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.

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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)

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.

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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 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.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The grand crash

Stone writes indirectly of her heartbreak over losing Lt. Holmes, her pleasure over his new-found sobriety, and the special tokens of affection they exchanged.

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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 writes indirectly of her heartbreak over losing Lt. Holmes, her pleasure over his new-found sobriety, and the special tokens of affection they exchanged.

May 31, 1865

Tyler, Texas

How quiet and deserted the house is since they all left. Johnny and Jimmy started Monday for Louisiana to be absent five or six weeks. Yesterday Lt. Dupre and Lt. Holmes — plain “Mr.” after this — said good-bye to us. How much we miss them. I wonder will it be the same when we meet Lt. Holmes again after the five months of separation? He wishes to correspond but it is better not. The only tokens exchanged were geranium leaves. Which will be treasured longest? He has been perfectly sober for two months and has made many good resolutions which we trust he will keep, even though we never meet again. We have seen him every day but three for three months, and we miss him dreadfully now he has gone forever. …

Lt. Holmes and I went around to bid Sally Grissman and several of the girls good-bye. I know they all could have dispensed with my calls on the occasion, but I went just the same. We have no one “on guard” now for the first time in a year. …

Our friends in the Ordinance Department gave us so many little things during the grand crash that we feel quite rich and are delighted with our extra furnishings. All the ordinance stores were distributed or rather left open to all, and we have a quantity of ammunition. It remains to be seen whether the Yankees will allow us to keep it. It is reported that President Davis has not been captured and that the Federal authorities are most monstrously kind to the soldiers. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: A piece of amusement

Stone’s mother wishes Stone would stop seeing Lt. Holmes. Stone, surprised, offers her view on how to handle soldiers who may be romantic partners.

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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 mother wishes Stone would stop seeing Lt. Holmes. Stone, surprised, offers her view on how to handle soldiers who may be romantic partners.

May 21, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Coming in yesterday evening from the gallery after Lt. Holmes left, Mamma told me that she wished I would send Lt. Holmes off, that she much preferred my marrying Joe to Lt. Holmes, though neither was a suitable match, as Joe is too young and Lt. Holmes too dissipated.

I was surprised. I did not know she was taking it seriously, and I could honestly assure her I had not an idea of marrying either of them. I could have told her the same of Dr. McGregor, Lt. Valentine, and the conceited Capt. Birchett, should he ever make up his mind to propose. She seemed much relieved.

I thought she understood the point of view of most of the girls. One must not distress a soldier by saying “No” when he is on furlough. They have enough to bear. They may be going back to sudden death. Then they will most probably forget you for a sweetheart at the next camp, or their love will grow cool by the time you meet again. So it is just a piece of amusement on both sides.

If Mrs. Carson and Mrs. Savage only knew that I am as determined not to marry Joe as they are determined to prevent it, how much trouble and maneuvering it would save them. But I cannot well explain it to them. Joe can when he gets home, and their minds will be at rest.

Lt. Holmes has stopped drinking for some weeks now, since I asked him to do so one day during rehearsals when I saw ho was going too far. He was very nice about it. His face flushed and he thanked me but did not get angry as I feared.

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: 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.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Lounged and gossiped

The Stone family move into their new Tyler home, achieving stability just as the Confederate future evaporates.

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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 move into their new Tyler home, achieving stability just as the Confederate future evaporates.

 

May 7, 1865

Tyler, Texas

We have been established in our pleasant new home for a week and find it delightful. We have all in order now and can enjoy it. The servants are efficient movers by now, and we had little trouble. A showery Sunday, and so we could not keep our engagement to go to church to hear the new minister. We lounged and gossiped all the morning. …

Johnny went to the prairie on Friday. He did not like the idea of the trip, but Mamma thought it best for him to go. He should be learning to help about the business, and then it will get him away from this region of excitement. He will not be kept wrought up by constant stirring reports, and perhaps when he returns he will be willing to settle for awhile to quiet study. Jessy came down from the place. …

 

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.