Kate Stone’s Civil War: Conquer or die
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.
As a Texas summer storm approaches, Stone angrily vows that the Confederacy will never surrender to the Union forces that shattered her family.
Aug. 10, 1863
Lamar County, Texas
Nearly the close of summer and we are still in our first Texas retreat. We have dubbed it “Elysian Fields.” Mr. Smith has been away nearly a week looking for another location. No matter where we may go, we are almost sure to meet some of our old friends or acquaintances, for everybody about Monroe is moving out this way, we hear, scattering over Texas. How good the sight of a familiar face will be. I would feel like kissing nearly anybody I had ever seen before. …
Our list of victories last month were all a mistake. Gen. Lee has recrossed into Virginia, and our march into Pennsylvania seems to have been barren of results. We do not hold nor have we destroyed a single Northern city, as we so much hoped. A dark hour for the Confederacy. The loss of Vicksburg has stunned the whole country. It is a grievous blow, and there is great discouragement at least on this side of the Mississippi River. But the reaction will come. The people will rally to strike a more deadly blow, to fight till the last armed foe expires, to conquer or die.
Mamma, Sister, and Johnny are just in from their round of investigation. Instead of renting Mrs. White’s house they rented a book. The house was already taken, but she had quite a library of books that she would hire out for fifty cents a week. She would not think of lending them. The book Mamma brought was a most worthless thing, but the engravings in it are fine. Mrs. White is an educated woman, lives in a nice house, and is well to do, but a regular skinflint. She is living from day to day on the verge of the grave, suffering from some incurable complaint, and is still very eager to make money, extorting the last cent. She has one of our women hired to wait on her. She is a Yankee. That explains all. …
We look out tonight on a windy, stormy sky. Dark clouds go scudding by, and the wind whistles through our frail tenement. The boards have shrunken until daylight shines through. Lightning flashes continuously, thunder is rolling overhead, and the whole prairie is ablaze with the fireflies, weaving in and out like fairy shuttles.