Amerikan Rambler: Paul Fussell’s ‘Doing Battle’

From Jan. 2014: “The pages he devotes to the research are one of the best endorsements of the joys of the archives you’ll ever read.”

I recently finished reading Paul Fussell’s memoir, “Doing Battle,” about his experiences growing up in Pasadena, California, as an officer in Europe during World War II, and as a teacher and scholar at Rutgers and Princeton. Fussell received his doctorate in English from Harvard, and he is best known for two books that combine history and literature — “The Great War in Modern Memory” and “Wartime,” the latter of which is about WWII.

via Paul Fussell’s “Doing Battle” — Amerikan Rambler: Everybody Has a Story

Loreta’s Civil War: The poor devils

Velazquez sadly remembers how immigrants could be so easily deceived and re-directed into military service.

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 50: Velazquez sadly remembers how immigrants could be so easily deceived and re-directed into military service.

******

I posted to Washington, and having notified my confederate there when he might expect me, he met me in the Capitol grounds, and I gave him a statement of the account between us as it then stood, turning over to him the borrowed money and half of the profits of the speculations that had been carried on with it. He informed me that I was just in the nick of time, as the reports had not yet been made out, but they were about being, and he was beginning to get the least bit uneasy concerning me.

I continued to take an active part in such transactions as these for several months, traveling to and fro between Washington, Philadelphia, and New York, and often having about me immense sums of money. At length, however, I became afraid to risk it any longer, as Col. Baker had commenced his investigations in the Treasury Department and accordingly went out of the business of money-making for the time being. I did the fair thing by the Treasury people in giving them a hint with regard to Baker and then made haste to get out of the way until the storm should blow over.

As things turned out, it was not, by any means, as much of a storm as I expected it to be. Baker failed to strike the right trail, and the revelations which he made, while sufficiently scandalous were with regard to matters of very secondary importance, and he dallied so much with these that the scamps were able to get ready for him. …

It was not the woman who was working for the Confederacy, and who was under obligations to do those whom she regarded as her enemies and the enemies of her cause all the injury in her power, who fell into Baker’s hands, but certain high Federal officials who were under oath and who were entrusted with some of the most responsible duties that could possibly be entrusted to any men. …

In the matter of notes and bonds printed from the duplicate plates obtained from the treasury, an immense business was done both in this country and in England. The person to whom I gave the first plate delivered to me printed eighty-five thousand dollars’ worth of one hundred-dollar compound interest notes from it. These were, so far as appearances were concerned, just as good as the genuine ones issued from the Treasury Department. Of this batch, twenty-five thousand dollars’ worth were sent to England, and we received exchange for them. The rest were disposed of to the banks and through various channels.

The bankers and brokers both here and in England took these bogus notes and bonds without any hesitation whatever, as indeed there was every reason they should, for there was nothing to distinguish them from the genuine ones that could avail for their detection by ordinary purchasers.

It is impossible for me to give any idea of the enormous amount of this kind of counterfeiting that was done without apparently any serious effort being made on the part of the Federal government to check it. I and my associates had the handling of bogus paper representing immense sums, which we disposed of advantageously but the amounts that passed through our hands only represented a very small proportion of what was issued during the war.

The headquarters of the dealers in bogus currency and securities were chiefly in Wall and Fulton Streets, although a number of these swindlers were located on Broadway. With each succeeding month, during the continuance of the war, the spirit of speculation seemed to increase, and men became more and more eager to make money and less particular how they made it. It was not always obscure men and insignificant banking concerns that were wittingly engaged in this traffic in unlawful paper, but there were plenty who stood high in the esteem of the public and whose reputations for probity were supposed to be unimpeachable.

As for myself and other Confederates, we took all the advantage we could of the general demoralization and not only replenished our treasury, so as to be able to carry on many operations that otherwise would have been impossible, but worked in many ways to turn the criminal selfishness and unpatriotic greed of people … for the benefit of our cause.

The bounty-jumping and substitute-brokerage frauds arose out of a contest between the efforts of the Federal government to maintain the armies in the field at their maximum strength and the determination of nearly the entire body of male citizens to escape military duty by any means in their power.

Under the terms of the conscription law, persons drafted were permitted to furnish substitutes if they could get them, and consequently the purchasing of substitutes became an important branch of industry, in which many thousands of dollars capital were invested and in which immense sums of money were made. This traffic in human flesh and blood would have been bad enough had it been honestly conducted, but, from its very nature, it held out inducements for fraudulent practices which were irresistible to a majority of those engaged in it.

Anything like volunteering … had ceased long before my arrival at the North, but each locality being anxious to avoid the conscription made desperate efforts to fill its quota of men by offering bounties, greater or less in amount, to encourage enlistments. The payment of these bounties was a direct encouragement to desertion, and, as a very different class of men were tempted by them from those who had enlisted out of patriotic motives at the outbreak of the war, a vast number of those who pocketed these premiums were very willing to go through with the same operation again and as often as it was practicable to do so.

Bounty-jumping, or escaping from the recruiting officers and enlisting over again, was carried on … all over the country but the headquarters of the bounty-jumpers and substitute-brokers was in New York.

It was to New York that the agents of interior counties came for the purpose of filling their quotas, and they always found a horde of brokers ready to accommodate them with real and bogus enlistment papers, each one of which was supposed to represent an able-bodied man, fit for military duty, who had passed the mustering officers, been accepted, and was then ready for service. Whether the papers were bogus or genuine mattered very little to those who purchased, so long as they could obtain credit on them from the authorities at Washington. It would probably not be making too large an estimate to put down one half of the enlistment papers sold to country agents and others as forgeries, while not one half of the genuine ones, no, not one fourth, represented men actually ready for duty.

Of course such stupendous frauds as these could not have been carried on without the criminal connivance of the officials of various kinds who were … connected with the enlistments. There may have been some honest officers, soldiers, and civilians connected with this service in New York during the last year of the war, but I was never lucky enough to meet any. So far as I could see, the whole of them — commissioned officers, non-commissioned officers, surgeons, clerks, notaries public, and others — were intent only upon making all the money they could while the opportunity for making it lasted.

The bounty-jumping and substituting-frauds were perpetrated in such an open and barefaced manner that I could not help wondering why some efforts were not made by the authorities at Washington to check them. At length, however, the services of Col. Baker were called in, and he succeeded in creating quite a panic among the swindlers by the investigations which he instituted and the large number of the arrests he made. The war, however, came to an end before he succeeded in discovering a hundredth part of the rascalities that were going on, so that, practically, his investigations were of very little benefit to the government.

The rates which were paid for substitutes varied from five hundred to twenty-one hundred dollars. The parties with whom I was associated enlisted chiefly for the army and did very little for the navy. The bulk of our profits, so fast as they were made, went to Canada or England, and some of the parties who received the money are today living in luxury on it.

The recruits, when they were enlisted, and when they did not escape from the recruiting stations — as hundreds of them did every day — were sent to Governor’s Island. It might be supposed that once there, they would have been safe. They would have been, had the officers, commissioned and non-commissioned, been honest. The temptations for gain, however, were too great, and there was not a person in authority on the island who was not pocketing hundreds of dollars every week by conniving at the escape of recruits. I have known some of the regular professionals jump as high as sixteen bounties, walking away from Governor’s Island every time they were sent there with as much ease as if there was no such thing as army regulations and martial law in existence.

The way this was managed was by the purchase of passes. In going through the boat-house, a slip of paper with the number of passes on it would be put in a book on the table, and on returning, the passes would be found in the same book. The money for these could either be folded in the slip or an order on the broker’s office be given to the sergeant.

One application for a substitute that was made at the office with which I was connected was from a very prominent and very wealthy gentleman of New York, who was willing to pay as high as twenty-one hundred dollars for some one to take the place of his son, who had been drafted. This old gentleman was noted for his advocacy of the war and for his bitterness in denouncing the South, and yet, when it came to letting his son go and do some of the fighting, his patriotism tapered down to a very fine point, and he was willing to send any number of substitutes if necessary. … He was a very fair sample of the kind of patriots I was in the habit of meeting, and I could not help contrasting the whole-souled enthusiasm of the Southern people with the disposition shown by so many prominent adherents of the Federal cause. … As it was all in the way of business, however, I and my partners endeavored to accommodate this old gentleman.

I knew of a couple of barbers in Brooklyn, well built and hearty young colored fellows, and I accordingly went to them and finally induced one of them to enlist as a substitute for the old man’s son. He came over to our office, and on being enrolled received five hundred dollars with a promise that the rest of his bounty would be handed to him by the officer on the island. Privately, however, he was told how he might make his escape by giving the sergeant at the gate fifty dollars [and] was warned not to return to the city or he would be arrested and tried for desertion. He acted according to instructions and deserted so easily that he was tempted to try it over again several times, and I believe he managed to pocket several bounties without being caught.

The emigrant depot at Castle Garden, however, was the great resort of the bounty and substitute brokers, some of whom actually had agents in Europe who deceived the poor people there with all kinds of promises and then shipped them to become the prey of scamps on this side of the Atlantic so soon as they set foot on our shores.

All manner of inducements to enlist were held out to the poor Irish and Germans at Castle Garden. They were surrounded by crowds of shouting and yelling brokers until they were fairly bewildered and found themselves enlisted before they well knew what was the matter with them. To those who hesitated, the most lavish promises were made — their wives and children were to be cared for; they were to receive one hundred and sixty acres of land; money in larger sums than they had ever beheld before was flaunted in their faces. One fellow would shout, “Here you are, sir, come this way. I’m your man. I have five hundred dollars for you.” Another would say, “Here is five hundred dollars and a land warrant,” and another, “I have twenty-one hundred dollars for you if you will come with me.”

The poor devils — deafened by the clamor around them, tempted by the magnificent inducements held out to them, and believing that they really had at last reached the Eldorado of which they had been dreaming — … were marched off to act as substitutes for able-bodied American citizens who had no fancy for fighting the rebels. Every broker’s office had its runners, just the same as the hotels, who were posted at the emigrant station whenever a vessel load of human beings came into port, and among them the poor foreigners, who came over here to better their fortunes, had but little chance to become anything but food for Confederate bullets.

On one occasion I saw a squad of Germans who had just landed and who seemed to be looking for someone. As a runner approached them, their head man, who acted as interpreter, drew from his pocket a letter and asked, “Are you Capt. P.?”

“I am here in his place,” replied the runner. “What can I do for you?”

The German hesitated a moment, and before the runner could fairly commence work with him. Capt. P. made his appearance from the purser’s office, where he had, doubtless, just been receiving intelligence of the arrival of his human cargo. The runner, seeing P. and knowing that his opportunity was now gone, went off to seek for his prey elsewhere, while the captain proceeded to take the party in charge with small ceremony.

“Is your name P.?” queried the leader.

“Yes, and you are …” and without more ado, he hurried them off to a den in Greenwich Street, where they were forthwith enlisted in the Federal service.

These people, like thousands of others, had been picked up in Europe by agents under all kinds of pretexts and promises and shipped for this side of the ocean just like so many cattle. Capt. P. considered himself as their owner, and he sold them to the government exactly as he would have sold cattle, if that sort of traffic had been as profitable as dealing in white human beings. …

Loreta’s Civil War: Punctuality is the road to wealth

Velazquez secures the necessary currency printing equipment, and she and her team in the U.S. and England get to work.

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 49: Velazquez secures the necessary currency printing equipment, and she and her team in the U.S. and England get to work.

******

It so happened, however, that Mr. Chase, of his own motion, called Baker in to assist him in discovering some suspected wrong-doing in the department, and that individual, having then obtained the requisite authority, immediately went to work with even more than his accustomed zeal to find out what was wrong in the printing bureau.

Baker, however, was either somewhat obtuse, or else the person to whom I have alluded as at the head of the ring, and his confederates, were successful in getting him on the wrong track, for the first man he laid his hands on was Dr. Stewart Gwynn. This old gentleman was an eccentric inventor who had a lot of queer, original ideas about proper methods of printing the currency and bonds. Mr. Chase believed that he was a great genius, and it is possible he may have been. I regarded him, however, as a mere catspaw for the others, and have never thought that he was guilty of any intentional wrongdoing.

Dr. Gwynn was arrested by Baker and was lodged for a number of months in the Old Capitol Prison. Nothing criminal, however, was proved against him, although it was shown very conclusively that some of his schemes were not very profitable to the government. Much sympathy was felt for this old man, and I, among others, went to Mr. Chase to beg for his release.

I had quite a long talk with Mr. Chase on this occasion, and he was very emphatic in stating that the method in vogue in the Treasury Department for printing notes and bonds was an effectual check on counterfeiting. I, of course, knew very well what a serious delusion he was laboring under, and it would have given me great pleasure to have undeceived him. …

Having captured Dr. Gwynn, Baker next made an expose of the conduct of the other treasury official whom I have mentioned, and certain female employees of the department, but he did not get at the facts with regard to the bogus plates and other matters of equal importance until a considerable time after. Indeed, I am not sure that it was his investigation that brought the worst practices of the printing bureau to light, but think that someone else had a hand in making that revelation.

It is probable that the manner in which he was treated by those who should have supported him, after proving how the two men mentioned were conducting themselves with the female employees, may have disgusted him with the whole business and discouraged him from prosecuting his investigations any further. The expose with regard to the women created a great excitement when it got into the newspapers but the implicated treasury officials had sufficient influence to brave public opinion and to retain their positions in spite of the clamor for their removal that was raised. Indeed, so great was the prejudice against Col. Baker in certain quarters that, I have no doubt, many very good people actually believed the parties accused by him were innocent and were the victims of a conspiracy.

Besides this, the public attention at that period was tolerably well occupied with war matters, and Baker, having been bluffed off, the scandal was forgotten in a short time. Baker, however, was very sore over the treatment he received from Mr. Chase, Mr. Jordan, Mr. Garfield, and others; and was especially indignant that the rogues who were robbing the people should not only be permitted to go unpunished but should be actually protected in their villainies by their official superiors.

With these matters, however, I had nothing to do, having discontinued my operations in connection with the treasury before Col. Baker commenced to examine into the gross mismanagement of affairs in that important department.

In accordance with my agreement with the printing bureau official, I called at his office at the appointed hour and was referred by him to one of his subordinates. With this man I made an arrangement for a conference under a certain cedar tree in the eastern part of the Smithsonian Institution grounds at nine o’clock in the evening.

This man and his father were printers in the bureau and were confederates in the dishonest practices that were going on, by which the government was defrauded of immense sums and by which immense quantities of bogus notes and bonds were foisted on the public. One of these men had a mistress who was employed to do some work about the printing presses. This woman conveyed the electrotype duplicates of the plates to parties outside and performed other services of a similar character, for which she was paid handsomely.

Some time before the appointed hour I strolled into the grounds of the Smithsonian Institution, and after finding the cedar tree, hid myself in some bushes near by, not being at all certain that some trick would not be played upon me, for it occurred to me that perhaps these people might not fancy my having anything to do with the matters we were negotiating about and would take a notion to have me put out of the way in some manner.

My apprehensions, however, were groundless, for I had approached them in such a manner that they were compelled to trust me, whether they wanted to or not, and their only idea was, with the assistance of myself and associates, to make the grandest haul on the treasury that had ever yet been attempted.

Ere a great while I heard footsteps approaching and presently some one coughed in a significant manner, which I interpreted as a signal for me. I accordingly looked out from my hiding place and saw the man I was expecting. Having assured myself that he was alone, I went up to him, and said, “Good evening.”

“You are her, are you?” said he.

“Yes, I am always punctual on business; punctuality is the road to wealth.”

We then sat down together on the grass to arrange our plans. The scheme I had to propose was quite a modest one, all things taken into consideration. It was, that I, as receiver and bearer for certain other parties, should be given electrotype duplicates of bond and currency plates, such as we had information manufactured by certain parties in the Treasury Department. For them we would either pay so much or would share the profits.

My new acquaintance, however, was in favor of going into business on quite a grand scale. He suggested, in rather indefinite terms, that he had a scheme for bleeding the treasury, which would, if proper management was used, be an even more expeditious and safer method of making money than by issuing bogus paper but he seemed to be a little hesitating about confiding all the details to me.

I therefore said, after we had talked for some time without coming to any conclusion, “Well, sir, what are your plans? I have no notion of rendering myself liable to imprisonment for the plans of another person unless I know all about them and understand exactly what risks I run and what I am likely to gain. If it were not for the sake of a great object I have in view, I would not engage in this business on any terms and would not risk my life and reputation as I am and have been doing.”

“What is your object?”

“That is a personal secret, and it has nothing to do with any one individual.”

“Well,” said he, “this plan of mine is the biggest thing that has ever been tried on yet, and I am certain we can manage it if we only go to work in the right way. I have facilities for carrying on an affair of this kind such as are possessed by no other man in Washington. I know all the men in every department and know exactly who can and who cannot be trusted. I am acquainted with every private entrance to the public buildings in this city and am familiar with a great part of the rascality that is going on every day and every night.”

“If that is so, you certainly have advantages, and if your scheme is a practicable one, I will take it into consideration.”

He then went on to tell me how he proposed using government money and bonds, which were to be taken from the treasury for certain speculative purposes and also for floating bogus bonds, both Federal and Confederate, upon the English market. He was to manage the matter in the Treasury Department, I was to act as go-between, and certain brokers and others in Philadelphia and New York were to attend to the outside business.

When he had fully explained himself, I said, “I am almost afraid to undertake such an enterprise. It will be no small matter to carry on such operations as you propose without detection. Don’t you think you are trying to do too much?”

“I know that we will be operating on a rather large scale, but if we go about the matter in the right way there need be no serious danger. We can begin on a moderate basis and extend our business as we go on, replacing the borrowed money in the treasury as it comes back to us. I and my two friends will be responsible for procuring the capital, if you will consent to be the bearer between here and Philadelphia and New York.”

“Oh, sir, you must not let me be known to any third party in an affair of this kind. If you will deliver to me the money in person, or cause it to be placed where I can get it without danger of being detected, I will undertake the job.”

“Well, that is all right. I will arrange everything for you so that you will be in no danger. I want this to bring in something handsome, for I am anxious to get out of Washington, and so soon as I can make enough money I intend to go South. My feelings have always been with the Southern people, and I consider that they have been the victims of unnumbered outrages.”

“Why, ain’t you afraid to talk in that manner, you a government employee? Don’t you know that I am for the Union?”

“So am I,” said he, “but, for all I can make out, the Union is a great big hobby-horse for speculations, and as other people are making money out of it, I don’t see why I might not.”

I then returned to what had been my chief object in meeting him, by telling him that I wanted one of those electrotype plates. He seemed to be rather disinclined to accommodate me in this matter at first but as I was persistent, he finally consented, and we parted with the understanding that we were not to meet again until I was ready to report the result of our operations and hand him his share of the profits.

The next day a plate was delivered to me at the Kirkwood House, which I immediately put under lock and key in my trunk. Subsequently I received a note informing me that I would find a package under the cedar tree in the Smithsonian grounds, and that I had better go and get it as soon after dark as possible, for fear some of the workmen might pick it up.

The package … was found to contain fifty-five thousand dollars’ worth of government paper. … Securing my booty, I returned to the hotel, rang the bell for my bill, and started for Philadelphia with all possible expedition. The plate which I had in my trunk was for one hundred dollars’ compound interest notes. Not very long after, I and my associates obtained another one for printing fractional currency.

On reaching Philadelphia, I commenced operations immediately in connection with certain brokers and others and bought a large amount of bogus Confederate bonds. Having obtained these, I went to New York, where I took rooms in a private house on Greenwich Street, deeming a hotel rather too conspicuous, and communicating with my associates there, we went to work with energy to turn the money belonging to Uncle Sam in our possession over and over as rapidly as we could, making it pay us a handsome profit at each turn.

Some of this cash was put into the bounty and substitute brokerage business, but a large part of it was invested in bogus Confederate and other securities, which were sold to brokers for the English market. One private banker took sixty-two thousand dollars’ worth, and another twenty-one thousand dollars’ worth, while smaller amounts were scattered about in various directions, we receiving English exchange and gold at market rates, which we turned into greenbacks.

This business finally grew to such an extent that it was found to be convenient to communicate with London direct. Correspondence was therefore established with a banking house on Regent Street, and until the close of the war a lively traffic in real and bogus Federal and Confederate securities was maintained.

After we had been operating six days with the money obtained from the treasury, I telegraphed to my confederate in Washington, stating how much had already been made and asking whether I should keep on. The reply was to give myself plenty of time, and to keep the thing going for ten days longer, and then close out and return to Washington in time for the monthly reports to be made out. At the end of the ten days there was but five thousand dollars’ worth of Confederate bonds remaining on our hands undisposed of.

Loreta’s Civil War: Nothing but his fears

Velazquez, both disgusted and cautious, moves forward with an operation within the U.S. Treasury Department.

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 48: Velazquez, both disgusted and cautious, moves forward with an operation within the U.S. Treasury Department.

******

Having made my arrangements with parties in Philadelphia and New York and having obtained the information necessary for me to make my initial movements, I went to Washington, and, first of all, had a talk with Col. Baker, giving him some information — real or fictitious, as the case may have been — which I thought would amuse him, and assist in convincing him that I was overflowing with zeal for the Federal cause. This interview with Baker was in accordance with a general plan I had laid out, for … I thought it best to call on him and give an account of myself than to have him or his men getting sight of me unexpectedly and perhaps wondering what I was up to.

Baker’s vigilance having thus been disarmed, I went to a clerk in the Treasury Department, and telling him briefly what I wanted … I asked him to assist me in gaining access to the private rooms in the building where none but the officials in charge and the employees immediately under them were ever allowed to go, except by written permits signed by the secretary. These rooms were chiefly those of the printing bureau, where the Federal bonds and currency were manufactured. …

This clerk was a Confederate sympathizer like a number of other Federal employees of various grades, and he carried his sympathies so far as that he was willing and anxious to aid the Confederacy by every means in his power, so long as he could do so with safety to himself. He was not the sort of a man I had much liking for, but in the kind of work I was engaged in prosecuting, it did not do to be too fastidious about the characters of one’s associates. Moreover, he had proved himself … to be a very efficient spy and was constantly in communication with the Confederate agents, giving them information which often was of extreme importance.

It was probably through him that my associates first learned what was going on in the printing bureau, but of this I am not certain. At any rate, they knew that he was the best person to apply to for the sake of getting such an introduction to the private rooms of the Treasury building … as he was thoroughly posted with regard to the villainies that were being practiced there.

In response to my application to this clerk for assistance, he gave me a letter of introduction to a man occupying a very high and very responsible position — so high and so responsible that I was astonished, beyond measure, on being referred to him on such an errand, who, he said, would accomplish for me what I wished. This letter was so worded that the party to whom it was addressed would understand that I wanted to talk with him about matters that it would not do for everybody to be cognizant of, and I was told that I might speak with the most perfect freedom to him with regard to the business I had in hand.

I accordingly went to this official and presented the letter of introduction, wondering not a little what he would say and do when he read it. His conduct satisfied me at once that he was implicated in unlawful schemes and that he was exactly the man for my purposes. When he read the letter he turned as pale as a sheet, and then red, while his hand trembled so much that I was afraid some of the people in the room would notice it.

He read the letter through two or three times before he was able to obtain sufficient composure to trust himself to speak. He finally, however, said a few commonplace things to me, which meant nothing and were intended for the ears of those around us rather than for mine, and then requested me to give him my address.

I did this, and then, in obedience to a hurried gesture, took my departure without attempting to have any further conversation just then, but feeling well assured that I could speedily be afforded ample opportunity for an exchange of views with him.

That evening my new acquaintance called on me at my hotel, and, although we both for a time fought shy of the main subject, I readily perceived from the general tenor of his conversation that he had, since my visit to his office, been making particular inquiries with regard to me. He remarked, among other things, that he had heard Col. Baker mention my name several times and always in highly commendatory terms. This was very satisfactory intelligence, for it convinced me that I really stood well with the secret service chief. …

At length he said he thought he understood my object in making his acquaintance, and, although he was not quite certain what I wanted, he would endeavor to aid me by any means in his power.

I then told him, plump and plain, that I and my associates had full information with regard to what was being done in certain of the Treasury bureaus, and that we had it in our power to set the detectives to work in such a way that all those engaged in swindling the government would be arrested and brought to punishment. Instead of doing anything of this kind, however, we proposed to share the profits of such fraudulent transactions as were going on in the Treasury Department. As the agent and receivers of the others interested, I wanted to get possession of one or more of the electrotype impressions of the bond and note plates, such as were used for fraudulent issues, and I also desired to obtain facilities for visiting the printing bureau … for the sake of conferring with certain parties there. …

My friend saw that I “had him,” to use a slang phrase that is very appropriate in such a connection as this, for it expresses the situation exactly. He hesitated, however, as well he might, before yielding to my request, and after some immaterial talk, which expressed nothing but his fears, he said, “Well, if I oblige you in this, I will place my honor and my reputation in your hands. I have never yet stepped aside from the duties of my office since I have been sworn in, and what assurances have I that you will not betray me?”

I knew exactly how much of this to believe, and so I said to him, “I don’t care, sir, what you may or may not have done before this. I am satisfied, however, that you are the proper person to assist me in the matter under discussion, and if you do you shall have your share of the profits. You can rely upon my secrecy, for I will be implicated as well as yourself; but, independently of that, I think that my character for reliability is sufficiently well known for you to have no hesitation in trusting me.”

“Yes, I know your reputation for skill and secrecy; you seem to have played it finely with Baker. I am glad somebody has managed to get ahead of that fellow, for he has been making himself an infernal nuisance about here.”

This was said with considerable bitterness, and I could not help smiling both at the words and the manner, for there was something absolutely comical in the idea of my friend and those in league with him considering Baker’s negligence a grievance. I, however, said nothing on that point, but merely remarked that Baker appeared to be a tolerably capable officer.

My friend possibly did not care to argue about Baker, for he went on, without noticing the remark, to say that he would have to swear me to secrecy. I laughed at this and ridiculed the idea of my oath being worth any more than my word under the circumstances. He, therefore, abandoned all notion of attempting to bind me, except by the responsibilities I would incur in connection with himself and the others interested, and began to talk business in a straightforward manner. This suited me exactly, and it was not long before we had matters arranged to our mutual satisfaction.

He agreed to furnish any capital that might be needed to commence operations or to do any preliminary bribing that was necessary and was to have a percentage of whatever profits were made. As for getting possession of a fraudulent plate or plates, I would have to talk about that to the people to whom he would introduce me but he did not doubt, if I managed right, I could get all that were necessary for our purposes.

There were other things to be done, however, besides printing bogus notes and bonds, and he thought that a thriving business could be carried on in the genuine articles, which might be abstracted and returned, after being turned over a few times in the market, so as to yield a sufficient profit to pay for the risk and trouble. The bogus bonds, he thought, could be printed in Washington, and seemed rather anxious that they should be but I said that I doubted whether my associates would consent to that — at any rate, I could not undertake to make definite arrangements without consulting them. The idea was to float these bonds, as far as possible, on the European market, and it was thought that it could readily be done, as they could be sold at rates that would defy competition on the part of the government agents who were working with the genuine articles. …

I, of course, made all necessary promises, and he, accordingly, wrote a note, which he signed with a private mark instead of with his name, and told me to call the next day at the Treasury and give it to a certain prominent official connected with the printing bureau. He then took his leave, and I had little or nothing to do with him afterwards, his share of whatever profits was made being paid to him by someone else.

My arrangement with the parties at whose instance I went to Washington on this business was that in event of my being able to make a satisfactory bargain with the officials in the Treasury Department, I was to be the receiver and bearer of whatever they might confide to my care in the way of bonds, notes, bogus plates, and other matters, and was to travel to and fro between Washington, Philadelphia, and New York as a confidential manager, while brokers in the two last-named cities and elsewhere were to do the [financing].

The scheme was an immense one, although it did not reach its full proportions all at once, and it included not only dealing in genuine — borrowed for the purpose from the treasury — and bogus Federal securities, but Confederate bogus bonds also. These bonds were to be, as far as practicable, put upon the English market at the best rates that could be gotten for them, and our — that is, the Confederate — share of the proceeds was to go into a general fund to be used for advancing the interests of the Cause. As for the Britishers, we considered them fair game when selling them either kind of bogus securities, for we regarded their conduct as treacherous to both parties in the great contest and thought that they might as well be made to pay some of the expenses of conducting it.

From first to last the British government had deluded the people of the Confederacy with false hopes of recognition and interference, and, as at the time of which I am writing, it was becoming daily more apparent that it did not propose to interfere unless it could do so without risking anything, the feeling against it — especially among the Confederates at the North and in Canada, who were constantly in correspondence with agents in England and on the continent — was getting to be very bitter.

It was determined, therefore, to go for Johnny Bull’s pocket, and a lively trade in bogus Confederate and Federal securities was started and kept up for a considerable time, which, among other things, involved my making a trip to London. …

The day after receiving the note … I took it to the person in the printer’s bureau, to whom it was addressed. This individual did not appear to be the least surprised to see me, and it was evident that he had been apprised of the fact that I intended to make him a visit and what the visit would be for.

He proceeded to business at once … by requesting me to call the next day at his office, when, he said, the matter would be arranged to my satisfaction. He was not disposed to be talkative about the situation and, as I found out shortly afterwards, certain persons under him in the bureau were the active agents in the swindling transactions that were going on — his plan being to avoid, as far as practicable, any palpable participation in them. … This man, however, was at the head of the ring, and was responsible for all the rascalities that occurred in connection with the important bureau with which he was connected.

The abstraction of currency and bonds for speculative purpose and the permitting electrotypes of the plates used for printing bonds and currency, to be taken and disposed of to outside parties for the purpose of enabling them to print bogus issues, were not his only offenses. He and another official … had several abandoned women employed under them, at large salaries, and with whom they were in the habit of carousing in their offices at midnight. Indeed, so shameless and abandoned were both the men and the women that their doings became a public scandal and did much to bring about an exposure of their official misdeeds.

Before I knew anything of these matters, Col. Baker pointed out these women to me as the pets of these two men and told me about their introducing them into the Treasury building and taking them to the Canterbury saloon in male attire. This was some time before Baker commenced the investigations which created such a sensation by revealing to the public the vice and corruption that ruled in the Treasury Department. Baker then said he was certain that villainies of no ordinary character were going on and that he proposed some day to try and find out what they were.

The fact that Baker had his eye on these officials and others whom I knew were guilty of transactions … induced me to conclude that I had best have nothing to do with them, and, accordingly, I severed my business relations with the printing bureau after giving those interested a hint to beware of the colonel.

This hint was disregarded for the reason that the scamps knew that he could not commence an investigation into the affairs of the Treasury Department without the consent of Secretary Chase, and this consent, for reasons which to them were good and sufficient, they did not believe would ever be given.

Loreta’s Civil War: One of the most disgraceful

Velazquez completes her uneventful trip to Havana and returns to Washington, where she begins a new mission in the depths of the Treasury Department.

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 47: Velazquez completes her uneventful trip to Havana and returns to Washington, where she begins a new mission in the depths of the Treasury Department.

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It was a troublesome matter getting our cargo together, but finally, after many anxious days and nights, during which we expected every moment to be pounced upon by the Federal authorities, our schooner was loaded with wines, drugs, boots, shoes, buttons, and military goods. I also filled several private orders and … purchased a handsome sword and belt and a fine pair of pistols. These I obtained through a sergeant stationed at Governor’s Island … who proved useful to me afterwards in a variety of transactions. …

Everything being ready, the schooner set sail and succeeded in reaching her port without being overhauled. So, soon as she was off, I prepared to start by the steamer for Havana, having orders for coffee and other supplies to the Confederate agent there. These goods had been shipped from Antwerp and other places in Europe and from New York, and they were to be sent from Nassau to Brownsville, Texas, under consignment to the Confederate quartermaster or agent there, who, if I recollect rightly, was a Capt. Shankey.

This trip to Havana was scarcely as pleasant as the one I had made to that city from New Orleans in the summer of 1862. The Atlantic Ocean I found to be a great deal rougher than the Gulf of Mexico, and, for nearly half the voyage, the weather was very stormy. The result was that I was too sick to have much enjoyment for a couple of days but, having recovered from my attack of mat de mer, I began to enjoy myself and felt benefited by the sea air. I was not sorry, however, when the shores of my beautiful native island began to appear in the distance, and [I] felt much satisfaction when our vessel steamed in under the guns of the Moro Castle and anchored off the city of Havana.

In Havana, I found a number of my old acquaintances of 1862, who were as busily engaged as ever in running the blockade, although the difficulties and dangers of the business gave them much discomfort. The profits of a successful trip, however, were so great that they could afford to brave them and to submit to large losses through the vigilance of the Federal cruisers. In fact, despite the annoyances experienced from the blockaders, who were becoming exceedingly keen in their scent after prizes, blockade-running was yet a very paying business, and the men engaged in it would have been quite willing that the war should have continued indefinitely, so long as their ventures yielded as handsome results as they did.

What gave these people the most uneasiness … was not the stringency of the blockade but a prospect that the war would speedily come to an end. They watched the course of events critically and anxiously but from a very different standpoint from that of myself and my associates, North or South, and I was not a little startled by the evident belief that the collapse of the Confederacy was near at hand. The cold-blooded way in which they considered such a calamity, and the purely pecuniary light in which they regarded it, shocked me and greatly excited my indignation. I could not but acknowledge the force of much of their reasoning, however, although their total indifference to the fate of the Confederacy, except so far as it affected their opportunities for money-making, had the effect of reviving my enthusiasm and of making me more than ever resolved to labor for the success of the cause while a glimmer of hope remained.

Having transacted my business in Havana, I started for Bridgetown, Barbados, to make arrangements there for the shipment of goods. I went from Havana to St. Thomas in the steamer Pelyo and from St. Thomas to Bridgetown in a British steamer. The purser of the last-mentioned vessel was particularly attentive to me — indeed, I had not had so persistent an admirer since the time I was escorted to Memphis by the Federal lieutenant, whose fancy for me I turned to such good purpose in carrying out my plans. The purser gave me his photograph and made me promise to write to him. The photograph I kept and have given it a proper place in my collection of curiosities, but the promise to write I am afraid I broke. I hope the purser, who was a very good follow in his way, did not break his heart in consequence.

At Bridgetown I was received very kindly by the friends of the Confederacy there but was disappointed at finding that Mr. M., the gentleman whom I was to see, was absent. I, however, left my orders with his secretary and started to return to New York by way of St. Thomas.

At St. Thomas I was compelled to wait some days for the steamer, during which time the Confederate cruiser Florida came in under the noses of the Federal fleet, coaled, and put to sea again. One of the Federal men-of-war which was watching her was deluded into giving chase to a mail steamer, and the Florida succeeded in slipping off and getting out of harm’s way before she discovered her mistake — a performance which afforded me exceeding great delight.

While in St. Thomas I succeeded in contracting a loan with Messrs. V & Son, a Belgian firm, on account of the Confederate agents in Canada, and, this being done, I was ready to return to New York by the first steamer.

On my return to New York, circumstances occurred which called my special attention to the operations of the bounty-jumpers and substitute-brokers, and having no other schemes on hand, I was induced to interest myself in the business of reducing the strength of the Federal armies in the field by preventing the reinforcements demanded by the government from reaching the front.

The efficiency of the services rendered the Confederacy by these substitute-brokers and bounty-jumpers cannot be over-estimated. Large armies existed on paper but while the generals in command kept constantly and uninterruptedly calling for more men, they failed to receive them in such numbers as were requisite for keeping their ranks full, and many important movements were rendered ineffectual, and thousands of lives were needlessly sacrificed, simply because the recruiting system adopted by the government was far better calculated for giving abundant employment to rogues of the worst class than it was for keeping the strength of the army up to the proper standard.

The majority of these rogues were Northern men who … did not care the toss of a button which side won, so long as they were able to make money out of the contest. The war, to them, was a grand opportunity for driving all manner of schemes for their individual profit, and the longer it was likely to last, the better they were pleased, giving no thought whatever to the enormous destruction of life and property that was going on, or to the incalculable misery that was caused to thousands of people, all over the land, every day it was waged. …

I doubt whether a good many of the people of the North who supported the Federal government in its efforts to conquer the South, under the belief that their cause was a just one and worth making sacrifices for, had any adequate idea of the rascality, in high quarters and low quarters, that was one of the results of the war. We read about certain scandalous doings in the newspapers but, apart from the fact that many of the worst rascalities of the period never were brought to light, it was impossible for the good, patriotic people who contributed their money and goods, and who prayed, day and night, for the success of the Federal cause, to understand the infamies that were being practiced around them. …

Had these infamies been confined to a comparatively few obscure men in the large cities they would have been bad enough and would have been sufficiently demoralizing in their influences to make it a subject for profound regret that opportunities for their practice should have been afforded.

Bad as they were, however, the substitute-brokers and the bounty-jumpers were not the worst villains of the period. Men high in public station and occupying offices of the greatest responsibility were engaged in robbing the government and in swindling the public to an extent that was absolutely startling to me when I obtained cognizance of their doings, and, for the purpose of carrying out my plans, became an accomplice in some of their transactions.

The Treasury Department itself — where the Federal currency and the interest-bearing bonds, upon which was raised money to carry on the contest, were manufactured — was the headquarters of a gang of thieves and counterfeiters, who carried on their operations for months, within my own knowledge, in a most barefaced manner, and who, when at length detected and brought to bay, were able not only to escape punishment but to retain their positions and to find apologists in their official superiors and in prominent members of Congress.

I really did not know what to make of it when I read the report of the committee of Congress, which not only exonerated certain Treasury officials, whose misdeeds were discovered by Col. Baker, but which actually insinuated that the detective was engaged in a conspiracy against them. I knew only too well how guilty they were, and I knew that Baker had ample evidence against them, although he was not informed of a tithe of the villainies they had committed. That the secretary and the solicitor of the treasury should take sides with them, and that a congressional committee composed of statesmen who claimed to be honest and patriotic, should … sustain them and endeavor to punish Baker for having detected them, are things that I have never yet been able to understand.

That they were protected, and that attempts were made to punish Baker, are, however, facts that cannot be denied, and certainly, of all the disgraceful things which occurred during the war, this was one of the most disgraceful. …

My opinion of Col. Baker’s character or of his qualifications for the position he held as chief of the United States Secret Service Corps is not the most exalted, and I have too vivid a recollection of the fears I felt and of the trouble I had in keeping out of his way at the period to which I am alluding. … I was pleased, for my own sake, but I was astonished beyond measure when I learned that his efforts to break up certain practices in vogue in the Treasury Department resulted as they did. … It was almost incredible that Secretary Chase, Solicitor Jordan, and Mr. Garfield and the other members of the congressional investigating committee should have taken the peculiar stand that they did. …

I had little or nothing to do with the bounty-jumpers until after my return from the West Indies. My relations with the officials of the Treasury Department, however, commenced not a great while after my arrival at the North, and it was mainly my transactions with them that made me so much afraid of being discovered by Col. Baker and so extremely anxious to stand well in his good graces. I am convinced that my intimate relations with Baker, as one of his employees, and the confidence in me which I succeeded in inspiring in his mind alone saved me from detection when he went to work to find out what was worth finding out in the Treasury Department. …

When I first learned of the uses which some of my Confederate friends were making of the facilities of the Federal treasury for obtaining cash, I was rather shocked, and it took some time to convince me that even the license of warfare and the right we had to injure our adversaries in every manner possible made such things permissible. When I found out, however, that not only were counterfeit Confederate bonds and notes freely manufactured at the North, without any interference on the part of the government, but that Federal officials actually made use of this bogus Confederate paper whenever they found it convenient to do so, I had no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that we would be perfectly justifiable in retaliating, and that we had the same right to raid on the Federal treasury and to injure to Federal credit that the Federals had to try and swamp our finances.

It was Col. Baker who decided me to go into this business. That individual always seemed to have a plentiful amount of bogus Confederate bills on hand to be used on occasion. On my Richmond trip, as the reader will recollect, he gave me a considerable sum in this kind of money to assist in paying my expenses, all of which was just so much saved to the Federal government — or, perhaps, to Baker individually — for I was traveling in the capacity of a Federal secret service agent. On numerous similar occasions Baker found it convenient to meet the expenses of his spies within the Confederate lines with promises to pay — supposed to have been issued in Richmond, but in reality manufactured and given to the world in New York and Philadelphia. He seemed to regard it as quite a proper way of fighting the rebels — to put as many counterfeit Confederate notes as possible into circulation — and when I discovered that he was of this way of thinking, I was not long in deciding that we rebels had a right to make the thing even by circulating as many bogus United States notes and bonds as we could. …

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: The heart of a boy

Stone’s brothers began a new school in Tyler, Texas, but bullies tormented them, and they nearly came to blows. Students brought guns to school to deal with these Louisiana refugees.

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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 brothers began a new school in Tyler, Texas, but bullies tormented them, and they nearly came to blows. Students brought guns to school to deal with these Louisiana refugees.

As Kate fretted, she and her mother sewed winter clothes and celebrated the construction of impressive new bonnets.

Oct. 29, 1863

“Refugee Ranch,” Tyler, Texas

We have been at Tyler scarcely long enough to feel settled, and the first thing is a grand disturbance that threatens all our plans.

It seems there is a great prejudice existing here against the unfortunate refugees, a feeling strong in Mr. Kaiser’s school that made Jimmy and Eddie Carson very unpopular. There was no open outbreak, however, until Jimmy and Johnny were entered as pupils. For several days the disaffected could find no open cause of offense, and our boys, perfectly unsuspecting, rode, walked, hunted, and marched together perfectly happy to renew their old friendships and not dreaming they were making enemies. But all this was the head and front of their offending. When they added to this “wearing gold watch chains and black broadcloth” a slender little strand of gold and a secondhand suit of clothes the Tyler boys could stand no more, and they rose in their wrath to put down those “refugee upstarts” most unaffected little fellows.

They opened hostilities by sticking pins in Jimmy and Johnny at church during the prayer. … Johnny was so enraged that he challenged the boy to come out of the church at once and fight, but the boy excused himself as he had a lady with him. They made an appointment to meet the next day and have a regular fisticuffs. The boy failed to keep the promise, and Jimmy denounced the act at school as ungentlemanly. The fuss blew over without coming to blows, the boys agreeing not to speak to each other, and they thought everything was settled. But the father of the boy came to school very angry and told Mr. Kaiser that unless Jimmy Stone was dismissed from school all the other boys would be taken away. Several boys wore pistols to school today, and they had formed a plan to mob Jimmy last night, but as I was with him they put it off.

We knew nothing of all this until Mr. Kaiser came over this evening to advise Mamma and Mrs. Carson to keep the boys inside the yard and to make Jimmy Carson take off the chain and put on rough clothes. Mr. Kaiser has acted a very cowardly part. The boys have been taken from school, and Mamma and Mrs. Carson are trying to get a private tutor for them. Jimmy Stone was studying hard since he knows his school days are short. …

Oct. 30

The Tyler boys are trying to force Jimmy Carson into a fight. Half a dozen of them are going armed for him, and we are very anxious. Mamma and Mrs. Carson have made our boys promise they will not be first to start a row. They restrain themselves but they are boiling with rage. Mamma will not let Jimmy go to church as she hears the Tyler boys intend mobbing him, and Jimmy is in a dreadful state of mind. He says they will all call him a coward. We do not care what these rowdy roughs call our boys, just so they do not all get into a free fight with pistols. If it was only fisticuff, we would let them fight it out. Mrs. Carson went to see Mr. Williams, the father of the ring-leader, and we hope her pacific representations to him will calm the excitement.

Jimmy Stone has behaved as well as a boy could, with firmness but moderation. I do not think he has even been angry until tonight, when Mamma forbid his going to church unless she or I went with him. And he has not put on a pistol until this morning, though he has known for several days that half a dozen boys are wearing pistols to “do him up,” as they say. The entire household is wrought up, and Jimmy is furious. He says he intends to shoot down the first boy tomorrow who says a harsh word to him.

Mrs. Carson is a strong member of the peace party and has forbidden either of her boys to go to Tyler on any pretext whatever. This restraint chafes the boys extremely but is a most necessary one, excited and angry as all the boys are. Johnny and Eddie had been wearing pistols days before we knew there was any trouble. How little we can know what is in the heart of a boy. Here we were, so pleased with their innocent sports, thinking them absorbed in their marbles and horses and marching around, when every boy was expecting a deadly encounter and burning with hatred for his enemies. We were praising Johnny for his devotion to study when lie insisted on going to school one day when Mamma thought him too unwell. We found out afterwards they were expecting a battle royal that day, and Johnny had an appointment to fight. I hope Mr. Kaiser, for his cowardly truckling in dismissing Jimmy without cause, will lose his school.

I am glad it is a general refugee quarrel instead of being confined to Jimmy. Edward Levy and George Grissman, refugee boys, have both had to leave school.

Mamma has been busy remodeling and making bonnets. She has excellent ideas on the subject, and we tell her a first-class milliner was spoiled when she turned to other pursuits. Her bonnet is quite a triumph, a regular “skyscraper” of straw and silk. She finished mine today, a pretty mixture of black velvet and cherry. It is the same I sported at Monroe in uniform with Julia Barr and Shirley Crith, but it is much improved by the addition of the bright color. I have been forced to take off black. None to be bought.

I am still on the weary treadmill of work, work, work that commenced at Monroe. Our sewing seems endless. We have been hard at it for nearly six months and the end is not yet. Mamma bought two calicoes for me, one at $55 and the other $66. One is made and I am sewing on the last one. We still have two drill dresses to make over. Jimmy is without winter underclothes, and we cannot buy a piece of woolen. We fear in such thin clothes he will take pneumonia again.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: This is too disgraceful

Kate Stone’s brother returned with news of a beloved Louisiana crawling with Federal troops and Unionists. Stone was enraged, disgusted, and insulted.

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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)

Kate Stone’s brother returned with news of a beloved Louisiana crawling with Federal troops and Unionists. Stone was enraged, disgusted, and insulted.

Oct. 8, 1863

“Elysian Fields,” Lamar County, Texas

The last few days have been full of interest. First, Johnny returned only last night, and this opens the gates of release from this region of sin and woe. We think we can get off on Monday. Uncle Johnny has been awaiting only Johnny’s return to move on, and they will start on their long journey on Saturday over 300 miles. Thus Johnny’s arrival has been the signal trumpet calling us all to horse and away.

A letter from Julia in which she says My Brother was twice severely wounded in his right arm in the battle of Gettysburg. He has recovered and is with his command but has lost the use of his right hand. We are truly thankful it is no worse. If we could only hear all that has happened to him since seeing him last, but we know so little. Poor fellow, this is his fifth wound and the most severe of all. We so hope he can get a furlough this fall. It worries me to hear of Tom Manlove’s frolicking about, getting married and enjoying himself in every way, getting all the honor, while My Brother, who is worth ten of him, gets only the hard work of the camp and the wounds. … I can write and think myself into a fever about My Brother.

Julia is still at Camden. All wagons have been impressed to remove government stores, and so they cannot get away. She heard through Robert Norris, who wrote asking news of his aunt, that Uncle Bo is well and is now a 1st lieutenant. We are so glad of his promotion. Not a word of Brother Coley, and we are very anxious about him. Joe Carson is regimental colorbearer, a dangerous post. …

Johnny gives a dreadful account of affairs in and around Delhi and Monroe. Most of the citizens remaining boast of being Unionists and carry on a most profitable trade with Vicksburg. The Yankee cavalry came out to Monroe by invitation, and a number of citizens signed a petition asking them to come out and drive away our soldiers still there. This is too disgraceful to be true. Then, a great number of Louisianians have deserted. My cheek crimsons as I write this of our own beloved state, but I cannot believe that she has brought her name to be a disgrace and reproach to her loyal children. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Two distressed damsels

A simple carriage-ride day trip for Kate Stone and her friend Kate turned into a nightmare.

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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)

A simple carriage-ride day trip for Kate Stone and her friend Kate turned into a nightmare.

Oct. 2, 1863

“Elysian Fields,” Lamar County, Texas

We got a late start [on our shopping trip] … with a tired horse and in a drizzling rain, and we had not gone two miles before our bad luck caught up with us.

Uncle Johnny took the wrong road, and we soon found it out and urged him to turn around. He avowed his horror of anything like a backward movement and kept on his chosen way, thinking it would lead into the right road. We traveled on for several miles, leaving home farther and farther away, until at last our united persuasions induced him to turn and cut across the country instead of heading straight for Arkansas, as we were doing. After a wearisome ride thorough stubborn thickets and hogwallow prairie, we at last reached the Paris road and went on rejoicing, but our troubles were just beginning.

A slow pattering rain set in and the buckshot prairie soil grew heavy and more heavy, and our gallant grey was visibly tired. We got out of the Jersey in the pouring rain to cross Sulphur Creek, the bridge like most Texas bridges being only a trap for the unwary. With wet heads and muddy feet, we climbed in again, congratulating ourselves that we would soon be at home. Vain hope. Night came on apace, wrapped in her sable mantle and unbrightened by a star, and we were still four miles from our own hearthstone with a horse only able to drag on in a slow walk. Again we took the wrong road and wandered off on what looked in the uncertain light like a boundless prairie with not a house or road in sight. Again as in the morning we begged Uncle Johnny to turn back to the right road, but true to his expressed principles he refused. We journeyed on, leaving the horse to find his way and straining our eyes to discern a light, but the only lights were those shining up through the tangled grass, the countless glowworms with their gleaming crests. At last plodding along in the Egyptian darkness, the horse gave out entirely, and … we were forced to camp out.

We picketed out the poor horse and wrapped ourselves in bolts of calico and woolen, for we had not a wrap of any kind and it had grown very chilly. Crouching in the Jersey, we resigned ourselves to sweet slumber, but nature’s kind restorer, balmy sleep, was safely sheltered in warm homesteads and was not to be coaxed out on the bleak cold prairie. Twisting and turning we wore the hours away until we discovered that the horse was off picket, and such a chase as Uncle Johnny had to catch him, while we had visions of wandering lost on the prairie for days.

As soon as the first tints of day crimsoned the east, Uncle Johnny set off for home to bring relief to two distressed damsels. The horse was too spent to take us all home. How we laughed at the figure Uncle Johnny presented when he started off with a cushion for a saddle. Kate and I at once went to sleep. Jimmy found us cuddled down in the bottom of the Jersey fast asleep when several hours later he came to our relief with a fresh horse. We reached home at last just before dinner, two forlorn-looking wights and very hungry.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Destroyed by the Yankees

Stone at last received news of the rest of her family and was left despondent. War scattered her relatives, destroyed their communities, and turned them into disgraced refugees.

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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 received news of the rest of her family and was left despondent. War scattered her relatives, destroyed their communities, and turned them into disgraced refugees.

Note how Stone almost admired how she managed to get on with her life with “almost nothing but servants, and yet we are comfortable.”

Sept. 20, 1863

“Elysian Fields,” Lamar County, Texas

Uncle Johnny was at Richmond, Va., a month ago and heard from nearly every member of the family. How thankful we are to know that they are all alive, though perhaps in distress. My Brother was neither killed nor hurt in the Pennsylvania campaign. Uncle Bo is as usual in fine health and spirits and is under [Confederate commander Braxton] Bragg. Dr. Buckner and Brother Coley are also with Gen. Bragg, and Aunt Laura is at Chattanooga within reach of Dr. Buckner. How glad we are that she is comfortably settled and not suffering all the discomforts of life in Texas. …

Aunt Sarah is at Bladen Springs, Ala. Poor little Horace is dead, a most bitter blow to his mother. He was her favorite. She was keeping house at Cooper’s Well when the Yankees marched on Jackson. She just escaped on the last train with only their wearing clothes. Everything else was destroyed by the Yankees, house and furniture burned, piano hacked to pieces, and the portraits torn to shreds. … It looks like the whole family is to be ruined, root and branch. Every member of it is broken up and all the women and children fleeing from the Yankees, while all the men and half-grown boys are in the army.

We are thankful Mamma has saved most of Uncle Bo’s Negroes, and if we can keep what we have now we can help the others. But I have a strong presentment that we shall yet lose all that we have and be compelled to labor with our hands for our daily bread.

Mrs. Smith had moved up to Mr. Vaughn’s just in time to give room for Uncle Johnny. How glad we are to have a house to ourselves once more. Mrs. Smith was very kind in leaving everything we needed for housekeeping. It is surprising how little one can get on with. We seem to have almost nothing but servants, and yet we are comfortable, comparatively so.

I have finished knitting those tiresome gloves and can read with a clear conscience. Fingered and gauntlet gloves are a trouble to knit.

Sept. 22

The news today is discouraging. Charleston [S.C.] has fallen, Louisiana and Arkansas are to be entirely deserted by our troops, and all the available forces of the Trans-Mississippi Department are to be concentrated at Tyler, Texas. If Charleston has fallen, it is because it was not in the power of man to hold it. Everything possible had been done, and it had made a most gallant defense. No disgrace can sully the name of its Gen. Beauregard, as the name of Lovell and Pemberton have been darkened. …

How I long for a glimpse at Brokenburn these pleasant autumn days radiant in flowers and crowned with fruit, the grassy yard and tall oaks, the clump of sassafras changing now to bright crimson, and the fragrant sweet gum showering down its leaves of gold, the flower garden sparkling across the grass, its many kinds of fall flowers gay in the mellow September sun, and the wide fields stretching away, white with cotton and vocal with the songs of the busy pickers. Shall we ever see it so again?