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Kate Stone’s Civil War: A besom of destruction


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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone glories over desperately-needed good news from the battlefield: the Confederate victory at Mansfield, La. But she also realizes that she doesn’t view death as she once did.

April 15, 1864

Tyler, Texas

Jimmy, Sister, and I are keeping house in lonely state. Mamma and Johnny are on a visit to the prairie. …

People do not mourn their dead as they used to. Everyone seems to live only in the present just from day to day otherwise I fancy many would go crazy.

Carrie Lowry was married last month to Col. Polk of Arkansas. Her family are all pleased at the match. It was a grand wedding, and Julia was first bridesmaid.

A letter from Aunt Sarah to Mamma enclosing one from My Brother. He was on the Rapidan when he wrote, on picket duty but was soon after detailed as brigade inspector and ordered to headquarters at Orange County Court House. He expected a nice time there, a tent, and little to do. He has lost hope of a transfer. They will not even give him a furlough. We still have strong hopes of his transfer through Gen. Kirby Smith’s application. As Mamma was away, I opened the letter with a sinking heart, sure that it contained bad news.

The papers are filled with news of our great victory at Mansfield, La., where the Yankees were so confident of success. They had boasted that in two weeks the last armed rebel would be driven from Louisiana, Shreveport would be taken without a struggle, and then they would sweep over Texas, a besom of destruction. Then they would leisurely march back, after establishing freedom, law, and order in this benighted country, to the river, going in time to join Grant in his “On to Richmond.”

But they find themselves mistaken. We did the gobbling act. We have taken over 5,000 soldiers and many stores. It is our first great success on this side of the river, and the effect will be magical, inspiring both citizens and soldiers. Our loss was heavy, especially in officers, Gens. Green and Mouton both killed and Gen. Polignac dangerously wounded. Our gallant Southern soldiers who can praise them enough? As much as they deserve? We will never laugh at our soldiers on this side of the Mississippi again. …

Capt. King has married recently a pretty little Creole refugee from New Orleans. It was a short acquaintance. We have exchanged calls and find her very pleasant, but I doubt she will have a happy life. We find Capt. King is quite a drinker.

Dr. McGregor from Arkansas in one of the Departments here is our most frequent visitor. Dr. Johnson, of laboratory fame/ has presented us with such a nice chessboard and backgammon box made by himself, and I have vanquished him in a game of chess much to my delight and his chagrin. It was his first game lost to a lady he says. He is something like Dr. Buckner in manner, and about his age. Dr. McGregor is a jolly, good-natured bachelor not overly refined. He is something like our New Orleans friend, Mr. McGregor. The same clan, I suppose.

Willy Carson is at home. He has not grown any but looks well. … He is awfully shy and ill at ease. As I succeeded in melting Jimmy Carson’s reserve, I do not despair of Willy. I am about the only young lady in the world that Jimmy is not afraid of. We are great chums. …

We have had several trashy novels, the best, The Dead Secret. The papers are most interesting and a great resource, particularly the Houston papers.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening


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This week: Rumsfeld’s no McNamara / The race to find the black box / Second novels / American dynasties / No more Turkish miracle

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. Donald Rumsfeld Hasn’t Learned a Damn Thing
By James G. Blight and Janet M. Lang | Politico Magazine | April 4
“Bush’s unrepentant defense secretary and the dark art of B.S.”

2. Clock ticking on search to find Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370′s black box
By Swati Pandey | Thomseon Reuters | April 4
“On Monday, it will be 30 days since the jetliner lost communications and disappeared from civilian radar.”

3. Letterman Wasn’t That Funny, Which Is Exactly Why He Matters
By Isaac Chotiner | The New Republic | April 4
“I can’t think of a mass cultural figure of such large importance who was so committed to his own idea of artistic integrity.”

4. Are We Entering a Golden Age of the Second Novel?
By Bill Morris | The Millions | April 4
“Writers get only one shot at becoming The Next Big Thing, which, to too many publishers, is The Only Thing. Failure to do so can carry a wicked and long-lasting sting.”

5. The Work Hitler Despised and the One from Above His Fireplace
By R.C. Baker | The Village Voice | April 2
“The art of hate.”

6. Allegheny Arsenal Explosion
By Maggie MacLean | Civil War Women | April 3
“On September 17, 1862, seventy-eight girls and young women were killed in an explosion at the Allegheny Arsenal in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — the worst civilian disaster of the Civil War.”

7. Bush 41 Reunion Looks to Burnish His Legacy
By Peter Baker | The New York Times | April 3
“This seems to be a season for presidential rehabilitation, if not for the incumbent then for his predecessors.”

8. Karzai Is Trying to Keep His Sway After Term Ends
By Matthew Rosenberg | The New York Times | April 3
“American officials have ignored him, and Afghanistan’s presidential contenders have tried to persuade voters that they will be different from him. But those hoping to see President Hamid Karzai slip into a quiet retirement may be disappointed in the months to come.”

9. Dynasty Isn’t Just for Monarchies Anymore
By Larry J. Sabato | Politico Magazine | March 31
“A Bush-Clinton matchup in 2016 would hardly be unusual. American politics is more of a family affair than you think.”

10. Turkey Goes Out of Control
By Christopher de Bellaigue | The New York Review of Books | April 3
“Large parts of the civil service have been eviscerated, much of the media has been reduced to unthinking carriers of politically motivated revelation and innuendo, and the economy has slowed down after a decade of strong growth. The Turkish miracle is over.”

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TUNES

Tonight I’m spending some time with the blues, specifically with the Texas Blues Café. Check out the line-up and then listen here.

1. ZZ Top — Whats Up With That
2. Eddie Turner — I’m A Man
3. Carolyn Wonderland — Ain’t Nobody’s Business
4. Guitar Shorty — A Little Less Conversation
5. Jimi Hendrix — Electric Church Red House
6. Paul Rodgers — Walk In My Shadow
7. North Mississippi Allstars — Shake (Yo Mama)
8. Too Slim And The Taildraggers — Mexico
9. Walter Trout — May Be A Fool
10. The Black Keys — Hurt Like Mine
11. R.L Burnside — Goin Down South
12. Janiva Magness — Slipped,Tripped And Fell
13. Steve Miller — Driven Wheel
14. Bo Cox — Gone

Videos I Love: Life swirling around me


Leave it to “Mad Men” to again capture life’s sadness, loneliness, and joy in seemingly simple and definitely beautiful moments.

One of their new teasers for the final season did just that. It looks like what I feel as I walk through life swirling around me.

I’m occasionally sharing some thoughts on a few videos that make me smile, make me think, or preferably do both. Read more from this special series here.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening


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This week: The French Revolution and the Terror / Cuba after Castro / The older genius / A new planet’s secrets / How Cheney remade the world

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. The French Revolution’s reign of terror
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC Radio 4 | May 2005
“How did the French Revolution descend into such extremes of violence? Who or what drove The Terror? And was it really an aberration of the revolutionary cause or the moment when it truly expressed itself?”

2. Why should female characters have to ‘behave’?
By Barbara Ellen | SheSaid :: The Guardian | March 27
“Did people demand that Travis Bickle shut up and get back in his cab in ‘Taxi Driver’? Did anyone tell Jack Nicholson that Jack Torrance made all men look bad in ‘The Shining’?”

3. The Dangers of a Cuban Collapse
By Daniel Serwer | Politico Magazine | March 26
“It could happen sooner than we think. Is Obama ready?”

4. Late Bloomers
By Malcolm Gladwell | The New Yorker | 2008
“Why do we equate genius with precocity?”

5. Mammy Revealed, and Not Just Her Red Petticoat
By Julie Bosman | The New York Times | March 26
“‘Gone With the Wind’ Prequel Coming in October”

6. Dwarf planet discovery hints at a hidden Super Earth in solar system
By Ian Sample | The Guardian | March 26
“Though exciting in its own right, the discovery raises a more tantalising prospect for many astronomers: that a ‘Super Earth’ up to 10 times the mass of our planet orbits the sun at such a great distance that it has never been seen.”

7. He Remade Our World
By Mark Danner | The New York Review of Books | April 3
“Cheney believed in a ‘unitary executive,’ believed quite literally that ‘the executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.’ “

8. Could a tsunami such as the one that affected the Indian Ocean [in 2004] happen in the United States?
Can It Happen Here? :: U.S. Geological Survey | 2014
“We outline the sources of data that can help answer the question, and then indicate when and how large tsunamis have been for specific regions of the U.S.”

9. Unraveling the mystery of Vivian Maier, one of America’s great street photographers
By Kristin Hohenadel | The Eye :: Slate | March 24
“Maier was intensely private, socially awkward, estranged from family, a loner; even those who shared the same roof with her seemed merely to observe the eccentric woman who insisted on locking her bedroom door and fiercely guarding her boxes of worldly possessions, without ever knowing exactly who she was.”

10. Ankara: ‘Israel to compensate Turkey’ over flotilla raid
Al-Arabiya | March 25
“The May 2010 Israeli assault on the Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara while it was in international waters on its way to Gaza triggered a severe diplomatic crisis between the two countries.”

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TUNES

Tonight I’m spending some time with the blues, specifically with the Texas Blues Café. Check out the line-up and then listen here.

1. Band Of Heathens — Jenny Was A Keeper
2. Dr.Wu — Nothing Like Texas
3. The Arc Angles — Good Time
4. Albert Collins — Iceman
5. Rory Gallagher — Loanshark Blues
6. Red Hot Blues Sisters — Ocean Beach
7. The Fabulous Thunderbirds — Got To Get Out
8. Mick Hayes Band — Maria
9. Robin Trower — 21st Century Blues
10. Cross Canadian Ragweed — Boys From Oklahoma
11. Jimmy Thackery — Empty Arms Motel
12. The Blue Dogs — Make My Way
13. Devon Allman — Midnight Rider

Kate Stone’s Civil War: The petted darling


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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone endures some new Arkansas friends as she chokes back tears over the loss of one from Louisiana.

March 20, 1864

Tyler, Texas

I spent last week in the country, just the wildest most remote section of civilization, with the Goddards, who were complete strangers until then. They are from Arkansas and were recommended to us by Julia some time ago.

We had seen some nice-looking strangers at church in the morning. In the afternoon in the midst of our animated chat with Capts. Smithy and Empy, callers came. The young ladies were announced and introduced themselves. They were so cordial and said they had come the twenty miles to meet us and to carry me home with them and were so insistent that I could hardly refuse, particularly as Mamma urged me to go. So I accompanied them next morning just twenty miles from anywhere.

Mr. Goddard has a hat factory established there, and we spent the time as pleasantly as one could in a rough new house perched on a white sandbank in the midst of a limitless pine forest with rather silent strangers. No amusements except riding horseback on rough horses over roads of deep white sand studded with stumps. Only the necessaries, none of the luxuries of life. On the seventh day I was only too glad to come home, though I had to do what none of us had ever done before — drive home in a buggy driven by an old, old Negro man. Mr. Goddard had promised to bring me home at any time. He would not hear of Mamma’s sending for me, and so I was helpless to get away. I shall not forgive any of them for sending me back in that style, and I never want to see any of them again. I was scared all day long, coming so slowly through those lonely woods, few houses on the way. The old driver was as respectful as possible, but the idea of the trip was perfectly repugnant. Mamma did not like it one bit more than I.

Mamma returned Saturday. She succeeded in her mission and My Brother will be transferred to this department if he can get across the river, but that is very doubtful. …

Mamma heard that Kate Nailor is dead, leaving a little child. My darling girl, I can never love any other friend as I have loved her. She was all that was good and pure and most beautiful, and hers was a happy, lovely life but for My Brother whose hand alone had given her myrrh to drink. She was the petted darling of her entire household never refused any wish that could be gratified.

Looking Back: Her honorable adventure


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Today in 1921, Guadalupe Berta Rodriguez Flores was born in San Antonio, Texas. When the U.S. entered World War II, Flores faced down family tradition to serve in the Navy. It was an adventure she would never forget and an experience she would never regret.

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LOOKING BACK
A special series

During my time as a contributing editor to the magnificent Voces Oral History Project at the University of Texas at Austin, I came across some amazing stories. The project, which I celebrated in 2011, collects the stories of Latino veterans and civilians who saw and felt the effects of war, from World War II to Vietnam. This occasional series will highlight a few of these fascinating lives.

Bertha Flores, born on March 16, 1921, was raised in a quiet San Antonio family. Her father believed women belonged at home and no where else. The U.S. entered World War II in 1941, and he was not happy when his daughter joined the Navy’s Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES in 1943.

Her first big adventure came simply on the cross-country train trip from San Antonio to basic training in New York City. Flores marveled at every city and town she passed. She loved the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple and the variety of women she encountered as she prepared herself for wartime military service. Flores was one of only a handful of Latinas in her class. She made friends, danced, and trained to become a teletype operator.

She served at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, and she never forgot what the experience taught her. Read her wonderful profile here.

Visit the Voces website. Like them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter.

True Detective | How Will It End?

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Fernando Ortiz Jr.:

Amazing piece by my friend David D. Robbins, Jr.

Originally posted on :

For weeks now I’d been thinking HBO’s latest hit show, season one of “True Detective”, would end on a supernatural note. There are the mystical names of The Yellow King, Carcosa, characters with “666″ tattoos, and former detective Rust Cohle’s (Matthew McConaughey) zen-like, seemingly-mad ramblings about Louisiana, time and existence. Now, after episode seven, “After You’ve Gone”, we have a Lawnmower Man (and the cyclical nature of time /mowing in circles /talking about the ancient nature of his family) who appears to have scarring around his mouth in just the way the rescued girl talked about to Cohle at the asylum.

But the more that I’ve watched the show, the more I think the metaphysical is just too easy an out. Frankly, much like all good mysteries, it’s not really about the whodunit aspect, but rather the journey of it. Let’s just say the finale ends, and we find…

View original 834 more words

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