Loreta’s Civil War: The elegantly attired woman

Velazquez escapes post-Civil War America and heads for what she hopes will be a relaxing tour of Europe.

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 55: Velazquez escapes post-Civil War America and heads for what she hopes will be a relaxing tour of Europe.

******

It was not many days before my brother arrived with his wife, two children, and a nurse. It was a most joyful reunion, and I tried to be as affectionate as I knew how to my sister-in-law and the pretty little babes, one of whom was a namesake of my own. It was impossible for me, however, to feel towards her as I did towards my brother, and I fancied that she was not as well disposed towards me as she might have been.

Once together, our arrangements were soon made, and we left New York on board of one of the Cunard steamers. I wondered what my friend Col. Baker would think of my disappearance and could not help laughing at the neat trick I had played upon him.

Despite the reasons I had for being glad to find myself speeding towards a foreign shore, it was not without a pang of regret that I watched those of America fading in the distance. This, after all, was my country, where dwelt my friends. Here was the scene of the great events in which I had taken a not altogether unimportant part; and it was like separating from a portion of myself to sail away from such a land, and to feel that, probably, I might never return.

Before we had been long at sea, however, I had something else to think of than sentimental regrets. Both my brother and myself were compelled to succumb to seasickness, which, although it did not affect us as violently as it did some of the other passengers, was sufficiently unpleasant to absorb all our thoughts. My sister-in-law, being a hardened traveler, escaped, but the negro girl who acted as nurse for the children was taken very badly, and between her agony and her fright she was a most ludicrous object.

In a couple of days, I was well enough to enjoy myself, and my brother, who had made the acquaintance of the doctor, introduced him to me. This gentleman was a fair-haired Anglo Saxon, and he appeared to think it incumbent upon him to pay me particular attention. I was quite willing to cultivate his acquaintance, and he was so much encouraged by my amiable demeanor towards him that he very speedily began to be even unpleasantly polite, and I was anxious to devise some means of getting rid of him. I did at length succeed in finding a rival to him in a somewhat odd fashion.

Among the passengers were two quite handsome young Spaniards, who kept pretty much to themselves, apparently for the reason that no one was able to talk to them. I noticed that one of them followed me a good deal with his eyes, and resolved, if a favorable opportunity offered, to strike up an acquaintance with him.

One morning, after breakfast, I and my friends came up on deck, and the doctor, who had been acting as my escort, excused himself to go and make his sick calls. The two young Spaniards stood leaning on the guards, and from the way they looked at me I judged that I was the subject of their conversation.

Leaving my brother and his wife, I went and seated myself near them but gave no indication that I was noticing them particularly. They had heard me speak English to my brother and sister and the others with whom I had engaged in conversation, and had no reason to think that I understood any other language.

I had scarcely taken my seat when they commenced to talk about me in Spanish, commenting upon my elegant dress and the sparkling diamonds which adorned my person, and expressing a desire to know who I was. At length one of them said, “Oh, how I would like to speak the American language. She is a handsome senorita and evidently very rich. If I could converse with her I would soon have an introduction.”

“Yes,” said the other, “I should like to know who she is.”

“Oh, there is something the matter with me,” said the first, putting his hand to his breast.

“You are in love. You had better get somebody to act as interpreter for you.”

Just then the doctor came up and interfered with my amusement. He said, as he seated himself beside me, “If it is not impertinent, may I ask how long you have been a widow?”

“About two years,” I replied.

One of the young Spaniards who could understand a little English said to his companion, “She is a young widow.”

“That makes no difference,” said the other.

I said to the doctor, “I wonder if we can see any fish?” and walked to the side and looked overboard.

I stood quite close to Pablo, the young man whom I supposed to be falling in love with me, and as we turned away, after looking into the water for a few moments, I dropped my handkerchief on purpose.

The Spaniard picked it up, and, touching my arm, handed it to me, raising his sombrero politely as he did so.

I smiled and thanked him in his native tongue. It was most amusing to see the expression of horror that overspread his countenance as he heard me, and thus discovered that I must have understood the conversation he had been holding with his friend.

So soon as the doctor left me, he advanced, and, taking off his hat, asked me if I was a Spaniard. I replied that I was of Spanish descent, whereupon he began the most profuse apologies and hoped that my ladyship was not offended at the remarks that had passed between himself and friend. I said that so far from being offended, I felt highly complimented by the flattering opinions that had been expressed with regard to me, and thereupon the young gentleman and I started a flirtation that lasted for the balance of the voyage, and that, in addition to being agreeable enough in itself, had the effect of keeping the doctor somewhat at a distance. He was most solicitous for us to visit Spain and was not satisfied until he extorted from my brother a promise to do so.

This young gentleman continued his attentions to myself after we got to London, and on account of some sightseeing, in which he had planned to have my company, he and his friend missed the steamer in which they expected to have sailed for Spain and were obliged to remain for a number of days beyond their appointed time. I do not think that either of them regretted this very much. I am sure one of them did not. My brother did not like my friend Pablo, thinking him proud and haughty but this was merely a Castilian reserve of manner, and I thought it rather an attractive characteristic than otherwise.

At length, our young Spaniards left us, and we began to plan our future movements. My brother was very anxious to go to the Continent immediately. He did not like the English climate or the English people, saying that they had always been our enemies, and that during the late war they had acted treacherously to both parties. The French, he contended, were the true friends of America, while their beautiful country was far better worth visiting than this damp, foggy England.

I had no great preference, being willing to go almost anywhere, and consequently, although there was much in England that I desired to see, acceded to my brother’s wishes without hesitation and consented to try France first and to keep England in reserve, to be explored after we had visited the Continent.

Crossing the Channel, we entered France at Cherbourg, the great naval depot. At this place were several vessels which had been negotiated for by the Confederates, and which, if they could have been obtained, would greatly have strengthened our little navy. Without stopping, however, to examine these or other objects of interest, we sped on to Paris, where we took rooms at the Grand Hotel.

We were more fortunate than Mark Twain represents himself to have been and were not bothered with guides. My brother had been educated in Paris, while I had seen a little of it, and we both could speak French. My brother was well acquainted with the city, and he was anxious to show his wife and myself all that was worth seeing in it. We accordingly hired a handsome private livery and prepared to enjoy ourselves in the best style.

The magnificence with which I was surrounded was in great contrast to what I had been accustomed to in America, and it was difficult for me to appreciate the fact that I, the elegantly attired woman, who was enjoying or endeavoring to enjoy the manifold pleasures of Parisian life, had but a short time before been wearing a uniform of gray and living the roughest kind of a life in camp and on the battlefield. I could not honestly say to myself, however, that I preferred the luxury and splendors of the great French capital to the woods and fields of my dear South, and I have had as blissful sleep, wrapped in my soldier’s blanket out under the stars as I could get in the most expensive apartments of the Grand Hotel.

Our days and nights in Paris were spent in sight-seeing, theater-going, and in endeavoring to find all the enjoyment that money could buy. We did enjoy ourselves, for there is no city in the world that is better worth seeing or that presents greater attractions to the visitor than Paris.

The Louvre, the Tuileries, the Arc de I’Etoile, the ancient Cathedral of Notre Dame, with its grand architecture and its many associations, with a visit to the Jardin de Mabille in the evening, employed our first day. It was all very interesting, but I could have had greater satisfaction in investigating into matters that represented more particularly the industries and resources of the country. As for the famous Mabille, it is nothing more than a beer-garden, while the doings that are permitted there and at the Cloiserie de Lilas are such that they are not fit places for decent people to visit. I was heartily disgusted with both of these gardens — disgusted with what I saw and more disgusted with people who looked like ladies and gentlemen, gazing with approval and applause at performances that had no attractions except their indecency.

A drive on the Bois de Boulogne, which was on our program for the next day, I really enjoyed greatly, as I did also a visit to the Lyrique Theatre, where I saw finished acting and elegant stage setting such as I had never been accustomed to in America. In the course of our stay in Paris we visited nearly all the principal theaters, and although I never was much of a play-goer, everything was done in such finished style that it was a real gratification to attend these performances.

The College de France, where my brother had been educated, and the Medical School in which he had studied interested him greatly, but I was satisfied with looking at them from the outside. I was not curious, either, to visit the Catacombs. My brother persuaded me to go to this city of the dead but when about to descend into the dark caverns, filled with the moldering remains of poor humanity, I shrunk back and refused to enter. I had too much reverence for the sleepers to make their last resting-place a resort for the curious. I feared not the dead but to have gone among these skeletons would have revived memories of the past that were anything but pleasant ones. It made me shudder to think how many poor souls I had seen launched into eternity without a moment’s warning, some of them, perhaps, by my hand. The idea of such a thing was horrible, although in the excitement of a great battle the slaughter that is going on is as little thought of as are the dangers to one’s self.

At the Invalides we saw the magnificent Tomb of Napoleon I., the most imposing monument that has, perhaps, ever been erected to any monarch. As we were leaving, we were gratified with a sight of the emperor and empress, who were visiting the building. The empress was a very handsome woman and looked as if she was a very amiable one. She was dressed in a silk robe, of a light lavender color, which was very elaborately trimmed with lace. Her bonnet was of the same lavender tint and was trimmed with white. A pair of white kid gloves and a point-lace scarf fastened with a brooch of emeralds and diamonds completed the toilet. The emperor was in uniform. He was a rather diminutive man, with a keen eye, and he reminded me not a little of Gen. Beauregard. Anyone who could have seen the two would have said, unhesitatingly, that they were relatives.

Sight-seeing in Paris was an agreeable enough employment, but I very soon had enough of it and was not sorry to leave for Rheims, the great wine mart. This city is distant between three and four hours from Paris by the railroad and is a very interesting place, as well because of its historical associations as because it is a great industrial center.

The great cathedral is a magnificent building, which I took particular pleasure in visiting, for the reason that in it all the old kings of France were crowned. It was here that Joan of Arc, clad in full armor, and with her consecrated banner in hand, witnessed the coronation of the king for whom she fought so well, and whose dominion she was mainly instrumental in securing. I almost imagined, as I stood in the cathedral, that I could behold the splendid scene that was presented on that occasion.

At the time of my visit to Rheims, however, I was of a more practical turn of mind than I had been a few years before. The romance had been pretty well knocked out of me by the rough experience of real life, and although I was better able to appreciate the performances of Joan of Arc at their true value, somehow they did not interest me to the extent they once did. I took more pleasure in watching the processes of manufacturing the famous champagne wines and in speculating as to whether such a profitable industry could not be introduced into the United States.

I have every reason to believe that wines, as fine in flavor as any of the European brands, can be, and in time will be, made in America. They will not be the same and will have a peculiar flavor of their own, for the flavors of wines depend upon the soil where the grapes are grown to such an extent that very different kinds are manufactured from grapes growing but a short distance from each other. Our American wines, even if of a somewhat different flavor, ought, however, to be just as good, in their way, as are the European. The fact is, that some of our wines will already compare very favorably with those brought from abroad. We cannot as yet, however, produce anything equal to the very finest brands, but we will do that in time, when we learn some of the delicate points about cultivation and manufacture which the Europeans have been for centuries acquiring. Viticulture is a business that is particularly well suited for many portions of our Southern States, and it is to be hoped that the people may be induced to take it up much more largely than they have ever yet done.

In this part of France, it is possible to travel for miles through a highly-cultivated country and not see the sign of a building of any kind. The people congregate in small villages, which is certainly more social than living in isolated farm-houses. The houses in these villages are mostly small, are built of stone, and reminded me not a little of some huts in the Kaw Indian reservation. They are made very attractive, however, by being surrounded by neat little gardens, filled with flowers, which are tended with great care.

There was one thing I saw in Rheims which pleased me very much. It was a troop of round, rosy-faced girls, who came running, laughing, and singing out of a factory, at evening, as full of sport as if they had been playing all day instead of earning their bread and butter. They were so fresh and wholesome-looking and apparently enjoyed life so much that I could not but admire them. Such people as these are the real wealth of a country, and it is no wonder France is rich and prosperous when she has such citizens.

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.

KS50

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: Living so delightfully

Back in Texas from her sojourn to Oak Ridge, La., Stone finds her Tyler home as raucous as ever.

KS3

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)

Back in Texas from her sojourn to Oak Ridge, La., Stone finds her Tyler home as raucous as ever.

Dec. 4, 1864

Tyler, Texas

We are just back from church, and it was a delightful walk there. Mamma, thinking the church would be too cold, deserted us at Mrs. Savage’s and Mrs. Newton joined us. An excellent sermon from the new Baptist minister. There were many gentlemen but few ladies and quite a number of new officers, but Dr. McGregor, my only acquaintance. All the officers we knew here in June have gone. Dr. McGregor and Joe Carson, who is home on furlough, are our only visitors at present. Did not see Maj. Buckner in church. Suppose he has gone back to Louisiana. We have seen him frequently lately and he is a most agreeable, entertaining visitor. I wish they would station him here. …

The house does not seem as comfortable as formerly. Living so delightfully for the last six months and being so waited on and petted have spoiled me I am afraid. Unfortunately Johnny and Uncle John are not on speaking terms. There was a general quarrel while Mamma was away, and Uncle John will not make it up. As Johnny is but a boy, it seems very unreasonable. As we are so crowded in the house, it makes it doubly disagreeable. Then Kate has added a new baby to the general confusion. Fortunately it is a good little mite, but we cannot say the same of Sally. She is a little trial but is getting to be quite pretty. Johnny makes a pet of her, since he is very fond of little children. If we only could have the house to ourselves, but there is no hope of that. Poor Uncle Johnny is so helpless. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: I suffered intensely

As Stone works her way back to Texas, a toothache adds to her discomfort and fear throughout a journey through wild and war-torn swampland.

KS2

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 works her way back to Texas, a toothache adds to her discomfort and fear throughout a journey through wild and war-torn swampland.

November 1864

On the road to Texas

We got off from Col. Templeton’s Monday morning, all sorry to part after a delightful summer and fall with not a disagreeable incident to mar our intercourse. They have been the soul of kindness to me, one and all. The direct road through the swamp is impassable, and so Capt. Wylie piloted us a new route. Capt. Wylie, Johnny, and I were on horseback, and about 2 o’clock we reached the hill road without getting bogged down as Johnny had in coming through the old road. We dismounted, entered the carriage, and bade Capt. Wylie a warm farewell, thanking him for his many courtesies. …

It was a rainy day and we did not reach Monroe until about sunset. Capt. Brigham met us, and we waved him adieu as we crossed the Ouachita on a flat. We passed the night at Mrs. Scale’s at Trenton, much to Johnny’s disgust as he does not like them. Some gentlemen called, and we had cards. After they left, Lucy and I tried our fortunes in divers ways as it was “All Hallow’e’en.” We tried all magic arts and had a merry frolic, but no future lord and master came to turn our wet garments hanging before the fire. There were no ghostly footprints in the meal sprinkled behind the door. No bearded face looked over our shoulders as we ate the apples before the glass. No knightly forms of soldiers brave disturbed our dreams after eating the white of an egg half-filled with salt. …

The third morning we left in a cold drizzling rain with a splendid lunch and a jar of pickles, and with kisses and good wishes of the family. I had a raging toothache, because of sitting all day in wet shoes after passing the swamp. Capt. Wylie’s solicitude on the subject of my thin, wet shoes was not uncalled for at last.

Our trip to Vienna was disagreeable. We stopped at twelve, built a fire, enjoyed our dinner, and then smoked leaf cigarettes. They relieved my tooth for a time, but the pain returned. For several days I suffered intensely, nearly ruining all my teeth I fear by using creosote, caustic, and any strong thing people recommended. Our supper at the hotel at Vienna consisted of cold stewed pumpkins, cold greens, and cold white cornbread. Nothing else but cold well water. The breakfast was nearly as unpalatable, but it was warm. We had nothing to eat all day except the pickles, which Johnny first ate and then drank the vinegar. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Our best fancy yellow organdies

Stone offers a slice of springtime social life in East Texas as friends and neighbors come and go.

KS63

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 offers a slice of springtime social life in East Texas as friends and neighbors come and go.

May 25, 1864

Tyler, Texas

We have bidden Julia and Mrs. Payne farewell this evening. “It may be for years and it may be forever,” as they return to Camden the entire cortege, Negroes and all. Maj. Street sent an ambulance for them and they secured a wagon here. Julia is perfectly delighted to go back, but Mrs. Payne is not so pleased. I surely would let that strong, healthy Major come for me. I would not travel 200 miles over rough jolting roads to meet him. But then I am not in love with him and she is. That makes a vast difference, I suppose. I spent the night with her, and we sat up nearly all night having our last confidential chat together.

Thursday Julia and I, dressed in our best fancy yellow organdies, went calling with Mamma. Found nearly everyone out. Julia and I deserted Mamma and perambulated around town looking for flowers, stealing them through the palings and decorating our heads with them. At Mrs. Wells’, we were regaled on huge slices of poundcake and fine music. Jimmy Stone and I rode out to see Mrs. Prentice. She likes Jimmy very much and says he reminds her so of her young son Horace, who died at about his age. The ride was delightful through the woods, sweet with the wild grape fragrance.

Jimmy Stone has gone to the prairie [Lamar County], and Johnny is lost without him. Our usual succession of visitors — boys, officers, doctors, and ladies.

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.

KS37

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.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

How to pack / Voyager 1 / 9/11 myths / Iowa’s ad wars / Thatcher’s 1981 crisis

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. Guapura 101: How to pack for a long trip
By Sara Ines Calderon | NewsTaco | Dec. 26
“Many of us are either currently on a vacation, or will be taking one soon, and so I thought it would be a good opportunity to share a tip that I learned a few years ago that has made packing much easier.”

2. Iowa ad war: late starting but nasty
By Beth Fouhy | Associated Press | Dec. 29
“At least $12.5 million and counting has blanketed the airwaves ahead of next Tuesday’s Republican presidential caucuses, with hard-hitting commercials awash in ghoulish images and startling claims. Most are coming from a proliferation of new independent groups aligned with the candidates.”

3. Newly released files detail Thatcher’s 1981 crisis
By David Stringer | Associated Press | Dec. 29
“Official records for 1981 released by the National Archives depict a prime minister grappling with violent dissent, rising tensions in Northern Ireland and sharp criticism from her own allies. The papers were being made public just five days before the London premiere of ‘The Iron Lady,’ the film about Thatcher’s career starring Meryl Streep.”

4. Voyager 1 Speeds Toward The Brink Of Interstellar Space
By Bill Chappell | The Two-Way :: NPR | Dec. 28
“The craft is currently in what NASA calls, not undramatically, ‘the boundary between the solar wind from the Sun and the interstellar wind from death-explosions of other stars,’ an area that astrophysicists also call, less dramatically, a stagnation layer.”

5. Baby Bird Alert
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | July 2009
“When you find a baby bird on the ground, what should you do to rescue it?”

6. How to Stop a Multinational
By Rodrigo Vazquez | Activate :: Al Jazeera | October 2011
“Three Argentinians put themselves in harm’s way as they try to stop a gold mining company destroying their environment.”

7. DWI Versus DW-High
By Brian Palmer | Explainer :: Slate | Nov. 30
“Is it more dangerous to drive drunk or stoned?”

8. Five myths about 9/11
By Brian Michael Jenkins | Five Myths :: The Washington Post | Sept. 2
“We all remember where we were on Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda launched its horrific attacks on the United States. In the decade since, no number of commissions, books, films and reports has been able to end the misconceptions about what 9/11 meant, America’s response to it and the nature of the ongoing threat.”

9. Civil War women: Olivia Clemens
Civil War Women Blog | Nov. 14
“Olivia Langdon Clemens was the wife of the famous American author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, and was a major influence on his writing.”

10. Italian Bombing of Libya – 1911
Witness :: BBC News | May 10
“A young Italian flyer describes in a letter home how he mounted the world’s first ever aerial bombing run during an attack on Ottoman forces in Libya, in 1911.”