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Loreta’s Civil War: Neither starved nor beaten


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 32: Under the shadow of tragedy, Velazquez prepares to re-enter the Civil War with grim determination to fulfill her original dream of glory.


Our honeymoon was a very brief one. In about a week [my husband Capt. De Caulp] thought himself well enough to report for duty, and he insisted upon going, notwithstanding my entreaties for him to remain until his health was more robust. Had he been really fit to endure the exposure and toil of campaigning, I would never have offered to stay him by a word, for my patriotism, although perhaps not of so fiery a nature, was as intense now as it was when I besought my first husband to permit me to accompany him to the field, and I considered it the duty of every man, who was at all able to take a hand in the great work of resisting the advance of the enemy, to do so. But Capt. De Caulp, I knew, was far from being the strongman he once was, and I feared the consequences should he persist in carrying out his resolve.

Ho did persist, however, in spite of all I could say, and so, when I found that further argument would be useless, I prepared his baggage and bade him a sorrowful adieu. … Before reaching his command, Capt. De Caulp was taken sick again, and before I obtained any information of his condition, he had died in a Federal hospital in Chattanooga. This was a terrible blow to me, for I tenderly loved my husband, and was greatly beloved by him. Our short married life was a very happy one, and its sudden ending brought to nought all the pleasant plans I had formed for the future and left me nothing to do but to launch once more on a life of adventure and to devote my energies to the advancement of the Confederate cause.

Capt. De Caulp was a native of Edinburgh, Scotland. His father was of French descent, and his mother was a Der- byshire woman. He was very highly educated, having studied in England and France with the intention of becoming a physician. His fondness for roaming, however, induced him to abandon his design, and in 1857 he and his brother came to this country and traveled over the greater part of it until 1859. In the last-named year he joined the United States Army, but on the breaking out of the war he came South and offered his services to the Confederacy. From first to last he fought nobly for the cause which he espoused, and he died in the firm belief that the Southern states would ultimately gain their independence.

Few more honorable or truer or braver men than Capt. De Caulp have ever lived. He was tall in stature, with a very imposing presence. His hair was auburn, and he had a large, full, dark, hazel eye. He was a very powerful man but as gentle as a child and exceedingly affable in his disposition and remarkably prepossessing in his manners. At the time of his death he was about twenty-nine years of age. I made an endeavor to procure his body for the purpose of sending it to his relatives in Scotland, in accordance with his last request, but, owing to the exigencies of the military situation — the Federals being in possession of Chattanooga — I was unable to do so.

Capt. De Caulp’s brother was also in the Southern army and also held the rank of captain. He died in Nashville just after the close of the war, leaving a wife, who died in New York.

When under the influence of the grief caused by the sudden death of my second husband, within so brief a period after our marriage, I felt impelled to devote myself anew to the task of advancing the cause of the Confederacy by all the means in my power, the circumstances were all materially different from what they were when, the first time I was made a widow, I started for Virginia, full of the idea of taking part in whatever fighting was to be done. It was no longer possible for me to figure as successfully in the character of a soldier as I had done. My secret was now known to a great many persons, and its discovery had already caused me such annoyance that I hesitated about assuming my uniform again, especially as I believed that, as a woman, I could perform very efficient service if I were only afforded proper opportunity. …

On reviewing the whole subject in my mind, I became more than ever convinced that the secret service rather than the army would afford me the best field for the exercise of my talent, although I almost more than half made up my mind to enter the army again and try my luck, as I had originally done, disguised as an officer. …

I finally concluded that the best thing for me to do was to go to Richmond, and if nothing else availed, to make a personal appeal to [Confederate President Jefferson] Davis, feeling assured that when he heard my story he would appreciate the motives which animated me and would use his influence to have me assigned to such duty as I was best qualified to perform in a satisfactory manner. This resolve having once been made, I prepared, without more delay, to visit the capital of the Confederacy, leaving behind me Atlanta, with its mingled memories of pleasure and pain.

The military situation at this time — the autumn of 1863 — was of painful interest, and the fate of the Confederacy seemed to hang trembling in the balance. In Virginia, [Confederate Gen. Robert E.] Lee was defending Richmond with all his old success and was holding one immense army in check so effectively that the prospect of ever entering the Confederate capital as conquerors must have seemed to the enemy more remote than ever. In the West and South, however, the Confederates had lost much, and the question now with them was whether they would be able to hold what they had until the Federals were tired out and exhausted, or until England and France, wearied of the prolonged contest, consented to aid in terminating it by recognizing the Confederacy and perhaps by armed intervention.

It was known that there were [dissentions in] the North, and that there was a strong anti-war party, which it was expected would, ere long, make its power felt as it had never done before, and if the South could hold out for a season longer, would insist upon a peace being concluded upon almost any terms. Great expectations were also built upon foreign intervention, which every one felt had been delayed longer than there was any just reason for, but which it was thought could not but take place shortly. Every little while exciting rumors were set afloat, no one knew how or by whom, that either France or England had recognized the Confederacy, and many bitter disappointments were caused when their falsity was proved. The people, however, hoped on, getting poorer and poorer every day, and eagerly watching the progress of the campaign around Chattanooga.

The Mississippi River was now entirely in the hands of the Federals, and not only were the Trans-Mississippi states … lost to the Confederacy. … [Confederate Gen. Braxton] Bragg had been compelled to fall back with most of his forces to Chattanooga and had been expelled from that place, which was now in the hands of the Federals. All efforts on the part of the Federals to advance beyond Chattanooga, however, had utterly failed, and the opinion … was gaining ground that they had been caught in a trap and would in a short time be incapable of either advancing or retreating.

While I was in the hospital, Bragg gained his great victory at Chickamauga, and great hopes were excited that he would be able to follow it up with effect, and succeed in destroying the army of [Union Maj. Gen. William S.] Rosecrans. Had he succeeded in doing this, the war would have had a different ending, and the independence of the South would have been secured. It was felt by everybody that the pinch of the fight was approaching, and that in the neighborhood of Chattanooga, rather than in that of Richmond, would the decisive battle of the war be fought, and, it was hoped, won for the Confederacy. …

Much as we had lost, the situation was not an altogether discouraging one for the Confederacy. Richmond was apparently more secure than it had been two years and a half before, and nearly all the honors of the war in that vicinity had been carried off by the Confederates. Lee was making himself a name as one of the greatest generals of the age, while the Federals, although they changed the commanders of their army continually, were making no headway against him and were in constant fear of an invasion of their own territory. In the South, Bragg had just achieved a great victory over Rosecrans and had him now penned up in Chattanooga, from which it was next to impossible for him to escape in either direction. …

Well, matters did not turn out as it was expected they would. Bragg’s victory at Chickamauga was a fruitless one … and the army of Rosecrans was neither starved nor beaten into subjection. On the contrary, Rosecrans was superseded, and [Union Maj. Gen. U.S.] Grant was put in his place to follow up the victories he had won at Fort Donelson, Shiloh, and Vicksburg, and the army was so greatly reinforced that it was enabled to press forward and menace Atlanta and finally to capture it. …

With only the most indefinite plans for the future, and little suspecting what exciting and perilous adventures fate yet had in store for me, I proceeded, on my arrival in Richmond, to call on [Confederate Gen. John H.] Winder, and took measures to procure an interview with President Davis. From Gen. Winder I did not obtain much satisfaction, and Mr. Davis, while he was very kind to me, did not give me a great deal of encouragement. I represented to President Davis that I had been working hard for the Confederacy, both as a soldier and a spy, and that I had braved death on more than one desperately fought battlefield while acting as an independent, and that now I thought I was deserving of some official recognition. Moreover, I had lost my husband through his devotion to the cause, and, both for his sake and for my own, I desired that the government would give me such a position in the secret service corps or elsewhere as would enable me to carry on with the best effect the work that he and I had begun.

Mr. Davis was opposed to permitting me to serve in the army as an officer, attired in male costume, while he had no duties to which he could properly assign me as a woman. I left his presence, not ungratified by the kindness of his manner towards me and the sympathy which he expressed for my bereavement, but nonetheless much disappointed at the non-success of my interview with him.

Failing to obtain any satisfaction from Mr. Davis, I returned to Gen. Winder but got comparatively little encouragement from him. He finally, however, consented to give me a letter of recommendation to the commanding officer of the forces in the South and West, and transportation. This was not exactly what I wanted, but it was better than nothing. … Having obtained this important document I started off, and, for the last time, made a grand tour of the entire Southern Confederacy. Stopping from point to point, I gathered all the information I could, and thoroughly posted myself with regard to the situation — military, civil, and political — and endeavored to find a place where I could commence active operations with the best chance of achieving something of importance. …

On arriving at Mobile, I took up my quarters at the Battle House with the intention of taking a good rest … of arranging some definite plan of action for the future. I was resolved now to make a bold stroke of some kind … trusting that my usual good luck would accompany me in any enterprise I might undertake. …

In Mobile I met quite a number of officers whom I had met on the various battlefields where I had figured and received the kindest and best attentions from them all. This was most gratifying to me, and the flattering commendations that were bestowed upon me served to mitigate in a great degree the disappointment I felt on account of the non-recognition of the value of my services in other quarters.

I may as well say here, that in mentioning the disappointments I have felt at different times at not being able to obtain exactly the kind of official recognition I desired, I do not wish to appear as complaining. That I did feel disappointed is true, but reflection told me that if any one was to blame, it was myself. By entering the army as an independent, I secured a freedom of action and opportunities for participating in a great variety of adventures that I otherwise would not have had, but I also cut myself off from opportunities of regular promotion. When I resolved to start out as an independent, I was animated by a variety of motives, not the least of which was that I believed I would be able to maintain my disguise to better advantage and would have better opportunities for escaping any unpleasant consequences in case of detection than if I attached myself regularly to a command. I was right in this, and am now convinced that, on the whole, the course I pursued was the wisest one.

Not having been attached to a regular command, at least for any great length of time, it was impossible for me, however, to secure that standing with those who were best able to reward my services that was necessary, while the full value of my services could only be made known by my taking a number of people into my confidence, and this I had great objections to doing. As matters turned out, the peculiar experiences through which I passed, during the first two years of the war, were of the utmost value to me in a great many ways in the prosecution of the very important work in which I subsequently engaged. …

Loreta’s Civil War: ‘You are she?’


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 31: Velazquez tells her fiance the truth about Lt. Harry T. Buford.


I was greatly agitated, not only at the sight of his extreme happiness but because I felt that the dreaded hour was now come when I must reveal my secret to him. I loved him most fondly, and it was but yesterday that I had heard from his own lips assurances of his affection for me, the verity of which it was impossible for me to doubt, and yet I dreaded whether his feelings towards me might not change when he heard my story. I felt that they ought not, and I did not believe that they would but I had heard so many men, and good men too, speak harshly with regard to women undertaking to play the role that I had, that my very love gave encouragement to my fears lest [my beau] Capt. De Caulp — when he learned I had been in the army ever since the outbreak of the war, and from before the date of our engagement, disguised as a man — would regard my course with such disapproval that he would refuse to consider the motives which induced me to adopt the course I had taken.

The situation was, for me, painful beyond expression, and although I felt that the secret must now be told, I scarcely knew how to tell it or how to begin an even ordinary friendly conversation with him. The disclosure which I was about to make was, moreover, one that was meant for no other ears than his and was certainly not a proper one for the public ward of the hospital. My first care, therefore, was to get him to a place where we could converse without being overheard, and so I said, “Captain, I congratulate you heartily, and I hope to have the pleasure of meeting with your lady. As you expect to have a visit from her soon, and as you will doubtless want to talk over a great number of confidential matters, don’t you think that it would be better if the doctor were to move you into a private room?”

He said, “Yes, thank you for the suggestion — that is just what I would like. I wish you would tell the doctor I want to see him.”

I accordingly conveyed his message with all possible dispatch, and the doctor very cheerfully granted his request and had him taken to a private chamber. A barber was then sent for, and he was shaved and made to look as nicely as possible, and it touched me deeply to notice what pains he took to make himself presentable in view of the expected arrival of his lady-love, whom, by the anxious manner in which he glanced at the door, he was evidently looking for every minute and almost dreading her arrival before he was ready to receive her.

So soon as we were alone together, I said gravely, “Now, captain, I have something of great importance to say to you before our sweetheart comes.” He looked at me wonderingly, evidently impressed by my manner, and apparently half-fearing that something had occurred to defeat his expectations.

I then knelt by the bedside, and taking from my pocket a picture of himself that he had sent me, and his last letter, said, “Did you ever see these before?”

He glanced at them, recognized them, and turned deadly pale. His hand trembled so that he could scarcely hold the picture and the letter, and looking at me with a scared expression, he gasped, “Yes, they are mine! Where did you get them? Has anything happened?”

“No, no, captain,” I exclaimed. “You must not be frightened — nothing has happened that will be displeasing to you.”

“But I don’t understand,” he said. “How did you get these?”

“Ah!” I said, “that is my secret just now. You know you told me last night, when you showed me the portrait of your lady, that you had not seen her for three years — are you so very sure of that?”

He still failed to comprehend what I meant, and stared at me in astonishment. I, therefore, went to his pocket, and got the picture, and, placing it in his hand, said, “Now take a good look at that, and tell me if you have not seen somebody very much like it inside of three years.”

He looked at the picture, and then at me, with a most puzzled expression, unable to say anything, until I, oppressed with his silence, and unable to endure longer a scene that was becoming most painful to both of us, said, “Well, captain, don’t you thing that the picture of your lady-love looks the least bit like your friend Harry Buford?”

A light seemed to suddenly break upon him — he gasped for breath and sank back overcome on his pillow, the great drops of perspiration standing out all over his forehead. Then, raising himself, he looked me hard in the face, and, grasping my hand tightly, exclaimed, “Can it be possible that you are she?”

“Yes,” said I, clasping his hand still tighter, “I am, indeed, your own Loreta. It was your sweetheart who fought by your side at the great battle of Shiloh, and not only on that occasion, but ever since the outbreak of the war she has been doing a soldier’s work for the cause of the Confederacy. Can you love her a little for that as well as for herself, or will you despise her because she was not willing to stay at home like other women, but undertook to appear on the battlefield in the guise of a man for the purpose of doing a man’s duty?”

“I love you ten times more than ever for this, Loreta!” he said, with a vehemence that brought tears of joy to my eyes. I then went into a long explanation of my reasons for acting as I had done and gave him an outline of my adventures, reserving the details for a future time when he would be stronger and less agitated. He suggested that I should not reveal the secret to any one else just at present, whereupon I proposed that we should continue as we were until the war was over, I to make such arrangements, however, as would enable me to be near him. He would not listen to anything of this kind, but said, “No, my noble lady, I can never permit that — I cannot consent to part from you again until I have called you by the endearing name of wife.” He then burst into tears, and, leaning his face on my shoulder, said, between his sobs, “Oh, Loreta, can it be possible that you have been so far from me and yet so near to me, all this time?”

This interview had agitated both of us greatly, and, as Capt. De Caulp was still very weak, I was somewhat fearful of the consequences to him, so I tore myself away after promising to see him again soon, and requesting him to compose himself and not let his excitement retard his recovery.

The crisis was past for me, and all was well. I had the strongest assurances that a woman could have of the undivided love of as noble a man as ever breathed, and to say that I was supremely happy but faintly expresses what I felt as I left the chamber of Capt. De Caulp. It all seemed like a dream to me, but it was a happy one, and I desired never to awaken from it. I was of too practical and decided a disposition, however, to give way to mere sentiment on such an occasion as this, and the fact that my lover was still confined to a sick-bed rendered it the more important that I should be about and making such preparations as were necessary for our approaching marriage.

I felt quite strong enough to leave the hospital and told Dr. Hay so. He was a little dubious about it but finally consented that I should go out on condition that I would take good care of myself and not attempt to enjoy out-of-door life too much of a sudden. As he was himself about going out as I was prepared to leave the hospital, I walked down the street with him, holding his arm. As we were sauntering along, I asked him, “Doctor, how do you like Capt. De Caulp?”

“Oh, very much, indeed!” said he. “He is a perfect gentleman in every respect and a man of very polished manners and superior talents. He is of foreign extraction, I think.”

“Yes,” said I, “I believe he is. I have known him for five years, and I think a great deal of him. I was with him at the Battle of Shiloh, and he behaved like a true hero.”

“Ah, indeed!” said the doctor. “I knew that you were acquainted, but I did not know that you had served together during the war.”

“Do you think he will soon be well?” I inquired. “He seems to be getting along quite nicely.”

“Oh, yes, if he takes proper care of himself. He has had a pretty hard time of it, but I don’t see any reason why he should not be in a fair way for recovery now, provided nothing occurs to set him back. He will have to look out and not expose himself too much, however, for a while yet.”

At the corner of White Hall Street I left the doctor to go to the depot. He said, as I parted from him, “You must be careful and not exercise too much, lieutenant, or you will suffer for it. You are scarcely fairly on your feet as yet.” I promised to take care of myself and went to the depot, arriving there just as the downtrain was coming in. … I then returned to the hospital, and asked for my discharge. This was granted me, and I also obtained a ticket to go to Montgomery, where I had some business to attend to. … The next day I returned to Atlanta and went immediately to the hospital to visit Capt. De Caulp. To my great joy I found him out of bed and so much improved that he was confident of being well enough to walk out.

We, therefore, went down to the Thompson House together, and I engaged a room and set about making preparations for my marriage.

I was anxious that the affair should pass off as quietly as possible and particularly desired not to give any opportunity for unseemly gossip or talk, and on discussing the matter with Capt. De Caulp, we came to the conclusion that it would be better to tell the whole story to Drs. Benton and Hammond, and to ask them to witness the ceremony under a promise to say nothing to anyone about the fact of my having worn the uniform of a Confederate officer. We, however, resolved to take no one else into our confidence, although there were several good friends of both of us in the town whom we would have been glad to have had at our wedding.

I procured a sufficiency of woman’s apparel for my wedding outfit by purchasing at a variety of places, under the pleas that I wanted the garments for some persons out of town, or for presents to the girls at the hotel — in fact, making up whatever story I thought would answer my purpose. My trousseau was, perhaps, not so complete or so elegant as it might have been under some circumstances or as I could have desired but then the particular circumstances under which the wedding was to take place were peculiar, and neither the bridegroom nor the bride was disposed to be over-ceremonious, or to make much ado about trifles. So long as the captain and myself were satisfied, it did not much matter whether any one else was pleased or not, and we both concluded that a very modest wardrobe would be all that I would need, the main thing being that I should be dressed as a woman when the ceremony took place, for fear of creating too much of a sensation, and, perhaps, of making the clergyman feel unpleasant should I appear before him, hanging on the captain’s arm, in my uniform.

My arrangements having all been made, we concluded to inform the friends whom we had agreed to invite, and accordingly we walked to the hospital together, when the captain called Dr. Benton into his private room and astonished him by telling him that he was going to be married and by asking him to attend the wedding. I broke the news as gently as I could to Dr. Hammond, who scarcely knew what to make of it at first, but who, when I made him clearly understand the situation, gave me his hearty congratulations and promised to be present when the happy event came off.

The next day Capt. De Caulp and I were married in the parlor of the hotel by the Rev. Mr. Pinkington, the post chaplain, in as quiet and unpretentious a way as either of us could desire. The clergyman and our kind friends wished us all manner of happiness, and we both looked forward to a bright future, when, after the war was over, we could settle down in our home and enjoy the blessings of peace in each other’s society. …

I was very desirous of resuming my uniform and of accompanying my husband to the field. I wanted to go through the war with him and to fight by his side, just as I had done at Shiloh. He, however, was bitterly opposed to this, and, with my ample knowledge of army life, I could not but admit the full force of his objections. He contended, that, apart from everything else, I had served my country long enough as a soldier, and that I was under some obligation now to think of him as well as of myself, and no longer to peril life, health, and reputation by exposing myself, as I had been doing. He said that he would fight twice as hard as before and that would answer for both of us, although he was not sure but that what I had done ought to count in his favor — as man and wife were one — and procure him a release from further service.

I very reluctantly yielded an assent to his wishes, although, if I could have looked a little into the future, I either would have prevented his going to the front at all, or else would have insisted upon going with him. Indeed, he ought not to have gone when he did but he knew that the services of every man were needed, and so soon as he was at all able to be on duty, he felt as if he was shirking his share of the work by remaining at the rear when so much hard fighting was going on.

Loreta’s Civil War: She is a fine-looking woman


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 30: Velazquez is wracked by sickness, and she is admitted to an Atlanta hospital. When she learns her beloved is recovering in the next ward, she visits him in disguise and prepares to tell him the truth.


While tossing upon my sick bed in the hospital, I was compelled, for very lack of other occupation, to think of [the] strange life I had been leading now for more than two years, and yet it was the kind of a life that, from my earliest childhood, I had ardently longed to lead. I had some understanding now of what the great discoverers, adventurers, and soldiers, who were the idols of my childish imagination, had been compelled to go through with before they won the undying fame that was theirs, and I comprehended, to some degree, how hard a thing it was to win fame.

For myself, I had played my part in the great drama of war with what skill I could command, and, although I had not played it altogether unsuccessfully, the chances that fame and the applause of future ages would be mine seemed as remote as ever. Warfare, despite all that was terrible and horrible about it, was, to the majority of those who participated in it, a most commonplace, practical, and far from exciting business, in which the chances for eminent distinction seldom appeared, and in which Fortune showered her favors only on a chosen few. And yet there was an almost irresistible fascination in being an active participant in the great events upon which the destinies of a continent were hanging, and the possibility that … something might occur by which the humblest among the host of combatants would be immortalized gave a zest to the hard work and an inspiration to exertion.

Had I continued in health, the probabilities are that the idea of abandoning the cause I had chosen before the close of the war would never have been permitted to take lodgment in my brain, and I would have gone on from one adventure to another, in spite of every discouragement and disappointment, hoping always that I would be able to achieve something great. Now, however, lying upon my sick-bed, I could not but confess to myself that I was disappointed and that I was following a will-o’-the-wisp in striving to gain for myself a great name by heroic deeds. Although I had no regrets for the course I had pursued … I nevertheless almost concluded that I had had enough of this, and that it was time for me to exchange my uniform for the attire of my own sex once more, and in good earnest, with the intention of never resuming it again.

These were sick fancies, and I felt ashamed of myself at times for my weakening in the resolution I had formed to see the thing through at all hazards. … But there were other influences at work to make me doubtful of the propriety of my longer continuing the hazardous experiment of passing myself off as a man. In an adjoining ward of the hospital was my lover [Capt. De Caulp], to a speedy meeting with whom I was looking forward with many fond anticipations. How would he regard my conduct? And should he, as I hoped he would, be proud of my efforts to advance the Confederate cause by doing a soldier’s duty, would he be willing that I should longer continue to wear my uniform, especially if we should conclude to have our marriage solemnized at an early day? These were questions that pressed themselves upon me, and that, even more than the dispiriting influences of a sick-room, made me half repent that I had ever assumed male attire, and made me more than half resolve to permanently abandon it so soon as I was out of the hospital. …

I was curious, however, rather than apprehensive, with regard to the effect of the disclosures I would have to make when I met Capt. De Caulp. There was nothing that I had done that I need blush for, while he had himself been the witness … of my prowess as a warrior, and I longed to hear him repeat to me, as a woman, the praise he had so freely bestowed upon me as a man when we fought side by side at Shiloh.

What a strange courtship ours had been! The only time we had met since our engagement was on the field of battle and in the midst of scenes of carnage, and here we both were now, sick in adjoining wards of the same hospital, I, longing to be with him, but unable to go to his side, and he, all unconscious that the woman he loved was so near, sighing, doubtless, for the time to come when our futures would be united, but never dreaming that the future he sighed for was so near at hand. It was like a romance, and it was in the scenes of a romance, the memories of which floated through my mind as I thought over the situation, that I alone could find any similitude to it. …

It was a weary while waiting, though, for the hour of meeting to come, and, had my physicians permitted it, I would have left my sickbed to go to Capt. De Caulp long before I was really able to be on my feet. Dr. Hammond, however, knew better what was good for me than I knew myself, and he constrained me to remain under his care until he should be able to pronounce me able to care for myself once more. …. At the earliest moment that I could obtain permission to leave my ward I went to see him, being naturally more impatient for a meeting than he was, for, although we had exchanged greetings through our physicians, it was simply as friends and officers of the Confederate army, and not as lovers, and he had no suspicion whatever that his sick neighbor of the hospital was other than the young lieutenant whose acquaintance he had formed at Pensacola, and who had fought beside him at Shiloh.

He was extremely glad to see me, however, much more so than I expected he would be, but the fact was, it had been so long since he had had a chance to chat with any of his old friends that it was a genuine pleasure to him to have any one call on him for the sake of a lively talk over old times. I found him sadly reduced … by the severe illness through which he had just passed but, although he was weak, he was evidently improving and in a fair way for a rapid recovery.

When I came in and stood by his bedside, he smiled and held out his hand and said, “I am mighty glad to see you again, lieutenant. It is like meeting a brother.”

I said that I was rejoiced to meet him again and would have called on him much sooner had the doctors permitted it. I then asked him how he was coming on, about the nature of his sickness, and matters of that kind, and gradually drifted into a conversation about things in general — the progress of the war, the people we knew, matters at home — and so led him up to the subject about which I particularly desired to speak with him. After some little preliminary talk, which would enable me to bring the question in naturally … I said, “Captain, are you married yet? You know you told me some time ago you were engaged and were expecting very shortly to ask the lady to name the day.”

“No,” said he, “the wedding has not come off yet, but I hope it will very short. I should have gone home for the purpose of getting married if I had kept my health but this smell of sickness has knocked all my plans in the head.”

“Does the lady know that you are sick?” I asked. “Have you heard from her recently?”

“I doubt whether she does,” he replied. “I have been expecting to hear from her for some time and have been greatly disappointed that I have not. The last letter I had stated that she would meet me here but for several months I have been unable to communicate with her and am unable to even guess where she is or why she has not come to me.”

He then raised up and took the letter he referred to out of a package, evidently made up of my epistles, and read it to me. He also showed me a picture of myself, which he produced from some hiding place in his pocket and handed it to me, saying, “That is the woman I love; what do you think of her?” This was almost too much for me, and all trembling with emotion I handed it back to him, saying, “She is a fine-looking woman,” and wondering he did not observe the resemblance between the portrait and the original before him. “Yes,” said he, “and she is just as good as she is good-looking. I think the world of her, and want to see her again – oh, so bad!”

“Have you known her long, captain?” I asked with a trembling voice, and scarcely daring to trust myself to speak, for these words, and the tender tone in which they were spoken, made my heart leap with joy and brought tears to my eyes. I was afraid that he would notice my agitation and in some way surmise the cause of it, and I did not want him to do this, for I was not yet ready to reveal myself, but desired further to hear what he would say about me before I told him my secret. So I turned away and pretended to be attracted by some object in another part of the room while I wiped the tears from my eyes, and attempted to recover my composure before I confronted him again.

“Yes,” he went on, “I have known her for a long time. She is a widow, and her husband was an excellent friend of mine.” Then, apparently suddenly recollecting the circumtances under which he first made my acquaintance in the character of a Confederate officer, he said, glancing quickly and eagerly at me, ‘”Why, you ought to know her — her husband was the first captain of our company; you recollect him, surely.”

“Oh,” said I, as if rather surprised at this revelation, ‘”she is his widow, is she?”

“Yes,” said Capt. De Caulp. “You have met her, have you not?”

I could scarcely help smiling at the turn this conversation was taking and still wondering whether my lover would be shrewd enough to detect the likeness between the picture he was holding in his hand, and fondly gazing at, and the original of it who was sitting by his bedside, I said, “Yes, I have had a slight acquaintance with her, but you, probably, have known her longer than I have. When did you see her last?”

“I have not seen her for three years,” he replied. …

“What would you give,” — and my voice was so choked with emotion that I could scarcely utter these words -– “What would you give if you could see your lady now?”

“Oh,” said he — and his eye sparkled, and the color flushed into his cheeks as he spoke -– “I would almost give my existence in heaven.”

I could not bear to hear any more but dreading lest he should notice my agitation and inquire the cause of it, I made a hasty excuse for concluding the interview and … left the room so abruptly that he must have seen there was something the matter with me.

It would be foolish in me, in attempting to tell this story of the culmination of my strange courtship, to make a secret of the emotions that filled my breast at the results of this interview with Capt. De Caulp. I felt that I loved him more than ever and that he was more than worthy of me. I wept the first genuine womanly tears I had shed for many a day, but they were tears of joy — of joy at the thought that I had such a lover as this and that the day of our union was certainly not far distant.

The next morning I wrote him a note in my proper person, stating that I had arrived and was coming to see him. On the receipt of this he was nearly wild with excitement, and it was as much as Dr. Benton could do to keep him in his bed. Burning with anxiety to see what the effect upon him of the letter would be, I followed hard after the bearer, and waiting until he would have a fair opportunity to master its contents, I passed by the door in such a manner that he could not fail to see me. So soon as he caught sight of me, he called out, in an exultant tone, “Lieutenant, come in. I want to talk to you,” and holding out the note, which I had written but a few moments before, towards me, he said, with the happiest smile I ever saw on a human face, “She has come, she has come, and will be here soon — congratulate me, my friend.”

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


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: Squeezing out a few real tears


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 28: Velazquez practices her skills of manipulation on a hapless Confederate officer dazzled by her charm and beauty.


Luckily for me no one observed my movements, and I made my way to the nearest Federal picket station without interruption. I gave my name as Mrs. Williams, told as much as I thought the officer in charge ought to know about me, and asked to see [Union Maj. Gen. William S.] Rosecrans. I was accordingly ushered into the general’s presence and gave him a somewhat more detailed account of myself. I represented that I was a widow woman who was endeavoring to escape from the Confederacy and who desired to go to her friends in the North, and, judging from appearances, I quite won upon the sympathies of the Federal commander. He asked me a great number of questions, which I answered to his satisfaction, and he then dismissed me, with a pass permitting me to go North. I could not help smiling at the ease with which I deceived Gen. Rosecrans and said to myself, as I retired from his presence, “My good old fellow, I’ll teach you what we Southern women are good for before I am done with you.”

Having got my pass, I started off, with a general notion of seeing all I could see, and finding out all I could find out, watching all the time for an opportunity for the execution of a grand coup. Picking up information here and there, some of which was of no little importance, I traveled as far as Martinsburg and had a considerable notion of proceeding to Washington to see whether a second visit to that city would not be even more productive of results than my first. Circumstances occurred, however, which detained me in Martinsburg, and my trip to Washington was, therefore, deferred to another opportunity. …

It was after night when I reached Martinsburg and the only unoccupied room in the hotel where I stopped was the one belonging to a Federal quartermaster, that officer having been called away to Washington. The landlord, accordingly, put me in there, and I proceeded to make myself as much at home as possible in the quartermaster’s quarters. As luck would have it, however, the officer returned during the night, and after I had retired, and finding the door bolted, he commenced a furious knocking.

I was asleep when he began to make this noise, and it caused me to wake with a start. I had no idea who it was, but thought some drunken fellow was making a disturbance. I therefore concluded not to take any notice, thinking that when he found he could not get in he would go away. The quartermaster, however, was angry at finding his room occupied, and being unable to obtain a response, finally said, “Open the door, inside there, or I will break it open!”

I thought that it was high time for me to speak now, and so said, in a half-terrified tone of voice, “Who are you? What do you want?” Finding that his apartment had a feminine occupant, he lowered his voice somewhat, and said, “Excuse me, madam,” and walked to the office, where he gave the clerk some sharp words for permitting any one to take his room. I heard him say, “I would like thundering well to know who she is,” but the clerk was unable to give him any satisfactory information, and the upshot of the whole matter was, that he was obliged to sleep in the parlor. …

Having made my morning toilet, and having, in anticipation of striking up an acquaintance with the quartermaster, endeavored to make myself as attractive as possible in outward appearance, I left my room and went and took a seat in the parlor. It was not long before I saw my gentleman, or one whom I supposed to be he, walking past the door, and looking at me with a rather curious gaze. I, however, took no notice of him, concluding that it would be more to the purpose to let him make the first advances, something that he was evidently not indisposed to do.

Breakfast was announced as ready before a great while, and with the announcement came the quartermaster’s opportunity to introduce himself to me. Advancing towards me, he bowed very politely, and said, “Are you Mrs. Williams?”

“Yes, sir,” I replied, “that is my name.”

Smiling as agreeably as he could, he said, “I owe you an apology, madam, for the disturbance I made at your door last night. I was not aware that there was a lady in possession of the room.”

“Oh, sir,” I said, “no apology is necessary, I assure you. Indeed, I rather owe you one, for I fear I must have caused you some inconvenience.”

“Oh, not at all, madam. On the contrary, when I learned that a lady had possession of the apartment, I regretted exceedingly that I had made so much noise. We officers of the army, however, are inclined to become rather rough in our ways, owing to the associations we are thrown in with, and to our absence from female society. We forget, sometimes, that we are civilized human beings, and don’t know exactly how to behave ourselves under circumstances where rudeness is inexcusable.”

“Oh, pray, sir, don’t apologize,” I answered. “I am sure that an officer of our brave army would not be intentionally rude under any circumstances.” I thought that this would do to start the idea in his mind that I was a staunch Federal.

Just then a colored woman appeared and asked us whether we would not walk into breakfast, and my new-made friend very politely said, “As you are a stranger here, will you permit me to escort you to the breakfast room?”

“Certainly, sir,” I replied, and taking his arm, we walked into the room together, my escort finding a seat for me beside himself at one of the pleasantest tables.

During the progress of the meal, my friend manifested the greatest interest in me and my movements, and by a series of questions, he elicited the information that I was from Cincinnati, that I was uncertain how long I would remain, and that I was in search of a brother [named Dick], whom I greatly feared was either killed or wounded, as he had not been heard of for an unusually long time.

The little game I was playing with the quartermaster will serve as a very fair specimen of the methods which a secret service agent is compelled to use for the purpose of gaining such information as is desired. A spy, or a detective, must have a quick eye, a sharp ear, a retentive memory, and a talent for taking advantage of small and apparently unimportant points as aids for the accomplishment of the object in view. While making the journey which had brought me as far as Martinsburg, I had, of course, kept my eyes and ears open and had consequently accumulated quite an extensive stock of knowledge which I thought might be useful some time. …

My friend asked me what company my brother belonged to, but I said that I could not tell him that. All I knew was that … the command had been engaged in some sharp fighting lately, [and] his family, as they had not heard from him, were becoming exceedingly anxious. I believe that I wiped the semblance of a tear from my eye as I told all this and looked as distressed as possible, in the hope of working on the quartermaster’s sympathies. He proved as sympathetic as I could have desired, and bidding me not to distress myself unnecessarily, but to hope for the best, he promised to undertake to find out for me where my brother was, if still alive, or, if it should turn out that he had been killed, where he was buried.

Accordingly, when we had finished breakfast, he escorted me back to the parlor, and then, saying au revoir, he went immediately to headquarters to inspect the roll of the command. Before a great while he returned, and, with a very sorrowful countenance, stated that it gave him pain to tell me that my dear brother was dead.

“Oh, that is awful!” I cried, and began to go on at quite a rate, actually, I believe, squeezing out a few real tears.

My friend tried to soothe me as well as he could, and finally, becoming calm, in response to repeated requests to do so on his part, I asked him where Dick was buried and declared that I must visit his grave. That I should desire to see and to weep over the grave of my dear departed brother seemed to the quartermaster both reasonable and natural, and he said that he would get an ambulance and take me to the burial-place.

Before many moments, therefore, the vehicle was in attendance, and my friend and I drove out to where my supposititious brother was buried. It was now my turn to question, and my escort proved to be so exceedingly communicative that before we returned to the hotel, I was informed of the exact number of troops in the neighborhood, their positions, their commanders, where the enemy were supposed to be located, who they were commanded by, the results of the recent conflicts, and a variety of other matters of more or less importance. The man was as innocent and as unsuspicious as a newborn babe, and I could scarcely keep from laughing sometimes at the eagerness he displayed in telling me all manner of things that, had he been possessed of ordinary common sense, he would never have revealed to any one, much less to a total stranger. …

Some of the information thus obtained I knew would be of vital importance to the Confederates, could it be conveyed to them immediately. I therefore made my arrangement and that night slipped through the Federal lines and told all that I had to tell. … With that extraordinary good luck which so often attends bold adventures, I succeeded in getting back without being observed or suspected, and my escort of the morning was never the wiser by the knowledge that his silly talkativeness had produced such good results for the Confederacy.

I remained about a week in Martinsburg, and enjoyed myself immensely. Not only my friend, the quartermaster, but a number of other officers paid me very marked attentions, and I was soon quite a rival to the belles of the place. I did not have another opportunity to communicate with the Confederate forces but this week was not an idle one, nevertheless, and by the time it was ended, I was in possession of a large number of facts that were well worth knowing. While still undecided whether to push on farther or not, I received some intelligence which induced me to think it better to return. …

[W]hen I got back to Chattanooga, I had some trouble in making any farther progress but by representing myself as a soldier’s wife and expressing an extreme anxiety to see my husband, I was permitted to remain within the Federal lines, but was not afforded any particular facilities for finding out anything worth knowing. My anxiety now was to regain the Confederate lines at the earliest possible moment. As I knew the country pretty well, I felt certain of being able to find the farmhouse where I had left my uniform, if I could only get a chance to go to it. Fortune favors the brave in a majority of cases, and ere long I was enabled to reach the house, but only to find that it had been burned, and, with the exception of the smoke-house and kitchen, was a mass of charred ruins.

I confess that my heart sank within me when I saw that the house had been destroyed, for I would have been in a nice predicament, and without my masculine garments would have been even more unwelcome among the Confederates than I was among the Federals. To my great joy, however, I discovered the ash-barrel just where I had placed it and unharmed, and in a few moments I had discarded my feminine raiment and was once more in the guise of a Confederate officer. The costume I wore, however, was not one in which I could appear with impunity in that neighborhood, and it was necessary, therefore, that I should make haste to get where it would be regarded with friendly feelings. …

Book gems of 2016, Part 6


Summer is upon us, and the season of leisure is the perfect time for new stories, characters, ideas, and adventures. Stillness of Heart concludes its occasional series of critical recommendations, from Civil War battle histories to memoirs, and from intellectual histories to photobooks almost as beautiful as the natural world they celebrate.

Read Part 1 of this 2016 series here and subsequent essays in this series here.

Finally … a brief look at some of the best works on World War I and World War II, science, culture, and literature.

David M. Lubin’s Grand Illusions: American Art and the First World War (Oxford University Press, 304 pp., $31.96) challenges us to appreciate how the trauma of war on individuals and on society as a whole has a powerful effect on how that society and its most creative minds express themselves through artwork. Political statement, illustration of shattered psyches, celebrations of victory and glory, reflections of societies that will never be the same again — the wartime and postwar motivations for beautiful and horrifying works analyzed in Lubin’s book were as varied and complex as the artists themselves. This valuable book reviews the work of famous artists and introduces us to previously unknown artists we must know about to fully understand the full spectrum of artwork from the Great War era.

Benjamin E. Jones’s Eisenhower’s Guerillas: The Jedburghs, theMaquis, and the Liberation of France (Oxford University Press, 336 pp., $23.96) reminds us that as the D-Day invaders floated off-shore and the paratroopers floated down from the sky, an Allied insurgency distracted, disrupted, or destroyed German operations in the hours and days before the invasion. This stunning book collects the stories of the daring teams that accepted incredible risks and executed impossible missions in the struggle to free France from Nazi domination.

Theresa Kaminski’s Angels of the Underground: The American Women who Resisted the Japanese in the Philippines in World War II (Oxford University Press, 512 pp., $27.95) offers a story of patriotism and bravery in the midst of brutal conquest. Four women contributed in different and priceless ways to the resistance efforts, the return of the American forces, and the final defeat of the Japanese invaders. Kaminski places their efforts in the larger historical context of the military operations, Japanese treatment of American prisoners, and the place of the Philippines in the overall calculus of Pacific strategy.

J. Samuel Walker’s Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs against Japan (University of North Carolina Press, 168 pp., $25), reissued this fall in a third edition, analyzes the contemporary debates over the use of the weapon, evaluates the intelligence available to the Truman administration officials at the time the decision had to be made, and includes fresh information from recently opened Japanese archives. The work masterfully illustrates the incredibly complicated considerations made by the Americans and the Japanese as the world — and warfare itself — stepped into a new era.

Miri Shefer-Mossensohn’s Science among the Ottomans: The Cultural Creation and Exchange of Knowledge (University of Texas Press, 262 pp., $55) pushes back against classic Western assumptions that the Ottoman Empire lost its cultural ambitions and interest in technological advancements — two key aspects of an intellectually vibrant entity — throughout the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, thereby dooming itself to (and justifying) European domination after World War I. Far from it, she argues, for the Ottomans retained their intellectual passion for new solutions to old problems, particularly in the field of communications, when, as early as the 1870s, they were one of the world’s leaders in telegraph technology. For centuries, the Ottoman Empire deliberately and nobly strove to create and maintain a rich creative and artistic culture, championing new inventions, embracing and improving innovations from other regions, and building on the mountainous achievements inherited from Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Safavids, and other great civilizations. This work refocuses academic attention on those accomplishments and challenges Western scholars and students to grant Ottoman civilization the credit and respect it richly deserves.

Apollo Pilot: The Memoir of Astronaut Donn Eisele, edited by Francis French (University of Nebraska Press, 192 pp., $24.95), promises to be an incredible story from an incredible individual. Eisele was selected for the Apollo 1 mission, the first in a series of manned missions to the moon. A training injury suddenly grounded him, and then news came that a fire killed the Apollo 1 crew, including his replacement. The disaster paralyzed NASA’s lunar program, and it was up to the next Apollo crew, including Eisele, to face down dual challenges: restart the Apollo mission program and also recover Americans’ faith in the grand endeavor. Apollo 7 did both. Eisele’s memoir of scientific triumph and personal tragedy brings a new dimension to the literature of space flight and of the heroes that won the space race.

Allan Metcalf’s From Skedaddle to Selfie: Words of the Generations (Oxford University Press, 232 pp., $19.95) promises to be a smart and light-hearted stroll through the history of American vernacular and the societies, cultural fads, fashions, and events that inspired or were defined by them. Metcalf’s work is a vital reminder that the stories behind common and colorful language, ranging from the Revolutionary era to today, are complicated but crucial elements of our nation’s history and cannot be underestimated.

Reading Debra Hamel’s Reading Herodotus: A Guided Tour through the Wild Boars, Dancing Suitors, and Crazy Tyrants of The History (Johns Hopkins University Press, 360 pp., $29.95) is like sitting on a beach near Bodrum, formerly Halicarnassus, with Hamel next to you, the classic book open on your lap, as she illuminates every incredible and sexy story — just the way Herodotus hoped we would enjoy his work.

James A. Michener’s Legacy (Penguin Random House, 144 pp., $16) re-appears on the literary stage with a new paperback edition. The 1987 novel centers on Norman Starr, loosely modeled on Iran-Contra figure Oliver North, as he prepares to answer for his actions before a congressional committee. He looks for moral strength in his ancestry, and the novel unspools an incredible cast of characters ranging across American history, each having played a part in forming the democratic republic Starr’s actions may have threatened.


Book gems of 2016
An occasional series
Jan. 3: Antiquity, Civil War, World War II, and space
June 22: Presidents and the political world
June 29: Texas and Texas history
July 6: Latin America
July 13: Slavery and the Civil War era
July 20: World War I and II, science, culture, and literature

Loreta’s Civil War: Seized with an intense desire


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 27: Velazquez hears that her beloved is nearby, and she can’t wait to be reunited with him, but she wonders if she should tell him the truth about her disguise.


From Lynchburg I went to Charlotte, North Carolina. … I did see quite a number of officers and soldiers who had collected at this point, under orders to return to their commands without delay, and who were waiting for transportation. Many of these were old friends and acquaintances of mine, and I proceeded to make myself at home among them, and also among the good people of Charlotte, taking particular pains, according to my usual custom, to be as agreeable as I could to the ladies. … I still was inspired by some ambition to achieve a reputation as a ladies’ man. I succeeded as well as I usually did when attempting to play this role and managed to enjoy myself immensely, although I am not aware that I inflicted any irreparable damage upon the hearts of the fair ones of Charlotte.

This was in the summer of 1863. Gen. [Robert E.] Lee had invaded Pennsylvania, had been defeated at Gettysburg, and had returned to Virginia to resume again the defense of Richmond. His army was shattered but defiant still, and, as events proved, was quite competent to do as hard fighting as it ever did, and to ward off the always impending Federal attack on the Confederate capital for a good while to come. But with the battle of Gettysburg, the important work of the summer in that quarter had culminated, and the attention of the entire Confederacy was now anxiously directed to Eastern Tennessee, where the Federal [Maj. Gen. William S.] Rosecrans was pushing forward with the evident intention of striking a damaging blow somewhere, and perhaps of forcing his way into Georgia. It was in resisting the forces of Rosecrans, therefore, that distinction was to be won, and not by remaining in the neighborhood of Richmond. … I concluded that I ought to set my face southward if I hoped to win any laurels.

Hearing that [Confederate Lt. Gen. James] Longstreet’s corps had been detached from Lee’s army before Richmond and ordered to reinforce [Confederate Gen. Braxton] Bragg, I concluded to wait in Charlotte until it made its appearance on its way southward, and, if possible, travel with it to its destination. A good many of the officers waiting in Charlotte were anxious to take advantage of this opportunity to obtain transportation back to their commands, but it was reported that no one would be permitted to go on the train except Longstreet’s own men. It would have been a very serious disappointment and some trouble to many who did not know when they would have such another chance to reach the scene of action, and there was a good deal of growling at the prospect that a prolonged stay in Charlotte might be necessary. …

I, however, had made up my mind to make a determined effort to go … and I proposed to some of the officers, who were impatient to get off, that we should have an interview with Gen. Longstreet and endeavor to impress upon his mind the imperative necessity we were under of rejoining our regiments immediately. There was a difference of opinion, however, about the expediency and propriety of this course, and no one was willing to take the responsibility of doing the necessary talking. As no one else would undertake the task of interviewing Longstreet on the subject, I resolved to represent the situation to him myself.

After the arrival of his corps in Charlotte I watched for a good opportunity, and at length espied him engaged in conversation with Gen. Jenkins. I therefore went up, and, making a salute, stated to Gen. Longstreet that a number of officers who were ordered to join their regiments immediately were unable to proceed for lack of transportation, and asked if we might not go on with him. … The general hesitated somewhat, but after asking me several questions about who we were, how many there were of us, where we were going … he acceded to my request. I made known the success of my mission to the rest, and so, jumping on board the train, we managed to get through. …

Shortly after my arrival in Atlanta, however, I heard some- thing that delighted me. … Capt. De Caulp was near Spring Hill with [Confederate Gen. Earl] Van Dorn. … I had not seen the captain since the Battle of Shiloh, where I fought by his side, or at least under his eye, during nearly the whole of the conflict, succeeding in winning his commendation for my courage without exciting any suspicion in his mind that I was the woman upon whom his affections were bestowed. So soon as I heard that he was in my vicinity, I was seized with an intense desire to meet him again, for I was greatly in love with him, and it afforded me the keenest delight to hear praises of myself from his lips, and he all the while thinking that he was addressing them to a third party.

I don’t suppose, since the commencement of the world, so strange a courtship as ours was ever carried on. It is certain that not many women have had the same opportunities as myself to find out, from their own lips, exactly how fond of them their expected husbands really are. The situation, I confess, had a wonderful fascination for me, for there were intensely romantic elements in it that addressed themselves in the strongest manner to my imagination. To have been able to fight by the side of my lover in one of the greatest battles of the war, and to be praised by him for my valor, were of themselves matters for intense satisfaction, and I often imagined how it would be after the war was over, and we would be able to compare notes and relate our adventures to each other. …

At the time of which I write … a desire to see Capt. De Caulp again was the uppermost thought in my mind, and I was almost more than half resolved to give him a surprise by revealing myself to him. Whether to do this or not was a question that I debated with myself most seriously while on my way to join him. The fact that I was a woman had now been so often discovered that it was probable he might at any moment learn that his expected wife and Lt. Harry T. Buford were one and the same, and, not knowing what he might think of the course I had pursued in assuming male attire, I dreaded having anyone but myself discover my secret to him. In addition to this, I loved him most fondly, and, although inspired by a sense of the duties I owed to the cause for which I had taken up arms, I endeavored to control my feelings and to regard my marriage with Capt. De Caulp as not to be thought of until the time came for both to forsake the battlefield and to think no more of warfare but as something we were done with forever.

I would have been less than human, however, if sometimes I did not desire most ardently to be with him and to hear from my lover’s lips the terms of endearment which are the sweetest music a woman’s ears can be greeted by, and to be courted by him as other women were by the men who had won their affections. I knew that, in many respects, it would be better for me to remain at a distance from Capt. De Caulp but I was moved by an inscrutable impulse at this time to go to him, and I was almost willing, if he should say so, to abandon the army and to permanently resume the garments of my sex. I did not propose, however, to do this if it could be avoided, and the leading idea in my mind was … to go through the rest of the war with him and to fight constantly by his side. …

So soon as I found that Capt. De Caulp was near at hand, I took the train for the point nearest to where I learned that Van Dorn’s command was stationed. Getting off at Tyner’s Station, I obtained a horse and started off in the direction of Chickamauga. … I saw plainly, as matters were then, that it would be exceedingly difficult … for me to join Van Dorn’s command. … Capt. De Caulp would most likely come my way, and I would be able to meet him sooner by waiting for him than by going after him. I was too impatient, however, to pass my time in idleness and felt as if I must do something for the cause and my own credit as a soldier.

It really appeared to be more trouble than it was worth to endeavor to persuade any of the general officers to assign me to the particular kind of duty I desired, and, as I had been decidedly successful in more than one expedition, planned and executed by myself, and on my own responsibility, I resolved to undertake another one just for the sake of keeping myself busy and of seeing what would come of it. I felt very confident that if I could make a big hit, my services as a spy would be in heavy demand, for there was evidently going to be some close fighting and the movements of the enemy would need watching at every point. …

My idea now was to run through the lines and take a good view of the situation from the Federal standpoint, and I knew that the safest and best way of doing this … was to go as a woman, for, in the proper attire of my sex it would be easier for me to pass the pickets and avoid being suspected of having any end in view to which objection could be taken. The only difficulty in the way of accomplishing my object was in procuring suitable clothing without attracting attention. As there were a number of houses in the vicinity from which the people had fled, some of them in great haste, when they found themselves likely to be in the midst of contending armies, it occurred to me that in all probability I would be able to find what I wanted in … one of them. I, therefore, commenced a search, and soon came to a dwelling that promised to supply me with everything I needed. … [I] transformed myself from a gallant young Confederate officer into a reasonably good-looking woman [and] I packed a carpet-bag with a change of clothing, and other articles, such as I thought might be useful on a journey. …

I picked up my carpet-bag and made directly for the enemy’s lines. I knew that the bold way was the best way … and that the correct plan was to strike directly for headquarters with a plausible story to tell rather than to attempt to slip past the pickets and run the risk of being detected. …

The position and duties of spies are little understood by persons who have had no actual experience of warfare. … Just as the quartermaster, the commissary, the paymaster, and the surgeon are as important as the generals … so the spy, who will be able to obtain information of the movements of the enemy, who will discover the plans for campaigns and battles that are being arranged, who will intercept dispatches, who will carry false intelligence to the enemy, and who, when he does become possessed of any fact worth knowing, will prove himself prompt and reliable in taking it or sending it to headquarters, is indispensable to the success of any movement. The spy, however, occupies a different position from that held by any other attache of an army. According to all military law, he is an outlaw and is liable to be hung if detected — the death of a soldier even being denied him. … [Y]et the spy is nothing more nor less than a detective officer, and there cannot be any good and sufficient reason assigned for the discredit which attaches to his occupation. It is simply one of the prejudices which, having no substantial foundation, have been carefully fostered by military men for their own purposes, and it is high time that it should be given up by sensible people.

During the war a vast deal of the most important kind of work was performed by spies on both sides, and these secret emissaries, men and women, labored with a diligence, a zeal, and an intelligence in the execution of tasks of enormous peril that was rarely equaled and never surpassed by those who had the actual work of fighting to do. The fate of more than one battle was decided … by the movements which the generals were able to make through information furnished them by spies, and more than one commanding officer has testified … to the efficiency and fidelity of the secret service agents who have aided him. …

Having been for a long period a spy myself, and a very successful one, and having been engaged in many as hazardous and responsible enterprises as usually fall to the lot of a secret agent of a belligerent power, I naturally feel a … professional interest in this matter. … All I ask is, that fair-minded persons, who will do me the honor to peruse this portion of my narrative, will remember that the circumstances were not ordinary ones. I was mixed up in a good deal of most rascally business but it was my associates, and not myself, who were deserving of condemnation. Their motive was gain, and gain at the expense of a government and people that trusted them, and to the detriment of a cause which they professed to hold sacred. I, on the other hand, was the secret agent of the enemy, who considered that pretty much anything was fair in war, and that I was justified in inflicting all the damage to the enemies of my cause that I was able. …. That I associated with traitors, and strove to make men betray the cause to which they were bound by every tie of honor and duty did not render them less despicable to me, and I even now shudder to think of the depravities of human nature which my career as a secret agent of the Confederate government revealed to me. …

P.J. Greystoke

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