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Loreta’s Civil War: Lavish affection bestowed upon me


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 3: Velazquez realizes she is willing to pay any price to begin her new life with her beloved, even in the face of family rejection.


When my lover began to appear at my aunt’s as a pretty constant visitor, Raphael was quick to suspect him as a rival, who was more highly appreciated than himself, and became furiously jealous. I cannot tell what torture I suffered in endeavoring to be amiable to a man whom I hated, in order that I might prevent an explosion which would deprive me of the society of the one I really loved with the most devoted fondness. Finally Raphael, unable to endure the sight of his rival constantly in attendance upon me, and evidently finding extreme favor in my eyes, prevailed upon my aunt to forbid him admittance to the house, on the plea that he was becoming altogether too intimate with the betrothed of another. This gratified Raphael’s malignity, and it was a severe blow to both of us. …

In spite of my aunt’s endeavors to keep us apart, and in spite of Raphael’s jealous vigilance, William — for that was my lover’s name — found means to carry on a correspondence with me, to meet me at the houses of mutual friends, and to speak to me on the street on my way to and from school. …

[O]ne evening, as I was sitting at my window, in company with a young French Creole girl, I saw William pass and look up. I waved my handkerchief in salutation, and he recognized the signal by raising his cap. I then asked the young lady if she would not do me the favor of taking a letter to him, and of permitting us to have an interview at her home. She readily consented; and carrying a hastily written note to William, soon returned with an answer, to the effect that he would meet me in an hour’s time. My aunt did not permit me to go out alone in the evening; but as she suspected nothing wrong in the proposed visit to my friend’s house, she consented, without hesitation, for me to go under the escort of one of the servants. As my escort, of course, on our arrival at the rendezvous, remained with the servants of the house, I was able to converse with William without fear of espial, or of being interrupted.

My lover informed me that he expected soon to be ordered to one of the frontier posts. He declared that he could not exist without me, and proposed that we should elope, and get married privately. As this was my own plan exactly, I gave my consent, without any hesitation, the moment the proposition was made. On a little reflection, however, my conscience began to trouble me, for I knew that I should not be doing right; so I told him I would prefer that he should make an open and straightforward proposition for my hand to my parents. I considered that it was a duty I owed them to ask their consent first, but promised, if they opposed the marriage, that I would not let their disapprobation interfere with the consummation of our wishes. William himself thought that this was the proper and honorable course to pursue, and he accordingly wrote to my father, and asked his permission to marry me. A reply to his request was not long forthcoming, in which he was reprimanded in very harsh terms for daring to make it, knowing me to be the betrothed of another. This settled the matter; and accordingly, on the 5th of April, 1856, we were clandestinely married. …

My aunt was extremely indignant; and finding me obdurate, threatened to put me in the convent at Baton Rouge. I was terribly frightened at this, and concluded that it was time for me to act with decision. I accordingly informed my husband of the situation, and he came immediately and claimed me as his wife, presenting the certificate of marriage to my horror-stricken relative.

This was a terrible blow to my aunt, but a greater one to my parents, especially to my father, who idolized me. My father’s indignation got the better of his affection, and he promptly informed me that I might consider myself as repudiated and disinherited. The pangs this cruel message caused me were intense, but I was consoled with the lavish affection bestowed upon me by my handsome young husband, and with the thought that, in course of time, my parents would relent, and be willing to again receive me as their daughter. …

Loreta’s Civil War: Cry with rage and vexation


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 2: Loreta remembers her betrothal to a boy she did not love and her pursuit of the man with whom she wanted to spend the rest of her life.


How well I did play my part, happily, does not depend upon my own testimony alone, for some of the most distinguished officers of the Confederate Army, and many equally distinguished civilians, can and will testify to the truthfulness of the story I am about to relate, and to the unblemished character I bore while in the Confederate service. I not only assumed the garment of my sex once more with the credit of having done the state some important services, and of having labored with efficiency, courage, and energy to secure the independence of the Confederacy, but, with my womanly reputation unblemished by even a suspicion of impropriety. …

Both in Spain and in the Spanish dominions on this side of the Atlantic, is the name of Velazquez well known and highly honored. Don Diego Velazquez, the conqueror and the first governor of Cuba, under whose superintendence the expedition which discovered Mexico was sent out, was one of my ancestors, and Don Diego Rodriguez Velazquez, the greatest artist that Spain ever produced, was a member of my family. It will thus be seen that I came of excellent, although somewhat fiery and headstrong stock, and, if in assuming the garments of a man, and endeavoring to do a man’s work on the battlefield, I transgressed against the conventionalities of modern society … despite the fact of my being a woman, I might be able to enjoy the excitements of the battlefield, and win for myself a warrior’s fame. …

In 1840, my father was appointed to an official position in Cuba, and two years later I, his sixth and last child, came into the world in a house on the Calle Velaggas, near the walls in the city of Havana, on the 26th of June, 1842. I was christened Loreta Janeta. …

From my earliest recollections my mind has been filled with aspirations of the most ardent possible kind, to fill some great sphere. I expended all my pocket money … in the purchase of books which related the events of the lives of kings, princes, and soldiers. … I wished that I was a man, such a man as Columbus or Captain Cook, and could discover new worlds, or explore unknown regions of the earth. … While residing with my aunt, it was frequently my habit, after all in the house had retired to bed at night, to dress myself in my cousin’s clothes, and to promenade by the hour before the mirror, practicing the gait of a man, and admiring the figure I made in masculine raiment.

I was betrothed to a young Spaniard, Raphael R., in accordance with plans which my relatives had formed with regard to me, and without any action on my part. Indeed, my consent was not asked, my parents, thinking that they were much better qualified to arrange a suitable alliance than I was, and that, provided other things were satisfactory, love was something of minor importance, that could very well be left to take care of itself. They were mistaken, however … I had no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that the choice of a husband was something I ought to have a voice in. …

A marriage by parental arrangement was the last thing in the world to suit a scatter-brained, romantic girl like myself, whose head was filled with all sorts of wild notions, and it is not to be wondered at, therefore, that I rebelled. When I was betrothed to Raphael, however, I had not the slightest notion of objecting; and although I did not feel a particle of affection for him, I accepted him for my future husband, as a matter of course, and received his visits with a proper degree of complacency. … I consequently took no steps to get rid of Raphael until I chanced to make the acquaintance of a young American army officer who was paying particular attention to one of my schoolmates, Nellie V.

Nellie was a beautiful girl, of about sixteen years of age, and a very warm regard subsisted between us up to the time of her discovery that I was endeavoring to capture her lover. Her affection for me did not last long after that, and she said a great many disagreeable things about me, for which I have long since forgiven her, as I doubt not she has [forgiven] me for running away with her handsome young officer.

He was indeed a handsome young officer, and his manly and graceful appearance, especially when attired in his brilliant uniform, made such an impression on my heart, that I soon could think of nothing else. I found now that love was a reality, and my thoughts by day and my dreams by night had no other object than the gentleman who, while paying his assiduous attentions to Nellie, never imagined what ravages he was making in the heart of her schoolmate. I learned to hate Raphael, and his attempts to make himself agreeable to me only served to increase my dislike. Of Nellie I soon became savagely jealous, and was ready to cry with rage and vexation whenever I saw her lover paying her any delicate attentions. We, however, to all appearances, continued fast friends, and it was not for several months that she discovered I was her rival. The object of my devotion was also profoundly ignorant of my feelings towards him, and I had not the courage to tell him. At length I became desperate … to acquaint the young officer with the affection I entertained for him. …

One evening Nellie and I agreed to exchange partners, for the purpose of finding out how much they loved us. Raphael did not fancy this maneuver a bit, but submitted to it with as good a grace as possible. The officer and myself managed to get out of earshot of the other couple, but, now that the opportunity I had sighed for was mine, I was afraid to open my mouth on the subject nearest my heart. I trembled all over, but was determined before we separated to let him know the state of my heart. Finding that I had not courage to speak, I wrote a few words in his pocket diary, which told him everything.

He was intensely surprised but he declared, with much warmth, that he had long wished to speak with me on this very matter, and would have done so, were it not that he thought I was betrothed, and that under any circumstances there would be no chance for an American to win my affections. My new lover behaved in the most honorable manner, for, as soon as he obtained my consent for him to pay his addresses, he went to my aunt, and asked permission to visit at her house. She granted his request, with the condition that he was to understand that I was betrothed, and would demean himself towards me accordingly. This condition he listened to, but with a determination to pay little heed to it, his main object being accomplished in securing the right to see me without fear of being interfered with.

Loreta’s Civil War: The woman in battle


Throughout 2016, Stillness of Heart will share edited excerpts from the extraordinary memoir of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who chronicled her adventures throughout the U.S. 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 an 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 1: Velazquez introduces us to her life, her heroes, and her aspirations. She is ambitious, confident, romantic, and determined to live life on her terms.


The woman in battle is an infrequent figure on the pages of history, and yet, what would not history lose were the glorious records of the heroines — the great-souled women, who have stood in the front rank where the battle was hottest and the fray most deadly — to be obliterated? When women have rushed to the battlefield they have invariably distinguished themselves; and their courage, their enthusiasm, and their devotion to the cause espoused, have excited the brave among the men around them to do and to dare to the utmost, and have shamed the cowards into believing that it was worthwhile to peril life itself in a noble cause, and that honor to a soldier ought to be more valuable than even life.

The records of the women who have taken up arms in the cause of home and country; who have braved the scandals of the camp; who have hazarded reputation — reputation dearer than life — and who have stood in the imminent deadly breach, defying the enemy … are glorious nevertheless; and if steadfast courage, true-hearted loyalty, and fiery enthusiasm go for anything, women have nothing to blush for in the martial deeds of those of their sex who have stood upon the battlefield. …

Catalina de Eranso, the Monja Alferez, or the nun-lieutenant, who was born in the city of Sebastian, Spain, in 1585, was one of the most remarkable of the heroines who have distinguished themselves by playing the masculine role, and venturing into positions of deadly peril. This woman, becoming disgusted with the monotony of convent life, made her escape, and in male garb joined one of the numerous expeditions then fitting out for the New World. Her intelligence and undaunted valor soon attracted the notice of her superior officers, and she was rapidly promoted. Participating in a number of hard-fought battles, she won the reputation of being an unusually skillful and daring soldier, and would have achieved both fame and fortune, were it not that her fiery temper embroiled her in frequent quarrels with her associates. …

After traversing a large portion of the New World, and encountering innumerable perils, she returned to Europe, where she found that the trumpet of fame was already heralding her name, and that there was the greatest curiosity to see her. Traveling through Spain and Italy, she had numerous exceedingly romantic adventures, and while in the last named country she managed to obtain an interview with Pope Urban VIII., who was so pleased with her appearance and her conversation that he granted her permission to wear male attire during the balance of her life. …

From my early childhood Joan of Arc was my favorite heroine; and many a time has my soul burned with an overwhelming desire to emulate her deeds of valor, and to make for myself a name which, like hers, would be enrolled in letters of gold among the women who had the courage to fight like men — ay, better than most men — for a great cause, for friends, and for fatherland.

At length an opportunity offered, in the breaking out of the conflict between the North and the South in 1861, for me to carry out my long-cherished ideas; and it was embraced with impetuous eagerness, combined with a calm determination to see the thing through, and to shrink from nothing that such a step would involve. …

So many persons have assured me that my story is full of romance, and that it cannot fail to interest readers both South and North. … they will find in these pages an unaffected and unpretending but truthful and I hope interesting narrative of what befell me while attached to the army of the Confederate States of America, and while performing services other than those of a strictly military character under the pseudonym of Lieutenant Harry T. Buford. …

[I]t is probable that a vast number of my late associates will now for the first time learn that the handsome young officer — I was accounted an uncommonly good-looking fellow, when dressed in my best uniform, in those days — was a woman, and a woman who was mentally making some very uncomplimentary notes with regard to much of their very naughty conversation. My experience is that the language used by the very best men in masculine society is too often not such as pure-minded women would like to listen to, while that of the worst is so utterly revolting, that it is a pity some men cannot always have decent women at their elbows to keep their tongues from being fouled with blasphemy and obscenity. …

Recommended reading / viewing / listening


This week: Trump’s first 100 days? / Trump’s battle against Clinton / Freak kangaroo / Boots on the ground / Does Texas still matter in politics?

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

1. Trump: The First 100 Days
By Matt Latimer | Politico Magazine | February 2016
“It’s time to start thinking about his — gulp — presidency.”

2. The Republican Horse Race Is Over, and Journalism Lost
By Jim Rutenberg | Mediator :: The New York Times | May 5
“[Y]ou have to point the finger at national political journalism, which has too often lost sight of its primary directives in this election season: to help readers and viewers make sense of the presidential chaos; to reduce the confusion, not add to it; to resist the urge to put ratings, clicks and ad sales above the imperative of getting it right.”

3. Trump’s deportation plan could slice 2 percent off U.S. GDP: study
By Luciana Lopez | Reuters | May 5
“About 6.8 million of the more than 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally are employed, according to government statistics. Removing them would cause a slump of $381.5 billion to $623.2 billion in private sector output. …”

4. Yes, It’s Early, but Donald Trump Would Have Uphill Battle Against Hillary Clinton
By Nate Cohn | The Upshot :: The New York Times | May 3
“Trump’s biggest problem is that he would be the most unpopular major party nominee in the modern era, with nearly two-thirds saying they have an unfavorable opinion of him.”

5. Analysis: Texas Political Influence Nosedives in National Campaign
By Ross Ramsey | The Texas Tribune | May 3
“[I]t’s not only the state’s candidates who were getting knocked around in the race for president; the ideas that have propelled Texas Republicans for the past two decades — ideas like federalism and social conservatism — have taken a hit, too. Texas is getting clobbered this year.”

6. How Does Ted Cruz Return To The Senate?
By Abby Livingston | The Texas Tribune | May 3
“[W]hen he returns to the Senate with two and a half years left in his freshman term, he will enter hostile territory.”

7. Watch Kangaroo Crack Car Windshield In Terrifying Feet-First Leap
By Lee Moran | Huffington Post | May 3
“The driver unleashes a series of curse words as it hits the window.”

8. Q&A: When is a Boot on the Ground not a Boot on the Ground?
By Lolita C. Baldor | Associated Press | May 3
“The semantic arguments over whether there are American ‘boots on the ground’ muddy the view of a situation in which several thousand armed U.S. military personnel are in Iraq and Syria.”

9. Trump’s VP: Top 10 contenders
By Jonathan Easley | The Hill | May 5
“It could be a difficult undertaking, as some potential candidates might be hesitant to hitch their political future to a polarizing figure like Trump. But there will be plenty willing to roll the dice and join Trump’s historic outsider campaign.”

10. History’s Lessons in Crisis Management
By Michael Beschloss | HistorySource :: The New York Times | July 2014
“A student of history, as well as a sardonic, self-protective political operator, J.F.K. was always attuned to the possibility that some unforeseen event could quickly send history into an unwanted direction.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening


This week: Tragedy in Roma, Texas / Less NYC gay clubs / Letters of John Adams / Bernie Sanders and Eugene McCarthy / Google doodles

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

1. Gay Dance Clubs on the Wane in the Age of Grindr
By Michael Musto | The New York Times | April 26
“Night life veterans point to a variety of reasons, including cultural shifts, real estate pressures and technology.”

2. Prince’s Paisley Park Home to Become a Museum
By Sebastian Modak | Conde Nast Traveler | April 26
“Sheila E., Prince’s longtime musical collaborator, revealed plans to memorialize His Royal Badness within the walls of his estate on the outskirts of Minneapolis.”

3. ‘West Wing’ Meets White House: Allison Janney Greets Reporters in Press Room
Associated Press :: The Hollywood Reporter | April 29
“She took the podium normally reserved for spokesman Josh Earnest and told reporters she hoped to bring attention to the nation’s opioid epidemic.”

4. Roma, Texas: A Smuggler’s Paradise
By Jay Root | The Texas Tribune | April 21
“Multiple inflatable rafts on the water. Emotionally shaken kids in the back of Border Patrol vans. Dope worth a quarter-million dollars on the street, dumped on the river’s edge. Roadside apprehensions. People running, swimming and shouting obscenities in and alongside a river shared by two countries.”

5. Meet the man behind Google’s doodles
By Elizabeth Garone | BBC Capital | April 26
“His job and others like it says a lot about why art matters more than ever to the binary world of technology”

6. Against American exceptionalism: Gordon S. Wood on John Adams
Library of America | April 19
“Library of America sat down with editor Gordon Wood, Alva O. Way Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University and the Pulitzer Prize?winning author of The Radicalism of the American Revolution, to discuss Adams’s complicated legacy, and the enduring appeal of his writings.”

7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Islamic State
By Marwan Hisham | Dispatch :: Foreign Policy | April 20
“An accidental tour into the heart of the caliphate’s oil smuggling economy.”

8. NASA has mapped every eclipse that will occur for the next 1,000 years
By Brian Resnick | Vox | April 29
“They even know the exact time, down to the fraction of a second, that the eclipses will occur.”

9. What Bernie Sanders Should Learn From Eugene McCarthy
By Julian E. Zelizer | Politico Magazine | April 21
“In 1968, the Democratic insurgent refused to support the establishment nominee — and it was disastrous”

10. A Style-Setting J.F.K. Appears With a 2014 Congressional Candidate
By Michael Beschloss | HistorySource :: The New York Times | July 2014
“Recoiling from a famous photograph of President Calvin Coolidge in a Sioux headdress, which he considered comical, Kennedy almost always refused to wear unusual hats in public — including on the last morning of his life, when hosts at a Fort Worth breakfast pressed him, without success, to don a Stetson.”


New Books! 4/26/15

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A great list

BookPeople's Blog

Texas Ranger: The Epic Life of Frank Hamer, the Man Who Killed Bonnie and Clyde by John Boessenecker (speaking & signing this Sunday at 3PM!)

To most Americans, Frank Hamer is known only as the “villain” of the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde. Now, in Texas Ranger, historian John Boessenecker sets out to restore Hamer’s good name and prove that he was, in fact, a classic American hero. Written by one of the most acclaimed historians of the Old West, Texas Ranger is the first biography to tell the full story of this near-mythic lawman.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

17 years ago: A girl in South Dakota falls through the earth, then wakes up dozens of feet below ground on the palm of what seems to be a giant metal hand. Today: She is a top-level physicist leading a team of people to understand…

View original post 937 more words

Recommended reading / viewing / listening


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. Boston cheers Tubman going on the $20 bill
By Eric Moskowitz | The Boston Globe | April 21
“Although Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland and spent most of her free life in upstate New York, she has deep ties to Massachusetts, the center of the abolitionist movement.”

2. Tubman’s In. Jackson’s Out. What’s It Mean?
By Jennifer Schuessler, Binyamin Appelbaum, and Wesley Morris | The New York Times | April 20
“Does having her on the bill make a real difference — either to how we think about our history, or how we think about our money?”

3. What Prince Taught Me About Love. And Sex. And Time.
By Dave Holmes | Esquire | April 21
“Thirty-five years ago, I heard Prince’s voice. Eighteen years later, I was in his presence.”

4. The Best Tweets By People Losing Their Sh*t Thinking Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ Was a Divorce Announcement
Cosmopolitan and Esquire | April 24
“Some people think she’s writing about her dad’s infidelity, not Jay Z’s, but it seems unlikely he is totally innocent here.”

5. Veep’s most profane, brutal and brilliant burns
By Janet Upadhye | Salon | April 24
“The result is 160 seconds of hilarity. Enjoy.”

6. Trump terrifies world leaders
By Edward-Isaac Dovere and Bryan Bender | Politico | April 21
“And Obama’s reassurances aren’t calming them down.”

7. William Shakespeare: a quintessentially American author
By Robert McCrum | The Guardian | April 9
“From Abraham Lincoln’s White House readings to Hollywood westerns and West Side Story, Shakespeare’s plays are an integral part of the American dream. So how did this icon of Englishness become a U.S. phenomenon?”

8. ‘Remember the Ladies’: Edith Gelles on the incomparable letters of Abigail Adams
Library of America | April 18
“Abigail Adams’s letters are the best record we have of the American Revolution from a woman’s point of view. No other Founding family has left such a trove of family letters as the Adamses.”

9. A Busy Queen Elizabeth II Pencils In a 90th Birthday
By Dan Bilefsky | The New York Times | April 20
“Through seven decades, she has remained gloriously and relentlessly enigmatic in one of her signature pastel outfits and colorful hats, chosen, royal experts say, so onlookers can spot her in a crowd.”

10. Kennedy, L.B.J. and a Disputed Deer Hunt
By Michael Beschloss | HistorySource :: The New York Times | August 2014
“Someone present thought the president-elect looked ‘like a football fan.’ Another felt that in the rural Texas setting, Kennedy looked as if he were ‘on Mars.’ ”

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