Kate Stone’s Civil War: How many idle hours

Stone’s last entry of 1865 is filled with sadness and gives hints of what a grim future holds. But amid those dark hints, a small flame of romance stirs.

KS43

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone’s last entry of 1865 is filled with sadness and gives hints of what a grim future holds. But amid those dark hints, a small flame of romance stirs.

Nov. 17, 1865

Brokenburn

My Brother amd Jimmy are off hunting, fishing, and spying on the land. Little Sister is absorbed in papers a month old, and I, having made my afternoon toilet — a habit of old that I may as well forget now that evening visiting is a thing of the past — have literally nothing to do and nothing to read except Shakespeare, and one cannot read him all the time. We certainly conned that book in Texas and on our various carriage trips. Mamma and Johnny should nearly know it by heart. There is no resort but scribbling. How many idle hours this book has filled.

Uncle Bob is the best old darkie. He has done the best he could to care for things and is as humble and respectful as ever. Every now and then he brings up presents of candy, raisins, and nuts. Aunt Laura’s silver service was buried in the yard, and Uncle Bob in walking one day stepped into a hole. He investigated and found the barrel head had decayed and sunken in. He did not say anything as the Yankees were on the place at the time. He quickly covered it up and that night slipped out and took it to his house, carefully hiding it, but it became noised about among the Negroes and a few spoons were stolen. I suppose his wife, Mary Ann, told as she is the real typical free darkie. The next day he packed the silver all up and took it down to Mrs. Graves to keep. He said he could no longer care for it, and now we have it all. He is the only Negro we know that would not at once on finding it have given or sold it to the darkies. He wants to rent some of the land and plant for himself next year. Mamma will let him have the land rent free. He sold his last cotton for $1 a pound. I wish we had a thousand bales.

Mamma should be back today. I wonder what she will bring us. We bought our first piece of Yankee finery in Shreveport, a broad black belt with an immense buckle for me.

In camping out this trip, we had every appliance for camping, and people who like camping would have found it pleasant. …

Shreveport seemed nearly as busy a place as New Orleans in the old times. … From there to Judge N. Richardson’s, the prettiest place on Bayou DeSaird. How more than comfortably they live in that stately comfortable home with the beautiful yard with its trees and shrubbery, splendid orchard, and well-worked garden, and with all the old servants and the most lavish table. … Lt., or Mr. Holmes now, came out twice to see us while we were there. He is looking handsome and was beautifully dressed. But alas, he has been spending a wild summer and fall, and though he assured me marrying would reform him, I believe not, A dreadful risk for any woman. I fear there is little hope for him. Ho expects to go to Maryland soon on a visit to his mother. That may save him. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: It is unavoidable

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

water

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

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

July 13, 1865

Tyler, Texas

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

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

More katydids are vociferating their news than I ever heard.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: He deserves killing

Stone reports an astonishing rumor: Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman has killed President Andrew Johnson.

KS8

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 reports an astonishing rumor: Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman has killed President Andrew Johnson.

July 2, 1865

Tyler, Texas

We all joined forces and quilted a silk comfort yesterday, and my fingers are sore from it today. Quilting is my pet aversion, though Mamma says I am a most rapid hand. I hurry up to get through a disagreeable job.

Capt. Smith is making himself very pleasant and we see him frequently. There are compensations in our lot as one goes, another comes. We have known him from our first residence, but he has not been a regular attache until recently. The Irvine girls brought their brother, Lt. Irvine, a handsome gentlemanly fellow but inclined to corpulancy much to his distaste, to call. Capt. Smith is shorn of half of his hirsute glories, and, while he looks more civilized, it is not an improvement. …

My Brother should be at Brokenburn today and Uncle Bo I suppose in Vicksburg. We heard from the boys. They will not get back for two weeks.

Andy Johnson, the detested, is reported killed by Sherman. Since his amnesty proclamation, what a mockery on a name — he deserves killing.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Civilization commences again

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

KS4

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

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

June 25, 1865

Tyler, Texas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

KS53

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: Only sadness and tears

The Confederacy has collapsed, and Stone watches in horror as postwar chaos sweeps over East Texas.

KS49

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 Confederacy has collapsed, and Stone watches in horror as postwar chaos sweeps over East Texas.

May 27, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Anarchy and confusion reign over all. Jayhawking is the order of the day. The soldiers are disbanding throughout the Department and seizing Government property wherever they can find it. The Government offices here have been sacked. All work is over and all who can are going home. At Shreveport the demoralization is worse even than here. The officers are scattering to the four winds, and Jayhawkers and private soldiers are stopping and robbing them whenever found. Col. Bradforte was the first here to desert his post. We hear that the mules were taken from his ambulance and wagon. Maj. Rhett, Gen. Hayes, and indeed everyone we hear of has suffered the same fate while fleeing to the interior of the state or to Mexico. Gen. Kirby Smith has also been robbed. We do not know but suppose this Department has surrendered as the soldiers have disbanded and are making their way home. We are still in ignorance of what disposal is to be made of us by our conquerors. The excitement in the town is so great we can think and live only in the present. Everything is in a turmoil. … We are all glad to see the soldiers divide what Government property they can find, if they will only stop there and not let the desperadoes rob the citizens as they may do. Some of the people deserve robbing, for they joined with the soldiers in sacking the Departments.

Jimmy came home Thursday no longer a soldier but a poor discouraged boy. All his regiment went home but twenty and the colonel disbanded them. Jimmy and the three Carson boys were of the twenty who stood to their guns. Will Carson came back with him. Jimmy and Joe Carson went out to the river to see the prospect there. We are so glad to have Jimmy safe at home, but oh, what a different homecoming from what we anticipated when he enlisted. No feasting. No rejoicing. Only sadness and tears.

Johnny starts for Brokenburn tomorrow to get Uncle Bob to plant some corn if possible so that there will be something when we move back in the fall. Of course we cannot go now and leave the crop on the prairie. It is our only hope for a cent of money. Johnny will also go on to Vicksburg and try to get news of My Brother and Uncle Bo. The long suspense is very trying and Mamma longs so for My Brother io get back to help her. She feels so at sea in these new conditions of life. … Jimmy goes to the prairie in a few days to see what money can be raised there. I took him yesterday to see half of the girls in town. Determined to lose no time, he and Johnny are escorting two of them to church this morning. Jimmy got back nearly out of clothes of course, and Johnny, after his last trip, is nearly as badly off, having swapped off about every respectable article he had. We had to go to work at once. Fortunately Mamma has secured some blue linen from the department stores and had plenty of homespun. Shirts are the most difficult to get.

Mamma keeps us in terror threatening to move to the farm until fall. It is about like being in jail with the privilege of looking through the window, but she can decide nothing until she sees or hears from My Brother.

Lt. Holmes’ mess is broken up, and he is staying with us until he and Lt. Dupre can get off together. Traveling is so unsafe just now for officers. But Lt. Dupre is so anxious to get back to his wife, they will leave in a day or so. Their part of the spoils in lieu of pay is an ambulance and pair of mules with which they will journey to Monroe together. The officials have burned all their papers. …

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.

KS38

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.

KS46

From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

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.

KS36

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.

KS59

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.