Amerikan Rambler: Podcast 43: Jim Hall

From March 2017: “Jim Hall worked as a newspaper writer for decades. Now, he’s publishing history.”

Jim and Colin talk about Jim’s journalism career in Bowling Green and Fredericksburg and his long study of racial violence in Virginia, which he began as a graduate student at VCU. Now, he has a book that examines the last lynching in northern Virginia.

via Podcast 43: Jim Hall — Amerikan Rambler: Everybody Has a Story

Amerikan Rambler: Podcast 32: The Revolution of 2016

From Nov. 2016: “Colin’s recent visit to Fredericksburg took place in the wake of what historians should be calling the Revolution of 2016.”

Fredericksburg is a nice place to spend a day thinking about and experiencing history. It’s also a good place to get a cup of coffee. But Colin’s recent visit to Fredericksburg took place in the wake of what historians should be calling the Revolution of 2016.

via Podcast 32: Fredericksburg. The Revolution of 2016. — Amerikan Rambler: Everybody Has a Story

Amerikan Rambler: Podcast 15: Ed Ayers and Gary Gallagher

From July 2016: “Ed Ayers and Gary Gallagher are two of the best southern historians working today.”

Ed Ayers and Gary Gallagher are two of the best southern historians working today. Ed Ayers is from Tennessee, taught at UVA, and is now president emeritus and professor at the University of Richmond. Gary Gallagher came to UVA by way of Penn State, University of Texas, Colorado, and Los Angeles. Both are now working in the field of Civil War studies.

via Podcast 15: Ed Ayers and Gary Gallagher — Amerikan Rambler: Everybody Has a Story

Amerikan Rambler: Podcast 7: Graham Dozier and Civil War History

From March 2016: “Graham is the author and editor of ‘A Gunner in Lee’s Army: The Civil War Letters of Thomas Henry Carter’ “

The book contains 100 letters written by Carter, an artillery officer in Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Graham is also the editor of the “Virginia Magazine of History and Biography” at the Virginia Historical Society.

via Podcast 7: Graham Dozier and Civil War History — Amerikan Rambler: Everybody Has a Story

Loreta’s Civil War: A derangement of the plans

As news of President Lincoln’s assassination spreads, Velazquez is torn between respect for the man and loyalty to the Confederacy.

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 53: As news of President Lincoln’s assassination spreads, Velazquez is torn between respect for the man and loyalty to the Confederacy.

******

As I did not know and certainly did not appreciate the full extent … of the great disaster that had befallen the Confederate cause, so soon as my business in Wall Street was brought to a conclusion I sought a conference with the agents with whom I had been co-operating. They were inclined to take the gloomiest possible view of the situation. With the fall of Richmond and the surrender of Lee’s army, the people of the North seemed to have concluded that the long contest with the South was over. … It was but natural, perhaps, in view of the intense excitement which prevailed and the unanimity of public opinion that the Confederate agents should have regarded the future of the contest in a great degree from a Northern standpoint and should have been largely influenced by the opinions which they heard expressed on every side.

I, however, was not disposed to give up while a Southern soldier remained in the field, and, after a full discussion of the condition of affairs, I persuaded my companions to view matters as I did. Richmond was our capital, but it was not the whole South, and Lee’s army, important as it was, was far from being the whole Confederate force. Gen. Joe Johnston had an army of veterans very nearly if not quite as large as that of Lee’s and was capable of prolonging the contest for an indefinite period while throughout the West there were a number of detached commands of more or less strength. If these could be united and a junction effected with Johnston, or communication established with him so that they could act in concert, it would be possible to keep the Federals at bay for a good while yet. If the fight was continued resolutely, there was no knowing what might happen to our advantage, for, as we all knew, the people of the North were heartily sick of the war, while England and France were impatient to have it come to an end and would much prefer to have it end with a victory for the Confederates.

Having professed an eager desire to work for the Cause so long as there was a Cause to work for, my associates suggested that I should proceed immediately to Missouri … for the purpose of consulting with the agents in the West with regard to the best methods of proceeding in the present perplexing emergency.

I accepted the mission without hesitation, and, always ready to attend to business of this kind at a moment’s notice, with scarcely more than a change of clothing in my traveling satchel, I was soon speeding westward. … I went to Columbus, Ohio, where I found considerable confusion prevailing on account of the escape of some prisoners. I took rooms at the Neil House and had conferences with several persons concerning the affairs at the South. At an unusually early hour I retired, being very weary on account of having traveled almost without interruption for several days and having lost my sleep the night before but feeling rather happy on account of a Confederate victory of which I had heard.

I was soon asleep, but could not have been so very long before I was awakened by the continual buzzing of the telegraph wires, which were attached to the corner of the hotel. I paid but little attention to this singular noise and dozed off again. A second time I was awakened by it and began to conjecture what could be the matter. I knew that something very important must have happened and thought that the Federals must either have achieved a great victory or have met with a great defeat. I was too tired, however, to attempt any inquiry just then, and, with all sorts of fancies floating in my mind … I dropped off into a sound sleep and did not awaken until morning.

I arose quite early and going to the window saw that the whole front of the building was draped in mourning. Wondering what this demonstration could mean, and thinking that the death of some prominent general must have occurred, but never for a moment suspecting the terrible truth, I made my toilet and descended to find out what was the matter.

A great number of people, notwithstanding the early hour, were moving about the hotel, and a considerable crowd was already assembled in the hall. Still wondering what could have happened, I asked a gentleman whom I met hurrying down stairs what was the news, and he told me that President Lincoln had been assassinated by one J. Wilkes Booth the night before!

This intelligence startled me greatly, both on account of the terrible nature of the crime itself and because I felt that it could work nothing but harm to the South. I also felt for Mr. Lincoln and his family, for I liked him and believed that he was an honest and kindhearted man who tried to do his duty, as he understood it, and who was in every way well disposed towards the South.

Descending to the drawing-room, I found a large number of ladies there, many of whom were weeping, while, in the street, the crowd was increasing, and everyone seemed to be in the greatest excitement. Across the street, the State House was being draped in mourning, while a number of persons already wore mourning emblems. Before the day was over nearly everyone had on some badge of mourning, and nearly every house was draped in a greater or less degree in black. I did not attempt to imitate my neighbors in this matter. I was sincerely sorry both for personal and political reasons that this dreadful event had occurred but, nevertheless, Mr. Lincoln was the enemy of the cause I loved and for which I labored, and it would have been intensely repugnant to my feelings to have made any outward manifestations of mourning. At the same time it is possible I may have mourned in my heart with more sincerity than some of those who were making a greater show of their grief.

This sad event rendered it necessary that I should have an immediate conference with my associates in the East, and I therefore returned as fast as I could to New York, and from thence went on to Washington.

The assassination of Mr. Lincoln had caused a derangement of the plans, and no one knew exactly what had best be done next. I was requested, however, to make a trip west again for the purpose of communicating with certain parties and accordingly departed on my last errand in behalf of the Confederacy.

My business being transacted, I started to return and again found it necessary to pass through Columbus. When I arrived there the body of Mr. Lincoln was lying in state. The town was crowded with people, and it was impossible to get a room at any of the hotels. I went to the Neil House but was obliged to content myself with a bed on the drawing-room floor, my accommodations being, however, quite as sumptuous as those of hundreds of others.

I doubt if the little city ever had so many people in it before, and all day long a stream of men and women poured in at one door and out at the other of the apartment where the casket containing the remains of the president was lying in state. It was a sad sight, and it troubled me greatly — so greatly that I was scarcely able to eat or sleep, for, in addition to my natural grief, I could not prevent my mind from brooding on the possibly detrimental effects which the assassination would have on the fortunes of the South.

After an early breakfast the next morning, I took the eastward-bound train and returned to Washington, and on reaching that city called to see Col. Baker. We exchanged but a few words, as Baker said that he had an engagement, which he would be compelled to attend to immediately, but he would see me at half past seven o’clock at my hotel. …

In the Capitol, I met a Confederate officer whom I knew. I was astonished to see him, and going up, I said, “Oh, what could have induced you to come here at such a critical time as this?”

“To see and hear what is going on,” he replied.

“This is an awful affair.”

“Yes, and it is particularly unfortunate that it should have happened at this particular time.”

“When will you return?”

“Tonight, if somebody less amiable than you are does not recognize me and take me in charge.”

I then asked him if he would carry a letter through for me to my brother, and on his promising me that he would, I made an engagement for him to go to my room in the hotel. He would find the door unlocked and the key inside, and I would meet him at five o’clock or shortly after. I then took leave of him, bidding him be careful of himself, as the people were excited and suspicious and he might easily get himself into serious trouble.

Returning to the hotel, I noticed quite a number of ladies in the drawing-room as I passed by. I thought I would join them for the sake of listening to the different conversations that were going on, thinking that perhaps I might hear something that it would be advantageous for me to know. On reaching my room, therefore, I dressed myself in a handsome black gros-grain silk dress, and putting a gilt band in my hair, descended and took a seat at one of the drawing-room windows facing on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Those around me all appeared to be discussing the tragedy and many absurd theories and speculations were indulged in with regard to it. I was indignant … to hear President Davis and [other] Confederate leaders accused of being the instigators of the crime. I well knew that they were incapable of anything of the kind, and Mr. Davis, in particular, I had reason to believe entertained a high respect for Mr. Lincoln and most sincerely lamented his death and especially the manner of it, feeling that he and the whole people of the South would be … held censurable for something they had nothing to do with and which they were powerless to prevent.

Loreta’s Civil War: Seized with an intense desire

Velazquez hears that her beloved is nearby, and she can’t wait to be reunited with him, but she wonders if she should tell him the truth about her disguise.

KS51

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart will share 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.

Part 27: Velazquez hears that her beloved is nearby, and she can’t wait to be reunited with him, but she wonders if she should tell him the truth about her disguise.

******

From Lynchburg I went to Charlotte, North Carolina. … I did see quite a number of officers and soldiers who had collected at this point, under orders to return to their commands without delay, and who were waiting for transportation. Many of these were old friends and acquaintances of mine, and I proceeded to make myself at home among them, and also among the good people of Charlotte, taking particular pains, according to my usual custom, to be as agreeable as I could to the ladies. … I still was inspired by some ambition to achieve a reputation as a ladies’ man. I succeeded as well as I usually did when attempting to play this role and managed to enjoy myself immensely, although I am not aware that I inflicted any irreparable damage upon the hearts of the fair ones of Charlotte.

This was in the summer of 1863. Gen. [Robert E.] Lee had invaded Pennsylvania, had been defeated at Gettysburg, and had returned to Virginia to resume again the defense of Richmond. His army was shattered but defiant still, and, as events proved, was quite competent to do as hard fighting as it ever did, and to ward off the always impending Federal attack on the Confederate capital for a good while to come. But with the battle of Gettysburg, the important work of the summer in that quarter had culminated, and the attention of the entire Confederacy was now anxiously directed to Eastern Tennessee, where the Federal [Maj. Gen. William S.] Rosecrans was pushing forward with the evident intention of striking a damaging blow somewhere, and perhaps of forcing his way into Georgia. It was in resisting the forces of Rosecrans, therefore, that distinction was to be won, and not by remaining in the neighborhood of Richmond. … I concluded that I ought to set my face southward if I hoped to win any laurels.

Hearing that [Confederate Lt. Gen. James] Longstreet’s corps had been detached from Lee’s army before Richmond and ordered to reinforce [Confederate Gen. Braxton] Bragg, I concluded to wait in Charlotte until it made its appearance on its way southward, and, if possible, travel with it to its destination. A good many of the officers waiting in Charlotte were anxious to take advantage of this opportunity to obtain transportation back to their commands, but it was reported that no one would be permitted to go on the train except Longstreet’s own men. It would have been a very serious disappointment and some trouble to many who did not know when they would have such another chance to reach the scene of action, and there was a good deal of growling at the prospect that a prolonged stay in Charlotte might be necessary. …

I, however, had made up my mind to make a determined effort to go … and I proposed to some of the officers, who were impatient to get off, that we should have an interview with Gen. Longstreet and endeavor to impress upon his mind the imperative necessity we were under of rejoining our regiments immediately. There was a difference of opinion, however, about the expediency and propriety of this course, and no one was willing to take the responsibility of doing the necessary talking. As no one else would undertake the task of interviewing Longstreet on the subject, I resolved to represent the situation to him myself.

After the arrival of his corps in Charlotte I watched for a good opportunity, and at length espied him engaged in conversation with Gen. Jenkins. I therefore went up, and, making a salute, stated to Gen. Longstreet that a number of officers who were ordered to join their regiments immediately were unable to proceed for lack of transportation, and asked if we might not go on with him. … The general hesitated somewhat, but after asking me several questions about who we were, how many there were of us, where we were going … he acceded to my request. I made known the success of my mission to the rest, and so, jumping on board the train, we managed to get through. …

Shortly after my arrival in Atlanta, however, I heard some- thing that delighted me. … Capt. De Caulp was near Spring Hill with [Confederate Gen. Earl] Van Dorn. … I had not seen the captain since the Battle of Shiloh, where I fought by his side, or at least under his eye, during nearly the whole of the conflict, succeeding in winning his commendation for my courage without exciting any suspicion in his mind that I was the woman upon whom his affections were bestowed. So soon as I heard that he was in my vicinity, I was seized with an intense desire to meet him again, for I was greatly in love with him, and it afforded me the keenest delight to hear praises of myself from his lips, and he all the while thinking that he was addressing them to a third party.

I don’t suppose, since the commencement of the world, so strange a courtship as ours was ever carried on. It is certain that not many women have had the same opportunities as myself to find out, from their own lips, exactly how fond of them their expected husbands really are. The situation, I confess, had a wonderful fascination for me, for there were intensely romantic elements in it that addressed themselves in the strongest manner to my imagination. To have been able to fight by the side of my lover in one of the greatest battles of the war, and to be praised by him for my valor, were of themselves matters for intense satisfaction, and I often imagined how it would be after the war was over, and we would be able to compare notes and relate our adventures to each other. …

At the time of which I write … a desire to see Capt. De Caulp again was the uppermost thought in my mind, and I was almost more than half resolved to give him a surprise by revealing myself to him. Whether to do this or not was a question that I debated with myself most seriously while on my way to join him. The fact that I was a woman had now been so often discovered that it was probable he might at any moment learn that his expected wife and Lt. Harry T. Buford were one and the same, and, not knowing what he might think of the course I had pursued in assuming male attire, I dreaded having anyone but myself discover my secret to him. In addition to this, I loved him most fondly, and, although inspired by a sense of the duties I owed to the cause for which I had taken up arms, I endeavored to control my feelings and to regard my marriage with Capt. De Caulp as not to be thought of until the time came for both to forsake the battlefield and to think no more of warfare but as something we were done with forever.

I would have been less than human, however, if sometimes I did not desire most ardently to be with him and to hear from my lover’s lips the terms of endearment which are the sweetest music a woman’s ears can be greeted by, and to be courted by him as other women were by the men who had won their affections. I knew that, in many respects, it would be better for me to remain at a distance from Capt. De Caulp but I was moved by an inscrutable impulse at this time to go to him, and I was almost willing, if he should say so, to abandon the army and to permanently resume the garments of my sex. I did not propose, however, to do this if it could be avoided, and the leading idea in my mind was … to go through the rest of the war with him and to fight constantly by his side. …

So soon as I found that Capt. De Caulp was near at hand, I took the train for the point nearest to where I learned that Van Dorn’s command was stationed. Getting off at Tyner’s Station, I obtained a horse and started off in the direction of Chickamauga. … I saw plainly, as matters were then, that it would be exceedingly difficult … for me to join Van Dorn’s command. … Capt. De Caulp would most likely come my way, and I would be able to meet him sooner by waiting for him than by going after him. I was too impatient, however, to pass my time in idleness and felt as if I must do something for the cause and my own credit as a soldier.

It really appeared to be more trouble than it was worth to endeavor to persuade any of the general officers to assign me to the particular kind of duty I desired, and, as I had been decidedly successful in more than one expedition, planned and executed by myself, and on my own responsibility, I resolved to undertake another one just for the sake of keeping myself busy and of seeing what would come of it. I felt very confident that if I could make a big hit, my services as a spy would be in heavy demand, for there was evidently going to be some close fighting and the movements of the enemy would need watching at every point. …

My idea now was to run through the lines and take a good view of the situation from the Federal standpoint, and I knew that the safest and best way of doing this … was to go as a woman, for, in the proper attire of my sex it would be easier for me to pass the pickets and avoid being suspected of having any end in view to which objection could be taken. The only difficulty in the way of accomplishing my object was in procuring suitable clothing without attracting attention. As there were a number of houses in the vicinity from which the people had fled, some of them in great haste, when they found themselves likely to be in the midst of contending armies, it occurred to me that in all probability I would be able to find what I wanted in … one of them. I, therefore, commenced a search, and soon came to a dwelling that promised to supply me with everything I needed. … [I] transformed myself from a gallant young Confederate officer into a reasonably good-looking woman [and] I packed a carpet-bag with a change of clothing, and other articles, such as I thought might be useful on a journey. …

I picked up my carpet-bag and made directly for the enemy’s lines. I knew that the bold way was the best way … and that the correct plan was to strike directly for headquarters with a plausible story to tell rather than to attempt to slip past the pickets and run the risk of being detected. …

The position and duties of spies are little understood by persons who have had no actual experience of warfare. … Just as the quartermaster, the commissary, the paymaster, and the surgeon are as important as the generals … so the spy, who will be able to obtain information of the movements of the enemy, who will discover the plans for campaigns and battles that are being arranged, who will intercept dispatches, who will carry false intelligence to the enemy, and who, when he does become possessed of any fact worth knowing, will prove himself prompt and reliable in taking it or sending it to headquarters, is indispensable to the success of any movement. The spy, however, occupies a different position from that held by any other attache of an army. According to all military law, he is an outlaw and is liable to be hung if detected — the death of a soldier even being denied him. … [Y]et the spy is nothing more nor less than a detective officer, and there cannot be any good and sufficient reason assigned for the discredit which attaches to his occupation. It is simply one of the prejudices which, having no substantial foundation, have been carefully fostered by military men for their own purposes, and it is high time that it should be given up by sensible people.

During the war a vast deal of the most important kind of work was performed by spies on both sides, and these secret emissaries, men and women, labored with a diligence, a zeal, and an intelligence in the execution of tasks of enormous peril that was rarely equaled and never surpassed by those who had the actual work of fighting to do. The fate of more than one battle was decided … by the movements which the generals were able to make through information furnished them by spies, and more than one commanding officer has testified … to the efficiency and fidelity of the secret service agents who have aided him. …

Having been for a long period a spy myself, and a very successful one, and having been engaged in many as hazardous and responsible enterprises as usually fall to the lot of a secret agent of a belligerent power, I naturally feel a … professional interest in this matter. … All I ask is, that fair-minded persons, who will do me the honor to peruse this portion of my narrative, will remember that the circumstances were not ordinary ones. I was mixed up in a good deal of most rascally business but it was my associates, and not myself, who were deserving of condemnation. Their motive was gain, and gain at the expense of a government and people that trusted them, and to the detriment of a cause which they professed to hold sacred. I, on the other hand, was the secret agent of the enemy, who considered that pretty much anything was fair in war, and that I was justified in inflicting all the damage to the enemies of my cause that I was able. …. That I associated with traitors, and strove to make men betray the cause to which they were bound by every tie of honor and duty did not render them less despicable to me, and I even now shudder to think of the depravities of human nature which my career as a secret agent of the Confederate government revealed to me. …

Loreta’s Civil War: I turned my head and spit

Confederate authorities in Lynchburg arrest Velazquez and accuse her of dressing as a man, and the town’s ladies are fascinated with her.

KS52

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart will share 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.

Part 26: Confederate authorities in Lynchburg arrest Velazquez and accuse her of dressing as a man, and the town’s ladies are fascinated with her.

******

[Confederate Brig. Gen. John H.] Winder was one of the most remarkable men I became acquainted with during my whole career as an officer and a spy in the Confederate service. He was a venerable, pleasant-looking old gentleman, with white hair, and a rather agreeable expression of countenance that was well calculated to deceive superficial observers with regard to his real character. He had a most confiding, plausible way about him, and an air of general benevolence that completely masked the hardness of his heart, and imposed so on his victims that, until they found themselves fairly caught in his cunningly-laid traps, they were unwilling to believe him to be the desperate old sinner he really was. Calculated as Gen. Winder was to leave a favorable impression at first glance, he would not bear inspection. No man of strongly-marked character can long conceal his real self from those who are accustomed to study human nature, and a very slight acquaintance with Winder sufficed to convince me that he was a dangerous man to trifle with, and that cruelty and rapacity were among his predominant traits. His eyes were hard, cold, and piercing, and there was a wicked twist about his mouth that was far from being reassuring. I do not believe that man had such a thing as a conscience, that he was utterly unscrupulous with regard to the means he took for the accomplishment of his ends, I know. He was a most valuable officer, however, and I doubt whether another individual in the whole Confederacy could have been found who would have commanded the secret service corps with the signal ability he did. …

Without more interruption or delay I proceeded on my journey and finally reached [Confederate Gen. Earl] Van Dorn, to whom I delivered my package of supposed dispatches [from Winder]. He read Winder’s letter, and looked through the lot of [blank papers] which had accompanied them, then, glancing at me, he burst into a laugh, which indicated that he saw something funny in the proceeding, and after a few questions, he ordered me to return. This might be good fun for Van Dorn and Winder but I did not particularly admire having been sent all this distance on such a fool’s errand, and was very much disposed to resent it. A little reflection, however, told me that it was none of my business what the pretended dispatches were, and that as I had accomplished my errand according to order, and without falling into the snare that Gen. Winder himself had evidently set for me, I had every reason to be satisfied and would probably find, on getting back to Richmond, that he was satisfied also.

I was anxious to reach Richmond at as early a day as possible, for I heard a number of rumors which induced me to believe that another great battle was shortly to be fought. …. I found, however, on reaching Richmond, that there was no present chance for a battle, and consequently settled myself down as contentedly as possible to do whatever work might be assigned me in the secret service department. It seemed to be an impossibility for me now to avoid getting into continual trouble about my disguise. [I]t began to be whispered about among the soldiers and citizens that a woman dressed as a man had been discovered, and some highly-exaggerated rumors with regard to my exploits were diligently circulated. My having received a wound shortly after the battle of Shiloh appeared to be a particularly attractive episode to the minds of many people, and my performances at that battle were believed, in some quarters, to have been of a most extraordinary nature. Indeed, I do not know but that some people thought me the commander-in-chief of the Confederate forces on the occasion, while I was credited with exploits of unparalleled heroism.

This sort of rather indefinite celebrity might have amused me and pleased my vanity were it not the source of much annoyance. Not only did the report that this woman-soldier had come to Virginia have a tendency to attract attention to me and to excite suspicions that might never have occurred to anyone, but the extraordinary vigilance that was exercised on all sides to prevent spies from pursuing their occupations in safety and to prevent deserters from escaping was sure to occasion me troubles of various kinds. I felt out of the reach of serious danger, it is true, having been assigned to duty in the secret service corps by Gen. Winder but the fact of my being in this corps would not prevent my arrest and detention at any time if somebody should take a fancy to believe that I was not all that my outward appearances represented.

I was vexed, therefore, but scarcely surprised, when, shortly after my return from my trip to Van Dorn’s headquarters, on taking a run over to Lynchburg, I was again arrested on the charge of being a woman in disguise. My sword was taken from me, and I was otherwise treated with a good deal more rudeness than I thought there was any occasion for, and this treatment had the effect of making me obstinate and indisposed to give my captors any satisfaction with regard to who I was, and for a considerable time I stood out strongly for my rights as an officer in the Confederate army. I was subjected to a brief examination before his honor the mayor, but refused to commit myself; and it very soon became apparent that my captors were in somewhat of a quandary as to the best course to pursue with regard to me. It was finally, however, decided to hold me for the present, and I was assigned to tolerably comfortable quarters, where I proceeded to make myself as much at home as I could.

Now the fun commenced. It having become rumored about that a woman, disguised as a Confederate officer, had been arrested, all the curiosity-seekers of the town became immensely excited, especially as the most exaggerated reports of my heroic deeds on the battlefield and elsewhere were in circulation, and everybody — the women in particular — evinced the most eager desire to see the heroine of innumerable bloody conflicts.

I began to be pestered with visitors, who plied me with all sorts of questions, some of them most insulting ones, but which I was compelled to refrain from getting angry at for fear of betraying myself. My position was a most unpleasant one, and it required very skillful management for me to play the part of a man to advantage. What gave piquancy to the situation was that, while it was generally believed I was a woman, and the particular woman whose exploits had reached their ears, my visitors were [not] quite sure which sex I belonged to, and all their efforts were directed to solving the mystery.

While the attentions I received from the good citizens of Lynchburg, and particularly from the women folk of that town, were all in a greater or less degree annoying, some of my interviews with the visitors who persisted in calling upon me were decidedly amusing and caused me much hearty laughter.

On one occasion I heard feminine voices and footsteps approaching and prepared myself for the ordeal which I would be compelled to go through with. During the two years and more I had been wearing male attire, I had not only learned the general carriage of a man, but had picked up a good many little masculine traits which I had practiced until I was quite perfect in them. I relied greatly upon these to aid me in maintaining my incognito, for they were eminently characteristic and well calculated to throw a suspicious person off guard. So when I heard these visitors coming, I stuck my feet up on the window-sill, and, just as they were opening the door, I turned my head and spit.

This action attracted the attention of the youngest of the two ladies who were entering, immediately, and I heard her say in a whisper to the elder, “Oh, ma, that can’t be a woman! See how he spits!” I saw that my little ruse was a success and laughed inwardly at the impression it made on the ladies.

They were a mother and daughter, and had evidently come to remonstrate with me in good set terms about the impropriety of my costume. One little peculiarly mannish gesture, however, so completely confounded them that they did not venture to approach the subject they had in their minds except in the most roundabout way. They were very nice people and were disposed to be as kind to me as they possibly could but I did not think proper to give them any satisfaction with regard to what they were most concerned about, and, after a somewhat embarrassed conversation … they took their departure as wise as they came.

Not long after, I had another visitor of a somewhat different kind. This was a motherly old lady who seemed to consider that her years and experience gave her a right to speak to me in plain words, whether I was a man or a woman. She accordingly, without any ceremony, began to subject me to a very rigid cross-examination but I replied to her questions in a manner that was anything but to her satisfaction. The result was that both of us at length began to be somewhat vexed, and, as I could not understand what right she had to undertake such a task … and considered her behavior impertinent in the extreme, I resolved to say a few words that I thought would settle her.

Finding that she could not obtain any definite answers to her questions, she finally said, “Well, all I’ve got to say is, that if you really are a young man, you deserve credit for what you have done to advance the interests of the cause. If you are a woman, however, you are disgracing your sex by dressing yourself up in men’s clothes and attempting to be a soldier. If you wanted to serve your country, you might have found some other way of doing it, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

This made me a little mad, but I kept cool, and, shrugging my shoulders, said, in as deliberate a manner as possible, looking the old lady straight in the eyes, “Well, madam, as you seem to be in doubt about my sex and are apparently exceedingly anxious to find out whether I am a man or a woman, allow me to suggest that the facts of the case can very readily be established to your satisfaction. Suppose you –”

But it would be cruelty to the reader to give the rest of my reply, so I will leave it unrecorded.

It had an astonishing effect, however, on my visitor. She got red in the face, her eyes flashed, and, muttering something that I did not hear, she bounced out of the room, leaving me to enjoy a hearty laugh at the comical termination of the adventure. My irate visitor went down stairs in hot haste, and, in a terrible state of excitement, informed the mayor that that nasty little fellow had insulted her. The supposed insult I explained in such a way that the laugh was fairly turned upon the ancient dame.

If such occurrences as these had been the only annoyances to which I was subjected, no particular harm would have been done. … To my surprise and indignation, however, I received one day the following letter from a general officer with whom I was acquainted and whom I had hitherto regarded as something of a gentleman:

“Lieutenant Harry T. Buford, C.S.A.

“Dear Sir: If you will accept a position on my staff as one of my [aides], I can obtain for you your release from the civil authorities. You will have a pleasant time. I will furnish you with a fine horse and you can share my quarters and my mess.”

The meaning of this did not require explanation. It stung me to the heart that a man who had fought with me on the same field of battle should offer me such an indignity, situated as I was, and I was so overcome with rage at the insult that I would have killed him without thought of the consequences to myself, could I have reached him. I replied instantly to his note, stating that I would meet him at any time and place he might designate, and that I would either kill him or he would have to kill me, for I was resolved that no man should insult me with impunity. I heard no more from him, and when I gained my freedom once more, he was gone. At that time the writer of this insulting note was single, but now he is married, and it is only for the sake of his noble little wife and his family that I refrain from branding his name with infamy. I am informed that he always speaks of me with the highest respect but, as I have no respect for him, I care not what his opinion of me may be.

Finally, I obtained my release, and having had quite enough of Lynchburg, and being anxious to escape from the gaze of the impertinently curious people, who watched my every motion, I took my departure without any delay.

Loreta’s Civil War: The insatiate desire

Velazquez pauses her adventure as a Confederate soldier, for the moment, and heads for Washington, D.C., for a new challenge.

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Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart will share 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.

Part 13: Velazquez pauses her adventure as a Confederate soldier, for the moment, and heads for Washington, D.C., for a new challenge.

******

We may regret that the dreams of our youth do not come true, just as we once loved to hope that they would, almost without endeavor on our part; but who shall say that our own life romances, woven out of the tissues of events from day to day, with much labor, doubt, and pain, are not fairer and brighter than any imagination could create? It is good to do one’s duty quietly amid the rush of great events, even when the path of duty lies in hidden places, where the gaze of the crowd penetrates not, where applause cannot follow; and one’s own satisfaction at duty well and nobly performed, is, after all, the best recompense that can be had.

To be a second Joan of Arc was a mere girlish fancy, which my very first experiences as a soldier dissipated forever; and it did not take me long to discover that I needed no model, but that, to win success in the career I had chosen, I must be simply myself, and not a copy, even in the remotest particular, of anybody else; and that the secret of success consisted in watching the current of events, and in taking advantage of circumstances as they arose. … The experiences of actual warfare, however, soon had the effect of convincing me that a woman like myself, who had a talent for assuming disguises, and who, like me, was possessed of courage, resolution, and energy, backed up by a ready wit, a plausible address, and attractive manners, had it in her power to perform many services of the most vital importance, which it would be impossible for a man to even attempt.

The difficulty which our commander experienced in gaining accurate and thoroughly reliable information with regard to the movements of the enemy, the rumors that prevailed of the enormous preparations being made by the Federal government to crush the South, an insatiable desire to see and to hear for myself what was going on within the enemy’s lines, all stimulated me to make an attempt, the hazardous character of which I well knew; but, trusting to my woman’s wit to see me safely through, I resolved that the attempt should be made.

My plans were tolerably well matured when the Battle of Ball’s Bluff took place, and I should probably have put them in execution before I did, had it not been for the insatiate desire I had to take part in another fight. After that battle, I more than ever felt the necessity for some constant, active employment, for I chafed under the ennui of the camp, and felt irresistibly impelled to be moving about and doing something. I accordingly was not long in resolving that the time had now arrived for me to attempt something more than I had yet done, and for me to effect a coup that might either make or mar my fortunes, but that, whatever its result might be, would give me the excitement I craved, and demonstrate my abilities, and my disposition to serve the Confederacy in such a signal manner that it would be impossible for those in authority any longer to ignore me.

A woman labors under some disadvantages in an attempt to fight her own way in the world, and at the same time, from the mere fact that she is a woman, she can often do things that a man cannot. I have no hesitation in saying that I wish I had been created a man instead of a woman. This … is the matter with nearly all the women who go about complaining of the wrongs of our sex. But, being a woman, I was bent on making the best of it; and having for some time now figured successfully in the garments of the other sex, I resolved upon resuming those of my own for a season, for the accomplishment of a purpose I had in my mind. This purpose I felt sure I could accomplish as a woman; and although I had a tolerably good appreciation of the perils I should run, I had confidence in my abilities to see myself through, and the perils attending my enterprise were incentives, rather than otherwise, for me to attempt it.

Having obtained a letter of introduction to Gen. Leonidas Polk, and my transportation papers — for it was my intention, after making the trip I had immediately in view, to visit the part of the country in which his army was operating, as it was more familiar to me, and I thought that I could perform more efficient service there than in Virginia — I turned in my camp equipage to the quartermaster, and bidding farewell to my friends, started off in search of new adventures. …

Going to an old negro woman who had washed for me, and who had shown considerable fondness for me, I told her that I intended visiting the Yankees for the purpose of seeing them about coming and freeing the colored folk, and asked her to let me have a suit of woman’s clothes, so that I could get through the lines without being stopped. I made up quite a long yarn about what I proposed to do, and the poor old soul, believing all I told her without a moment’s hesitation, consented to aid me in every way she could, her ardor being materially quickened by a twenty dollar Confederate note which I handed her.

She was not long in having me attired in the best she had — a calico dress, a woolen shawl, a sun-bonnet, and a pair of shoes much too large for me — and hiding away my uniform where it would be safe during my absence, she started me off with a full expectation that I would be back in a couple of weeks, with the whole Yankee army at my back, for the purpose of liberating all the slaves. The old woman put such implicit faith in me that I really felt sorry at deceiving her, but quieted my conscience with the thought that lying was as necessary as fighting in warfare, and that the prospects were that I would be compelled to do much more fibbing than this before the errand upon which I was about starting would be achieved.

Managing to make my way to the river without attracting any particular attention, I found an old negro who had a boat, and making up a story that I fancied would answer the purpose, I struck a bargain with him to take me across to the Maryland shore for twenty-five dollars. He was eager to get the money, probably never having handled so much before in his life at any one time, but warned me that it would be a risky piece of business, for the weather was very cold, the river broad and deep, and the current strong, and there was considerable danger of my being fired at by the pickets on either bank. I told him that I was not afraid to take all the risks, and that I thought I could stand the cold. I accordingly concealed myself in his cabin until the time for commencing the crossing arrived, neither of us deeming it prudent to start before midnight. …

At length we reached the Maryland side of the river, to my infinite satisfaction, for I was numb with the cold, and stiff in all my limbs, from the cramped position in which I had been obliged to sit in the boat, and was heartily glad of an opportunity to tread dry land once more. Dismissing the boatman, and enjoining him not to say anything, I made my way to a farm-house which I espied a short distance from the place of landing, and about four o’clock in the morning, finding no better place to rest my weary limbs, I crept into a wheat-stack, and slept there until daylight. …

[Once I] penetrated the lines of the enemy, there was, I knew, little to fear. As a Confederate soldier, I was figuring in a disguise which was likely, at any time, to get me into trouble of some sort, and not the least danger I saw was that of being arrested as a spy. When I first undertook to be a soldier, this was an idea that never occurred to me; but a very short experience in actual campaigning taught me that I would have to be careful to prevent the fact that I was disguised from being found out, if for no other reason than that my loyalty to the Southern cause might not be suspected. I relied, however, upon the good fighting I had done, and the other services I had rendered, which were proofs of the genuineness of my devotion, as well as the influence of my friends to get me out of any scrape into which I might fall through the discovery that I was not a man.

Here, in the enemy’s country, however, I passed for exactly what I was, with nobody nearer than Memphis who knew me, both as a man and as a woman, and I consequently felt perfectly secure in moving about pretty much as I chose, having a plausible story on the end of my tongue to tell anybody who might question me. I concluded that, as it was most likely I would meet in Washington people who knew me as a woman … that it would be safer, and in all respects better for me to attempt no disguise, but to figure as myself, and as nobody else. …

Between my starting-point on the Maryland side and Washington, I saw a good many soldiers, from which I judged that the approaches to the Federal capital were strongly guarded, and that very efficient means were being taken to prevent anything like a surprise on the part of the Confederates. This was the most important information I succeeded in obtaining; and except that I was enabled to form some estimates of the force that was guarding the Maryland side of the Potomac it was of no special value, as it was well understood among the Confederates that the enemy were well prepared to resist an attack upon Washington, and were concentrating a large army in and about the city. …

On arriving in Washington, I went to Brown’s Hotel, and having learned that an officer of the regular Federal army, with whom I was well acquainted, and who had been a warm personal friend of my late husband, was in the city, I sent him a note, asking him to call on me. He came to see me very promptly on receiving my message, and greeting me with a good deal of cordiality, expressed a desire to aid me in any manner that lay in his power. I told him that I was just from New York, and making up a plausible story to account for my being in Washington, began to question him about the progress of the war. He evidently had not the slightest idea that I was in Washington for any other purpose than what he would have considered a perfectly legitimate one, and consequently spoke without any reserve concerning a number of matters about which he would certainly have kept silent had he suspected that I had just come from the other side of the Potomac, and that my object was to pick up items of information that would be useful to the Confederacy.

Loreta’s Civil War: Winning the fame I coveted

Velazquez surprises her husband with her presence, her disguise, and her soldiers. The joy created by their reunion, however, does not last long.

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Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart will share 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.

Part 9: Velazquez surprises her husband with her presence, her disguise, and her soldiers. The joy created by their reunion, however, does not last long.

******

I determined to march my men to the river, in order to break them in; but before we got to the landing, a good many of them were decidedly of the opinion that soldiering was much harder work than they had calculated upon. None of them showed any disposition to back out, however, and the majority, despite the fatigue of the march, were quite elated at the prospect before them of being able to see something of the world. I do not think any of them appreciated the real importance of what they were doing, and looked upon the whole affair much in the light of an excursion, which would be rather jolly than otherwise. Indeed, to tell the truth, I rather regarded the thing in that light myself, notwithstanding that I had seen enough of military life for me to understand something of its serious character.

At the landing I met my Memphis friend with my baggage and equipment and a tent, and with blankets and camp utensils for the use of the men. He also handed me a letter from my husband. This I eagerly read, and much to my disappointment, learned from it that he had gone to Pensacola. I determined, however, to push on and meet him there, for I was bent on carrying out my original idea of surprising him, and of offering him the command of my battalion. I accordingly embarked my men — two hundred and thirty-six in all — upon the steamer Ohio Belle, and issued to them blankets and other articles necessary for their comfort.

My plan now was to go down to New Orleans, where I should be able to procure such stores and equipment as were immediately needed and where I could perfect my disguise; for, not only did my padded coat not fit me as it ought, but it was almost unbearably warm, and I was anxious to substitute something more comfortable for the padding at the earliest possible moment. … On arriving at New Orleans, I landed my men a short distance above the city, and then, with as little delay as possible, purchased my quartermaster and commissary stores, and perfected my private outfit. … No finer body of men ever went out of New Orleans than the Arkansas Grays, as my battalion was called. As we passed through Mobile we were heartily cheered, the men waving their hats, and the women their handkerchiefs, and everybody commenting in the most laudatory terms upon our martial appearance, I cannot pretend to tell how proud I was, when I noted how much attention we were attracting; and if the shadow of a doubt as to the propriety of the course I was pursuing remained in any mind, it assuredly vanished as the cheers of the citizens of Mobile greeted my ears. I felt that, in spite of my being a woman, I was intended for a military leader, and I resolved, more firmly than ever, to let nothing stand in the way of my winning the fame I coveted.

At Pensacola we were received by my husband, who came to meet us in response to a telegraphic dispatch I had sent him, signed by my nom de guerre. He had not the slightest idea who I was, and would not have recognized me had I not revealed myself. So soon as I was able, however, after landing my men from the train, I took him aside where I could speak to him privately and disclosed my identity. He was intensely astonished and greatly grieved to see me come marching into Pensacola at the head of a body of men in such a guise, and said, that although I had done nobly, he would not for the world have had me attempt such a thing. I told him, however, that there was no use of discussing the matter, for was determined to be a soldier, and then placed in his hands the muster-rolls of my company to show him how well I could do what I undertook. He was proud of the ability I had displayed in carrying out my plans, and seeing the uselessness of further argument, took command of the men, and commenced putting them in training … while I was ordered back to New Orleans to purchase more stores and equipment.

I had scarcely arrived at my destination when I received a dispatch announcing the death of my husband and requesting my immediate return. Terribly shocked, and nearly wild with grief, I started for Pensacola again, and found, upon my arrival there, that, while drilling his men, my husband undertook to explain the use of the carbine to one of the sergeants, and the weapon exploded in his hands, killing him almost instantly.

I was now alone in the world, and more than ever disposed to take an active part in the war, if only for the purpose of revenging my husband’s death. Smothering my grief as much as possible, I turned over the command of my battalion to Lt. Thomas de Caulp, for the double reason that the men were only enlisted for three months and were to be stationed in Pensacola … and that I had resolved to go to the front in the character of an independent, with a view of leading a life of more stirring adventures than I probably should be able to do if permanently attached to a particular command.

During the brief time I had been in Pensacola I had formed the acquaintance of a number of officers who were going to the front, and, as they intended to leave for Richmond shortly, I concluded that it would be better to go in their company, especially as several of them were first-rate fellows, and one or two particular friends of my late husband. I also became acquainted with a good many ladies, one of whom, a dashing young widow, paid my masculine charms the compliment of falling desperately in love with them. This lady did not require any encouragement from me; but finding that, while polite to her, I was rather shy and reserved, and apparently insensible to her attractions, she made a dead set at me, and took pains to let me know, in terms that could not be misunderstood, the sentiments she felt for me.

I was really in no mood for nonsense of this kind, and, to tell the truth, I was not particularly pleased with the decidedly unfeminine advances that were made towards me. The necessity of playing the character I had assumed, however, in a successful manner, pressed upon me, and I felt that diversion of some kind was requisite to divert my mind from the sad and gloomy thoughts caused by my bereavement. I accordingly determined to meet my fair one half way, and paid her numerous attentions, such as taking her to the theater, and to drive upon the beach. I, however, resolutely refused to accept any of the numerous very broad hints she threw out, to the effect that a little more lovemaking would be more than agreeable, at which she seemed considerably surprised. Finding, at length, that I either could not or would not understand what she was driving at, she bluntly reproached me for not being more tender in my demonstrations towards her.

I put on the innocent air of a green schoolboy, perfectly non-plussed with the advances of a pretty woman, and assured her that I had never courted a lady in my life, and really did not know how to begin. The eagerness with which the widow undertook to instruct me was decidedly comical, and I learned more about some of the fine points of feminine human nature from her in a week than I had picked up for myself in twenty years. The courting was pretty much all on her side, and I really had not imagined before that it was possible for a lady to take such an important matter so entirely out of the gentleman’s hands. For the fun of the thing I pretended to soften to her, and by the time I was ready to start for Virginia, we were the best possible friends, and although I was careful to make no definite promises, the widow parted from me with the understanding that when the war was over we were to be something more than friends to each other. If I were a man, it would be absurd for me to tell all this, but being a woman, this and other of my love adventures have a comical interest for me, as I doubt not they will have for the reader. If they do not show some of the members of my own sex in the best possible light, it is their fault and not mine.

On the 16th of June I started for Virginia, in company with quite a jovial party of fellows. … They had a good deal of whiskey with them, and I was constantly importuned to drink, my declining to do so not having the best possible effect on some of them. The conversation became more and more profane and ribald, as the whiskey produced its natural effect; and being almost the only sober person in the party, I was not only intensely disgusted, but the warnings I had received from my husband came into my mind, and had a most depressing influence upon me. Much of the talk was mere meaningless blackguardism, and my ears were saluted for the first time with nastiness in the shape of language, such as it would have been impossible for me to have imagined the tongues of human beings to utter. It was an intense relief to me when, about four o’clock, the train arrived at Montgomery, [Alabama].

At the Exchange Hotel I met Mr. Leroy P. Walker, the secretary of war, with whom I had a very pleasant conversation about the prospects of the contest with the North, the political situation, and other matters of interest. The next day I bought a smart and mannerly negro boy, named Bob, of about eighteen years of age. I procured him a proper suit of clothes and a military cap, and then gave him charge of my baggage, with instructions to keep a sharp eye on my effects, to behave himself properly, and to come to me when he wanted spending money. Bob proved an excellent servant, taking care of my clothing in good style, and when we were in camp, attending to my two horses in a very satisfactory manner.

From Montgomery I went to Columbia, South Carolina, where I remained over for several days. During my stay in this place I formed the acquaintance of a very pleasant family, one of the young ladies of which. Miss Lou, seemed to be quite taken with me. I was invited to the house, and passed a number of agreeable hours there, and on parting, Miss Lou gave me her address, requesting me to write to her, and pinned a small C.S. flag on my coat.

On the train bound north, there was another quite jovial party, but, very much to my gratification, not so much addicted to whiskey-drinking, blasphemy, and obscenity, as that with which I had started out. A good deal of the conversation was about wives and sweethearts, and pictures of the loved ones at home were freely handed about. I was rallied rather severely because I could not show a photograph of my sweetheart, and some of the men intimated that I must be a poor kind of a man not to be able to find a girl to exchange photographs with me. I took the sharp things they thought fit to say of me in good part, and replied that I did not doubt of my ability to get a sweetheart soon enough when I wanted one.

Before the journey was ended, I had an opportunity to prove myself as good a lady’s man as the best of them, for at Lynchburg, where we were compelled to remain over all night, on taking the train for Richmond, an elderly gentleman stepped up, and after inquiring my destination, asked if 1 could take charge of some ladies. I replied that I would do so with pleasure; but was rather taken aback when I found myself placed in the position of escort to five women and two children. I could not imagine what induced the old gentleman to pick out a little fellow like me, when so many much larger, older, and more experienced officers were present, some of whom were greatly my superiors in rank. I was dreadfully embarrassed, but resolved to play the gallant to the best of my ability, although my heart was in my throat, and I could scarcely find voice to announce myself as Lieutenant Buford, when he inquired my name for the purpose of introducing me.

I was about to inquire whether the ladies had their tickets and checks, when the old gentleman presented them, very much to my satisfaction. Excusing myself for a few moments, I went to attend to checking my own baggage. …

We were soon under way, and had a pleasant enough ride, or at least it would have been pleasant enough had I not been tormented with the fear that they would penetrate my disguise, and discover that I was not what I pretended to be. No suspicions were excited, however, and we finally arrived at Richmond without anything having happened to mar the enjoyment of the journey. On alighting from the cars, I procured carriages to convey the several members of the party to their destination ; two of the ladies, however, accompanied me to the Ballard House, where I obtained rooms for them. The youngest of my newly-found female friends — a very pretty girl, who seemed to have taken quite a fancy to me — had the room adjoining mine, and I had scarcely established myself in my new quarters, when a waiter knocked at the door and handed me a card from her, asking me to escort her to supper. I laughed to myself at this, and fancying that I had succeeded in making another conquest, determined to get myself up in the best style I could, and to do credit to the uniform I wore by showing her that her appreciation was not misapplied. I dressed myself in my best apparel, and, after a visit to the barber’s, I was ready to play the gallant in the best possible manner.

It was all well enough while I was pacing the corridors of the hotel with mademoiselle on my arm, but I confess that my heart failed me when we entered the dining-room, and I fancied that everybody was looking at us. When the big steward, advancing towards us with his politest bow, said, “Lieutenant, step this way with your lady,” and then turning to one of the waiters, told him to attend to this gentleman and lady, it seemed to me as if every eye in the room was fixed on me. I was a rather conspicuous object, it is true, for my uniform, made of the best cloth, and trimmed with buttons and gold lace, was well calculated to attract attention, while the lady on my arm being rather taller than myself, made me even more an object for the curious to gaze at than if I had been alone. …

The young lady was nothing daunted by my silence and chattered away at a great rate on all imaginable subjects and finally succeeded in putting me somewhat at my ease. … My lady at length finished her supper, much to my relief, and I hurried her out of the room as fast as I could, and repaired to the drawing room, where I excused myself on the plea that I had urgent business to attend to, as I intended leaving the city on the first train. She seemed extremely reluctant to part company with me and would not let me go until I promised to see her again before I left the city. In bidding her good night, she extended her hand; and when I took it, she gave mine a squeeze, that indicated as plain as words that a trifle more forwardness on my part would not be disagreeable. I was a little bit disgusted with her very evident desire to capture me, and was very glad to get her off my hands, my determination on parting being not to see her again if I could avoid doing so.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: God spare us

The rumors finally reach Tyler: Lee may have surrendered to Grant. The Stone family refuses to believe it.

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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 rumors finally reach Tyler: Lee may have surrendered to Grant. The Stone family refuses to believe it.

Stone is especially detailed in this entry, perhaps burying herself in mundane moments to drive back the looming and crushing reality of Confederate defeat.

April 23, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Such terrible news if true, but we cannot believe it. We know that we have met with fearful reverses this year. All our coast cities are conquered: gallant old Charleston has fallen, Wilmington and Mobile have passed out of our hands, and Richmond … has been taken. But all that is nothing compared to the awful report from the Yankee papers that Gen. Lee, our strong arm of defense, has capitulated with 40,000 men without firing a gun, that most of our best generals were taken at the same time, and that what remains of that noble army is only a disorganized mob of despairing men. All this is too dreadful to believe. God spare us from this crushing blow and save our dying country!

All refuse to believe such disaster, and the home life flows on as usual. Two dramatic performances by the natives, the amiable Capt. Johnson saying he did not wish the refugees even to attend. Mrs. Gary is vice-president, and I am secretary of the society. The gentlemen come in the evening and the ladies call in the day, but over every pleasure sweeps the shadow of the evil news. It may be true. It may be true. Mollie Moore, Lt, Holmes, and I rode out to the armory to see the soldiers drill. Met Col. and Mrs. Hill, all sympathizing with Capt. Polys, who fell down while pulling the bell rope and broke his leg in two places.

Just finished three embroidered cravats for Johnny. Friday Mamma and I finished a beautiful fawn-colored barege trimmed with black lace. It looks real stylish. My old white dress has been dyed by Lucy. She has become quite an adept at dyeing things.

The rain came down in torrents Thursday but in the afternoon ceased and I rode up to school for Sister. Came through boggy roads and rushing streams at sundown. Found Lt. Holmes waiting to go with me to Mrs. Carson’s to tea, to stay there until 8:30, and then to drive over to Dr. Moore’s, Mollie’s father’s, to attend a private rehearsal. We had a pleasant time there until twelve, then the drive home, adieux to Lt. Holmes, and then the blessed oblivion of sleep. Went up to return Eliza Roberts’ call late in the afternoon.

Lt. Holmes caught up with me and came home and spent the evening. Busy sewing Tuesday until Lt. Holmes was announced, then had to spend the balance of the day amusing him. After he bowed himself away, I went over to see Mollie Moore and chatter nonsense. …

Had delicious white cake at Mrs. Lawrence’s. All the members of the troupe wanted Mamma for president of the society, but she would not hear of it. Mrs. Swain, a perfect incapable, was called to the chair. Capt. Buck has brought me a book nicely commenced for my official records, and Lt. Holmes is to see they are kept according to rule. Must send it around for members to sign.

Mamma has been much disturbed on the subject of details for Mr. Smith, but Lt. Dupre arranged the detail as he passed through Marshall. She hopes to have no further trouble on that score. …