Kate Stone’s Civil War: A state of insubordination

Stone has little sympathy or respect for former slaves, who she sees as “insolent” and insubordinate.

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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 has little sympathy or respect for former slaves, who she sees as “insolent” and insubordinate.

Sept. 21, 1865

Lamar County, Texas

We reached this haven a week ago. Shall we ever forget that forty-mile jolt in a four-mule wagon, the mules at full trot? We made it in a clay over a broken, sorry prairie with nothing to eat but dried peaches, uncooked, soggy biscuits, and warm, salty-tasting well water. We were bruised black and blue and were too tired to sleep or eat the first night. We did not find out until nearly night that the wagon floor was much easier than the chairs we were perched in, and we all crouched down in the straw, too worn out to hold up our heads.

The people who had sheltered us utterly refused all pay and were hurt at the idea — and they with absolutely nothing. Truly it is not the rich who are the most generous! Mamma will send them lots of things when she sends for the carriage.

We found nearly all the Negroes in a state of insubordination, insolent and refusing to work. Mamma had a good deal of trouble with them for a few days. Now they have quieted down and most of those who left have returned, and they are doing as well as “freedmen” ever will, I suppose. We were really afraid to stay on the place for the first two days. We are looking for the boys up from Tyler and for Jimmy and My Brother next week. Then, Ho, for Louisiana!

We have all the butter, milk, and curd that Mamma promised us with wild plums, maypops, and apples in abundance, and Mrs. Smith is a good housekeeper. But it is undeniably a dull spot. …

Johnny has taken Mr. Smith’s place as overseer. The Negroes mind him better.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The very poorest people

A reluctant Stone leaves Tyler to return to Louisiana, but one minor disaster after another make it a bitter journey.

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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 reluctant Stone leaves Tyler to return to Louisiana, but one minor disaster after another make it a bitter journey.

 

Sept. 11, 1865

Hopkins County, Texas

Here we are … wearing away the time as best we may for two days and nights in a real prairie hut awaiting relief from our place, thirty miles away. The carriage stands in the yard with a crushed wheel, and we are mired up in all sorts of dirt and discomfort in the middle of the wildest prairie with not a tree or a house in sight. We broke down two miles from here journeying on our way to Lamar County with nothing in sight but the broad sweep of the prairie and one lonely tree. We made our way to that. No gentleman with us, no money, no possible way of getting on, and in a great hurry. We were in despair. Richard mounted a mule and scoured the country to find a carriage, wagon, or wheel to take us on, while we with parasols, books, and cushions, betook ourselves to the grateful shade of the tree to await his return. I was fast asleep in the tall grass, and Mamma and Sister were dozing when Richard got back. He could not find any conveyance, but a lady two miles away would give us shelter. So there we were in for a two-mile walk under the burning sun and over the shadowiest prairie with a wind blowing hot as a sirocco of the desert. The prospect was appalling, and I foolishly burst into tears. Mamma scolded. I remonstrated. But soon we cooled down in temper., if not in person, and commenced our weary jaunt to shelter.

It is the roughest two-room affair with six or eight people living in it, and with nothing to eat this last day but bread and milk and butter. They killed their last chicken for us yesterday, an old, old hen, but the people are as kind as they can be, and as hospitable. They give us of their best and are really sorry for us. There are two women and a girl and not a scrap of ribbon or lace or any kind of adornment in the house. I never saw a woman before without a ribbon. They have not even a comb. They are the very poorest people I ever saw.

We — that is Mamma, Sister, Johnny, and I — broke up our establishment and started on short notice from Tyler on last Friday, and our entire trip has been a chapter of accidents since. A wheel crushed four miles from town, and after spending most of the day in the woods we returned very reluctantly to Tyler, We had gone the rounds the evening before making farewell calls and hated to return after so many solemn leavetakings, but go back we must.

The room is filling with the family so must close my book.

The bugs are awful, and so we three slept last night on the carriage cushions and a bolt of domestic out on the front gallery, much against the wishes of our hosts who seemed to think it inhospitable to allow it. But it is impossible to sleep in the rooms with four or five untidy folks, being bled from every pore by the voracious bugs. The natives do not even toss in their sleep from them. They do not know the bugs are there.

A glorious full moon, light enough to read by, and a pleasant breeze. We quite enjoyed our outdoor bunk, especially as we had not slept for two nights. Oh, the happy summer days of our life in Tyler. … And all this discomfort would have been spared us if My Brother had only come out when Joe did and made this trip to the farm in Mamma’s place. Poor Mamma, what a weight of responsibility and trouble she has had on her hands. …

Mollie Moore gave me a pretty copy of The Lady of the Lake as a souvenir of our happy friendship. Shall I ever see her cheerful face again? …

 

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Alone in a strange land

To her credit, Stone was capable of seeing beyond the blinding pain of her own sorrow to comprehend the devastation the Civil War brought to other families.

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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)

To her credit, Stone was capable of seeing beyond the blinding pain of her own sorrow to comprehend the devastation the Civil War brought to other families. Widows were left impoverished. Children, friends, husbands, and fathers were all slaughtered in the war’s growing battles. There seemed no end to the deaths.

Dec. 12, 1863

Tyler, Texas

Not to us alone has God sent trouble and sorrow. Nearly every household mourns some loved one lost. Mamma and Mrs. Carson have gone out to see Mrs. Prentice. Her husband died last night, leaving her a childless widow alone in a strange land. He had been ill for a week with pneumonia, and both Johnny and Jimmy have been sitting up with him. A letter from Amelia Scott yesterday tells of the death of her brother Charley on the bloody field of Chickamauga. Allen Bridges, a bright little boy not more than sixteen, Robert Norris, and Mr. Claud Briscoe all fell in the same engagement. Of that band of boys who used to assemble at our house to hunt, play, and amuse themselves, only Joe Carson and Ben Clarkson remain. Mr. Newton, who went with them so much and always on Saturday, fell months ago in some battle. Charley Scott was such a frank, warmhearted young fellow, a heart overflowing with love and kindness, hospitable to the last degree. How his mother and sister will miss him. He was an idol with them both.

Mamma met several old friends in Shreveport and succeeded in getting Mr. Smith’s discharge. … Mamma met at the hotel an old friend, Mrs. Gibson, formerly Mrs. Lane, a very wealthy woman of Vicksburg. Aunt Laura waited on her at her first marriage. Her husband is in jail to be tried for murder, and she has lost five children in the last two years. Mamma says she was never so sorry for anyone. She was looking dreadful and so desolate and unfriended.

A letter from Sarah Wadley. They are back at home. They could not cross the river without great risk so returned to stand the worst the Yankees may do rather than attempt another runaway.

Dec. 13

We missed Joe Carson after he left on December 9. We had to exert ourselves to keep from saddening his homecoming. He had great trouble in getting a furlough, and it was only through Ben Clarkson’s kindness that he got it at last. Ben gave his furlough to Joe, the greatest kindness one soldier can show another. Brother Coley and Joe expected to come together, but it was not to be. Joe stayed a little over two weeks after a ride of ten days to get here. He is returning a shorter route. There is a strong probability of his being stopped in Shreveport and assigned to the army on this side as the authorities are allowing no soldiers to leave the Trans-Mississippi Department. Joe would be delighted as he is very anxious for a transfer to Louisiana, and if he reaches his command will try hard for a transfer. We hope, for his mother’s sake as well as his own, that he may get it. We sent numbers of letters by him.

We heard of My Brother. He has been unable to go into service since Gettysburg, His wound is still unhealed and his arm stiff. He is staying in Lynchburg with Aunt Laura and Mrs. Buckner, Dr. Buckner’s mother. Mamma is using every exertion to get a transfer or discharge for him. She has written to the Secretary of War on the subject. Brother Coley could have gotten a discharge at any time on account of ill-health, but he would not hear of it, and even when he knew that if he recovered his arm would be useless declared his intention of remaining in the army. A gallant spirit.

Uncle Bo is captain on some general’s staff. He makes a dashing officer and must be a favorite with his mess. He has such a gay, joyous nature and is always in a good humor. Wish we knew the general’s name.

It is sickening to hear Joe’s account of the labor and hardships his regiment, the 28th Miss., has undergone in the last year. Sometimes they rode for twenty-two hours without leaving their saddles. Often they had insufficient food, no salt and at the best only beef and cornbread, no tents, sleeping out in the rain and snow, and frequent skirmishes and engagements. No wonder our poor boy sank under it. Joe has never missed a fight. The regiment from being one of the strongest in point of number is reduced to about 400 fit for duty. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: They call us all renegades

Two carriage accidents, a large rattlesnake, and a dirty house all inspire Stone to call Texas “the dark corner of the Confederacy.”

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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)

Two carriage accidents, a large rattlesnake, and a dirty house all inspire Stone to call Texas “the dark corner of the Confederacy.”

Aug. 30, 1863

“Elysian Fields,” Lamar County, Texas

I must record the first instance of liberality that has come under our notice since entering the state. The first night after leaving Tyler we stayed at a Mr. Fowler’s, a very nice place, and they did not charge us a cent. But we were picked up the next night. We lost our way and traveled until 8 o’clock when we asked to stay at a pretty, large, white house, white only on the outside. I despair of giving any idea of the dirt. We tried to eat without seeing or tasting and to sleep without touching the bed. They gave us coffee, a horrid decoction of burnt wheat and milk without sugar, in saucers and water in the halves of broken bottles. The table was set in the dirtiest of kitchens with a dirt floor and half a dozen half-naked little Negroes and numberless cats and dogs scampering through the room and under the table. The rafters were festooned with old hoop skirts and worn-out, rough boots. It surpassed any place we have been in yet. We certainly had found the dark corner of the Confederacy.

We lost our way again one evening and traveled until way in the night, through a wild woods road dotted with stumps. But it was cool and bright moonlight and really more pleasant than a stuffy dirty room, but the mules and Hoccles did not enjoy it.

Our next adventure was not so pleasant. The mules were rushing down a long, rocky, red hill. Hoccles is a wretched driver and lets them do pretty much as they please when crash! over went the Jersey, and we rolled out on the ground, along with a confused medley of baskets, bundles, palmetto, corn, bonnets, and boxes. Fortunately no serious damage was done, and after a few repairs to the Jersey we journeyed on. Hoccles is a right good tinker for wagons.

But our troubles were not yet over. The mules were trotting briskly along through the white sand, Mamma was asleep sitting in the foot of the Jersey, and I was knitting away, when there was a sudden cluck and tearing sound. I looked up to see the whole top of our devoted Jersey folding back like a fan. While Hoccles was nodding in the sultry heat, we had run into a tree and broken the top nearly entirely off. Mamma gave a groan and exclaimed, “Now Hoccles, just run us over a stump and break the wheels and maybe you will be satisfied. You have broken the bottom racing down the hill. But that would not do you. You had to go and break the top. Now run over a rock and break the wheels and you will be fixed!”

I could not help laughing. It was funny in spite of our bad plight, and poor Hoccles looked so humble and apologetic. We thought he would be forced to take the entire top off, but he was equal to the emergency. With hammer, nail, and strings, he patched it up so it lasted until we reached home. But it is a most forlorn, lopsided affair. If we just had our own good carriage, but we hear it is a smallpox ambulance now.

Our last day we just missed driving over the largest rattlesnake, stretched across the road basking in the sun. It was larger than my arm and had twelve rattles. That frightened us most of all. It might have glided into the carriage as we drove over it. …

A long letter from Julia Street was awaiting me. … She says she hates Arkansas and wants to come to Texas. I am sure she will hate this state ten times more. If she is a wise girl, she will stay where she is as long as possible. The more we see of the people, the less we like them, and every refugee we have seen feels the same way. They call us all renegades in Tyler. It is strange the prejudice that exists all through the state against refugees. We think it is envy, just pure envy. The refugees are a nicer and more refined people than most of those they meet, and they see and resent the difference. That is the way we flatter ourselves. …

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5. Before The D-Day Invasion, Double Talk And Deceit
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6. We Are Alive
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“Bruce Springsteen at sixty-two”

7. David Perry: Are games better than life?
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8. Presidents at the Olympics
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“President Barack Obama does not plan to attend the London games, but first lady Michelle Obama will represent him at the event.”

9. Where Was Stonewall?
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“[Stonewall] Jackson may have relied on his will to push himself beyond the limits of human endurance, but those limits are very real, and he encountered them in the hot, swampy lowlands east of Richmond in the summer of 1862.”

10. Loss of Spy Plane Sabotaged 1960 Summit
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“Former CBS anchor and commentator Walter Cronkite recalls the tension of spring 1960 when an American spy plane helped to plunge East-West relations into one of the deepest chills of the Cold War.”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. MOONLIGHT Ludwig von Beethoven & Cafe Del Mar
2. RIVERWIDE Sheryl Crow
3. I DON’T LIKE MONDAYS Tori Amos
4. SECRET GARDEN Bruce Springsteen
5. LOVELY DAY Bill Withers
6. CERTAMENTE Madreblu
7. THERE’S A RIVER Steve Winwood
8. TELL IT LIKE IT IS Aaron Neville
9. COUNTING WAVES Sarah Fimm
10. ALIBABA Karunesh