Loreta’s Civil War: The evil effect of a great war

Velazquez, disguised again as a Confederate officer, talks her way past Confederate guards as she travels to Atlanta to reunite with the man she loves.

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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 29: Velazquez, disguised again as a Confederate officer, talks her way past Confederate guards as she travels to Atlanta to reunite with the man she loves.

******

Having thoroughly arranged my plan of action in my mind, I walked up boldly to a picket, whom I saw sitting on a horse at some distance, and saluting him, and telling him that I was unarmed, asked to see the officer of the guard. The officer soon came riding out of the woods towards me, and asked who I was. I told him that I was an escaped prisoner … and produced my transportation papers. … The officer read the papers, which he apparently did not find particularly satisfactory, and scanned me very closely, as if he thought that there was something not quite right about me. I was much afraid lest he should suspect something, for I had no mustache, and having become somewhat bleached, was not by any means so masculine in appearance as I had been at one time. I, however, bore his scrutiny without flinching, and he apparently did not know what to do but to receive me for what I appeared to be. He accordingly told me that I should have to wait where I was until the relief came, when he would conduct me to camp.

I told him that I was terribly hungry and tired, having walked from Chattanooga since early in the previous evening without food or sleep, and that I would like to get where I could obtain some breakfast. As a means of softening his heart, I pulled out a little pocket flask of whiskey and asked him if he would not take a drink. His eye brightened at the sight of the flask, and he accepted my invitation without a moment’s hesitation. Putting it to his lips, he took a good pull, and when he handed it back there was mighty little left in it. This little I gave to the sergeant, who appeared to relish the liquor as highly as his superior did. The whiskey had the desired effect, for the officer told me he guessed I had better not wait for the relief and detailed a man to show me the way to camp.

On our arrival at camp, the man took me to the officer’s tent, where I made myself as much at home as I could until the master appeared. It was not long, however, before he followed me, and to my great satisfaction, an excellent breakfast was in a short time placed on the table.

After breakfast, the boys, having heard of the arrival of an escaped prisoner, I was speedily surrounded by a crowd of eager questioners who were anxious to hear all the news from the Federal army. I tried to satisfy their curiosity as well as I could and told them that the Yankees had received heavy reinforcements and were preparing to make a grand movement and a variety of other matters, part fact and part fiction. Having got rid of my questioners, I took a good sleep until noon, and then, borrowing a horse, rode down to Dalton, [Georgia], where I learned that [my beau] Capt. De Caulp was sick at Atlanta, and [I] resolved to make an effort to get there for the purpose of seeing him.

I was spared the necessity, however, of being obliged to make any special plans for the accomplishment of this end, for I managed to severely hurt the foot which had been wounded shortly after the battle of Fort Donelson, and became so lame that it was decided to send me to Atlanta for medical treatment.

An army is made up of all kinds of people — the rougher element of masculine human nature, of necessity, predominating — and not the least of the evil effect of a great war is that it tends to develop a spirit of ruffianism, which, when times of peace return, is of no benefit to society. A man who is instinctively a gentleman will be one always, and in spite of the demoralizing influences of warfare … will be apt to show himself a blackguard at the earliest opportunity amidst camp associations. Such men are usually cringing sycophants before their superiors, bullies to those who are under them, shirks when fighting is going on, and plunderers when opportunities for plunder are offered. It is creditable to the American people, as a class, that the great armies which contended with each other so earnestly during four long, weary years of warfare, were disbanded and dismissed to their homes with so little injury to society, for, under the very best auspices, war is not calculated to make men good citizens, while it is pretty certain to make those who are ruffians and blackguards already worse than they were before they took up arms. …

Situated as I was, it was especially important that I should not quarrel if I could help it but I was not long in finding out that, as quarreling was necessary sometimes, the bold course was the best, both for the present and the future, and that by promptly resenting anything approaching an insult, I would be likely to avoid being insulted thereafter, I, therefore, very speedily let it be known that I was ready to fight at a moment’s notice … but, at the same time, that I desired to live peaceably with everybody and was not inclined to quarrel if I was let alone. The result of this line of policy was, that, as a general rule, I got along smoothly enough, but occasionally I could not avoid an angry controversy with somebody, and when I did become involved in anything of the kind, I usually tried to give my antagonist to understand, in plain terms, that I was not an individual to be trifled with.

On my arrival at Atlanta, I unfortunately had a little unpleasantness, which caused me very serious disquietude for a time, owing to the peculiar situation in which I was placed, and which might have had some ill results, either for the person who started the quarrel or for myself, had it not been for the good judgment and consideration of one or two of my friends, who persuaded me not to resort to any extreme measures.

I was expecting to see Capt. De Caulp and was very anxious with regard to him, as I did not know exactly what his condition was and feared that he might be seriously ill. It was my intention to go to him, to devote myself to him if he should need my services, and perhaps to reveal myself to him. Indeed, I pretty much made up my mind that our marriage should take place as soon as he was convalescent, and … I was in no humor for a mere barroom squabble with a drunken ruffian. … More than this, in addition to the lameness of my foot, I was really quite sick, and at the time of the occurrence ought to have been in bed under the doctor’s care, and was consequently less disposed than ever to engage in a brawl.

Unsuspecting any trouble, however, I went to the hotel, and registered my name, and was almost immediately surrounded by a number of officers who were eager to learn what was going on at the front. Among them was Gen. P. — I do not give his name in full for his own sake — an individual who thought more of whiskey than he did of his future existence, and who was employing his time in getting drunk at Atlanta instead of doing his duty at the front by leading his men.

He saw that I was a little fellow, and probably thought … he could bully me with impunity, so, while I was answering the thousand and one questions that were put to me, he began making offensive and insulting remarks and asking me insolent questions until I longed to give him a lesson in good manners that he would not forget in a hurry, and resolved that I would make an effort to chastise him if he did not behave himself.

This was one of the class of men for which I had a hearty contempt, and, as I neither wished to be annoyed by his drunken insolence nor to quarrel with him if I could avoid it, I left the office and went into the washroom. The general evidently considered this a retreat due to his prowess … and he followed me, apparently determined to provoke me to the utmost. I, however, took no notice of him, but, after washing my hands, came out and took a seat in the office beside my esteemed friend, Maj. Bacon — a thorough gentleman in every sense of the word.

My persecutor still following me, now came and seated himself on the other side of me and made some insolent remark which I do not care to remember. This excited my wrath, and I resolved to put a stop to the tipsy brute’s annoyances. I accordingly said to him, “See here, sir, I don’t want to have anything to do with you, so go away and let me be, or it will be worse for you.”

At this he sprang up, his eyes glaring with drunken fury, and swinging his arms around in that irresponsible way incident to inebriety, he began to swear in lively fashion, and said, “What’ll be worse for me? What do you mean? I’ll lick you out of your boots! I can lick you, or any dozen like you.”

Nice talk, this, for a general, who was supposedly a gentleman, wasn’t it? I merely said, in reply, “You are too drunk, sir, to be responsible. I intend, however, when you are sober, that you shall apologize to me for this, or else make you settle it in a way that will, perhaps, not be agreeable to you.”

He glared at me as I uttered these words but my firm manner evidently cowed him, and turning, with a coarse,tipsy laugh, he said, to an officer who was standing near watching the performance, “Come, colonel, let’s take another drink; he won’t fight,” and they accordingly walked off towards the barroom together. This last remark enraged me to such a degree that I declared I would shoot him if he came near me again. Maj. Bacon tried to pacify me and said that I had better let him alone, as he was not worth noticing. …

The general did not come near me until after supper, when I met him again at the bar. As I had not undertaken to punish him for his behavior to me, he evidently thought that I was afraid of him, and, without addressing me directly, he began to make insulting side remarks, aimed at me. I was on the point of going up and slapping his face, when Maj. Bacon … thinking that it was not worthwhile for me to get into trouble about such a fellow, induced me to go to my room.

Already quite ill, and far from able to be about, the excitement of this unpleasant occurrence made me worse, and I passed a night of great suffering from a high fever and from my sore foot, which pained me extremely. The major waited on me in the kindest manner, bathing my foot with cold water, and procuring some medicine for me from the hospital steward, and towards morning I fell into a sound sleep, which refreshed me greatly, although I was still very sick. …

As I got worse instead of better, however, it was concluded that the hospital was the best place for me, and to the Empire Hospital I accordingly was sent, by order of the chief surgeon of the post. I was first admitted into Dr. Hammond’s ward, and subsequently into that of Dr. Hay. Dr. Hay, who was a whole-souled little fellow, is dead, but Dr. Hammond is still living, and I am glad of such an opportunity as this of testifying to his noble qualities. During the entire period I was under his care in the hospital, he treated me, as he did all his patients, with the greatest kindness.

Oh, but these were sad and weary days that I spent in the hospital! I cannot tell how I longed, once more, to be out in the open air and the sunshine and participating in the grand scenes that were being enacted not many miles away. My restless disposition made sickness especially irksome to me, and I felt sometimes as if I could scarcely help leaving my bed and going as I was to the front for the purpose of plunging into the thickest of the fight, while at other moments, when the fever was strong upon me, I almost wished that I might die, rather than to be compelled to toss about thus on a couch of pain.

There was one consolation, however, in all my sufferings, which sustained me … I was near the man I loved and hoped soon to have an opportunity to see and to converse with him. I learned soon after my admission to the hospital that Capt. De Caulp was in Dr. Benton’s ward, adjoining that under the charge of Dr. Hay, and to be under the same roof with him, and the probability that ere long I would be able to see him again, helped me to bear up under the suffering I was called upon to endure. I resolved that if Capt. De Caulp was willing, our marriage should take place so soon as we were able to leave the hospital, and I busied myself in wondering what he would say when he discovered what strange pranks I had been playing since we had been corresponding as lovers. I almost dreaded to reveal to him that the little dandified lieutenant, who had volunteered to fight in his company at Shiloh, and the woman to whom he was bound by an engagement of marriage, were the same but I felt that the time for the disclosure to be made had arrived and was determined to make it at the earliest opportunity.

Loreta’s Civil War: A brute as this man Butler

As Velazquez recovers from her wound, New Orleans falls to Federal forces, and she decides to try to spy on the occupation forces.

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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 22: As Velazquez recovers from her wound, New Orleans falls to Federal forces, and she decides to try to spy on the occupation forces.

******

My shoulder was found to be out of place, my arm cut, and my little finger lacerated — a disagreeable and exceedingly painful but not necessarily a very dangerous wound. The surgeon applied a dressing and put my arm in a sling, after which I felt a great deal more comfortable, although the pain was still intense, and he then endeavored to induce me to stop at Corinth until I was in better condition for traveling. Now, however, that my sex was discovered, I was more than ever anxious to get away from my old associates in the hope of finding some place where I could remain until I got well and able to commence operations again in a different locality, without being annoyed by the attentions of impertinently curious people. I therefore insisted upon pushing on to Grenada, and … [he], appreciating my reasons for getting away as soon as possible, very kindly went and procured transportation papers for me, and before the information that a woman, disguised as an officer, was among the wounded on the train, we were, to my infinite satisfaction, speeding out of sight, leaving behind us the camp occupied by a defeated army. The thought that our brave army should be resting under the cloud of a most humiliating defeat was a mental torture, which even my intense physical suffering could not pacify, and I was heartily glad to be able to take myself off from a locality which had so many unpleasant associations.

While on the train I suffered a great deal, although I was as well cared for as circumstances would permit, and it was an immense relief when we reached Grand Junction, for the hotel proprietor there was an old and true friend of mine, and I felt sure of receiving from him all the attention it was in his power to bestow. I found, however, that it was almost an impossibility to get any accommodation whatever, on account of the crowds of people who filled the place. The wives and other relatives of officers and soldiers had come to await the result of the battle, and as the news that the Confederate army had been defeated had preceded me, everything was in confusion, and everybody plunged in the deepest grief. Some of the waiting ones had already received their wounded friends, or the corpses of the slain, while others were nearly wild with anxiety on account of husbands, or brothers, or lovers who had not yet been heard from. …

I was asked a thousand questions about the battle, and was pressed with a thousand anxious interrogatories about particular persons and endeavored to answer as well as I could, notwithstanding the pain which my wounded arm and shoulder caused. Many of the women could not prevail upon themselves to believe that the Confederate army had been again defeated and indulged in the fiercest invective against the invaders. The intense grief of these stricken people affected me even more than the terrible scenes incident to the battle and the retreat, and, as I was not in a fit condition to endure anything more of anguish, and as it seemed to be impossible to obtain a room where I could be quiet and free from intrusion, I determined to push on to Grenada, without more delay, although I was anything but able to endure the excitement and discomfort of several hours’ ride by rail.

Having reached Grenada, I took a good rest by remaining there for two days. … I was visited by a great many of the ladies of the place, who presented me with bouquets, delicacies of various kinds, and bandages for my wound, and who otherwise overwhelmed me with attentions, for which I hope I was duly grateful. Not only the natural restlessness of my disposition, which my wound aggravated to such an extent that it was an impossibility for me to keep quiet, but a desire to get as far away from the Army of Tennessee as possible, before the fact that Lt. Harry T. Buford was a woman became generally known, induced me to move on with all the speed I could make, and I consequently started for New Orleans before I was really fit to travel. The result was, that when I reached Jackson, I found myself too ill to proceed farther, and was compelled, much against my will, to make another stop.

The hospitality I received at Jackson I will always remember with the warmest feelings of gratitude. I was really very sick, and my wounded shoulder and arm were terribly inflamed, and I scarcely know what I should have done had not a widow lady and her daughter taken a fancy to me and waited on me until I was able to be on the road again. These ladies treated me like a young lord, and I shall ever think of them as having placed me under a debt that I can never repay. So soon as I thought myself able to endure the fatigues of travel, I insisted upon being on the move in spite of the remonstrances of my friends, and made another start for New Orleans. …

By this time my wound was healing quite nicely, and although it pained me considerably still, the feverishness which had attended it was gone, and I began to feel myself once more, and with restored health began to busy myself in making plans for the future. …

On the train there were a great many wounded men, some of them old friends of mine whom I was glad to meet with again. The trip, therefore, was a pleasant one in some respects, notwithstanding its melancholy aspects, and we had a tolerably lively time discussing the late battle, and the chances of the Confederates being able to make headway in the future against the force which the Federals were bringing against them in every direction. We were obliged to acknowledge that the outlook was not a particularly promising one, and more than once expressed the belief that New Orleans would be the next object of attack. There was a good deal of confidence felt, however, that a Federal advance against the Gulf city, if it should be attempted, would be repulsed. …

When the news came that the Federal fleet had passed Forts Jackson and St. Philip, I at first thought of leaving as quickly as I could but a little reflection induced me to change my mind, for I saw clearly that if the Federals took possession of the city, I would, as a woman, have a grand field of operation. I therefore resolved to remain and see the thing out, and the uniform of Lt. Harry T. Buford was carefully put away for future use if need be, and the wearer thereof assumed the garments of a non-combatant feminine for the purpose of witnessing the entry of the victors into the captured city. …

Exactly when or where the blow would be struck, however, it was impossible to tell. The general impression was that the attack would be made by the army under [Union Maj. Gen. Benjamin] Butler, and how really formidable the Federal fleet was, few, if any, had any real notion. I suppose that scarcely anyone imagined the ships would make an unsupported effort to pass the fortifications below the city, or that they would succeed in doing so in case the attempt was made. I knew little or nothing about the river defenses or the preparations that were being made to receive a naval attack from my own observations, but from what I understood with regard to them, I felt tolerably assured of their efficiency, and my chief concern was about the insufficiency of the measures adopted to resist a land attack.

The Federal fleet, however, to the surprise of every one, succeeded in overcoming the obstructions in the river, and in passing the two principal forts, after a desperate battle, and then New Orleans was at the mercy of the naval gunners, specimens of whose methods of fighting had been exhibited to me at Fort Donelson and Shiloh in such a manner as to inspire me with a wholesome dislike for the kind of missiles they were in the habit of throwing. … I began to have a greater respect for the power of the Federal government than I had had before, and a greater appreciation of the weakness of the Confederacy. …

I felt particularly that the time was now … for me to make a display of my talents in another character than that of a warrior, and the arrival of the fleet in front of the city found me in the anxious and angry crowd on the levee, not inelegantly attired in the appropriate garments of my sex — garments that I had not worn for so long that they felt strangely unfamiliar, although I was not altogether displeased at having a fair opportunity to figure once more as a woman. …

Strange to say, the capture of New Orleans did not affect me near so unpleasantly as the defeats at Fort Donelson and Shiloh, and I felt nothing of the depression of spirit that overcame me after these battles. This may have been because I was getting accustomed to defeat now, and was consequently able to bear up under it more philosophically, although it is more than probable that it was because I was not one of the combatants, and consequently did not have that overpowering individual interest that a combatant must feel if he cares anything for his cause. I experienced less of that peculiarly disagreeable feeling of personal chagrin and disappointment that oppresses a soldier belonging to a beaten army.

The fact … that when the Federals obtained possession of the city I would probably be able to do some detective duty in a style that would not only be satisfying to my own ambition, but damaging to the enemy, and of essential service to the Confederacy, really enabled me to behold the approach of the fleet with a considerable degree of what almost might be called satisfaction. As a woman, and especially as a woman who had facilities for appearing as a representative of either sex, I knew that I would be able to observe the enemy’s movements and ferret out their plans in a signally advantageous manner. … I was really anxious to see the enemy occupy the city in order that I might try conclusions with them, having ample confidence that I would prove myself a match for the smartest Yankee of them all. …

Mayor Monroe behaved nobly when he was asked to surrender the city. He said that the city was without defense and at the mercy of the conquerors, but that it was not within his province as a municipal officer to surrender. He declined to raise the United States flag over the public buildings or to do anything that would seem a recognition of the right of the Federals in any way to regulate affairs in New Orleans by anything else than the law of force. When I read his reply to [Union Adm. David D.] Farragut’s demand for surrender, I readily forgave my private grievance against him. The mayor having positively refused to have anything to do with displaying the United States flag, or with lowering the flag of Louisiana, the raising of the Stars and Stripes on the public buildings was done by the sailors from the Federal fleet. …

When Butler took command … on May 1st, he issued orders stopping the circulation of Confederate currency, directing the people to resume their usual avocations, and giving everybody to understand that he intended to have his own way. …

I soon perceived that with such a brute as this man Butler to deal with, it would be necessary for me to be extremely circumspect, and to bring my best strategic talents to bear, if I expected to accomplish anything. I was well acquainted with the city and environs, and knew exactly how to go about slipping in and out through, the lines; but to carry on such operations as I proposed with a reasonable degree of safety and assurance of success, it was necessary … for me to keep all my wits about me, and to take care to be on good terms with those in authority.

I therefore set to work with due diligence and persistence to gain the confidence of the Federal officers. Some of them I found to be very pleasant, gentlemanly fellows, who were disposed to make themselves as agreeable as possible to everybody, and who were much gratified to hear any one — especially any woman — express Union sentiments. Many of them did not at all approve of the offensive manner in which Butler conducted himself, and some of his orders were carried out with a great deal of reluctance by those entrusted with their execution. With some of these officers I soon managed to get on very friendly terms, and they were always so polite and considerate in their treatment of myself and others that I greatly regretted the necessity of deceiving them. …

Loreta’s Civil War: I told him who I really was

In the aftermath of the Confederate defeat at Shiloh, Velazquez is wounded, and she decides the surgeon treating her should know that he is treating a woman disguised as a man.

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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 21: In the aftermath of the Confederate defeat at Shiloh, Velazquez is wounded, and she decides the surgeon treating her should know that he is treating a woman disguised as a man.

******

About five o’clock I found my boy near the hospital. He had my horse and another fine animal that he had picked up. In reply to my query, Bob said that he had found him in the woods without a rider. He was branded “U.S” and had an officer’s saddle on, and as he seemed, from outside appearances, to be superior to my own steed, I concluded to take possession of him. Mounting him, I tried him over a fence and a large log, which he cleared like an antelope, so deeming him a prize worth securing, I turned over my own horse to Bob and started him off on the road to Corinth. The boy, however, mistook the road, and went plump into the Federal camp at Purdy, thus depriving me of his valuable services.

As for me, I remained in the woods all night, the roads being perfectly blocked up with the retreating army, trying to shield myself as best I could from the furious storm of rain and hail that came on, as if to add to the miseries which the wretched soldiers of the Confederacy were compelled to endure on their weary march back to Corinth. Although I had escaped from the two days’ fighting unhurt, I was so utterly worn out and wretched that I really did not care a great deal what became of me, and was almost as willing to be taken prisoner by the Federals as to return to Corinth, with a view of again undertaking to exert myself in what was now beginning to appear the hopeless cause of Southern independence. I managed, however, after the worst of the storm was over to find a tolerably dry place, where, completely used up by the fatigues I had undergone, I fell into a sound sleep.

Rested but scarcely refreshed by a brief slumber on the damp ground, and with thoughts of the most gloomy description filling my mind, I mounted my horse at daybreak and started to ride back to Corinth. … I was so despondent over the way things seemed to be going that I had little heart to continue in the contest any longer. At the same time I was loath to give the thing up and could not help reflecting that the true spirit of heroism required me to bear adversity with fortitude and to seek to advance the interests of my cause, no matter how unpropitious the times might seem. …

On arriving at camp I found a mail awaiting me. Among my letters were some from my friends in the army of Virginia, and one from my little Memphis lady, which read as follows:

“Memphis, Tennessee, April 2. 1862.

“My Dear Harry: Yours was handed to me the next morning by our trusty and faithful old servant David, and I hastily opened it, knowing it to be from you by the handwriting. My dear, I am afraid that this will appear unintelligible, being wet with tears from beginning to end. When your letter was handed to me we were at breakfast, and grandpa was reading the “Appeal,” wherein it was stated that all officers and soldiers away from their commands should report for duty. I was afraid that you would have to go, but some hope remained until your fatal letter convinced me that my suspicions were too well founded. Alas, how vain are human expectations! In the morning we dream of happiness and before evening are really miserable. I was promising to myself that one month more would have joined our hands, and now we are to be separated — yes, perhaps for years, if not forever, for how do I know but that the next tidings may bring intelligence of your being killed in battle, and then, farewell to everything in this world, my prospects of a happy future will vanish, and although unmarried, I will ever remain the widow Buford until death.

And is it possible my dear Harry can doubt for one moment of my sincerity; or do you think that these affections can ever be placed on another, which were first fixed upon your dear self, from a convincing sense of your accomplishments and merit? No, dear Harry, my fidelity to you shall remain as unspotted as this paper was before it was blotted with ink and bedewed with tears. I know not how others love, but my engagements are for eternity. You desire me to remind you of your duty. My dear, I know not of any faults, nor am I disposed to look for any. I doubt not that the religious education you have received in your youth will enable you to resist the strongest temptations, and make that everlasting honor to the army, Lieutenant Buford, although not afraid to fight, yet afraid to sin. However terrifying it may be to meet death in the field, yet it is far more awful to appear before a just God, whom we have offended by our iniquities. There are no persons in the world accused more of irreligion than the military, while from the very nature of their employment none are more obliged to practice every Christian duty. They see thousands of their fellow-beings hurried into eternity without a moment’s warning, nor do they know but that the next day they may themselves meet the same fate. My dear Harry, never be ashamed of religion; a consciousness of your own integrity will inspire you with courage in the day of battle, and if you should at last die in defense of the right in your country’s cause, the Divine favor will be your comfort through eternity. In the meantime my prayers shall be constantly for your safety and your preservation in the day of battle, and my earnest hopes will be fixed upon your happy return. …

‘Farewell, dear Harry, and may the wisdom of God direct you, and His all-wise providence be your guard. This is the sincere prayer of one who prefers you before all the world. Grandpa and Auntie wish to be remembered to you kindly. I wrote to Brother that you would hand him a letter.

Your loving intended till death,

I give this as a favorable specimen of the love letters I was in the habit of receiving during my military career, and I have the less hesitation in doing so as it is one that no woman need be ashamed of having written. I could not help laughing a little as I read it, and yet I felt really sorry for the writer, and reproached myself for having permitted my flirtation with her to go to the length it did. The case was a particularly sad one, for the reason that the man who loved her devotedly, and who would doubtless in time have succeeded in curing her of her misplaced affections for the fictitious Lt. Buford, was among the slain at Shiloh. There was no braver soldier belonging to the Confederate army engaged in that bloody battle than Phil Hastings, and his death was doubly a source of regret to me, as by it I lost a warmhearted and sincere friend, and also an opportunity to undo the wrong I had unwittingly done him through capturing the affections of the girl he loved, by endeavoring to make matters right between him and her.

At the time of the receipt of this letter, however, I had something of more pressing importance to think of than explanations with Miss M. My boy had not put in an appearance, and suspecting that he must have lost himself, I started out to search for him; but, although I made diligent inquiry, I could not obtain any intelligence of him. This vexed me extremely, for Bob had become an invaluable servant, being very handy and entirely trustworthy, and I felt that he would be indispensable to me in the movement I now had more than half determined to make, with a view of trying to win the favors of Fortune in a somewhat new field of action.

To make matters worse, when about five miles from Corinth my horse broke from me, and stampeding out of sight, left me to get back the best way I could. I was now in a pretty fix, with scarcely any money about me, and with miles of terribly rough and muddy roads to traverse before I could regain my quarters. There was nothing, however, to do but to bear up under my misfortunes as bravely as possible, and so plunging through the mud, I tried to make my way back to Corinth with what rapidity I could. … Obtaining a horse from the quartermaster, I started back to the battlefield in company with Capt. G. Merrick Miller, who desired to bury the dead of his company.

The road was lined with stragglers, many of them suffering from severe wounds, who were slowly making their way back to their respective camps, and as we reached the scene of the late action the most ghastly sight met our eyes. The ground was thickly strewn with dead men and horses, arms and accoutrements were scattered about in every direction, wagons were stuck in the mud and abandoned, and other abundant evidences of the sanguinary nature of the conflict were perceptible to our eyes. I could face the deadliest fire without flinching, but I could not bear to look at these things, and so, after having made a number of vain inquiries for Bob, I rode back to camp, and said good-by to my Louisiana friends, leaving them under the impression that I intended to take the train.

This I probably might have done had I not fallen in with some cavalry who were about starting out on scouting duty, and been tempted to accompany them. This was the kind of work that I had a particular liking for, and as I had no definite plan for the immediate future arranged, and was desirous of finding Bob before leaving Corinth or its neighborhood, I concluded to try whether a little cavalry service would not be productive of some adventure worth participating in. An adventure of importance in its influence on my future career, sure enough, it did bring me, although it was not exactly what I anticipated or desired.

It was about dark when we set out, and we spent the night hovering about in the neighborhood of the enemy, but without anything noteworthy occurring. The next day we had a little brush with a party of Federals, and after the exchange of a few shots were compelled to retreat. After this, we came across some dead men belonging to the 10th Tennessee Regiment in the woods. Carefully removing the bodies to a field nearby, we put them in a potato bin, and with a hoe, which was the only implement we could find suited to our purpose, we covered them as well as we were able with earth.

While engaged in this melancholy duty, the enemy were occasionally firing shells in different directions, apparently feeling for us. We paid no special attention to them, as the Federals seemed to be firing at random, and, so far as we could judge, did not notice our party. Soon, however, [a shell] burst in our midst, killing a young fellow instantly, and wounding me severely in the arm and shoulder. I was thrown to the ground, and stunned with the suddenness of the thing. One of the soldiers picked me up, and stood me on my feet, saying, “Are you hurt?”

“No, not bad,” I replied, in a vague sort of way, but my whole system was terribly shocked, and I felt deathly sick. Before a great many moments, however, I perfectly recovered my consciousness, and by a resolute effort of will, endeavored to bear up bravely. I found, however, that I was unable to use my right arm, and soon the wound began to pain me terribly.

The soldier who had picked me up, seeing that I was too badly hurt to help myself, lifted me on my horse, and started back to camp with me. It was a long ride, of nearly fifteen miles, and I thought that it would never come to an end. Every moment the pain increased in intensity, and if my horse jolted or stumbled a little, I experienced the most excruciating agony. My fortitude began to give way before the terrible physical suffering I was compelled to endure; all my manliness oozed out long before I reached camp, and my woman’s nature asserted itself with irresistible force. … I longed to be where there would be no necessity for continuing my disguise and where I could obtain shelter, rest, and attention as a woman. My pride, however, and a fear of consequences, prevented me from revealing my sex, and I determined to preserve my secret as long as it was possible to do so, hoping soon to reach some place where I could be myself again with impunity.

By the time we reached camp my hand and arm were so much swollen, that my conductor found it necessary to rip the sleeve of my coat in order to get at the wound for the purpose of bathing it in cold water. The application of the water was a slight relief, but the hurt was too serious a one for such treatment to be of permanent service, so an ambulance was procured, and I was taken to the railroad and put on the train bound south, The cars stopped at Corinth for two hours, and, feeling the necessity for some medical attendance as soon as possible, I sent for a young surgeon whom I knew intimately, and telling him that I was wounded severely, asked him to try and do something to relieve my suffering.

He immediately examined my arm, and, as I perceived by the puzzled expression that passed over his face, he was beginning to suspect something, and guessing that further concealment would be useless, I told him who I really was. I never saw a more astonished man in my life. The idea of a woman engaging in such an adventure and receiving such an ugly hurt appeared to shock him extremely, and he declared that he would not take the responsibility of performing an operation, but would send for Dr. S. This frightened me, for I had witnessed some specimens of that surgeon’s method of dealing with wounded soldiers, and I insisted that he was too barbarous, and that he should not touch me. He then proposed to send for Dr. H., but I objected to this also, and finally, at my urgent solicitation, he consented to make a careful examination himself and try what he could do.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: This is too disgraceful

Kate Stone’s brother returned with news of a beloved Louisiana crawling with Federal troops and Unionists. Stone was enraged, disgusted, and insulted.

KS38

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)

Kate Stone’s brother returned with news of a beloved Louisiana crawling with Federal troops and Unionists. Stone was enraged, disgusted, and insulted.

Oct. 8, 1863

“Elysian Fields,” Lamar County, Texas

The last few days have been full of interest. First, Johnny returned only last night, and this opens the gates of release from this region of sin and woe. We think we can get off on Monday. Uncle Johnny has been awaiting only Johnny’s return to move on, and they will start on their long journey on Saturday over 300 miles. Thus Johnny’s arrival has been the signal trumpet calling us all to horse and away.

A letter from Julia in which she says My Brother was twice severely wounded in his right arm in the battle of Gettysburg. He has recovered and is with his command but has lost the use of his right hand. We are truly thankful it is no worse. If we could only hear all that has happened to him since seeing him last, but we know so little. Poor fellow, this is his fifth wound and the most severe of all. We so hope he can get a furlough this fall. It worries me to hear of Tom Manlove’s frolicking about, getting married and enjoying himself in every way, getting all the honor, while My Brother, who is worth ten of him, gets only the hard work of the camp and the wounds. … I can write and think myself into a fever about My Brother.

Julia is still at Camden. All wagons have been impressed to remove government stores, and so they cannot get away. She heard through Robert Norris, who wrote asking news of his aunt, that Uncle Bo is well and is now a 1st lieutenant. We are so glad of his promotion. Not a word of Brother Coley, and we are very anxious about him. Joe Carson is regimental colorbearer, a dangerous post. …

Johnny gives a dreadful account of affairs in and around Delhi and Monroe. Most of the citizens remaining boast of being Unionists and carry on a most profitable trade with Vicksburg. The Yankee cavalry came out to Monroe by invitation, and a number of citizens signed a petition asking them to come out and drive away our soldiers still there. This is too disgraceful to be true. Then, a great number of Louisianians have deserted. My cheek crimsons as I write this of our own beloved state, but I cannot believe that she has brought her name to be a disgrace and reproach to her loyal children. …