Kate Stone’s Civil War: The entire special series

Read Kate Stone’s amazing stories as she defiantly faces Union soldiers, escapes across a Louisiana swamp, falls in love with Texas, and watches the Civil War rip her country and her family apart.

1862

From May 2012 to November 2015, a special series from Stillness of Heart shared excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

She defiantly faced Union soldiers, escaped across a Louisiana swamp, fell in love with Texas, and watched the Civil War rip her country and her family apart.

The entire series of excerpts is collected here.

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)

From 1861
May 15: Death in defense of the South
June 5: The stir and mob of angry life
June 18: Whipped unmercifully
July 1: They thought me so ugly
July 4: The blood of her children
July 26: Gallantly fought and won
Aug 24: The fevers
Sept. 27: The war inches closer
Oct. 19: Gladden our hearts
Nov. 27: The noble, gentle heart
Dec. 22: Rainy days

From 1862
Jan. 6: Sad Christmas
Jan. 8: Happy birthday
Jan. 16: They close in and kill
Feb. 1: The little creature
Feb. 20: Victory will be ours
March 1: A perfect love of a lieutenant
May 9: Burn our cities
May 22: Fashion is an obsolete word
May 23: The sleep that knows no waking
June 6: Trembling hearts
June 20-30: Capable of any horror
July 5: The fire of battle
Aug. 5: Beyond my strength
Sept. 23: Tragedy after tragedy
Oct. 1: His sins against the South
Nov. 7: A lady’s favors
Dec. 3: She was heartbroken

From 1863
Jan. 1: Preparing to run
March 2: Hoodoo woman
March 11: It made us tremble
March 22: The pistol pointed at my head
April 10: Tears on my cheek
April 15: A horrid flight
April 21: The greatest villian
April 26: Flaming cheeks and flashing eyes
April 27: The glory of the family
May 2: His father’s sins
May 3: Baffled beasts of prey
May 22: Useless to resist
May 23: Southern hearts
June 3: Like mad demons
June 15: On the road for Texas
July 7: The dark corner
July 12: The dirtiest people
July 16: Scowling, revengeful faces
July 26: Despondent and chicken-hearted
July 29: Makes us tremble for Texas
Aug. 3: Lose our scalps
Aug. 10: Conquer or die
Aug. 16: My pen is powerless
Aug. 30: They call us all renegades
Sept. 1: It makes us shiver
Sept. 14: Years of grinding toil
Sept. 20: Destroyed by the Yankees
Oct. 2: Two distressed damsels
Oct. 8: This is too disgraceful
Oct. 29: The heart of a boy
Nov. 1: Credulous mortals
Nov. 7: A fear of bad news
Nov. 13: Pride must have a fall
Nov. 15: So little to eat
Dec. 10: Nobly and fearlessly
Dec. 12: Alone in a strange land
Dec. 19: A charming little woman
Dec. 24: A sad 1863 ends

From 1864
Jan. 4: A noted flirt
Jan. 7: Trouble and distress
Jan. 13: The first desideratum
March 8: The mournful whistle
March 20: The petted darling
April 15: A besom of destruction
May 5: The easy conquest of Texas
May 7: To every young lady
May 18: To kill and destroy
May 25: Our best fancy yellow organdies
May 29: That land of desolation
June 1: The breath of flowers
June 14: Strangers in a strange land
June 19: Those terrible battles
June 26: Callous to suffering and death
Aug. 23: We enjoy our ease
Sept. 2: Lazy and languid
Sept. 5: One grand holocaust
Sept. 10: Too disgraceful if true
Sept. 27: The flower-wreathed scepter
Oct. 15: Fairy castles in the air

From 1865
Jan. 29: Kindly bestow them
Feb. 1: Our soldiers were powerless
Feb. 12: One of life’s greatest trials
Feb. 13: Peace blessed peace
Feb. 15: My escorts were disgusted
Feb. 21: Our only hope for peace
March 3: The most enjoyable life
March 9: Full of life and fun
March 24: Eager for a fight
March 30: Its spring decoration
April 1: Out of time
April 7: A blow on my heart
April 16: He would do anything
April 23: God spare us
May 7: Lounged and gossiped
May 9: We fear it cannot last
May 15: We will be slaves
May 17: Restless and wretched
May 20: A fever of apprehension
May 21: A piece of amusement
May 27: Only sadness and tears
May 31: The grand crash
June 12: Words are powerless
June 25: Civilization commences again
July 2: He deserves killing
July 13: It is unavoidable
July 18: A man-flirt is detestable
Aug. 14: No disorder
Aug. 26: Astonish the natives
Sept. 3: Our pleasant Tyler life
Sept. 11: The very poorest people
Sept. 21: A state of insubordination
Oct. 10: The bitterness of defeat
Nov. 16: At home again
Nov. 17: How many idle hours

Epilogue, from 1867 and 1868
I was young again

Kate Stone’s Civil War: At home again

Stone finally achieves her dream of returning to Brokenburn. But what she tries to reclaim no longer exists. War remade her into a woman who can no longer exist in a plantation world.

KS28

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 finally achieves her dream of returning to Brokenburn. But what she tries to reclaim no longer exists. War remade her into a woman who can no longer exist in a plantation world.

Nov. 16, 1865

Brokenburn

At home again but so many, many changes in two years. It does not seem the same place. The bare echoing rooms, the neglect and defacement of all — though the place is in better repair than most and the stately oaks and the green grass make it look pleasant and cheerful, though gardens, orchards, and fences are mostly swept away. But if the loved ones who passed through its doors could be with us again, we might be happy yet. But never, never, never more echoes back to our hearts like a funeral knell at every thought of the happy past. We must bear our losses as best we can. Nothing is left but to endure. …

Mamma and Johnny went yesterday to Vicksburg. Mamma hopes to make arrangements for planting next year and will buy indispensable housekeeping articles and replenish our wardrobes, now sadly in need, if she can get the money.

We have by dint of much scrubbing and little furniture made the east room habitable. Mamma, Sister, and I occupy that. So vividly it brings back the memory of dear Aunt Laura and little Beverly that I start at the slightest noise and almost fancy I can see them. Jimmy joined us at Shreveport and brought the intelligence of little Elise’s death, poor, frail little flower. No one could look at her tiny white face and fancy her long for the world. She was a dear good baby.

How still and lifeless everything seems. How I fear that the life at Tyler has spoiled us for plantation life. Everything seems sadly out of time. But no thoughts like these. We must be brave, and to give way to the “blues” now is cowardly. … We think we shall be able to pick up enough of our furniture scattered through the country to make two or three rooms habitable and that must suffice us until better. …

Some of 2015’s best Civil War books … so far

Publishers in 2015 offer excellent work that both casual and serious readers of the Civil War should know about.

KS27

Biographies, campaign studies, general histories, and analyses form the core of any season’s mountain of Civil War scholarship, but publishers in 2015 offer excellent work that both casual and serious readers of the Civil War should know about. The rich bounty is likely — in part, at least — a result of the sesquicentennial sunshine that bathed the Civil War academic field for the last five years. Here are a few highlights.

No publishing season is stronger than when Gary W. Gallagher contributes one of his essay anthologies on a military campaign. Late September will see Cold Harbor to the Crater: The End of the Overland Campaign (University of North Carolina Press, 360 pp., $35), edited by Gallagher and Caroline E. Janney. The title suggests their overall argument, which marks the end of the pointless Battle of the Crater as the true conclusion of the brutal three-month-long confrontation between Lee and Grant in 1864. Only then, the historians argue, did siege warfare become the Union’s primary tool for the final strangulation of the Confederacy’s most important army and capital city. As with each of the entries in the Military Campaigns of the Civil War series, contributors examine military strategies and tactics, focus on particular participants, and consider how home-front politics and civilian expectations affected and were affected by Confederate military strategy.

J. Matthew Gallman offers a fascinating intellectual and cultural history with Defining Duty in the Civil War: Personal Choice, Popular Culture, and the Union Home Front (University of North Carolina Press, 336 pp., $45), in which he considers how Northerners perceived their obligations of duty and citizenship as their nation endured civil war. He explores how novels and songs, poems and news stories, editorials and cartoons all contributed citizens’ understanding of where they fit in the home-front tapestry and how they could each contribute to the war effort. Race, class, and gender all played key roles in that psychological and political dynamic, and Gallman’s work skillfully weaves together those elements into a fresh historical analysis.

Bradley R. Clampitt’s The Civil War and Reconstruction in Indian Territory (University of Nebraska Press, 200 pp., $25) promises a fascinating examination of the dynamics of war, political power, the collapse of slavery, and racial re-ordering within the context of Native America. Clampitt assembles a bouquet of essays by stellar scholars to explore the antebellum, wartime, and postwar tensions between tribes and nations, their calculated loyalties to North or South, and questions over the future of former slaves and indigenous participants in the war. Any understanding of the historical scope and effect of the Civil War’s overall political and social consequences is incomplete without an intelligent incorporation of Indian experiences and memories. Clampitt’s collection, scheduled for a December release, is certainly a work to anticipate and savor.

Pair that perspective with The World the Civil War Made (University of North Carolina Press, 392 pp. $29.95), an essay anthology edited by Gregory P. Downs and Kate Masur. More than a dozen stellar historians consider how postwar policies and consequences rippled throughout specific political and social dynamics in U.S. territories, in the U.S. Southwest, and across the world. The work’s great strength is its embrace of multiple national and international stories unfolding simultaneously, affecting and affected by each other, all contributing to a vibrant array of societies grappling with new notions of liberty and republicanism in a post-slavery world.

Terry Alford contributes a long-overdue re-assessment of John Wilkes Booth with Fortune’s Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth (Oxford University Press, 416 pp., $29.95). Alford’s Booth carried multiple psychological burdens throughout his life. He endured the pressure of measuring up to his successful thespian father and brothers. His inherent gifts as an actor/performer quickly shoved his life under a burning and blinding spotlight of celebrity. His fury over the Confederacy’s defeat warped his identity from an actor into a self-proclaimed citizen-soldier defending Southern honor and survival, with a deadly determination to seize a starring role on the Civil War’s bloodstained stage. These pressures combined to turn Booth into the madman who concocted multiple harebrained plots to destabilize the Lincoln administration. Booth doomed the post-war prospects of racial peace and progress with a single gunshot, and he catapulted Andrew Johnson, one of the worst presidents in U.S. history, into the center of political power just when Lincoln’s political genius was most needed.

Mark Smith presents a fascinating examination of the sights, sounds, and scents of war with The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege: A Sensory History of the Civil War (Oxford University Press, 216 pp., $22.36). Basing his exploration on descriptions he found in letters and other primary sources, he attempts to reconstruct what it felt like to be submerged in a Confederate submarine, what it tasted like to live in a city under Union siege, and what it sounded like to hear Confederate shells pound Fort Sumter into submission. Too few historical works explore their subjects from such an elemental and creative perspective. Smith offers details that belong in every lecture, speech, and conversation about the Civil War.

James M. McPherson offers a book-length response to the deceptively simple question, “why does the Civil War matter?” His recent work, The War That Forged a Nation: Why the Civil War Still Matters (Oxford University Press, 224 pp., $27.95), is more relevant than ever. If nothing else, the violent first half of 2015 offered stark and violent case studies to bolster his arguments. There was certainly no better example than recent debates over the Confederate flag, its multifaceted significance throughout the U.S., and the reasons for and against its presence amidst the everyday imagery of American life and culture.

Public and political bitterness over the intractability and enduring power of institutional racism, the historical understanding and explanation of the reasons for the Civil War, the long journey of civil rights through the nineteenth, twentieth, and now twenty-first centuries, debates over the power of federal and state governments — all are titanic, central, and deeply painful issues that the Civil War confronted like no other event in U.S. history. Every citizen’s pursuit of happiness intersects with or passes over or under each of these issues, among many others, and a better understanding of the war affords all of us better maneuverability past the heated rhetoric, better capacity to comprehend how those issues shape our societies, and better appreciation of our history’s overall vital importance to our American life.

Also:

I recently received wonderful news from the Society of Civil War Historians. According to their press release, the Society and the Watson-Brown Foundation honored Shauna Devine, assistant history professor at the University of Western Ontario, with the Tom Watson Brown Book Award for 2015 for her excellent 2014 book Learning from the Wounded: The Civil War and the Rise of American Medical Science (University of North Carolina Press, 2014, 384 pp., $39.95). The book explored how the war enabled U.S. physicians to improve their medical expertise, share their hard-won knowledge in new ways, and link their experiences with the larger international medical community. It was crucial to my recent work as a research assistant as I broadened and deepened my understanding of Civil War medical history. Highly recommended.

Read more about Devine’s honor here.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Holder’s exit / Earth’s magnetic flip / Cusack’s Hollywood / The Kennedy Style / Anti-psychopaths

IMG_2126

This week: Holder’s exit / Earth’s magnetic flip / Cusack’s Hollywood / The Kennedy Style / Anti-psychopaths

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

1. America’s New War President
By Michael Hirsh | Politico Magazine | Sept. 23
“With a broad campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, Obama has a chance to remake his legacy.”

2. What to expect from the Earth’s impending magnetic flip
By Annie Sneed | Scientific American and Salon | Spet. 26
“New data suggest the poles could be reversing for the first time in 780,000 years. Here’s how it affects you.”

3. Why Holder Quit
By Glenn Thrush | Politico Magazine | Sept. 25
“The backstory of how Obama lost his ‘heat shield.’”

4. The 8 Best Pocket Parks In Manhattan
By Rebecca Fishbein | The Gothamist | Sept. 25
“[S]mall, public-accessible pocket parks that dot the city are an oft-overlooked joy, a temporary respite from the hustle and bustle of the urban artery.”

5. The Barbarians Within Our Gates
By Hisham Melhem | Politico Magazine | Sept. 18
“Arab civilization has collapsed. It won’t recover in my lifetime”

6. Bad Moon Rising
By David J. Rothkopf | Voice :: Foreign Policy | Sept. 24
“Behind the scenes at the U.N., a more unsettling story emerges of Syria, Iraq, and fighting the Islamic State.”

7. John Cusack: ‘Hollywood is a whorehouse and people go mad’
By Henry Barnes | The Guardian | Sept. 25
“After 25 years as a star, John Cusack has seen the movie industry’s dark side close up — from its misogyny to its treatment of young actors.”

8. Who Would Donate a Kidney to a Stranger? An ‘Anti-Psychopath’
By Melissa Dahl | Science of Us :: New York Magazine | Sept. 25
“If the dark, scary end of the caring continuum is inhabited by psychopaths, way down at the other end [are] ultra-do-gooders who are extraordinarily compassionate, prosocial, and empathetic.”

9. Evolution: Why don’t we have hairier faces?
By Jason G. Goldman | BBC Future | Sept. 26
“Mark Changizi … has an intriguing alternative explanation. … It’s because we’re walking, talking, breathing ‘mood rings’”

10. Nixon and Age: The Kennedy Style
American Experience :: PBS | November 2011
“The Nixon-Kennedy debates would forever change the way Americans chose their presidents.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

This week: Deadly Africa / Celebrating ‘Dr. Strangelove’ / Our nation of secrets / Touring the 9/11 museum / Attacking Obama’s drone war

Picture 151

This week: Deadly Africa / Celebrating ‘Dr. Strangelove’ / Our nation of secrets / Touring the 9/11 museum / Attacking Obama’s drone war

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

1. Between Life and Death
Lifeline :: Al Jazeera English | May 15
“Why is Africa still the most dangerous place in the world for mothers and babies?”

2. Robert Capa’s Longest Day
By Marie Brenner | Vanity Fair | June 2014
“Seventy years ago, the great war photographer joined the first slaughterhouse wave of D-Day, recording WWII’s pivotal battle in 11 historic images of blur and grit. But that is only a fraction compared with what he shot — and lost.”

3. The half-century anniversary of ‘Dr. Strangelove’
By David Denby | Culture Desk :: The New Yorker | May 14
“It may be hard to believe now, but Kubrick’s original intention was to do a straight, serious movie. In the late fifties, he became obsessed with the possibility of an accidental nuclear war. …”

4. ‘So Jayson Blair Could Live, The Journalist Had to Die’
By Sridhar Pappu | New York Observer | May 2013
“Why had he done it? Why had a promising 27-year-old reporter with a career in high gear at the most respected news organization in the world thrown it all away in a pathological binge of dishonesty?”

5. A Grandson Traces His Grandfather’s Voyage to Auschwitz
The Takeaway :: WNYC | May 13
“The ship was the MS St. Louis. It departed from Hamburg, Germany on May 13th, 1939, with 937 Jewish refugees seeking asylum abroad. But the ship’s passengers were denied refuge by the United States, Canada, and Cuba. The ship returned back to Europe on June 20, sealing a tragic fate for many aboard.”

6. The United States of Secrets
Frontline | May 13
“How did the government come to spy on millions of Americans?”

7. 9/11 Memorial Museum: an emotional underworld beneath Ground Zero
By Oliver Wainwright | The Guardian | May 13
“Scorched car doors, salvaged firefighters’ uniforms, banners, toys and the hallowed ‘last column’ to be removed from the World Trade Center clearance … the relics of the twin towers have been elevated into art objects at the new museum. …”

8. Jeb 2016: The Bush battle within
By Maggie Haberman | Politico | May 13
“Jeb Bush’s decision whether to run for president in 2016 is being driven by competing impulses within his own family.”

9. #BringBackYourDrones drive launched against FLOTUS
Al Arabiya English | May 14
“A relatively small group of social media users said the first lady was overlooking the victims of the U.S.’s drone program which is operated mainly in Yemen and Afghanistan.”

10. This is the world’s oldest sperm
By Jamie Condliffe | Gizmodo | May 14
“The samples found themselves in the hands of John Neil, a specialist ostracod — that’s fancy for shrimp — researcher at La Trobe University, who realized they may contain something a little more… ballsy.”

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Destroyed by the Yankees

Stone at last received news of the rest of her family and was left despondent. War scattered her relatives, destroyed their communities, and turned them into disgraced refugees.

KS36

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 at last received news of the rest of her family and was left despondent. War scattered her relatives, destroyed their communities, and turned them into disgraced refugees.

Note how Stone almost admired how she managed to get on with her life with “almost nothing but servants, and yet we are comfortable.”

Sept. 20, 1863

“Elysian Fields,” Lamar County, Texas

Uncle Johnny was at Richmond, Va., a month ago and heard from nearly every member of the family. How thankful we are to know that they are all alive, though perhaps in distress. My Brother was neither killed nor hurt in the Pennsylvania campaign. Uncle Bo is as usual in fine health and spirits and is under [Confederate commander Braxton] Bragg. Dr. Buckner and Brother Coley are also with Gen. Bragg, and Aunt Laura is at Chattanooga within reach of Dr. Buckner. How glad we are that she is comfortably settled and not suffering all the discomforts of life in Texas. …

Aunt Sarah is at Bladen Springs, Ala. Poor little Horace is dead, a most bitter blow to his mother. He was her favorite. She was keeping house at Cooper’s Well when the Yankees marched on Jackson. She just escaped on the last train with only their wearing clothes. Everything else was destroyed by the Yankees, house and furniture burned, piano hacked to pieces, and the portraits torn to shreds. … It looks like the whole family is to be ruined, root and branch. Every member of it is broken up and all the women and children fleeing from the Yankees, while all the men and half-grown boys are in the army.

We are thankful Mamma has saved most of Uncle Bo’s Negroes, and if we can keep what we have now we can help the others. But I have a strong presentment that we shall yet lose all that we have and be compelled to labor with our hands for our daily bread.

Mrs. Smith had moved up to Mr. Vaughn’s just in time to give room for Uncle Johnny. How glad we are to have a house to ourselves once more. Mrs. Smith was very kind in leaving everything we needed for housekeeping. It is surprising how little one can get on with. We seem to have almost nothing but servants, and yet we are comfortable, comparatively so.

I have finished knitting those tiresome gloves and can read with a clear conscience. Fingered and gauntlet gloves are a trouble to knit.

Sept. 22

The news today is discouraging. Charleston [S.C.] has fallen, Louisiana and Arkansas are to be entirely deserted by our troops, and all the available forces of the Trans-Mississippi Department are to be concentrated at Tyler, Texas. If Charleston has fallen, it is because it was not in the power of man to hold it. Everything possible had been done, and it had made a most gallant defense. No disgrace can sully the name of its Gen. Beauregard, as the name of Lovell and Pemberton have been darkened. …

How I long for a glimpse at Brokenburn these pleasant autumn days radiant in flowers and crowned with fruit, the grassy yard and tall oaks, the clump of sassafras changing now to bright crimson, and the fragrant sweet gum showering down its leaves of gold, the flower garden sparkling across the grass, its many kinds of fall flowers gay in the mellow September sun, and the wide fields stretching away, white with cotton and vocal with the songs of the busy pickers. Shall we ever see it so again?