitimate to make money by the buying and selling of goods without regard to what the politicians at Washington and elsewhere might think or do. So long as they bought and sold in a reasonably honest manner, their consciences did not trouble them. With such as these, I and my associates found it easy to deal.

If it was easy, it was not always satisfactory to deal with people of this kind, and during the last year of the war, especially, some of the largest transactions were with houses that had reputations to lose, and that were managed by men who aimed to stand high in the regards of the government. … To do business with such houses required some finesse, but, except in rare instances, it could be done without a great deal of trouble, and … with the approbation of the heads of the concerns.

Looking at this buying and selling from a Southern point of view, it was not only legitimate and proper, but it was a violation of every natural or political right for the Federal government to interfere with it. From a Northern point of view, however, it was giving aid and comfort to the enemy, and it was … sustaining the government in the prosecution of the war.

The sale of goods for the Southern market and the active or surreptitious encouragement of blockade-running were, however, very venal offenses compared with some others that were committed by people at the North, who professed to be eager for the subjugation of the South. Now that the war is over, a good many who made money by supplying the South with contraband articles other than munitions of war can afford to laugh at the perils they then ran … without fear of the kind of business they were engaged in. As the reader, however, will discover, there was an immense amount of evil and rascality going on, and some of the most trusted officers of the government were engaged in transactions concerning which there could not possibly be two opinions.

With some of these transactions I had considerable to do, and I was cognizant of undiluted villainy that unveiled depths of human depravity such as I never would have believed to be possible, had I not been brought in such close contact with it.

It may be thought by some who read this part of my narrative that I was as much in fault as those with whom I consented to associate for the purpose of accomplishing the object I had in view. I do not despair, however, of finding readers, even in the Northern States, who will be able to take a liberal and charitable view of my course. …

These things have, many of them, never been told before, although dark hints with regard to them have been dropped from time to time. … In fact, there is a secret history of the war, records of which have never been committed to paper and which exists only in the memories of a limited number of people. That this secret history will ever be written out with any degree of fullness is scarcely possible for reasons that will readily be understood but some idea of what it will be like, should it ever be written, may be gathered from these pages….

With regard to my associates. Confederates and others, who were mixed up with me in certain transactions, the case, however, is different. I deem it proper, in certain cases, to refrain from mentioning their names, as many of them are still living and might yet get into trouble through my utterances. I kept faith with them when we were acting together, and will do so still, although some of them were villains of the blackest dye who richly deserve any punishment that the law against which they offended is capable of inflicting upon them.

Having consented to make a trip to the West Indies, I commenced my preparations immediately and was soon as deeply engaged in commercial matters as I had recently been in some of not quite so peaceful a character. Having once got started, I speedily found trade — and especially this kind of trade — quite as exciting as warfare, while it had certain attractions in the way of prospective profits that lighting certainly did not possess.

I had some few transactions with Philadelphia houses, but they were none of them very important, and most of my fitting out was done in New York, where I … labored for a number of weeks with all possible zeal, being resolved to make the venture a profitable one for ourselves as well as of advantage to the Confederacy.

The first thing done was the chartering of a schooner and the engaging of a warehouse. In this warehouse our goods were stored until we were ready to load. The watchman was perfectly aware that we were engaging in contraband traffic, but, as he was paid handsomely for holding his tongue, he kept his own counsel and ours. When everything was ready, the schooner was loaded at Pier No. 4, North River, and she sailed for Havana. …

The greatest trouble we had was not in getting our schooner to sea, but in making our purchases without exciting suspicion that we intended to find our market in some Confederate port. To do this required circumspect management but some of those with whom I was co-operating had done this sort of thing before and knew how to go about it, while I was not long in learning all the tricks of the trade. …

According to the plan which we arranged, I was to pretend that I intended opening a store and was to visit some of the largest houses and obtain their prices and terms of payment. The terms varied from sixty to ninety days, or so much off for cash. At one of the most extensive dry goods establishments in New York — Messrs. C & Co. — I inquired for a Mr. B, who, on being informed that I had been sent to him by certain parties, whose names I mentioned, introduced me to a confidential clerk, who undertook to fill my orders and deliver the goods in accordance with my instructions. He understood the whole matter thoroughly, and, from various expressions he let drop in conversation, I had no difficulty in concluding that his firm was doing a big contraband trade, although the principals, like many other prominent merchants, were taking especial good care not to be known as having anything to do with it.

The leading members of this firm were very prominent as upholders of the Federal cause, and it would have been ruin to them had it been found out that they were surreptitiously shipping goods to the South. I never was quite able to make up my mind whether they really knew what was going on or not. At any rate, all the arrangements for carrying on a contraband traffic were very complete in their establishment, and anyone going there with proper credentials was sure of receiving every attention. If these gentlemen did not know what their employees were doing, they were much less shrewd than they had the credit of being, and I am afraid that a love of gain was a more powerful incentive in their bosoms than loyalty to the cause for which, in public, they professed so much devotion, and for which they professed a willingness to make almost any sacrifices. …

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.

KS46

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: It is unavoidable

Business consumes more and more of the Stone family as fundamental changes loom on the postwar horizon.

water

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)

Business consumes more and more of the Stone family as fundamental changes loom on the postwar horizon.

July 13, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Mamma started this morning on another visit to the farm on the prairie. She may not return but may send for us to join her there. A letter from Jimmy said Mr. Smith wished to leave her employ as soon as he returns from Shreveport, and of course she must go up to straighten out the accounts with him. It is a disagreeable trip for business, and she dreaded it so. We hated to have her go, but it is unavoidable. We shall miss her so. I have plenty of work on hand to keep me busy.

About all the gentlemen we know have gone. … We have been riding frequently on horseback and in the carriage. Jimmy’s horse, sent home on wounded furlough, is well at last, and I must try him now that the carriage and the loaned horses and owners are gone.

More katydids are vociferating their news than I ever heard.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Civilization commences again

Stone’s brother heads back to Brokenburn to reclaim the ravaged plantation. Stone keeps a wary eye on the Union soldiers stationed nearby and on the former slaves for any change in their behavior.

KS4

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 brother heads back to Brokenburn to reclaim the ravaged plantation. Stone keeps a wary eye on the Union soldiers stationed nearby and on the former slaves for any change in their behavior.

June 25, 1865

Tyler, Texas

The house is very quiet now that the boys are all away again. The two weeks they were here, they kept us in a constant turmoil. Joe was here only a week. He succeeded in getting his mother off, and in her train Mrs. Savage’s and Mrs. Prentice’s families, just a week after he came. All have gone home. Willy and Jimmy Carson remained to help bring out the Negroes later. We saw them constantly and, as all four of the boys are wild about girls, they kept me busy introducing them around, looking over their notes, and making bouquets for them to present to anybody, just so it was a girl. Mamma did not get home from the prairie until Saturday night, and she was almost ill from distress and fatigue. But My Brother’s presence was her best restorative. He went some distance on the road to meet her.

My Brother left last Wednesday for Louisiana. He was going by way of Spring Bank and only gave himself time scant time to reach Brokenburn by the Fourth of July, when all abandoned places will be confiscated to the Government if the owners or agents are not on them. We hated so to see him go, but the business was imperative. He will probably not return before September. We gave him quite a list of articles to bring out, if he returns in the ambulance. Now that civilization commences again, we need so many things we have done without and hardly missed in the excitement of living.

My Brother is looking well, much more cheerful and happier than when he came. The last four years has changed him little in looks. He told me all about his love for Kate. They were engaged for several years and were devoted to each other yet let a trifle part them, a caprice they both bitterly repented but too late. But I suppose it was best for him, as he does not mourn for her dead in her young beauty, wife of another, as he would had she been his bride. But oh, my dear little friend, Kate, the suffering was hers. She suffered, suffered, and I know was glad to answer the call for rest. He says he cannot understand the fascination Eugenia exerted over him when in her presence, that he never loved her, and that he rejoiced when he heard of her marriage. But when with her, he could not resist her wiles. …

Jimmy and Johnny started Thursday for Lamar County on a grand beef-driving and sugar expedition. They will be absent some time. Willy and Jimmy Carson are living now out on the place and are only in occasionally.

The Yankee company are in town but keep so quiet we forget their presence. We have not seen them though they came a week ago. There was no demonstration of any kind, and the Negroes for the present are going on just as usual. No proclamation issued. Would not know there was an enemy in the Department. We all went to church today expecting to be outraged by a sight of the whole Yankee detachment but not a blue coat was in sight. There are only twenty men here, but the regiment is looked for this afternoon. Then I suppose we shall feel the heavy hand. Capt. St. Clair has completed his disgrace by being the only man in town who will entertain a Yankee and the first to take office under the new rulers. The general feeling of contempt for him is too deep for words.

We were overwhelmingly busy for some time making clothes for the boys. Now we have little to do, and I am at my old trade, plaiting straw for Mamma to make into hats. … Our friends among the townspeople are very sociable. Nearly all our refugee friends have gone.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Why women rule / Your handshake / Ross Perot may be back / ‘Downton Abbey’ returns on Jan. 6 / The ordeal of leaving Cuba

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism.

1. An 8-Year-Old Girl’s Awesome List of Why Women Rule
By Katie J.M. Baker | Jezebel | July 20
“‘We have veginas. We get jobs. We are creative. We have stuff that makes us preanet. We have milk in our bobes. We are smart. We have power.'”

2. What Does Your Handshake Say About You?
By CareerBuilder :: AOL Jobs | October 2009
“Handshakes are a sign of trust and help build strong relationships.”

3. Why Ross Perot is made for the 2012 race
By Chris Cillizza | The Fix :: The Washington Post | July 21
“Perot’s laser focus on debt and spending issues — not to mention his outsider persona — is a perfect fit for an American electorate sick of the two major parties and increasingly concerned about the country’s red ink.”

4. The new Ottomans
The Cafe :: Al Jazeera | July 21
“Can Turkey strike a balance between the country’s modern, secular aspirations and its deep-rooted Islamic identity?”

5. Money woes, marriage jitters in store for series three of ‘Downton Abbey’
By Amy Wills | The Telegraph | July 22
“When … Matthew Crawley stooped down on bended knee in the snow last season, his tempestuous love affair with Lady Mary seemed to finally have reached a conclusion.”

6. Remember, Remember, the Fifth of May
By William Moss Wilson | Disunion :: The New York Times | May 4
“On May 5, 1862, Ignacio Zaragoza … led the brave defenders of Puebla in repulsing the elite troops of an invading French Army.”

7. Scott Kim takes apart the art of puzzles
TED | December 2009
“Sampling his career’s work, he introduces a few of the most popular types, and shares the fascinations that inspired some of his best.”

8. To Use and Use Not
By Julie Bosman | The New York Times | July 4
“A new edition of ‘A Farewell to Arms,’ which was originally published in 1929, [includes] all the alternate endings, along with early drafts of other passages in the book.”

9. Leaving Cuba: The difficult task of exiting the island
By Sara Rainsford | BBC News | July 21
“Cubans need permission to leave their island. And if they stay away too long, they can’t come back.”

10. The Landslide Election of 1964
By Walter Cronkite | NPR | November 2004
“The Republican Party fought its last rear-guard battle against FDR’s New Deal of the 1930s, while the Democrats promised a ‘Great Society’ and a new health program to be called Medicare. The national mood was liberal and the outcome was never in doubt.”

**************

TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN June Carter Cash
2. TOO MANY FISH IN THE SEA The Marvelettes
3. SLIP SLIDIN’ AWAY Paul Simon
4. STARDUST Louis Armstrong
5. BANG BANG Nancy Sinatra
6. ME, MYSELF AND I Billie Holiday
7. JA VIDI Christophe Goze
8. WHEN IT FALLS Zero 7
9. A HUNDRED MILLION SOUNDS Second Sky
10. SING ME A SWING SONG Ella Fitzgerald

Fighting Irish Wire

Get the latest Notre Dame Fighting Irish football and basketball news, schedules, photos and rumors.

Cadillac Society

Cadillac News, Forums, Rumors, Reviews

Ob360media

Real News That Matters

Welcome to BLU EEAGLE MEEDIA

VOICE OF THE VOICELESS

Space Navy News

Top 10 Live News | Science News and Technology articles from Space.Navy

The Finicky Cynic

Sharp as a needle ~ Scathing as a razor blade ~ Welcome to my world.

Mealtime Joy

bringing joy to family meals

Øl, Mad og Folk

Bloggen Øl, Mad og Folk

A Perfect Feast

Modern Comfort Food

a joyous kitchen

fun, delicious food for everyone

donnablackwrites

Art is a gift we give ourselves

Baked with Lauren

recipes & more

Beckies Kitchen

MUSINGS : CRITICISM : HISTORY : PASSION

North River Notes

Daily observations on the Hudson River as it passes through New York City. The section of the Hudson which passes through New York is historically known as the North River, called this by the Dutch to distinguish it from the Delaware River, which they knew as the South River. This stretch of the Hudson is still often referred to as the North River by local mariners today. All photos by Daniel Katzive unless otherwise attributed. Twitter @dannykatman

Flavorite

Where your favorite flavors come together

Melora Johnson's Muse

A writer blogging about writing, creativity and inspiration.

%d bloggers like this: