Kate Stone’s Civil War: The bitterness of defeat

Stone is reunited with her brothers, who were sent ahead to evaluate the condition of the Brokenburn plantation. They bring back disastrous news.

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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 is reunited with her brothers, who were sent ahead to evaluate the condition of the Brokenburn plantation. They bring back disastrous news.

Oct. 10, 1865

Lamar County, Texas

Jimmy and My Brother joined us about ten days ago, and we have never passed ten more unhappy days. Our future is appalling: no money, no credit, heavily in debt, and an overflowed place. No wonder Mamma is so discouraged. Since My Brother’s return, we have all had the blues and look forward with dread to our return to Louisiana. But there is nothing else to do. Nothing for us here. Mamma, Sister, and I, with Johnny or Jimmy, will get off early next week, going straight on, while My Brother will bring the Negroes back. The contrabands are all crazy to return to Louisiana, as soon as they realized that My Brother did not wish to take them, and are on their best behavior. What a treacherous race they are! I doubt whether one will remain with us a week after we return.

The name “Vexation” we have given this place is most appropriate. It has been a most trying job settling up the business, and My Brother and Mr. Smith say everyone they have had dealings with has not only tried but succeeded in cheating them. We are in all the stir and disagreeable confusion of moving, yet preparations to get off advance but slowly, though all four of the menfolks are doing their best to expedite our departure. We have to send such a distance for everything we need.

It seems an ill-advised move to take the Negroes back unless they could be bound by some contract to remain on the place, and that is impossible. It is so expensive and troublesome to move about eighty or ninety Negroes such a distance. …

Jimmy goes to Tyler this week and will join us somewhere on the road. We will camp out just as we did when we came to Texas but will have a more comfortable vehicle and a more careful driver. …

Mamma and Mrs. Smith are away today visiting the dentist at Ladonia, the boys are off on business, and so Sister and I have the house to ourselves. It is delightful to be alone sometimes, a pleasure we have rarely enjoyed since we left Brokenburn. We have lived in crowded quarters all the time. I shall be glad to get to the solitude of my own room at Brokenburn, even if it will be but sparsely furnished. My Brother says all our furniture has been divided out among the Negroes and Yankees.

How exceedingly quiet he is. Rarely talks at all. He was never very fluent and being in the army has intensified his silence and reserve, and he seems to take little interest in hearing others. We hope home life will brighten him up and make him more cheerful. He feels the bitterness of defeat more than anyone we have met. He cannot reconcile himself to give up everything but honor. …

Our trip will probably take a month. The weather is lovely, and we hope to get home over good roads and to arrive before the fall rains set in. A sad journey to the old scenes.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: CSS H.L. Hunley emerges / Writing: A job or a calling? / Solving a math mystery / Gaza children with PTSD / What caused her cancer?

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This week: CSS H.L. Hunley emerges / Writing: A job or a calling? / Solving a math mystery / Gaza children with PTSD / What caused her cancer?

Most of these great items come from my social media networks. Follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Facebook for more fascinating videos, photos, articles, essays, and criticism.

1. After 150 years, Confederate submarine’s hull again revealed
By Bruce Smith | Associated Press | Jan. 30
“What [scientists] find may finally solve the mystery of why the hand-cranked submarine sank during the Civil War.”

2. Facebook needs a ‘Sympathy’ button
By Amy-Mae Elliott | Mashable | Jan. 25
” It can mean a feeling of pity or sorrow for someone else’s misfortune, and also an understanding between people — a common feeling.”

3. Is Being a Writer a Job or a Calling?
By Benjamin Moser and Dana Stevens | Bookends :: Sunday Book Review | Jan. 27
Moser: “Even the best writing won’t have the immediate, measurable impact of a doctor’s work, or a plumber’s.”
Stevens: “Of course a writer is going to lean toward saying writing is a calling — that’s our job.”

4. The Pursuit of Beauty
By Alec Wilkinson | The New Yorker | Feb. 2
“Yitang Zhang solves a pure-math mystery.”

5. Hundreds of thousands of children shell-shocked after the war in Gaza
By Robert Tait | The Telegraph | Jan. 29
“Children who saw their siblings or parents killed, often gruesomely, have been left stricken, and around 35 per cent to 40 per cent of Gaza’s million children are suffering from shell-shock according to Hasan Zeyada, a psychologist with the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme.”

6. What Caused My Cancer?
By Shana Bernstein | Pacific Standard | Jan. 29
“Was it bad genes? Bad luck? Or was it the toxins I eat, drink, breathe, and touch on a regular basis because the United States has a policy of putting the burden of proof for product safety on the consumer?”

7. The Fire of 1910 — Why It Still Matters
By Timothy Egan | Inside American Experience | Jan. 29
“Never in recorded United States history has there been anything to match the fire of 1910. For its size, its ferocity, its impact, nothing comes close.”

8. 50 years after funeral, Churchill towers over UK politicians
By Jill Lawless | Associated Press | Jan. 30
“Modern politicians know better than to invite comparisons to the larger-than-life Churchill — a noted ‘bon vivant’ … who kept 10 Downing St. stocked with Pol Roger Champagne.”

9. Seven questions every editor should ask the writer
By Roy Peter Clark | Poynter | Jan. 30
“After asking these questions to hundreds of writers, I have confidence that the answers provided by the writer can guide a coaching editor on how best to help the writer over time.”

10. For Incarcerated Japanese-Americans, Baseball Was ‘Wearing the American Flag’
By Michael Beschloss | HistorySource :: The New York Times | June 2014
“By 1943, when some of those in the relocation camps were allowed to volunteer for war service, some of the ballplayers joined the Army’s almost all-Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which suffered grievous casualties in Europe and came to be called the most decorated military unit in American history.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Vets cope with injuries / Bachmann’s implosion / Daily health care deals / The narcissist / Don’t mention George W. Bush

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism. Read past recommendations from this series here.

1. Acting Out War’s Inner Wounds
By James Dao | The New York Times | Jan. 1
“The roadside bomb that separated Sgt. Matthew Pennington from his left leg in 2006 also shattered his right leg and scorched his lungs. Those injuries he understood. But then came the ones he did not, the ones inside his head.”

2. Topic: Why did Michele Bachmann implode?
By David Mark | The Arena :: Politico | December 2011
Weigh in on her political rollercoaster ride.

3. Uninsured turn to daily deal sites for health care
By Joseph Pisani | Associated Press | Jan. 1
“Merchants like the deals because it gives them exposure and a pop in business. Customers use them to try something new, to save money on something they already use, or both.”

4. The Dreamers
Activate :: Al Jazeera | October 2011
“Viridiana Martinez only found out that she is considered ‘illegal’ upon graduating from high school and discovering that she could not work or apply to colleges. … But now Viridiana is fighting back — openly declaring her ‘illegal’ status. …”

5. Behind the Facade: The ‘False Self’ of the Narcissist
By Randi Kreger | Psychology Today | November 2011
“Narcissists can’t differentiate between their mask and their true self”

6. For the Depressed, Mothers Matter More
Big Think | December 2011
“Depressed people react more strongly to photos of their mother than healthy individuals, according to new research.”

7. Keeping Greens Green
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | November 2011
“When greengrocers drench vegetables with water every few minutes, does it keep them fresh or hasten spoilage?”

8. Carter’s advice to Obama: Don’t alienate voters
By Greg Bluestein | Associated Press | Jan. 3
“Carter said: ‘If your main goal is to get re-elected, avoid a controversial subject as much as you can in the first term.’ ”

9. George W. Bush barely mentioned in GOP campaign
By Beth Fouhy | Associated Press | Jan. 3
“While the candidates routinely lionize Ronald Reagan and blame President Barack Obama for the nation’s economic woes, none has been eager to embrace the Bush legacy of gaping budget deficits, two wars and record low approval ratings — or blame him for the country’s troubles either.”

10. Civil War women: Laura Towne
Civil War Women Blog | November 2011
“Begun in 1862, the Port Royal Experiment, the first large-scale government effort to help the newly freed slaves. Northern women like Laura Towne and Charlotte Forten volunteered, and made it their mission to educate the freedmen and prepare them for economic independence.”

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