1864: Day to Day
This five-part essay series on Kate Stone and her Civil War is modified from a paper I presented at the New York Military Affairs Symposium in October 2011.
As the war ground on, the men and women around Stone made the most of their lives. Dances were held. Men and women married. new boys studied for classes.
Stone cleaned the house, played chess, and read. The wall Stone built in her mind to hold back the crush of mounting tragedies in the Eastern Theater became a permanent fixture. Not even the drama of death breached the barrier anymore.
“People do not mourn their dead as they used to,” she wrote. “Everyone seems to live only in the present — just from day to day — otherwise I fancy many would go crazy.”
In 1864, Confederate victories brightened the situation in the Trans-Mississippi Theater. In the spring of 1864, Federal forces under Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks began the Red River Campaign, in which Federal forces from Vicksburg, New Orleans and Arkansas were supposed to meet near Shreveport, seize Louisiana once and for all, amputate Texas from the Confederacy, and then abort any nascent relationship between the Confederacy and the French-controlled Mexican government.
But the plan failed to consider Confederate audacity. In early April 1864, Maj. Gen. Taylor beat back the Federal invasion at the Battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill.
Stone practically leapt for joy in her journal. “It is our first great success on this side of the river. … We will never laugh at our soldiers on this side of the Mississippi again. …”
The Confederate conscription act lowered the age range for enlistment to seventeen, and in August, Kate Stone lost a third brother to the Confederate Army. James Stone joined a unit named Harrison’s Brigade at Monroe, La.
She and her mother accompanied him to Louisiana, and Federal raids through the area frightened her, especially when conducted by black soldiers.
“The Paternal Government at Washington,” she wrote, “has done all in its power to incite a general insurrection throughout the South, in the hopes of thus getting rid of the women and children in one grand holocaust. We would be practically helpless should the Negroes rise, since there are so few men left at home.”
Works cited or consulted for this essay series:
Faust, Drew Gilpin. Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War. Chapel Hill: North Carolina UP, 1996. Print.
—. Southern Stories: Slaveholders in Peace and War. Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri, 1992. Print.
Foote, Shelby. The Civil War: A Narrative. New York: Vintage, 1986. Print.
Johnson, Ludwell H. Red River Campaign: Politics and Cotton in the Civil War. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1958. Print.
Kronk, Gary W. “C/1861 J1 (Great Comet of 1861).” Cometography.com. n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2011.
Long, E.B. and Barbara Long. The Civil War: Day by Day. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1971. Print.
McPherson, James M., ed. The Atlas of the Civil War. New York: Macmillan, 1994. Print.
—. Battle Cry of Freedom. New York: Oxford UP. 1988. Print.
Parrish, T. Michael. Richard Taylor: Soldier Prince of Dixie. Chapel Hill: North Carolina UP. 1992. Print.
Stone, Kate. Brokenburn: The Journal of Kate Stone, 1861-1868. Ed. John Q. Anderson. Baton Rouge: Louisiana UP. 1995. Print.
Sullivan, Walter. The War the Women Lived: Female Voices from the Confederate South. Nashville: J.S. Sanders & Company. 1995. Print.
Wilson, Edmund. Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War. New York: W.W. Norton, 1962. Print.
Wooster, Ralph A. Civil War Texas. Texas State Historical Association. 199. Print.