Loreta’s Civil War: Things were looking exceedingly gloomy

Her ambitions for a massive Confederate counterattack crushed, Velazquez decides to resign from her post as a Union spy and regroup her hopes, ideas, and plans.

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 45: Her ambitions for a massive Confederate counterattack crushed, Velazquez decides to resign from her post as a Union spy and regroup her hopes, ideas, and plans.

******

Had it been possible for me to have destroyed the arsenal without loss of life, I would most assuredly have done it but the circumstances being what they were, it has been a great satisfaction to me ever since that I did not attempt anything of the kind, just as it has been a satisfaction to me that I did not kill Gen. Grant when I had an opportunity to do so on the night after the first day’s fight at Shiloh. I doubt, however, whether there would have been a great many men, either Confederates or Federals, who would have been so considerate in similar situations, especially if the deed could have been performed without risk to themselves. I am confident that I could have fired the Indianapolis arsenal without serious danger of being detected, but I do not suppose anyone will think the worse of me that I did not do it.

The great number of letters I received from nearly every quarter within a very brief period excited curiosity and remark. After my first few visits to the post office the clerk began to take notice of me, and he would say something nearly every time I called for my mail about the extent of my correspondence. What he said was in a joking sort of a way, and under some circumstances I should have thought nothing of it but not knowing, from day to day, what might happen, it caused me some uneasiness to attract this kind of attention, both for my own sake and for the sake of my correspondents. I very well knew that did the Federal authorities suspect me the least of being a Confederate agent, there would be no hesitation whatever about opening my letters, and if some of them had been opened, there would have been fine revelations … of the most important secret Confederate operations. …

For these, as well as other reasons, I was anxious to leave Indianapolis at as early a day as I possibly could but was unable to move for lack of orders and also for lack of cash. My funds, in fact, were running very low, so low as to give me considerable uneasiness lest I should be unable to meet my expenses, and I anxiously awaited a remittance, which, as is apt to be the case with remittances that are anxiously awaited, was a long time in coming. Finally, I received information that a money package had been forwarded to me by express but on applying at the office for it I was told that it could not be delivered unless I was identified.

This was a perplexing predicament but I had gotten myself out of worse ones and thought that I would be able to find a way to obtain possession of the precious package. Returning to the hotel, therefore, I selected an envelope from one of my letters, and writing a letter to myself, as if from my brother, stating that such and such a package had been forwarded to me, I took it to the manager of the packing department at the arsenal and requested him to go with me to the express office for the purpose of identifying me. He did this without hesitation but was considerably astonished to see me receive such a large amount of money and said, “Why, your brother must be a very rich man!”

“Oh, no, he is not rich, but he has been thinking of investing some of his spare cash in real estate for some time, and I told him of a good thing in corner lots, which I urged him to try and do something with.”

As an explanation of my money package this was a trifle thin, but it was sufficient for the purpose, especially as it was no concern of his whether I had rich relations or not.

Within a day or two I received orders by telegraph to proceed to Cairo, which I did forthwith, and found, on reaching that place, letters of instruction which directed me to go to St. Louis and to stop at the Planters’ House for the purpose of seeing if I could not find out something about projected Federal movements from the officers who were making it their headquarters.

From the tenor of my instructions I judged that I would not be able to do much by going to the table as a guest, which would also have been inconvenient, as it would have necessitated my providing myself with a large amount of different kind of clothing from that which I was then wearing. I was figuring as a widow woman in greatly reduced circumstances, and, so far as baggage was concerned, was, as the soldiers would say, in light marching order. It occurred to me, therefore, that the best plan to pursue was to try and obtain a situation at the Planters’ House as a chambermaid. On reaching St. Louis, instead of going to the hotel, I took lodgings at a private house for a few days, until I could mature my plans.

On applying for employment as a chambermaid, I was told that there was no vacancy and that there was not likely to be any, and I saw very plainly, from the manner of the individual with whom I conversed on the subject, that he had no intention whatever of giving me a situation.

This rather nonplussed me, and I was unable to determine what device to adopt next. Some of the information which I was requested to obtain was very important, and I had been urged to use every effort to get it. I did not like to give the thing up without having exhausted all my resources. I accordingly tried in a number of ways to find out what I wanted to know but was entirely unsuccessful. All that I succeeded in discovering of any consequence was some knowledge of the personal habits of the officers who were lodged at the Planters’ House, and of the times when they were least likely to be in their rooms. My only chance, therefore, seemed to be to gain access to their quarters when they were out, and to the accomplishment of this I put my wits to work.

When applying for employment in the hotel, I struck up a sort of acquaintance with one of the chambermaids, of whom I made a variety of inquiries as to the nature of the duties and of my chances of getting a situation. This woman had seemed disposed to be quite friendly, and I, therefore, concluded to cultivate her acquaintance. I was not long in becoming intimate with her, and, as I made her a number of little presents, and otherwise displayed a marked liking for her, she speedily took a great fancy to me.

Having, as I thought, secured her friendship, I called upon her one evening and invited her to go out with me. She consented to do this, and we went up to her room together for her to arrange her toilet. While she was dressing I slipped her pass key in my pocket. This being secured, the next thing was to find an opportunity to use it.

When we returned I had no great difficulty in inducing her to extend an invitation for me to stop all night. We accordingly slept together. In the morning she got up, dressed herself, and then, missing her key, began an industrious search for it, I all the time pretending to be asleep. Unable to find it, she went out, and I heard her ask one of the other girls to lend her a key, saying that she had lost hers.

So soon as she was well out of the way, I got up and dressed myself, and when I thought that the officers, whose rooms I wished to visit, were likely to be away … I slipped down stairs to execute my dangerous errand.

Luckily, I met no one and contrived to get into three rooms, where I read a number of dispatches and orders, one or two of which were of some importance but did not succeed in discovering what I was chiefly in search of. I, however, mastered the contents of such papers as I could lay my hands on, for I was bound to have something to show for my labor, even if I did not get all I wanted.

On coming out of the third room, I came very near being caught by a bell boy, who turned into the corridor just as I had finished locking the door. Putting on a sort of bewildered look, as if I had lost myself, I said, in an innocent sort of a way, “Which is the servant’s staircase? I think I must have got into the wrong hall.”

The boy was not particularly bright, and, giving the required direction, I made off as fast as I could, not a little satisfied at having escaped so easily. On the stairway I met the chambermaid, who was bringing me up a cup of coffee. This I drank and then bade her good-by, glad of an opportunity to get away without attracting more attention.

On reaching my lodgings I wrote out the substance of the information I had obtained and forwarded it to the proper agent, with a statement to the effect that it seemed impossible for me to learn anything more. In reply to this note I received a dispatch by telegraph, directing me to go to Hannibal, where I would find a package awaiting me, which I was to deliver according to directions which would be enclosed.

I took the boat for Hannibal, and on reaching that place found Maj. T., of the Confederate army rather anxiously looking for me, as he had received information that orders would be sent him from New York in an enclosure directed to me. Obtaining my package from the express office, it was found to contain a dispatch from Richmond, with orders for the major to treat with the Indians and to aid in the endeavors that were being made to excite them to acts of hostility against the Federal government all along the frontier, from the British Provinces to Mexico.

The delivery of this dispatch to Maj. T. was the last transaction of the western trip which I made under the auspices of Col. Baker. Not more than a day or two afterwards I learned of the failure of the attempt to release the Johnson’s Island prisoners and consequently of the grand scheme, the success of which I had been laboring so hard to promote.

I did not know who was to blame for this failure, but I felt that if all the rest had done their duty as efficiently as I had done mine, success would have crowned our efforts. I, therefore, resolved to return East and to dissolve all connection with my late co-workers, and with more than half a mind to have nothing more to do with such schemes, or schemes of any kind that would require confederates, in the future. I was beyond measure indignant when I learned, as I did before I reached Philadelphia, that the whole thing had fallen through, owing to the blundering cowardice and treachery of one individual. I did not pretend to restrain my wrath, but the agent whom I met at Philadelphia, after I had become cooled off a little, persuaded me that there was no use in getting discouraged by this misadventure, bad as it was, and that there was still plenty of important work for the Confederacy to be done.

I, however, was so decidedly unwilling to engage in any similar enterprise, at least just then, that it was proposed that I should attempt something in the blockade-running line. By doing this, it was represented, I could not only aid the cause but could make a handsome profit for myself if I managed rightly, as my commissions alone would amount to considerable. The proposition made to me looked feasible, and, allowing myself to be persuaded, I wrote a letter to Col. Baker, resigning from the secret service under the plea that I had obtained other employment of a more remunerative and more congenial character.

I really had not the courage to face Baker again after the trick I had played upon him, having no idea what he might know, or might not know, about my connection with the projected raid which had been so effectually nipped in the bud by the arrest of the men in Sandusky who were endeavoring to seize the gunboat Michigan. From the tenor of the letter which he sent me in reply, however, I judged that he neither knew nor suspected anything against me, and I concluded that I would finally have occasion to make use of him again, as I could not tell what work I might have to do before the war was over.

I had proven myself so efficient in managing matters that required to be managed with skill, boldness, and discretion during the time I had been co-operating with the Confederate agents at the North, and especially during my late Western trip, that my associates were more than ever anxious to avail themselves of my services. They fully appreciated my feelings over the failure of the Johnson’s Island raid, after I had performed the part assigned me so successfully, but they contended that I would not be acting an heroic part to forsake the fortunes of the Confederacy just at this juncture, when, although things were looking exceedingly gloomy, there was a chance that success might yet be achieved if all the friends of the Cause would stick together and labor with even more than their old energy to achieve success in the face of every opposition.

Loreta’s Civil War: Say that I am a Yankee

Velazquez makes contact with the Confederate prisoners of war in the Union prison and tells them to be ready to launch a massive breakout.

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 43: Velazquez makes contact with the Confederate prisoners of war in the Union prison and tells them to be ready to launch a massive breakout.

******

At Parkersburg, I met Gen. Kelley again and had a talk with him in which he laughingly suggested that I seemed to be in as much of a hurry to go West as I had been to go East the last time he saw me.

I remarked that in wartimes the enemy had a way of putting in appearances at various points of the compass, and that we had to go for him wherever he happened to be, if we didn’t want him to come to us. I also hinted, with a little maliciousness, that perhaps the reason why the war had lasted so long was because so many of our generals, instead of going after the rebels wherever they were to be found, insisted on waiting for them to come to places where it would be most convenient to fight them.

The general said there was some truth in that and that if all the generals were as smart about doing what they had to do as I seemed to be, the rebels would have been whipped long ago. It is pleasant to have commendation even from those we are fighting against, and I felt flattered at the general’s good opinion of me, although I knew that he was really not aware what good cause he had to commend my smartness. I wondered what he would say about me if he should suddenly discover what kind of an errand I was then really on. … I parted from the general, with Cincinnati as my next objective point, with a full expectation that ere long he would hear of me, or at least of my work, in a way that would astonish him.

After leaving Cincinnati en route for Sandusky, I was introduced by the conductor to a lieutenant who had in charge twenty-seven Confederate prisoners. These he was taking to Sandusky to be placed on Johnson’s Island, and I, consequently, thought that he might be an advantageous person to know, and that if I could manage to get into his good graces I might in some way advance the interests of the scheme I was engaged in. …

This officer was a rather flashy young man who evidently thought that he cut a very dashing figure in his uniform and whose mind was given rather to reflection on his own importance than to the acquisition of useful knowledge. He was not, however, without a certain amount of good sense, and he made a far from disagreeable traveling companion, for we speedily got tolerably well acquainted, and he not only was very attentive but he entertained me not a little by his conversation.

Not knowing what use I might have for him, I tried to be as cordial as possible, and long before we reached Sandusky we were on the best of terms. I did not find out a great deal from him that was worth knowing, for the reason, perhaps, that he did not know anything. He, however, permitted me to have a talk with the prisoners, whom I questioned as to what commands they belonged to, when they were captured, and other matters, and gave them each a dollar apiece out of Col. Baker’s money. Beyond asking them questions, I did not say a great deal to them, for I could not know how far they were to be trusted but I looked much more than I said, and several of the more intelligent among them exchanged significant glances with me, which intimated that they understood that I had a purpose in view in cultivating the acquaintance of the lieutenant so assiduously and was disposed to befriend them by any means in my power.

As to the lieutenant, he took such a decided fancy to me and was so excessively gallant that he insisted upon paying all my incidental expenses along the road. To this I could not, under the circumstances, permit myself to make any objections, but I was unable to avoid wondering whether it was his own cash or that of Uncle Sam’s he was so very free with. That, however, was no concern of mine, and it would have been even more impolite for me to have asked him the question than to have declined to permit him to pay my bills.

It was midnight when we reached Sandusky. The lieutenant, attentive to the last, put me in the hotel coach and, requesting me to keep an eye on his satchel, he excused himself for a few minutes until he could dispose of his prisoners. I do not know what he did with them but while I was waiting for him, I was also wishing heartily that they would manage to give him the slip and escape. Before a great while, however, he made his appearance again and jumped in the coach. We then drove to the hotel, where he registered my name and procured me a room. After seeing me safely installed in my quarters he said goodnight and expressed a hope that he would have the pleasure of escorting me to breakfast in the morning.

When I awoke the next morning I went to the window, and, drawing the blinds, looked out upon the lake, seeing in the distance what I supposed to be Johnson’s Island. This little piece of ground, rising off there so serenely and beautifully from the bosom of the lake, was to be the scene of my next great effort in behalf of the Confederacy — an effort that, if crowned with success, would bring me more credit and renown and would do more to promote the success of the cause than all the fighting and campaigning I had done.

On it were thousands of brave Confederates, who were sighing for their homes in the sunny South, sighing to be once more on the battlefield fighting for Southern independence, and, all unconscious that the moment was approaching when one good blow rightly struck would not only put an end to their irksome captivity but would go far to secure all that they had taken up arms for, all that they had suffered for on the battlefield and in the prisons of the enemy. It was a great responsibility that rested upon me, this preparing the way for the grand attack which was to transfer the seat of war to these beautiful lake shores, that was to effect the release of these prisoners, and that was, perhaps, to end the war, and I trembled to think that, perchance by some trifling slip or mistake, the whole scheme might miscarry and come to nothing.

When I was dressed, I rang the bell for the chambermaid to take my card to the lieutenant to let him know that I was ready for breakfast. When the woman came, I asked her if that was Johnson’s Island, where the rebel prisoners were kept. She replied that it was, and that she wished they were away from there. I asked her why, and she said she was afraid they would break loose some time and burn the town. I told her I guessed there was no danger of anything of that kind happening, as there ought to be soldiers enough to guard them. She did not appear to be at all sure upon this point but seemed to think that a general stampede of the prisoners was a very likely thing to happen. I was of about the same opinion, although I did not tell her so, but followed her downstairs to the drawing room, where I found my lieutenant waiting to take me in to breakfast.

During the progress of the meal the lieutenant said that he would have to go over to the island with his prisoners, but that he would be back about eleven o’clock, when, if I would permit him, he would get a team and we would take a drive. I thanked him but declined on the plea that my engagements would not permit of my accepting his kind invitation, although I might be able to do so at some future time. He said he was sorry but that he was afraid he would not be able to permit himself the enjoyment of my company much longer, as it would be necessary for him to return the next day, at the latest. I professed to be sorry but was not very much so, for I wanted to get rid of him, having come to the conclusion that he was not likely to be of much more use to me, while if he pursued me with his attentions he might prove a serious impediment to the proper execution of my plans.

So soon as he was well out of sight, I went to the telegraph office and sent dispatches to the Confederate agents at Detroit and Buffalo, announcing my arrival, and received their responses. This duty performed, I started for the boat that was to carry me over to the island.

While crossing to the prison camp, where so many of my comrades were confined, my mind was filled with a thousand suppositions as to what might happen. The least accident might bring the whole great scheme to nothing, and I felt a nervousness and a dread of consequences at the idea of undertaking the task before me that I had never experienced when facing the enemy on the battlefield. So far as any personal danger was concerned, I was no more sensible of fear than I was when the bullets were flying thick and fast around me but it was a terrible sensation, that of feeling that the fate of a magnificent campaign was in my hands and that upon my good management would depend whether it could ever be inaugurated or not. The sensation was such as a general might feel when making the first movement in a great battle upon which the fate of a nation depended. I did not lose anything of my coolness or my resolution but I could not help being oppressed, in some degree, with the weight of my responsibility and could not help wondering whether I would succeed in doing, in good style, what I had been assigned to do, or if, after I had finished my part of the work, my associates would have the skill and courage to do theirs.

On arriving at the island, I showed my letter from Baker to the commanding officer and explained to him that I was searching for a rebel spy who was supposed to be engaged, or to have been engaged, in some plots which the authorities at Washington were desirous to learn the particulars of. My credentials were recognized as correct, and I was accordingly admitted … into the enclosure and permitted to speak freely to the prisoners.

My greatest fear now was that some of the Confederates would recognize me and would say or do something incautiously that would lead to my detection. I was known to a good many in the Confederate service, both officers and men, as a woman, and to a great many more as a man, and there was no telling but that someone among the prisoners might be heedless enough to claim acquaintance with me and thus spoil everything.

Glancing around the enclosure, however, I could see no signs of recognition on any of the faces of the prisoners, although a number of them were gazing curiously at me, and after a bit I began to breathe a little freer and to be able to inspect the men rather more closely, with a view of picking out a suitable one to communicate with.

At length, I spied a young officer whom I had known slightly when I was figuring as Lt. Harry T. Buford, and who I knew to be a particularly bright, intelligent fellow. I concluded, therefore, to speak to him, and calling him to me, asked him a few immaterial questions until we had walked away out of earshot of the others.

When we were where no one could overhear us, I said, “I am a Confederate and have got in here under false colors. I have something important to say to you.”

“I hope you have some good news for us.”

“Yes, it is good news, at least I hope you will think it is, for it concerns your liberation.”

“Well, that is good, if it can be done, for we are mighty tired of this, I can tell you.”

“It will depend a great deal on yourselves whether anything can be done but if the prisoners will only co-operate in the right spirit, at the right moment, with our friends outside, not only will they secure their release, but they will be able to hit the Yankees a staggering blow.”

His eyes sparkled at this, and I saw that he was willing and eager to engage in almost any enterprise that promised to secure his liberation, and I was only fearful that in his excitement he would do something incautious that would interfere with the successful prosecution of our scheme.

I therefore said, “You must be very careful, keep cool, and, above all things, don’t give a hint as to who I am. Say that I am a Yankee, if anybody asks you, and pretend that this conversation was only about how you are treated and whether you do not wish that the war was over, whether you expect to be exchanged soon, and matters of that kind.”

“I will fix that all right. What is it that the boys outside are going to do for us?”

“I have a dispatch here which will tell you what are the arrangements, what the signals outside will be, and what you are to do when you see them. Give it to the party it is addressed to, and consider yourselves under his orders until your liberation is effected. When you are once outside of the prison you will find plenty to help you and will be able to effect some kind of an organization.”

“Well, don’t you want to see the party that the dispatch is for?”

“No, it won’t do for me to talk to too many, and it is better for a number of reasons, in order to avoid any suspicion, that I should not be seen in conversation with him.”

“Well, I’ll give the dispatch to him in any verbal message you may send.”

I then dropped on the ground a package containing eight hundred dollars and said, “There is some money — conceal it as quick as you can, and distribute it among the men as far as it will go.”

He thereupon sat down on a block of wood in front of me and commenced whittling a stick, while I stood close to him with my back to the guard, and with my skirts covering the package. Watching a favorable opportunity, when the guard was looking another way, he seized the package and slipped it into his boot and then went on whittling in as unconcerned a manner as possible.

I then told him that I would leave Sandusky the next day at the latest, and that with the delivery of the dispatch I held in my hand, which contained full and minute directions, my part of the business would be finished, and that the consummation of the scheme would depend upon himself and the others. I cautioned him to be exceedingly wary, and to take none of the prisoners into his confidence unless he was perfectly sure of their thorough reliability.

He promised to be discreet, and then wishing him goodbye and success, I shook hands with him, passing the dispatch as I did so.

The precious paper once in his possession, he started off, whistling and whittling as he went, while I hurriedly returned to the office, when I told the commander that I was unable to find the man I was looking for and thought that I would have to visit some of the other prison camps.

He said he was sorry and hoped that I would have better luck next time. “We then walked together towards the boat, conversing in general terms about the prisoners and the war. At the landing, we met the lieutenant, who seemed to be rather surprised to see me there. He exclaimed, “Why, have you been visiting the prisoners? If I had known that you wanted to see them, I would have escorted you over to the Island.”

I did not care to tell the young man that, under the circumstances, I preferred to dispense with his escort and so only said, “Oh, yes. I thought I would like to take a look at them, and I can tell you, some of those rebels are sharp, if they are backwoodsmen. If you don’t look out, they will be getting away from you someday.”

The officers both laughed, and the lieutenant said, “I guess not — they are always talking about doing that, but they never do it, we have them too fast.”

This was a point which I did not care to argue with him just then, so saying adieu to the commander of the prison, the lieutenant and I stepped aboard the boat and were soon on our way back to Sandusky.

Loreta’s Civil War: My denunciations of the rebels

Velazquez, now a double-agent working for the Union, uses the cover of her first assignment to make contact with her Confederate allies. But someone might be following her.

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 39: Velazquez, now a double-agent working for the Union, uses the cover of her first assignment to make contact with her Confederate allies. But someone might be following her.

******

Everything being ready, off I started and had but little difficulty in getting through the Federal lines on the passes furnished me by Baker. To get through those of the Confederate forces was a more troublesome operation but, as when I came to the outposts, I was able to declare my real errand, I was not seriously impeded, and once in Richmond I was, of course, perfectly at home.

On my arrival in that city, I immediately communicated with the authorities, delivered the messages and dispatches submitted to me, sent letters to merchants in Wilmington and Savannah as I had been directed to do, and gave all the information I could about the condition of things at the North, the proposed raid, and other matters.

While waiting to hear from the men in Wilmington and Savannah, and for the preparation of such instructions as I was to carry back from the Richmond people, I found myself falling short in funds and accordingly tried to see what could be done with Baker’s bogus Confederate notes. I had no difficulty in passing them and consequently invested the entire batch in greenbacks, but, as the United States promises to pay were worth more, even in Richmond, than those of the Confederacy, I did not make an even exchange. … Indeed, the greenbacks which I pocketed by this operation amounted to a very moderate sum, all of which I knew would be required for my return journey.

Within a few days I heard … from the parties in Wilmington and Savannah. This man delivered to me a package which was to be taken through to Canada [along with] orders and sailing directions for certain blockade-runners and drafts which were to be cashed, and the money disposed of in certain ways for the benefit of the Confederate cause. I also received directions from parties in Richmond to confer with the Confederate agents, and, if agreeable on all sides, to visit the prisons, it being thought that, as a woman, I would be able to obtain admission and be permitted to speak to the prisoners, where a man would be denied.

Then, freighted with my small but precious package, several important dispatches, and other papers, and a number of letters for Confederates in Canada, I started to return. I would have been a rich prize for the Federals if they should capture me, and, while on my way back, I wondered what Col. Baker would think and say in case some of his emissaries should chance to lay hands upon me and conduct me into his presence, laden with all this contraband of war.

In consideration of the value of the baggage I was carrying, it was thought to be too great a risk for me to attempt to reach the North by any of the more direct routes, and I was consequently compelled to make a long detour by way of Parkersburg, in West Virginia. This involved a long and very tiresome journey but it was undoubtedly the best course for me to pursue.

The wisdom in choosing this route was demonstrated by the result, and I succeeded in reaching Parkersburg without being suspected in the least by anyone. At that place I found Gen. Keiley in command, and from him procured transportation to Baltimore, on the strength of my being an attache of Col. Baker’s corps, which was a very satisfactory stroke of business for me as it saved both trouble and expense.

The instructions under which I was moving required me to go to Baltimore and from there inform the different parties interested of my arrival and wait to hear from them as to whether they were ready to meet me at the appointed places. … I was also to wait there for some drafts for large sums which were to be cashed in New York and the money taken to Canada. This involved considerable delay, which was particularly unpleasant just then, as I was getting very short of funds, and was, moreover, quite sick, the excitement I had gone through with — for this was a more exciting life even than soldiering — and the fatigues of a very long and tedious journey having quite used me up.

On arriving in Baltimore, fearing that I would not have enough money to see me through until I could obtain a remittance, I went to a store kept by a lady to whom I was told to appeal in event of being detained on account of lack of funds, and explaining who I was and the business I was on, asked her if she would not assist me. She looked very hard at me, asked me a great many questions, and requested me to show her my papers. I said that this was impossible, as not only my honor and life were at stake but that interests of great moment were involved in the preservation of the secrets I had in possession.

This, I thought, ought to have satisfied her but it apparently did not, for she evidently regarded me with extreme suspicion. Her indisposition to trust me might have been caused by my rather dilapidated appearance, although my soiled traveling dress ought to have been proof of the fact that I had just been making a long and very rough journey. Finally, another lady coming in, she walked back in the store with her, and I, supposing that she did not intend to take any more notice of me, arose to go out. She, however, seeing this movement, called for me to wait a moment. Shortly after she returned, and, handing me a sum of money, said, “I am a Union woman but as you seem to be in distress, I will have to aid you. This is as much as I can afford to give.”

I, of course, understood that this speech was intended for any other ears than mine that might be listening, and, merely giving her a meaning glance, walked out of the store without saying anything further. …

That night I was so sick that I had to send for a doctor. I offered him my watch for his services, stating that I was out of funds and was detained in Baltimore through the non-arrival of money which I was expecting. He, however, refused to take it and said that I might pay him if I ever was able but that it would not matter a great deal one way or the other. The next day I was considerably better and was able to go about a little, and I continued to improve with rest and quiet.

While stopping at Barnum’s Hotel, I became acquainted with a young captain in the Federal army, and, as I made a practice of doing with all Federal officers — I did not know when they might be useful to me — I courted his friendship and told him a story about myself similar to that I had told on several other occasions with which the reader is familiar and was especially bitter in my denunciations of the rebels. The captain was so affected by my pitiful narrative that he introduced me to Gen. E. B. Tyler, who was very affable and courteous, and who, learning that I was anxious to travel northward, and was short of money, kindly procured for me a pass to New York.

Finally, I received notice that one of the blockade-runners with whom I was to communicate was at Lewes, Del., and, on proceeding to that place, found an English brig, the captain of which was anxiously waiting to receive instructions as to what port he was to sail for. The cargo was principally powder, clothing, and drugs, and the captain was exceedingly glad to see me, as he wanted to get away as fast as he could, there being a liability that the Federal authorities might pounce upon him at any moment. I accordingly gave him his sailing papers, which contained directions for him to proceed to Wadling’s Island, on the north of Cuba, where he was to transfer his cargo to another vessel, which was to run for any port it could make in the Confederacy. The captain handed me the cards of several houses in Liverpool and Havre, which were extensively engaged in blockade-running, and I bade him adieu, wishing him a safe and pleasant trip.

This errand having been satisfactorily dispatched, I went to Philadelphia, where I took a room at the Continental Hotel and telegraphed for my papers, money package, etc., to be forwarded to me from New York by express. The next morning I received, in reply to this, my expected drafts, and also the following characteristic letter:

“Quebec, Canada.

“Mrs. Sue Battle: You will find enclosed a card of your government agent here, B. Any orders you have for your government, if forwarded, we will execute and dispatch quickly, according to your instructions. Messrs. B. & T. have several clippers, which they will put in the trade, if desired. I will drink your ladyship’s good health in a bottle of good old Scotch ale. Let us hear from you at your earliest convenience. I will await your answer to return to Europe. With great respect, and with hopes of success,

“I am, madam, yours truly, R.W.L.”

I now proceeded, without further delay, to New York, where I was met at the Desbrosses Street ferry by my associate in that city, who conducted me to Taylor’s Hotel, where he had engaged a room for me. He said that he had been getting somewhat anxious for my safety, the more especially as he was informed that the detectives had received some information of my doings and were on the watch for me. This made me a trifle uneasy, as I did not know but my friend, Col. Baker, had discovered some facts about me which had served to convince him that I was not likely to be as valuable a member of his corps as he had supposed I would when he started me on my Richmond trip. Since my return to the North, I had been endeavoring to keep myself concealed from Baker and all his people, as I did not wish to renew my acquaintance with the colonel until I had visited Canada. That accomplished, I proposed to see him again and to make use of his good offices for the purpose of putting into execution a still more daring scheme.

My New York accomplice said that he did not think I was in any immediate danger, although I would have to take care of myself. He himself had seen one of the detectives who were on my track, and, while I was evidently the person he was after, the description he had of me was a very imperfect one, so that, by the exercise of a little skill, I ought to be able to evade him. To put him on the wrong track, my accomplice had told this detective that he thought he knew the person he was searching for and had procured a photograph of a very different-looking woman and given it to him.

Having cashed my drafts and gotten everything ready, I started for Canada, carrying, in addition to valuable letters, orders, and packages, the large sum of eighty-two thousand dollars in my satchel. Mr. L., the correspondent whose letter has been quoted, was requested by a telegraphic dispatch to meet me on my arrival in Canada.

Under ordinary circumstances, the great value of the baggage I was carrying would not have disturbed my peace of mind but I knew that, in addition to the money I had with me, my capture would involve the officers of the Federal government obtaining possession of papers of the utmost importance, from which they would scarcely fail to gain quite sufficient information concerning tlie proposed raid to put them on their guard, and enable them to adopt measures for preventing the execution of the great scheme. It was not comfortable, therefore, for me to feel that the detectives were after me. …

I was absolutely startled when, on approaching the depot, my companion, pointing to a man in the crowd, said, “There, that is the fellow to whom I gave the photograph. He is looking for you, so beware of him.” Then, thinking it best that we should not be seen together by Mr. Detective, he wished me good luck and said goodbye, leaving me to procure my ticket and to carry my heavy satchel to the cars myself.

I watched the detective as well as I could without looking at him so hard as to attract his attention, and saw that he was rather anxiously surveying the people as they passed into the depot. I was really curious to know how he managed to get on my track, for, although he might not be sufficiently posted about me for purposes of identification, it was evident that he was working on some tolerably accurate information with regard to my movements. I also wondered whether Col. Baker had any suspicion of me but made up my mind that he scarcely could have or else this officer would have been better posted.

After getting into the cars I lost sight of the detective until the arrival of the train in Rochester and was congratulating myself that, not seeing the original of the photograph, he had remained in New York. At Rochester, however, to my infinite horror, he entered the car where I was and took a seat near me.

When the conductor came through, after the train had started, the detective said something to him in a low tone and showed him a photograph. The conductor shook his head on looking at it and made a remark that I could not hear. I did, however, hear the detective say, “I’ll catch her yet,” to which I mentally replied, “Perhaps.”

This whispered conference reassured me a little, as it showed that the officer was keeping his eye open for the original of the photograph which he had in his pocket, while the woman whom he was really after was sitting within but a few feet of him. I concluded that I would try and strike up an acquaintance with this gentleman in order to find out what he had to say for himself and because I thought that perhaps I could say or do something to make him even more bewildered than he was already.

I, therefore, picked up my shawl and satchel and removed the seat immediately back of him. The window was up, and I made a pretense of not being able to put it down, so that after a bit the detective’s attention was attracted, and he very gallantly came to my assistance. When he had closed the window, I thanked him with a rather effusive politeness, and he, probably feeling a trifle lonesome, and also, perhaps, a trifle discouraged, seated himself beside me, and opened a conversation.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Those terrible battles

The horror of the Overland Campaign hangs over the Stone household but she holds out hope Lee will outsmart Grant in the end.

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

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

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

The horror of the Overland Campaign hangs over the Stone household but she holds out hope Lee will outsmart Grant in the end.

Again Stone impresses with her ability to illustrate everyday life and mores in so few detailed sentences. Note how the Stones and their friends are now regularly visiting Union prisoners at the nearby Confederate camp.

June 19, 1864

Tyler, Texas

A letter from My Brother but dated three months ago. He writes very sadly and thinks he will not see us again until the war is over. He was safe on the fourth of May, but it was on the fifth that those terrible battles commenced. We see from the papers that his corps was engaged every day. The fate of Richmond still trembles in the balance. Lee’s army has fallen back within the fortifications, and Grant is beginning to burrow as they did at Vicksburg. The most thrilling report is that Beauregard has captured Butler and 9,000 men. May it only be true. …

We have quite a trip in contemplation. Mamma is thinking of going to Monroe [La.] on business and taking me and one of the boys on for a pleasure jaunt. Which one of the boys depends on Mrs. Savage, who thinks of joining us with Emily. In that event Mamma will leave Jimmy at home as affairs are getting too interesting with Jimmy and Emily. He is too susceptible, and Mrs. Savage is too much of a matchmaker for Jimmy to be hourly exposed to such fascination for the next two weeks. Emily is a designing, forward girl, exceedingly so for her age. Jimmy is making every preparation to go with us and join the army at Monroe and will be horribly disappointed if Mamma refuses her consent.

Our usual refugee visitors. Yesterday evening returning from a ride, Jimmy and I were called in by Mrs. Carson, who begged us to stay to supper, at which we enjoyed delightful venison, killed by Jimmy Carson, and some of Mrs. Carson’s new style marmalade excellent. Read the papers to Mrs. Carson and rode home in the most glorious moonlight.

Mamma is very sad since receiving My Brother’s letter. She is very anxious about him. We have a nice set of real chessmen, made by one of the prisoners. We loaned them some days ago to the hospital in response to a polite note asking for them. The boys often go there. They have taken a great fancy to Mr. Griffin, a wounded boy. He must be a nice young fellow. Mamma and Mrs. Carson and some of the other ladies go quite frequently.

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

Stone mourns a family friend’s death. She also notes ominously the growing epidemic of deadly disease at a nearby Confederate camp filled with Northern prisoners of war.

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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 another oppressive Texas summer begins, Stone mourns a family friend’s death. She also notes ominously the growing epidemic of deadly disease at a nearby Confederate camp filled with Northern prisoners of war.

June 14, 1864

Tyler, Texas

Comfortably seated by an open window in our lone rocking chair, I am munching Confederate cakes all alone with nothing to do. … Johnny is lying on his stomach with his heels in the air … Johnny has taken great delight in Shakespeare and reads and re-reads his favorite plays. He is already a good Shakespearean scholar. Sister is amusing herself with Sally, and the others are off spending this day with Mrs. Prentice. If there is one thing I most detest, it is spending a long summer day away from home. …

Jimmy received a letter from Mr. Hardison telling of Mrs. Hardison’s death in February. We are truly grieved to hear it. She was a high-minded good woman and one of our best friends. She died in Red River County, where they have been living since fall. Her life was a scene of trial from the time they fled from home. He writes most sadly. They have no books, no papers, hear no news, and have made no new friends and are alone on the bleak prairie, strangers in a strange land. We pity them all but most, her poor mother, Mrs. Alexander.

Anna and Dr. Meagher returned a few days ago. He is stationed here now in charge of the Yankee prisoners. The prisoners are in a most pitiable condition, perfectly destitute. Some have only a blanket to wear and others only one garment. There is much sickness and death among them and the authorities are powerless to get clothes for them. No clothes or blankets to be bought. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: To kill and destroy

As a Tyler mob hangs suspected jayhawkers, disease ravages the Union prisoners of war, and an unsympathetic Stone refuses to help them. She hears rumors of a great battle in Virginia between the “Invincible Lee” and his new adversary, Ulysses S. Grant.

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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 a Tyler mob hangs suspected jayhawkers, disease ravages the Union prisoners of war, and an unsympathetic Stone refuses to help them. She hears rumors of a great battle in Virginia between the “Invincible Lee” and his new adversary, Ulysses S. Grant.

May 18, 1864

Tyler, Texas

There was a terrible tragedy enacted here today. Three men, noted Jayhawkers, were taken out of jail and just out of town were hanged by mob law. It is horrible and makes one shudder to think of it, though it is said they richly deserved their fate. The leader of the gang was the sheriff of the county, and the two who suffered with him were his sons-in-law. They were not from this county.

Three Yankees died today at the hospital, which is not strange as they are so dreadfully crowded and have the roughest fare. But we cannot help them. They should have stayed in their own bountiful country instead of coming down here to kill and destroy. Our good news continues. Steele and Banks are still falling back. A great battle is rumored in Virginia, Grant’s first fight in his “On to Richmond.” He is opposed by the Invincible Lee, and so we are satisfied we won the victory. But it makes us anxious for My Brother.

Hutch Bowman was here for two or three days and has gone on to his command. He and Joe are together. Hutch is dreadfully tanned, looks a regular Texan, a slow, good boy but a great romp. We see Mrs. Savage, Julia, and Mrs. Carson every day. Julia is crazy to get back to Camden. As we prophesied, she does not like it here. But I would let the Major come for me. I would not go to him even in times of war.

For the last few days no stages have come in, and how we do miss the mails, one of Tyler’s chief attractions. Jimmy Stone has stopped going to school and studies English at home. He is eager to get off to the army. Uncle Johnny, Kate, and the baby are all improving and look less like shadows and more like human beings.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: To every young lady

Recent Confederate victories still warm Stone’s heart, and neighboring Louisiana refugees are optimistic they will be home soon. But Stone thinks otherwise even as she rides past a prison camp filled with thousands of Union prisoners.

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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)

Recent Confederate victories still warm Stone’s heart, and neighboring Louisiana refugees are optimistic they will be home soon. But Stone thinks otherwise even as she rides past a prison camp filled with thousands of Union prisoners.

May 7, 1864

Tyler, Texas

Uncle Johnny and family are living with us now. They are all in bad health, but Tyler will build them up. …

Jimmy and Eddie have just left. Both the Jimmies are in a high state of indignation and contempt at an order signed by Gen. [Edmund] Kirby Smith just received from Shreveport detailing them as overseers. So Mrs. Carson was successful and sent it on. The boys consider it a perfect outrage and say they will not submit to such a thing.

Jimmy and I went out to see Mrs. Levy and found them most sanguine as to the speedy close of the war. They think we will be traveling homeward by fall, but I think not before next spring. …

We have company nearly all the time now. It makes it seem something like the old home days, a crowded house. Mrs. Gen. Roane and Capts. Smith and Empy were out recently. She is very pleasant, though Julia has taken a prejudice against her. Julia has liked only one person she has met Capt. Empy. He is a great flatterer with a stock of ready-made compliments that he weighs out to every young lady as a grocer weighs out sugar. He is persuaded that he is irresistible. Capt. Smith has long hair and is a rollicking, jolly young fellow overflowing with fun.

Dr. McGregor says there is much sickness in town, and he is too busy for much calling. Jimmy Carson and I rode out beyond the Yankee camp yesterday. The blue-coated prisoners are swarming within the stockade, several thousand of them, and those captured in Arkansas are expected every day. I rode Gold Dust. He is so well-gaited. Joe begs me to keep him and to ride him to death if I wish, but to let no one else ride him.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Pride must have a fall

Death, Yankee prisoners, pride grounded into nothing … Stone stared into a quiet Texas night with fear and sadness.

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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)

Death, Yankee prisoners, pride grounded into nothing … Stone stared into a quiet Texas night with fear and sadness.

Nov. 13, 1863

Tyler, Texas

This week Mrs. Carson, the little girls, and I are alone. Mamma has gone to Shreveport, taking Eddie Carson with her. Mr. Smith is again taken into the militia, thanks to Maj. Little’s dislike of refugees, and Mamma has gone to the headquarters of Gen. Kirby Smith to try to get a permanent discharge for Mr. Smith.

The turnout for the trip was essentially Texas: the high Jersey with white body and black curtains and two shaggy mules with shuck collars. It was anything but stylish. They say pride must have a fall, and ours has had many a tumble since we left home. How I hope Mamma will be able to buy a carriage this trip.

Jimmy has gone to the prairie to stay during Mr. Smith’s absence. He started off with a dreadful toothache, on a rough little mule. Hope he will return free of toothache and on a horse. We rode with him as far as the Yankee camp. Mamma had some business with the commanding officer, and we went out with her. A number of the prisoners escaped the other day, and the townspeople are very apprehensive of their burning the town. They put out guards every night, and they take turns in guarding the prisoners. One of the prisoners was shot yesterday for disobedience of orders. He died in a few hours. …

Death does not seem half so terrible as it did long ago. We have grown used to it. Never a letter but brings news of the death of someone we knew. Another girlhood friend off the list, but none do I regret like Kate Nailor, the first and best. …

Alone as we are tonight, I feel a little afraid of the escaped Yankees. So I will put out the light, pull the cover over my head, and go to sleep.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: It makes us shiver

In the absence of hard facts or updated news from the battlefields, rumors of all kinds were rampant.

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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)

In the absence of hard facts or updated news from the battlefields, rumors of all kinds were rampant.

Sept. 1, 1863

“Elysian Fields,” Lamar County, Texas

A letter from Jimmy at Jefferson [Texas] on the thirty-first of July, just as he was leaving for Navasota. It is almost time for his return, and Mamma is anxious for him to get back. She wants the wagons to move the Negroes before they hear that the Yankees are coming in from the North, as it is rumored, and before they have a chance to make a break for the Federal lines again.

There are quite a number of Yankee prisoners at Tyler, captured while in command of black troops. It does seem like they ought to be hanged, and they are so impudent too. The detestable creatures!

There is a rumor that Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee have applied for admission into the Union again. Of course, we know it is a base fabrication, but many of the natives believe it firmly. They will believe anything against Louisiana. They seem to hate that state, and we would not give one Louisiana parish for half of Texas.

Our pet rumor is again in the air that France, Spain, and England have recognized the Confederacy. Oh, that it were true. …

We hear that Mrs. White, from whom we rented books and also bought one or two, has leprosy. It makes us shiver to think of it, and our handling her things and Patsy nursing her. We can only hope it is another big story, as it is too late to take precautions.

Sept. 11

Jimmy is back after an absence of seven weeks, and now as soon as we can collect up our scattered goods and chattels we will be off to fresh fields and pastures new. …

The Federals made only a short stay at Monroe, but were busy at the work of destruction. Would like to know how our friends have fared.

Our high hopes of recognition by the European powers are again dashed to the ground. If they just would not start such rumors, raising expectations only to be disappointed.

We paid a three-day visit to Mrs. Slaughter up in the famous Union neighborhood, Honey Grove, where they say there is only one Confederate family. There, everyone you talk to says of course we will be conquered. In Louisiana one rarely heard such an idea expressed.

We attended a large Baptist meeting in the vicinity several times. The interest and excitement were intense. There were often fifty mourners crowded around the altar and the church crowded to suffocation. Never saw so many men in church before, and we have not seen so many men at one time since the war commenced, unless they were soldiers in uniform. The scene at night was most striking: the anxious, excited faces, crowding and surging around the altar; the exalted, earnest mien of the minister; the groans and shrieks and wild prayers of the mourners, mingling with the shouts and hallelujahs of the newly professed; while high over all rises the thunder of a triumphant hymn, borne on many voices. In the background gleam the eager, curious faces of the lookers-on, row on row.

A scene to thrill and interest anyone, but I must take my religion more quietly. It was a country-looking congregation with a sprinkling of nice people. Short dresses, large hoops, and top-knotted sun-bonnets, the style.