Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Versace is back / Women in tech / The history of life after death / The reality of Jack Ruby / Trump and Castro’s Cuba / Puerto Rico still crippled after Maria

This week: Versace is back / Women in tech / The history of life after death / The reality of Jack Ruby / Trump and Castro’s Cuba / Puerto Rico still crippled after Maria

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Easter Island Is Eroding
By Nicholas Casey and Josh Haner | The New York Times | March 2018
“Centuries ago, Easter Island’s civilization collapsed, but the statues left behind here are a reminder of how powerful it must have been. And now, many of the remains of that civilization may be erased, the United Nations warns, by the rising sea levels rapidly eroding Easter Island’s coasts.”

2. How women got squeezed out of tech
By Manuela Saragosa | BBC World Service | March 2018
“Women dominated the early days of programming — so how did men take over, and what can be done to balance things out again?”

3. Versace: the resurrection
By Luke Leitch | 1843 :: The Economist | April/May 2018
“Twenty-one years after her brother’s murder, Donatella Versace has revived the family brand. She tells Luke Leitch about her journey from the darkness to the light”

4. The Last Days of Jerry Brown
By Andy Kroll | California Sunday Magazine | March 2018
“After more than 40 years in public life, 15 as governor of California, he is as combative and contradictory as ever – and still trying to save the world from itself.”

5. Fine Specimens
By David S. Reynolds | The New York Review of Books | March 2018
“Americans in the second half of the nineteenth century had no sure prospect of resting in peace after death. If their bodies weren’t embalmed for public viewing or dug up for medical dissection, their bones were liable to be displayed in a museum. In some cases, their skin was used as book covers by bibliophiles and surgeons with a taste for human-hide binding.”

6. What 11 Female Authors Read When They’re Fed Up
By Madison Feller | Shondaland | March 2018
“Tayari Jones, Terese Marie Mailhot, and nine other women writers share the books that keep them keepin’ on.”

7. Who Was Jack Ruby?
By Gary Cartwright | Texas Monthly | November 1975
“How a small-time joint operator ushering in America’s age of violence.”

8. Up in smoke: should an author’s dying wishes be obeyed?
By Blake Morrison | The Guardian | March 2018
“Harper Lee never wanted Go Set a Watchman brought out, Sylvia Plath’s diary was burned by Ted Hughes — the controversial world of literary legacies.”

9. As Castro prepares to leave office, Trump’s Cuba policy is a road to nowhere
By Jon Lee Anderson | The New Yorker | March 2018
“Trump’s use of the bully pulpit to upbraid the island for its failings seems as hypocritical as it is counterproductive.”

10. 6 months after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico pleads for help
By Danica Coto | Associated Press | March 2018
“As the six-month anniversary of the Category 4 storm approaches, only a fraction of the $23 billion in congressionally approved funds has actually been spent in Puerto Rico. In February, a $4.7 billion loan approved last year for Texas, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico was reduced by the U.S. Treasury Department to $2 billion for Puerto Rico, none of which has been disbursed.”

Loreta’s Civil War: Quite a brilliant audience

Velazquez ends her Caribbean tour in Havana, where she relaxes with relatives, makes a new friend, and confronts personal tragedy once again.

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 63: Velazquez ends her Caribbean tour in Havana, where she relaxes with relatives, makes a new friend, and confronts personal tragedy once again.

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Through the exertions of my friends to make my visit to St. Thomas a pleasant one, the time passed rapidly, and when the arrival of the steamer Pelyo gave me warning that I must prepare for my departure, I would gladly have prolonged my stay for a number of days more had it been possible to do so.

The time of leave-taking was come, however, and I was escorted on board the steamer by quite a large party, many of whom, as I said goodbye, eagerly requested me to correspond with them and to keep them posted about my movements as they expected that I would scarcely be satisfied unless I undertook some strange adventures.

The steamer stopped at Porto Rico but I did not go on shore, not liking the looks of the place. We only remained for a few hours to take in some freight and passengers and then were off to sea again. Among the passengers was a young Spanish officer. Capt. F. Martinez, whom I had met before and who knew that I had served in the Confederate army. He came up to me and gave an officer’s salute, at which I laughed and held out my hand to him, saying that the time for that sort of thing had passed. We then fell into an animated conversation about the war and other matter, and during the rest of the trip he paid me every attention in his power.

As we were promenading the deck together in the evening, he informed me that he was engaged to a young lady in Santiago de Cuba, and he was very solicitous that I should stop there and see her. I was not unwilling, as I had relations residing near the city whom I was anxious to visit, and so I made arrangements for a return to another of the homes of my childhood.

When we reached Santiago, I called with Capt. Martinez upon his betrothed and was much pleased to see that he had made so excellent a choice. The young lady was very pretty and amiable and belonged to a wealthy family.

Having notified my cousin, who was married to a Prussian gentleman, of my arrival, I went out to her home about ten miles in the country and remained a day or two with her.

In the city, I was waited upon by many distinguished people and was invited to dine at the mansion of the general in command of the Spanish forces. At this dinner my health was proposed, with some complimentary remarks, at which honor I was immensely flattered, and after it was over, the company adjourned to the grand plaza to listen to the military band and to see the beauty and fashion of Santiago.

Santiago de Cuba is a very old town, and it has an extensive commerce. The chief exports are coffee, sugar, cigars, and fruit. The harbor is a fine one, and during the war it was a favorite resort for blockade-runners.

The day after the dinner at the general’s mansion, I went on board the steamer and started for Havana. That city was reached in due time, and once more I found myself on familiar ground and among friends who were ready to extend me a hearty welcome for the sake of old times.

My brother’s family and other relatives resided outside of the walls. I sent them word of my arrival but did not go to the house, on account of differences with my sister-in-law. During my stay in Havana my brother visited me frequently, as did also my niece — my sister’s daughter — and my nephew, who acted as my escort to the theater and other places.

In addition to my relatives, I had many acquaintances in Havana who were glad to extend the hospitality of the place to me. Among others, Gen. Juaquin Mansana and the officers of his staff were all warm friends of mine, and they seemed never to tire of paying me attentions. I was also acquainted with a great number of people with whom I had had confidential business relations during the war, and they too did what they could to make the time pass pleasantly.

Shortly after I reached Havana, there was a grand religious festival, and, at the suggestion of Gen. Mansana, I consented to appear in the procession in uniform. The general, enjoining me to keep the matter a secret, presented me with a handsome Spanish military suit. I attired myself in this, and arranging my disguise so that my most intimate friends would not know me, I took my place in the procession in a carriage beside Col. Montero, which drove just behind that of the general.

The colonel especially requested me not to let the other officers and soldiers know who I was, as there might be some excitement created if any one suspected that a woman disguised as an officer was in the procession. I accordingly kept my secret and was not recognized. During the day, I … passed quite close to Mr. Savage, the United States consul, and the members of his staff, and it amused the general greatly to see that they had not the slightest suspicion as to who I was. I was also introduced to a number of ladies as a young Spanish officer who had been educated in England. …

This procession took place on Friday, and Gen. Mansana, as we were about starting out, told me that there was a steamer in the harbor with some emigrants on board who were going to South America. He asked me if I would not see them, and, by relating my experiences, try and persuade them to return home again. This I promised to do.

In the evening, after the ceremonies were over, we went to the theater, where we found quite a brilliant audience assembled. Before the performance was over, Gen. Mansana said that he was hungry and retired. The rest of the party remained until the curtain fell, when we went to a restaurant and had supper. After supper we drove to the Plaza de Armas, where a room had been assigned me in the palace, and I changed my costume as rapidly as I could, appearing once more in female attire.

As I was coming out. Col. Montero met me in the hall and said that the general had been taken quite sick. I asked if I could see him, and on a messenger being sent, word was conveyed to the colonel that the general wished to speak with him. He soon returned and invited me to go into the sick chamber. The general was in bed, and the doctor was in attendance on him. He complained of severe cramps but did not think that anything serious was the matter and invited me to call on him the next morning, when he expected to be better.

After breakfast, the next morning, I went to the general’s quarters but the guard had orders not to admit any one. I sent in my card, however, and in a few moments the chief of staff came down and asked me to walk up to the reception room. The surgeon in attendance made his appearance and said that the general was worse instead of better but that I could see him if I would promise not to speak. I accordingly went into the sick-room and found the general looking very bad indeed. He smiled at me and seemed to be glad that I had called. I then retired, as I found that I could be of no assistance, and went to see the emigrants.

I gave them an account of my experiences and observations in South America and advised them in the strongest possible terms not to pursue their journey any farther, but to return home, and, if they wanted to get away from the South, to go West. Some of them were much impressed with what I said and came on shore to see me. I invited them to the hotel to take dinner and went into the matter more particularly, showing them the great risks they would run and the small chance they would have of establishing themselves in a satisfactory manner.

This interference on my part was bitterly resented by some of the leaders of the expedition, who expressed a desire that I should not come on board the steamer again. I had no wish to do this, having performed my duty, and I was willing now that they should take their own course and abide the consequences, although I was sorry for some of the poor women who I knew would regret not having followed my advice.

My expostulations proved of no avail, and the steamer sailed for South America after her old, worn-out and worthless boiler had been patched. The vessel itself, like the boiler, was worn out, and they were obliged to put in at St. Thomas with her and charter another boat. Some of the people, I believe, returned to the United States from St. Thomas, while the rest were glad to get back the best way they could after a very brief experience of Para, the port for which they were bound. After reaching their destination and endeavoring to effect a settlement, they very soon came to the conclusion that my advice was good.

On Sunday morning I learned, to my infinite sorrow, that Gen. Mansana was dead. The funeral took place the next day, and the body, having been embalmed, was carried through the streets, followed by his carriage, dressed in crape, and his favorite horse. The funeral was an imposing but sorrowful spectacle, for the general was a good man, and although, like other public men, he had his enemies, he deserved and enjoyed a great popularity.

With this visit to Havana concluded my trip to South America and the West Indies. In some of its aspects it was far from being enjoyable, and yet, on the whole, I managed to have a pretty good time, and I did not regret the journey. I had learned a great deal about a part of the world that it was worthwhile to know something about, and I had met a great many good friends whom I was exceedingly glad to meet. Taking it all in all, the pleasures of the trip far more than counterbalanced its disagreeable features, and the main thing I had to complain of was that I returned to the United States with a much lighter pocket-book than when I set out.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: George Michael dies / 2016’s best science stories / Texas and Planned Parenthood / What men should know by 22 / Plantations and public history

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This week: George Michael dies / 2016’s best science stories / Texas and Planned Parenthood / What men should know by 22 / Plantations and public history

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. Ex-Wham singer George Michael dies
BBC News | Dec. 25
“The star … is said to have ‘passed away peacefully at home.’ … Police say there were no suspicious circumstances.”

2. Ordered Deported, Berlin Suspect Slipped Through Germany’s Fingers
By Alison Smale, Carlotta Gall, and Gaia Pianigiani | The New York Times | Dec. 22
“Amri’s life and odyssey underscore a vexing problem, common in Europe: how to handle hundreds of thousands of virtually stateless wanderers who are either unwilling or unable to return home.”

3. ‘Life disappeared before my eyes’: photographer describes killing of Russian ambassador
By Burhan Ozbilici | The Guardian | Dec. 19
“Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici went to view an exhibition in Ankara but instead witnessed the assassination of Andrei Karlov”
Also, from the Associated Press: A look at the most significant attacks in Turkey in 2016

4. The Most Popular Science Stories of 2016
By Andrea Gawrylewski | Scientific American | Dec. 19
“The presidential election took center stage, but our readers were also fascinated by everything from particle physics and rage disorder to autism in girls and the polar vortex”

5. The Best TV Performances of 2016
By Tim Goodman and Daniel Fienberg | The Hollywood Reporter | Dec. 20
Sadness, fear, strength, vulnerability — 2016 had an incredible array of acting achievements.

6. Texas officially kicking Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid
By Alexa Ura | The Texas Tribune | Dec. 20
“Planned Parenthood had previously received $3.1 million in Medicaid funding, but those dollars will be nixed in 30 days …”

7. 22 Things Men Should Know By Age 22
By Todd Brison | Medium | Dec. 15
“Most of the people in your life now will not be there in 5 years. Tell them how much they matter to you today.”

8. The Plantation Tour Disaster: Teaching Slavery, Memory, and Public History
By Niels Eichhorn | Muster :: Journal of the Civil War Era | Dec. 5
“Regardless whether a plantation does or does not cover slavery, they provide an interesting mechanism to teach about the institutions of the Old South, collective memory, and public history.”

9. Mexico: The Cauldron of Modernism
By J. Hoberman | NYR Daily :: The New York Review of Books | Dec. 12
“To a degree, ‘Paint the Revolution’ is the story of the three star muralists, Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco, who along with the posthumously canonized Frida Kahlo, defined the new Mexican art.”

10. From White Knight to Thief
By Michael Beschloss | HistorySource :: The New York Times | September 2014
“At the start of the terrifying market plunge of October 1929, he had bravely helped shore up the market by parading around the exchange floor, placing bids for shares of U.S. Steel, as well as other blue-chip holdings.”

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Words are powerless

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.

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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)

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

Tyler, Texas

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.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: A fever of apprehension

Life amidst a Texas spring goes on, with blossoming flowers, sunshine, and church services. All stare into an unknowable future.

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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)

Life amidst a Texas spring goes on, with blossoming flowers, sunshine, and church services. All stare into an unknowable future.

May 20, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Still on the rack of uncertainty as regards our future. Flying rumors of the most exciting character keep us in a fever of apprehension. We do not know whether armed resistance is over or whether we are to fight on to the bitter end. If the news of the way in which the people of the Trans-Mississippi Department are ground to the earth is true, it would be better for us to resist as long as there is a man left to load a gun. Gloom and despondency cloud every face. … Better years of battle than a peace like this is the cry of all we see. Our latest news is that people in this department have an armistice of thirty days to resign themselves to the inevitable. I suppose it is a breathing space to collect our scattered energies and brace ourselves for the stern trials of the future.

And Nature smiles down on all this wretchedness. The loveliest of May mornings and the air is sweet with the perfume of the star jasmine. Our summer house in the yard is covered with it, and it is now white with blooms. The finest variety we ever saw. This soil suits it better than ours. That arbour is a favorite retreat, and we spend many gay, dolorous, and charming hours in its shade.

Sister is off to school, Sunday school, and we are all ready for church. It behooves us to ask aid from Our Maker when all else is failing us. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Restless and wretched

Everyone around Stone is gloomy following verification of Lee’s defeat.

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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)

Everyone around Stone is gloomy following verification of Lee’s defeat.

May 17, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Just a succession of callers and calls. Everybody too restless and wretched to stay at home. Must talk it over with somebody. Such a constant succession of people is very tiring. Went about ten miles over the roughest roads to a fish fry at a tiny creek where I doubt there ever was a fish. A gay day, but quite exhausted at late bedtime when the last gentlemen left. Mamma was wise not to go.

We have finished Lt. Holmes’ grey suit, and it was a job. I hope no other soldier of our acquaintance is in need of clothes. Such sewing palls on one. Mamma is most energetic about it.

Mollie Moore and Lt. Holmes were with us until nine tonight, and then Dr. McGregor, Maj. Squires, Lt. Dupre, and Capt. Giday came and stayed until eleven. These two new men belong to a Louisiana battery of artillery and camped here only one night on their way to the Brazos for forage. Both are Creoles and entertaining. Lt. Holmes, Sister, and I had a pleasant visit to Mrs. Levy.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: We will be slaves

Stone at last realizes the end of the Confederacy is near, and she writes her diary’s most beautiful and heart-breaking passage.

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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 realizes the end of the Confederacy is near, and she writes her diary’s most beautiful and heart-breaking passage.

 

May 15, 1865

Tyler, Texas

“Conquered,” “Submission,” “Subjugation” are words that burn into my heart, and yet I feel that we are doomed to know them in all their bitterness. The war is rushing rapidly to a disastrous close. Another month and our Confederacy will be a Nation no longer, but we will be slaves, yes slaves, of the Yankee Government.

The degradation seems more than we can bear. How can we bend our necks to the tyrants’ yoke? Our glorious struggle of the last four years, our hardships, our sacrifices, and worst of all, the torrents of noble blood that have been shed for our loved Country all, all in vain. The best and bravest of the South sacrificed and for nothing. Yes, worse than nothing. Only to rivet more firmly the chains that bind us. The bitterness of death is in the thought. We could bear the loss of my brave little brothers when we thought that they had fallen at the post of duty defending their Country, but now to know that those glad, bright spirits suffered and toiled in vain, that the end is overwhelming defeat, the thought is unendurable. And we may never be allowed to raise a monument where their graves sadden the hillside. There is a gloom over all like the shadow of Death. We have given up hope for our beloved Country and all are humiliated, crushed to the earth. A past of grief and hardship, a present of darkness and despair, and a future without hope. Truly our punishment is greater than we can bear.

Since Johnston’s surrender the people in this department are hopeless. If we make a stand, it would only delay the inevitable with the loss of many valuable lives. The leaders say the country is too much disheartened to withstand the power of a victorious Yankee army flushed with victory. Still, many hope there will be a rally and one more desperate struggle for freedom. If we cannot gain independence, we might compel better terms.

By the twenty-fourth we will know our fate — Submission to the Union (how we hate the word!), Confiscation, and Negro equality or a bloody unequal struggle to last we know not how long. God help us, for vain is the help of man.

We hope President Davis is really making his way to this department, as we hear. His presence would give new life to the people.

Poor Booth, to think that he fell at last. Many a true heart at the South weeps for his death. Caesar had his Brutus, Murat his Charlotte Corday, and Lincoln his Booth. Lincoln’s fate overtook him in the flush of his triumph on the pinnacle of his fame, or rather infamy. We are glad he is not alive to rejoice in our humiliation and insult us by his jokes. The circumstance of his death forms a most complete tragedy. Many think Andy Johnson worse than Lincoln, but that is simply impossible.

Added to our grief at the public calamity is our great anxiety about My Brother. He has had time to get here, if he was paroled, and we have not had a word from him. In the four-day fight before we gave up Petersburg, our army lost fifteen thousand men, and we tremble to think he may be among them. We hear that Tom Manlove is certainly dead, captured, and died of his wounds.

Mamma is sewing with a heavy heart on a jacket for Lt. Holmes. Last week we made a heavy white suit for Lt. Dupre. It was an undertaking. A letter from Mrs. Amis to Mamma. She writes most despondently. Sunday Lt. Dupre, Lt. Holmes, Capt. Buck, Col. and Mrs. Bradforte, and Capt. Birchett all came up to discuss the gloomy outlook. We all meet now just to condole with each other. A more doleful crowd I never saw. Capt. Birchett says he is going to South America rather than live under Yankee rule. His father was president of an indignation meeting held in Vicksburg to pass resolutions of sympathy and regret on the death of Lincoln. Capt. Birchett is too disgusted for expression.

 

Kate Stone’s Civil War: They will never give up

As Stone awaits final word from the Virginia battlefield, she makes cravats and flirts with Lt. Holmes.

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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)

As Stone awaits final word from the Virginia battlefield, she makes cravats and flirts with Lt. Holmes.

 

April 30, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Lt. Dupre came back yesterday but without his wife who is still in the Federal lines after preparing for months to get out. She was on the boat with her baggage and children when she was ordered back home because the names of the little girls were not in the passport. It is a sore disappointment to the Lieutenant. He has been separated from them so long. But with the elastic Creole temperament, he is as gay as ever. He says he was homesick at Shreveport and was glad to see Tyler again.

He brings more encouraging news. Gen. Johnston is at Augusta, Ga., at the head of 125,000 of the best troops in the world, the veterans of the Confederacy, and will make a gallant fight. The Arkansas, Louisiana, and Missouri troops are passing resolutions declaring they will never give up this side of the river and are ready to enlist for ninety-nine years. And Lee surrendered only 6,000 fighting men. I hope My Brother was one of the band. Capt. Birchett sends us word Col. Tom Manlove was killed in the fight at Hatcher’s Inn, but we think that is a mistake. We have heard of them all since then.

Mrs. Wells and Lt. Holmes spent the day, but he has been here every day for a week. Mollie Moore, the Irvine girls, and I are much interested in the subject of cravats. They wish to make half a dozen for their different “heart’s delights,” and they come over and get Mamma and me to do the embroidery for them. I have just finished a very chaste and elegant affair for Lt. Holmes, payment of a gambling debt, and I am making one for Mollie Sandford to give to her best soldier, a small red-headed warrior. Lt. Holmes showed me this evening a letter from his mother in Maryland. It came out on a flag-of-truce boat, his first letter from her in three years. … I am sorry Lt. Holmes is such a dissipated man. He is gay and pleasant and a gentleman. Why will he drink? He says he intends giving it up forever.

 

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Torrents of blood

Stone learns of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and she is happy he is dead. Her grim satisfaction is little comfort as all around her are convinced that Lee has surrendered.

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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 learns of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and she is happy he is dead. Her grim satisfaction is little comfort as all around her are convinced that Lee has surrendered.

Note that she heard that John Surratt, one of Booth’s co-conspirators, attacked Secretary of State William Seward. Lewis Powell, another member of the Booth group, actually carried out the attack. He failed to kill Seward but badly injured him.

 

April 28, 1865

Tyler, Texas

We hear that Lincoln is dead. There can be no doubt, I suppose, that he has been killed by J. W. Booth. “Sic semper tyrannis” as his brave destroyer shouted as he sprang on his horse. All honor to J. Wilkes Booth, who has rid the world of a tyrant and made himself famous for generations. Surratt has also won the love and applause of all Southerners by his daring attack on Seward, whose life is trembling in the balance. How earnestly we hope our two avengers may escape to the South where they will meet with a warm welcome. It is a terrible tragedy, but what is war but one long tragedy? What torrents of blood Lincoln has caused to flow, and how Seward has aided him in his bloody work. I cannot be sorry for their fate. They deserve it. They have reaped their just reward.

There is great gloom over the town. All think that Lee and his army have surrendered. No one will take the Confederate money today, and as there is no gold in circulation there is no medium of exchange. Rumors, rumors, but nothing definite. Lee is certainly captured. Our strong arm of victory, the chief hope of our Country, is a prisoner with an army variously estimated at from 6,000 to 43,000 men captured on their retreat from Richmond. Dr. Kunckers told us as a secret that [Joseph E.] Johnston with his entire army has surrendered, but that news is suppressed through motives of policy. Our papers say Johnston’s army has been reinforced by the flower of Lee’s army, that he has a band of tried veterans and will make a determined stand. We know not what to believe. All are fearfully depressed. Lee’s defeat is a crushing blow hard to recover from. Maybe after a few days we can rally for another stand. Now, most seem to think it useless to struggle longer, now that we are subjugated. I say, “Never, never, though we perish in the track of their endeavor!” Words, idle words. What can poor weak women do?

I cannot bear to hear them talk of defeat. It seems a reproach to our gallant dead. If nothing else can force us to battle on for freedom, the thousands of grass-grown mounds heaped on mountainside and in every valley of our country should teach us to emulate the heroes who lie beneath and make us clasp closer to our hearts the determination to be free or die. “When the South is trampled from the earth / Her women can die and be free.”

I say with my whole soul:

Shame to the traitor-heart that springs
To the faint, soft arms of Peace,
Though the Roman eagle shook his wings
At the very gates of Greece.

Monday it was distressing to see the gloom on every face. We had an impromptu dining that day, and all seemed in the depths of despair, could think and talk of nothing but defeat and disaster. … The war was discussed in all its bearings. Seldom has there been a gloomier feast. Yesterday took dinner with Mrs. Prentice and returned in time to receive Mollie Sandford, Lt. Holmes, Lt. Martin, and Dr. Winn, a nice Texan and a friend of Dr. Buckner’s, whom he saw about six weeks ago. …

If My Brother and Uncle Bo are among the prisoners, it is probable they will soon be paroled and at home. But we know not what has been their fate.

When Johnny first heard the ill news, he was wild with excitement and insisted on joining the army at once. We were wretched about him, but today he has quieted down and is willing to await further developments.

We expected to move to our new house on Monday, and Mamma is worried about paying the rent. If the Negroes are freed, we will have no income whatever, and what will we do? As things have turned out, we wish we could stay here until we know what is to be our fate.

 

Kate Stone’s Civil War: God spare us

The rumors finally reach Tyler: Lee may have surrendered to Grant. The Stone family refuses to believe it.

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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 rumors finally reach Tyler: Lee may have surrendered to Grant. The Stone family refuses to believe it.

Stone is especially detailed in this entry, perhaps burying herself in mundane moments to drive back the looming and crushing reality of Confederate defeat.

April 23, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Such terrible news if true, but we cannot believe it. We know that we have met with fearful reverses this year. All our coast cities are conquered: gallant old Charleston has fallen, Wilmington and Mobile have passed out of our hands, and Richmond … has been taken. But all that is nothing compared to the awful report from the Yankee papers that Gen. Lee, our strong arm of defense, has capitulated with 40,000 men without firing a gun, that most of our best generals were taken at the same time, and that what remains of that noble army is only a disorganized mob of despairing men. All this is too dreadful to believe. God spare us from this crushing blow and save our dying country!

All refuse to believe such disaster, and the home life flows on as usual. Two dramatic performances by the natives, the amiable Capt. Johnson saying he did not wish the refugees even to attend. Mrs. Gary is vice-president, and I am secretary of the society. The gentlemen come in the evening and the ladies call in the day, but over every pleasure sweeps the shadow of the evil news. It may be true. It may be true. Mollie Moore, Lt, Holmes, and I rode out to the armory to see the soldiers drill. Met Col. and Mrs. Hill, all sympathizing with Capt. Polys, who fell down while pulling the bell rope and broke his leg in two places.

Just finished three embroidered cravats for Johnny. Friday Mamma and I finished a beautiful fawn-colored barege trimmed with black lace. It looks real stylish. My old white dress has been dyed by Lucy. She has become quite an adept at dyeing things.

The rain came down in torrents Thursday but in the afternoon ceased and I rode up to school for Sister. Came through boggy roads and rushing streams at sundown. Found Lt. Holmes waiting to go with me to Mrs. Carson’s to tea, to stay there until 8:30, and then to drive over to Dr. Moore’s, Mollie’s father’s, to attend a private rehearsal. We had a pleasant time there until twelve, then the drive home, adieux to Lt. Holmes, and then the blessed oblivion of sleep. Went up to return Eliza Roberts’ call late in the afternoon.

Lt. Holmes caught up with me and came home and spent the evening. Busy sewing Tuesday until Lt. Holmes was announced, then had to spend the balance of the day amusing him. After he bowed himself away, I went over to see Mollie Moore and chatter nonsense. …

Had delicious white cake at Mrs. Lawrence’s. All the members of the troupe wanted Mamma for president of the society, but she would not hear of it. Mrs. Swain, a perfect incapable, was called to the chair. Capt. Buck has brought me a book nicely commenced for my official records, and Lt. Holmes is to see they are kept according to rule. Must send it around for members to sign.

Mamma has been much disturbed on the subject of details for Mr. Smith, but Lt. Dupre arranged the detail as he passed through Marshall. She hopes to have no further trouble on that score. …