Loreta’s Civil War: The elegantly attired woman

Velazquez escapes post-Civil War America and heads for what she hopes will be a relaxing tour of Europe.

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 55: Velazquez escapes post-Civil War America and heads for what she hopes will be a relaxing tour of Europe.

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It was not many days before my brother arrived with his wife, two children, and a nurse. It was a most joyful reunion, and I tried to be as affectionate as I knew how to my sister-in-law and the pretty little babes, one of whom was a namesake of my own. It was impossible for me, however, to feel towards her as I did towards my brother, and I fancied that she was not as well disposed towards me as she might have been.

Once together, our arrangements were soon made, and we left New York on board of one of the Cunard steamers. I wondered what my friend Col. Baker would think of my disappearance and could not help laughing at the neat trick I had played upon him.

Despite the reasons I had for being glad to find myself speeding towards a foreign shore, it was not without a pang of regret that I watched those of America fading in the distance. This, after all, was my country, where dwelt my friends. Here was the scene of the great events in which I had taken a not altogether unimportant part; and it was like separating from a portion of myself to sail away from such a land, and to feel that, probably, I might never return.

Before we had been long at sea, however, I had something else to think of than sentimental regrets. Both my brother and myself were compelled to succumb to seasickness, which, although it did not affect us as violently as it did some of the other passengers, was sufficiently unpleasant to absorb all our thoughts. My sister-in-law, being a hardened traveler, escaped, but the negro girl who acted as nurse for the children was taken very badly, and between her agony and her fright she was a most ludicrous object.

In a couple of days, I was well enough to enjoy myself, and my brother, who had made the acquaintance of the doctor, introduced him to me. This gentleman was a fair-haired Anglo Saxon, and he appeared to think it incumbent upon him to pay me particular attention. I was quite willing to cultivate his acquaintance, and he was so much encouraged by my amiable demeanor towards him that he very speedily began to be even unpleasantly polite, and I was anxious to devise some means of getting rid of him. I did at length succeed in finding a rival to him in a somewhat odd fashion.

Among the passengers were two quite handsome young Spaniards, who kept pretty much to themselves, apparently for the reason that no one was able to talk to them. I noticed that one of them followed me a good deal with his eyes, and resolved, if a favorable opportunity offered, to strike up an acquaintance with him.

One morning, after breakfast, I and my friends came up on deck, and the doctor, who had been acting as my escort, excused himself to go and make his sick calls. The two young Spaniards stood leaning on the guards, and from the way they looked at me I judged that I was the subject of their conversation.

Leaving my brother and his wife, I went and seated myself near them but gave no indication that I was noticing them particularly. They had heard me speak English to my brother and sister and the others with whom I had engaged in conversation, and had no reason to think that I understood any other language.

I had scarcely taken my seat when they commenced to talk about me in Spanish, commenting upon my elegant dress and the sparkling diamonds which adorned my person, and expressing a desire to know who I was. At length one of them said, “Oh, how I would like to speak the American language. She is a handsome senorita and evidently very rich. If I could converse with her I would soon have an introduction.”

“Yes,” said the other, “I should like to know who she is.”

“Oh, there is something the matter with me,” said the first, putting his hand to his breast.

“You are in love. You had better get somebody to act as interpreter for you.”

Just then the doctor came up and interfered with my amusement. He said, as he seated himself beside me, “If it is not impertinent, may I ask how long you have been a widow?”

“About two years,” I replied.

One of the young Spaniards who could understand a little English said to his companion, “She is a young widow.”

“That makes no difference,” said the other.

I said to the doctor, “I wonder if we can see any fish?” and walked to the side and looked overboard.

I stood quite close to Pablo, the young man whom I supposed to be falling in love with me, and as we turned away, after looking into the water for a few moments, I dropped my handkerchief on purpose.

The Spaniard picked it up, and, touching my arm, handed it to me, raising his sombrero politely as he did so.

I smiled and thanked him in his native tongue. It was most amusing to see the expression of horror that overspread his countenance as he heard me, and thus discovered that I must have understood the conversation he had been holding with his friend.

So soon as the doctor left me, he advanced, and, taking off his hat, asked me if I was a Spaniard. I replied that I was of Spanish descent, whereupon he began the most profuse apologies and hoped that my ladyship was not offended at the remarks that had passed between himself and friend. I said that so far from being offended, I felt highly complimented by the flattering opinions that had been expressed with regard to me, and thereupon the young gentleman and I started a flirtation that lasted for the balance of the voyage, and that, in addition to being agreeable enough in itself, had the effect of keeping the doctor somewhat at a distance. He was most solicitous for us to visit Spain and was not satisfied until he extorted from my brother a promise to do so.

This young gentleman continued his attentions to myself after we got to London, and on account of some sightseeing, in which he had planned to have my company, he and his friend missed the steamer in which they expected to have sailed for Spain and were obliged to remain for a number of days beyond their appointed time. I do not think that either of them regretted this very much. I am sure one of them did not. My brother did not like my friend Pablo, thinking him proud and haughty but this was merely a Castilian reserve of manner, and I thought it rather an attractive characteristic than otherwise.

At length, our young Spaniards left us, and we began to plan our future movements. My brother was very anxious to go to the Continent immediately. He did not like the English climate or the English people, saying that they had always been our enemies, and that during the late war they had acted treacherously to both parties. The French, he contended, were the true friends of America, while their beautiful country was far better worth visiting than this damp, foggy England.

I had no great preference, being willing to go almost anywhere, and consequently, although there was much in England that I desired to see, acceded to my brother’s wishes without hesitation and consented to try France first and to keep England in reserve, to be explored after we had visited the Continent.

Crossing the Channel, we entered France at Cherbourg, the great naval depot. At this place were several vessels which had been negotiated for by the Confederates, and which, if they could have been obtained, would greatly have strengthened our little navy. Without stopping, however, to examine these or other objects of interest, we sped on to Paris, where we took rooms at the Grand Hotel.

We were more fortunate than Mark Twain represents himself to have been and were not bothered with guides. My brother had been educated in Paris, while I had seen a little of it, and we both could speak French. My brother was well acquainted with the city, and he was anxious to show his wife and myself all that was worth seeing in it. We accordingly hired a handsome private livery and prepared to enjoy ourselves in the best style.

The magnificence with which I was surrounded was in great contrast to what I had been accustomed to in America, and it was difficult for me to appreciate the fact that I, the elegantly attired woman, who was enjoying or endeavoring to enjoy the manifold pleasures of Parisian life, had but a short time before been wearing a uniform of gray and living the roughest kind of a life in camp and on the battlefield. I could not honestly say to myself, however, that I preferred the luxury and splendors of the great French capital to the woods and fields of my dear South, and I have had as blissful sleep, wrapped in my soldier’s blanket out under the stars as I could get in the most expensive apartments of the Grand Hotel.

Our days and nights in Paris were spent in sight-seeing, theater-going, and in endeavoring to find all the enjoyment that money could buy. We did enjoy ourselves, for there is no city in the world that is better worth seeing or that presents greater attractions to the visitor than Paris.

The Louvre, the Tuileries, the Arc de I’Etoile, the ancient Cathedral of Notre Dame, with its grand architecture and its many associations, with a visit to the Jardin de Mabille in the evening, employed our first day. It was all very interesting, but I could have had greater satisfaction in investigating into matters that represented more particularly the industries and resources of the country. As for the famous Mabille, it is nothing more than a beer-garden, while the doings that are permitted there and at the Cloiserie de Lilas are such that they are not fit places for decent people to visit. I was heartily disgusted with both of these gardens — disgusted with what I saw and more disgusted with people who looked like ladies and gentlemen, gazing with approval and applause at performances that had no attractions except their indecency.

A drive on the Bois de Boulogne, which was on our program for the next day, I really enjoyed greatly, as I did also a visit to the Lyrique Theatre, where I saw finished acting and elegant stage setting such as I had never been accustomed to in America. In the course of our stay in Paris we visited nearly all the principal theaters, and although I never was much of a play-goer, everything was done in such finished style that it was a real gratification to attend these performances.

The College de France, where my brother had been educated, and the Medical School in which he had studied interested him greatly, but I was satisfied with looking at them from the outside. I was not curious, either, to visit the Catacombs. My brother persuaded me to go to this city of the dead but when about to descend into the dark caverns, filled with the moldering remains of poor humanity, I shrunk back and refused to enter. I had too much reverence for the sleepers to make their last resting-place a resort for the curious. I feared not the dead but to have gone among these skeletons would have revived memories of the past that were anything but pleasant ones. It made me shudder to think how many poor souls I had seen launched into eternity without a moment’s warning, some of them, perhaps, by my hand. The idea of such a thing was horrible, although in the excitement of a great battle the slaughter that is going on is as little thought of as are the dangers to one’s self.

At the Invalides we saw the magnificent Tomb of Napoleon I., the most imposing monument that has, perhaps, ever been erected to any monarch. As we were leaving, we were gratified with a sight of the emperor and empress, who were visiting the building. The empress was a very handsome woman and looked as if she was a very amiable one. She was dressed in a silk robe, of a light lavender color, which was very elaborately trimmed with lace. Her bonnet was of the same lavender tint and was trimmed with white. A pair of white kid gloves and a point-lace scarf fastened with a brooch of emeralds and diamonds completed the toilet. The emperor was in uniform. He was a rather diminutive man, with a keen eye, and he reminded me not a little of Gen. Beauregard. Anyone who could have seen the two would have said, unhesitatingly, that they were relatives.

Sight-seeing in Paris was an agreeable enough employment, but I very soon had enough of it and was not sorry to leave for Rheims, the great wine mart. This city is distant between three and four hours from Paris by the railroad and is a very interesting place, as well because of its historical associations as because it is a great industrial center.

The great cathedral is a magnificent building, which I took particular pleasure in visiting, for the reason that in it all the old kings of France were crowned. It was here that Joan of Arc, clad in full armor, and with her consecrated banner in hand, witnessed the coronation of the king for whom she fought so well, and whose dominion she was mainly instrumental in securing. I almost imagined, as I stood in the cathedral, that I could behold the splendid scene that was presented on that occasion.

At the time of my visit to Rheims, however, I was of a more practical turn of mind than I had been a few years before. The romance had been pretty well knocked out of me by the rough experience of real life, and although I was better able to appreciate the performances of Joan of Arc at their true value, somehow they did not interest me to the extent they once did. I took more pleasure in watching the processes of manufacturing the famous champagne wines and in speculating as to whether such a profitable industry could not be introduced into the United States.

I have every reason to believe that wines, as fine in flavor as any of the European brands, can be, and in time will be, made in America. They will not be the same and will have a peculiar flavor of their own, for the flavors of wines depend upon the soil where the grapes are grown to such an extent that very different kinds are manufactured from grapes growing but a short distance from each other. Our American wines, even if of a somewhat different flavor, ought, however, to be just as good, in their way, as are the European. The fact is, that some of our wines will already compare very favorably with those brought from abroad. We cannot as yet, however, produce anything equal to the very finest brands, but we will do that in time, when we learn some of the delicate points about cultivation and manufacture which the Europeans have been for centuries acquiring. Viticulture is a business that is particularly well suited for many portions of our Southern States, and it is to be hoped that the people may be induced to take it up much more largely than they have ever yet done.

In this part of France, it is possible to travel for miles through a highly-cultivated country and not see the sign of a building of any kind. The people congregate in small villages, which is certainly more social than living in isolated farm-houses. The houses in these villages are mostly small, are built of stone, and reminded me not a little of some huts in the Kaw Indian reservation. They are made very attractive, however, by being surrounded by neat little gardens, filled with flowers, which are tended with great care.

There was one thing I saw in Rheims which pleased me very much. It was a troop of round, rosy-faced girls, who came running, laughing, and singing out of a factory, at evening, as full of sport as if they had been playing all day instead of earning their bread and butter. They were so fresh and wholesome-looking and apparently enjoyed life so much that I could not but admire them. Such people as these are the real wealth of a country, and it is no wonder France is rich and prosperous when she has such citizens.

Loreta’s Civil War: A mild flirtation with this fair flower

Velazquez completes her disguise, doesn’t hesitate from flirting with farm girls, and rounds up men to form her Confederate battalion.

KS17

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart will share 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.

Part 8: Velazquez completes her disguise, doesn’t hesitate from flirting with farm girls, and rounds up men to form her Confederate battalion.

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I immediately proceeded to change my garments, and ere a great many minutes had elapsed, I was transformed into a man, so far as it was possible for clothing to transform me. When I was ready, I called my friend and asked his opinion of the figure I cut. He admitted that I was not a bad-looking specimen of a man, considering I had only been about five minutes, and thought that in time I should be able to do credit to the name I bore and the clothes I wore.

The only regret I had in making up my disguise was the necessity for parting with my long and luxuriant hair. This gave me a real pang but there was no help for it, and I submitted with as good a grace as I could muster, while my friend played the part of tonsorial artist with a pair of shears. He trimmed my hair tolerably close and said that it would answer until I could visit a barber’s shop with him and be initiated into some of the mysteries of such a peculiarly masculine place of resort. … [H]e made me promenade the room, practicing a masculine gait until I had acquired it tolerably well, and gave me a great number of very minute instructions about the proper manner of conducting myself so that my sex would not be suspected. He particularly enjoined me to watch his actions closely at the barber’s, in the drinking saloons, the billiard rooms, and the other places he intended conducting me to, for the purpose of informing me with regard to some masculine habits and ways of acting, talking, and thinking. …

Strolling down the street, we soon came to the hotel and entered the barroom, where my companion met a number of friends, to whom he introduced me as a young officer on his way to the seat of war. I was received with much cordiality, and the whole party speedily engaged in an animated conversation about the coming conflict. … The men all took whiskey straight but I did not venture on anything stronger than cider. Soon my companion managed to give me a quiet hint, and I treated the party to drinks and cigars. We then adjourned to the billiard-room, and my friend, taking off his coat, went at a game in good earnest with another member of the party. I had never seen the game of billiards played before, and I soon became intensely interested … pretending to smoke my cigar, the balls rolling over the table. As the weather was warm, I very soon, after entering the billiard-room, availed myself of what seemed to be the custom of the place, to take off my heavily padded coat, which began to be unbearable, and found myself much more at my ease sitting in my shirt sleeves. …

The next day I completed my outfit by purchasing a pair of field glasses, a pair of blankets, a rubber overcoat, and a rubber blanket. On returning to my room I made out a form of attorney in my friend’s name and authorized him to attend to all my business matters for me. I also prepared a lot of recruiting papers on the model of some genuine ones I succeeded in getting hold of, and some muster rolls, and procured a manual of tactics, and before the day was over was pretty nearly ready to commence active operations.

My friend, thinking that my disguise could be somewhat improved and a more manly air given to my countenance, obtained a false mustache and a solution with which to stain my face in order to make it look tanned. I rubbed on the solution until my skin was about the right tint, and then my friend carefully fastened the mustache on my upper lip with glue. This was a very great improvement, and I scarcely knew myself when I looked in the glass, and laughed at the thought of what my husband would say when he saw me in this disguise. …

Everything was now in proper trim for me to commence operations in earnest; so, packing my trunk, rolling up my blankets in army style, as I had often seen soldiers do, preparing my papers, and getting ready a change of underwear, and other matters for immediate use in a small satchel, I was ready to start on my campaign with as stout a heart as ever beat in the breast of a soldier.

The plan of action I had fixed upon, after mature reflection, was to raise and equip a battalion at my own expense, taking care to select good material for it, and then to appear at the head of my little army before my husband, and to offer him the command. I pictured to myself again and again the look of astonishment he would put on when he recognized his wife as the leader of a gallant band who were pledged to fight to the death for the cause of Southern independence, and flattered myself with the idea that, so far from being inclined to censure me for my obstinate persistence in carrying out my idea of becoming a soldier, he would be disposed to praise without reservation, and so far from being ashamed of my action, would be proud of it. Whatever view of the matter he might take, however, he would be compelled to yield to my wishes, whether he desired to do so or not, and I would consequently be free to follow the bent of my inclinations without fear of further opposition on his part. My desire was to serve with him, if possible; but if this could not be done, I intended to play my part in the war in my own way, without his assistance. I, however, did not contemplate any further difficulty in obtaining his consent, and even his assistance, in the execution of my plans, and so started out on the war path with a light heart and with brilliant anticipations for the future.

I crossed over to Hopefield, on the Arkansas side of the river, and took the five o’clock train, not knowing exactly where I proposed to bring up. For a time I busied myself with the study of my Manual of Tactics, with the intention of becoming sufficiently posted on certain points to get my recruits into something like military training immediately. Having been the wife of an army officer for a number of years, and having seen some hard service on the frontier, I was, in a measure, pretty well qualified for the work I had now undertaken, especially as I had paid a good deal of attention to the details of military organizations, and had seen soldiers drilled hundreds of times. I had not been in the train very long, before, finding the conductor at leisure, I entered into conversation with him with a view of obtaining information that might be useful in the furtherance of my designs.

Explaining to this individual, who appeared to take the liveliest interest in my affairs, that I was on a recruiting expedition, I asked him if he could not suggest a good neighborhood for me to commence operations in. He said that Hurlburt Station was as likely a place as I could find to pick up a company of strong, hearty fellows who would do some good fighting, and advised me to try my luck there. Hurlburt, he told me, was not much of a place — a saw-mill, a country store, in which the post office was located, a schoolhouse, which was also used as a church, being pretty much all there was of it. …

The train sped through the swamps, and it was not a great while before we reached Hurlburt Station, where, in accordance with the conductor’s suggestion, I alighted. With my satchel in my hand, I made for the nearest house, and inquired of a negro, who was chopping wood, whether his master was at home. The darkey stared at me a bit, evidently attracted by something in my appearance, and then, grinning until he showed all his ivories, said that the old boss was away, but that the young boss was about somewhere. I accordingly told him to call the young boss; and soon up came a well-built, good-looking young fellow, whom I fixed upon immediately as a suitable recruit. …

I told him that I had the army regulations with me and would take pleasure in explaining them to him in the morning. I then asked him to give me some water so that I could clean myself up a bit before supper, as I was pretty well covered with dust and cinders after my ride. He accordingly got me a basin of water and then left me to go off and hunt the old man, full of eagerness to tell him of the arrival of the recruiting officer, and of his own desire to go soldiering.

The sudden intrusion of a gallant young officer, in a gay uniform, plentifully decorated with buttons and lace … made an even greater impression on the female than upon the male part of the family. My arrival had clearly created an intense excitement, and I understood very well that I was the subject of the whispered conversation that I heard going on outside. From the manner in which the old woman and her son had addressed me, I knew that they had no suspicions of my being other than what I seemed, but I judged that it would be necessary to be pretty careful how I carried myself before the former, for she was clearly a sharp one and would be quick to take note of any peculiarly feminine traits of manner I might display. I therefore determined to play the man right manfully, whether I thought myself observed or not; and this I found to be a very good rule to go by throughout the entire period during which I wore my disguise. …

The eldest of the two daughters was about sixteen and was attired in a bright, flaring yellow calico; the youngest was about twelve years of age and was somewhat less unbecomingly dressed in pink. Both of the girls had put on the best they had to do honor to the occasion, and the eldest, especially, so soon as her first bashfulness wore off, seemed very much disposed to attract the particular attention of the visitor by various little feminine artifices, which I understood very well, and which amused me immensely.

On entering the room, the old woman said, awkwardly waving her hands towards her daughters, “These is my gals, sir.”

I bowed in the politest manner, and said, with what I intended to be a particularly fascinating smile, “Good evening, ladies,” laying a particular emphasis on the word “ladies,” which had the desired effect, for both of the girls blushed deeper than ever, and the eldest simpered as if she heartily enjoyed it. … I started a talk with the old woman by remarking that it had been an exceedingly pleasant day. … After a few commonplaces of this kind about the weather and other matters of no particular moment, I thought I might as well proceed to business at once, for I expected that I would have some opposition from the old woman in my effort to enlist [her son]. So I said, “Madam, I am trying to enlist your son for a soldier in my company; don’t you think you can spare him?” She burst out crying, and exclaimed, “Oh, sir, I can’t let my boy go for a soldier and get killed.” The youngest girl, seeing her mother in tears, began to blubber a little also; but the eldest not only did not cry, but she looked at me in such a peculiar way that I was convinced she wished I would take her instead of [her brother].

The idea of having a mild little flirtation with this fair flower of the Arkansas forest rather grew upon me as I noticed the impression I was making upon her susceptible imagination. I had some curiosity to know how lovemaking went from the masculine standpoint and thought that the present would be a good opportunity to gain some valuable experience in that line; for it occurred to me that if I was to figure successful in the role of a dashing young Confederate officer, it would be necessary for me to learn how to make myself immensely agreeable to the ladies. I knew how to make myself agreeable to the men, or thought I did, and I could, if I chose, be agreeable to women in a feminine sort of fashion; but I had never studied the masculine carriage towards my sex critically with a view of imitating it, and it was important, therefore, that I should begin at once to do so, in order that when compelled to associate with women, as I assuredly would be to a greater or less extent, I might not belie my outward appearances by my conduct. I flatter myself that during the time I passed for a man I was tolerably successful with the women, and I had not a few curious and most amusing adventures, which gave me an insight into some of the peculiarities of feminine human nature which had not impressed themselves on my mind before, perhaps because I was a woman.

My flirtation with Miss Sadie Giles was not a very savage one, and I hope that it did not inflict more damage on her heart than it did on mine. It was immensely amusing to me while it lasted, and I presume, if not exactly amusing, it might at least be deemed entertaining to her. At any rate, I succeeded not only in having a little sly fun at her expense, but I picked up an idea or two that I subsequently found useful. Noticing that Miss Sadie was developing a marked partiality for me, but was much too bashful to give me any encouragement, except some shy glances out of the corners of her eyes, I commenced to ogle her, and, whenever I had an opportunity, to pay her some delicate attentions, for the purpose of making her think I was just a bit fascinated with her. It soon became very evident that the heart which beat under that yellow calico dress was in a great state of excitement, and Miss Sadie, while not encouraging me by any direct advances, made it very plainly understood that my little attentions were appreciated.

Supper was now announced, and we all sat down to a tolerably plentiful repast, the principal features of which were bacon, cabbage, and fried chickens — the latter having been prepared in my honor. Miss Sadie managed to place herself by my side, by a dexterous little maneuver which escaped the attention of the family but which I understood perfectly. I, for my part, strove to play the gallant by helping her bountifully to the bacon, cabbage, and chicken, and by endeavoring to induce her to join in the conversation. She undoubtedly appreciated my attentions at their full value, but was not sufficiently self-possessed to do much talking; indeed, during the supper I could scarcely get anything out of her except a timid “yes” or “no.”

[Her father], on the contrary, was very talkative, and plied me with all kinds of questions about myself, my errand, the war, and the prospect of a speedy accomplishment of Southern independence. I told him that my name was Buford, that I was a lieutenant in the army, and that I had been sent down to Arkansas for the purpose of recruiting a company for service in Virginia. He said that I would have no difficulty in getting all the recruits I wanted, as the young fellows in those parts were every one eager to have a dash at the Yankees, and promised to aid me in every way possible. …

Before the supper was over I had a terrible fright. … While drinking a glass of buttermilk, which I greatly enjoyed, for it was the best thing on the table, and was most refreshing, my mustache got full of the fluid, and when I attempted to wipe this ornament, which my Memphis friend had so carefully glued upon my upper lip, and which added so much to the manliness of my countenance, I fancied that it was loose and was about to fall off. Here was a terrible situation, and I cannot undertake to describe what I felt. To say that I was frightened scarcely gives an idea of the cold chills that ran down my back. The ridicule of my entertainers, and especially of Miss Sadie, was the least thing that I feared, and I would rather brave any number of perils at the cannon’s mouth than to repeat the emotions of that dreadful moment. Such a situation as this is ludicrous enough, but it was not a bit funny for me at that time, and I was on pins and needles until I could get away and take means to secure the mustache firmly on again. I managed, however, to keep a straight countenance and to join in the conversation with a tolerable degree of equanimity, keeping my hand up to my mouth all the time though, and doing my best to hold the mustache on. My fright, after all, was causeless, for on examination I found that the hair was too firmly glued to my lip to be easily removed; indeed, I subsequently discovered that it was practically impossible to move it without the aid of alcohol.

After supper, the old man and Frank went off to finish up their work before going to bed, and the women folks busied themselves in clearing the dishes. … I glanced over my shoulder, and seeing that Miss Sadie had finished her work and was apparently anxious to be better acquainted with me, I politely arose and offered her my raw-hide chair. This she blushingly declined but took a wooden stool, upon which she seated herself quite close to me. I could think of nothing so likely to loosen her tongue and make her properly sociable as a reference to religious matters; so I asked her if there were any churches in the neighborhood. She said that there was no regular church, but that on Sundays a preacher held forth in the schoolhouse. … The old man, I presume, was rather tired, and so, taking advantage of this change of subject in our conversation, he went to bed, and soon was snoring lustily. Finally, Miss Sadie got back to what was the subject uppermost in her thoughts and began questioning me about my own affairs, by asking if I had any brothers.

“Yes,” I replied, “One, older than myself, who is more fortunate, for he is married,” giving a look at her out of the corner of my eye, which I intended her to understand as an intimation that, although not married, I had no objections to being so if I could find a girl to suit me.

“You ought to be married, too,” said Miss Sadie, with a simper, and apparently appreciating this kind of conversation much better than the war talk the old man and I had been indulging in.

“How can I get married when none of the girls will have me?” I retorted. … The old woman thinking, I suppose, to flatter me, said, “A handsome young fellow like you, with, I dare say, a pretty fair education, needn’t be afraid of the gals not having you.”

At this point of the conversation the old man awoke, and sang out, “Don’t you women talk that man to death. Why don’t you git out and let him go to bed?” and then, pointing to a bed in the corner, he told me to turn in there when I felt like it. …

Here I was at the end of my first day’s experience in playing the part of a soldier, with every reason to believe that I had thus far played it most successfully, and that I had really made quite a brilliant start. … the susceptible heart of Miss Sadie was apparently touched in a way that it could never have been had the faintest suspicion of my not being a man crossed her mind. The old woman, too, who, in a matter of this kind, would be quite certain to be a more critical observer than the rest of the family, had no hesitation in believing me to be a gallant young soldier; so that, taking all things into consideration, I had reason to congratulate myself upon a brilliant opening to my campaign. …

[The next day, when] breakfast was over … I crossed over to the schoolhouse, where I found half a dozen rather rough fellows waiting to see me, all of whom expressed themselves as extremely anxious to enlist. One very hard-looking specimen, who could not even write his name, wanted very badly to be captain; indeed, they all were quite ambitious to be officers, and I had some difficulty in explaining to them, that in the army, in time of war, where actual fighting was being done, it was a very different thing holding the position of an officer, from what it was in the militia. I, however, encouraged them to believe that they all might be lieutenants, captains, and even generals, some day, if they fought bravely, and succeeded in creating such an enthusiasm among them over the prospect of a brush with the Yankees, to be followed by rapid promotion, that the whole party were soon ready to enlist on any terms I chose to suggest.

After talking the matter over with these men for some time, and explaining the situation in the best style I was able, I wrote out some bills calling for volunteers, one of which I posted on the school-house door. … During the day I read the army regulations at least a dozen times, and tried to make the men understand what they meant. This was not a very easy matter, but I succeeded in enrolling thirty-six, whom I ordered to report for roll call the next morning. This they did not much fancy; but on my stating that they were under oath and bound to obey, they yielded without making any trouble about it, but apparently with no great admiration for military discipline.

My quota was easily filled in four days, and I then proceeded to get my battalion organization complete and to make preparations for departure. Two of the most intelligent of the men I appointed subordinate officers, one sergeant and the other corporal, and gave them instructions about drilling the battalion and maintaining discipline in my absence. Everything now being in proper trim, I sent a messenger ahead to the friend in Memphis who had so efficiently aided my plans with instructions for him to engage transportation, and then getting my troops into marching order, off we started. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: A man-flirt is detestable

Stone, riding her horse with a pistol in her belt, decides that the antebellum age of young love, innocent flirting, and romantic dreams is over.

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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, riding her horse with a pistol in her belt, decides that the antebellum age of young love, innocent flirting, and romantic dreams is over.

July 18, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Only the quiet routine of home duties. Nothing from the outside world. Oh, for letters from [those] who have bidden us adieu to know what is going on and how they arc faring in their new life.

Mrs. St. Clair and Neta Irvine came in and I tried to be unusually polite and non-committal to Mrs. St-Olair. She is such a dangerous woman that, I am afraid of her. She will start any report, and now she is most intimate with the Yankees. … Mr. Moore dined with us. Mr. Moore is the most belligerent minister I ever saw and the hottest Southerner. He cannot reconcile himself to defeat. There are two Yankee cotton-buyers in town. They are very conciliating in manner, we hear, and dumb as to the war.

Mollie Moore and I took a lovely ride this afternoon entirely alone but with pistols gleaming at our side. I fancy the good people of Tyler, the conservative, will be horrified if they saw them, but we will hope for the best and trust they did not spy our weapons. We took them more for a frolic than anything else, but the roads are said not to be entirely safe with so many hard cases roving around. Mollie and I were longing for a ride and good long gossip together, and all our cavaliers have left us. Mollie told me all about “Adonis” and confesses to a partial engagement, but she evidently does not expect to keep it. We decided that the girls would all have to change their war customs, stop flirting, and only engage themselves when they really meant something. The days of lightly-won and lightly-held hearts should be over.

Mr. Moore’s accounts of the frolics of Willy and Jimmy Carson on their bachelor ranch worry me considerably. I am afraid they will get into serious trouble carrying on so with those country girls and will carry their flirtations too far, and they are but boys turned loose with no one out there to restrain them. Hope they will soon come in, and I will talk to them. Might do some good. A man-flirt is detestable, and I do not want those boys to degenerate into that.

We are living now on the fat of the land, plenty of milk, cream, butter, and gumbo, vegetables of all kinds, melons, and chickens. I am only sorry Mamma and the boys cannot be with us to enjoy it. The outer world is still a sealed book to us. Few mails.

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: 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. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: He would do anything

Stone’s entries refer to Lt. Holmes more often, and for good reason. Holmes would eventually become her husband.

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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 entries refer to Lt. Holmes more often, and for good reason. Holmes would eventually become her husband.

April 16, 1865

Tyler, Texas

All walked to church and were well repaid by an excellent sermon from Mr. Moore. … The tableaux with all their pleasant chat and laughter are a thing of the past. The gay rehearsals and frequent meetings are over, and we cleared about $900. The weather was wretched both evenings and of course kept many away, but we feel repaid for the trouble. The tableaux went off beautifully, not a hitch. Lt. Holmes — the Prince Charming as Mollie Moore and I dubbed him — was invaluable. He would do anything or adopt any suggestion we made. He was in attendance on Mollie and me all the time.

Dr. Weir came up to say good-bye as he is off for good. … He was much pleased with Mollie Moore, whom he met for the first time.

I tell Miss Mollie she always gets ahead of me when she tries the “poetry dodge” on our mutual friends. She is a charming girl. It is such a pleasure to have a friend to chatter nonsense to who enjoys it as much as I and does her full share. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The mournful whistle

Some domestic drama disturbs the March boredom at the Stone home when an old family friend decides to move.

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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)

Some domestic drama disturbs the March boredom at the Stone home when an old family friend decides to move.

March 8, 1864

Tyler, Texas

I am quite alone tonight, not even a book for company. Mamma is in Shreveport trying to get a transfer for My Brother. The boys are in their room studying, and Sister, after suffering agony for the last twenty-four hours, has at last fallen asleep. The Negroes have left the yard. Even the dogs have forgotten to bark and are dozing on the gallery. The only sounds to break the stillness are the constant chirps of the crickets, the croaking of the rain crows heard afar off, and the mournful whistle of some Texas night-bird borne up from the thickety banks of the little stream … at the foot of the hill.

The wild March wind has subsided to a gentle zephyr, rustling the dry leaves still clinging to the stunted oaks till now when the new shoots are budding out to push them off.

But to descend to dry facts. Our greatest event has been the breaking up of the pleasant household of the last four months. We were all getting on quite pleasantly and all seemed satisfied and happier than ever before in Texas. None of us thought of change, when suddenly one frosty morning came the announcement from Mrs. Carson that she knew of a house to be rented and she would move to it. She thought the households would be better apart. Of course there was nothing to be said, and Mamma at once assented, only offering to take the other house and let Mrs. Carson remain here. But she preferred the new domicile, and so, presto-change, before we hardly realized it they were packed up and away a mile across the hill.

There had not been the shadow of disagreement, and we thought Mrs. Carson perfectly satisfied. We never have known why she left in such a hurry. All the children but Jimmy Stone were disgusted at the change. They were so enjoying themselves together. Mrs. Carson has kept most closely at home rarely calling on either Mamma or Mrs. Savage and she will seldom allow the boys or Katie to come. Such a change from her former habit of going out once or twice every day and doing nothing but talk between times. It seems very odd. She says she is entirely taken up with her housekeeping and sewing, two things she was never known to do in the past. … I think Mamma is rather relieved. Mrs. Carson often bored Mamma by insisting on talking to her hours at the time. I could not have stood it as Mamma did.

We have refugee visitors but the natives … still hold aloof. Capt. King with his dark, sleepy eyes and grand air is a frequent visitor. … The other afternoon we were enjoying our ease, Mamma lolling back in one chair, her feet on another, Sister romping over the bed, and I reclining on several pillows, when we heard a knock at the door. Thinking it one of the servants, we called out, ” Come in.” Who should stalk in with his most dignified air, flashing in crimson and gold, but Capt. King, calling to say good-bye, having been ordered off.

Fortunately for us, he is too near-sighted to notice much, and so the disorder of the room escaped him. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: A noted flirt

Stone distracts herself from the new year’s cold beginning with some wry observations of an attractive young woman who, she fears, will break many hearts.

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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 distracts herself from the new year’s cold beginning with some wry observations of an attractive young woman who, she fears, will break many hearts.

Jan. 4, 1864

Tyler, Texas

We were glad to see the Old Year go. It had been a year of trial to us, and we rejoiced when we caught the last glimpse of the sail bearing him on to the dim Ocean of Eternity. The New Year came wailing in, borne on the wings of a freezing norther. God grant it may bring peace to our war-worn land and those we love home again.

Mrs. Savage and her cortege, with Dr. Meagher in the train, arrived Tuesday and are busy settling in their new quarters. The little girls have been staying in here with us until today. We found five in the room with insufficient bedclothes rather too much for comfort in this freezing weather. I very foolishly allowed myself to be persuaded to spend the first night out in camp with them, and I have not recovered from it yet. I feel like blushing every time I think of it as we all practically slept together with only a curtain separating the tent into two rooms and the mattresses touching each other. I never felt so out of place.

Anna is the same as ever, but Emily Norris has outgrown the name of little girl. She has developed very rapidly and promises to be a noted flirt. She already has her “trot lines” out for all these boys. Think Jimmy Stone and Eddie will fall easy victims, but I doubt her ability to land such shy, wild specimens as Johnny and Jimmy Carson.

We are so glad to have Johnny and Jimmy start to school today. It worried us all the time seeing Jimmy losing his last year at home learning nothing. We did not mind so much about Johnny’s idleness. He is well advanced and the brightest child I ever saw. He takes the lead. Jimmy Carson and Eddie will follow him anywhere and applaud all he says or does.

Jimmy Carson has been away for a week on business connected with Anderson’s killing that Negro, a dreadful affair, and Mrs. Carson has fretted over his absence as she alone can fret. It is a terrible spell of weather to be traveling. The snow is several inches deep and frozen hard with the keenest wind howling around the house.

Capt. King, the exquisite, has paid us several visits and beaten me a game of chess by my connivance. He came by to tell us good-bye Tuesday on his way to Shreveport and Camden. Sent letters by him and one of introduction to Julia and Carrie Lowry.