A Confederate Asks Whether Soldiers Can be Held Accountable for Their Deeds after Enduring the Horrors of War
Southern Civilians Anxiously Await the Approach of the Union Army
March 15, 1863. Kate Stone, a sensitive, well-educated twenty-three-year-old Southern woman, lived with her widowed mother, five brothers, and younger sister at Brokenburn, their plantation home in northeastern Louisiana. When Grant moved against Vicksburg, the family fled before the invading armies, found refuge in Texas, and finally returned to a devastated home. Stone’s wartime journal offers a Southern woman’s perspective and, in particular, the perspective of a citizen caught up in the theater of war. In March 1863, she wrote in part:
March 15. For the last two days we have been in a quiver of anxiety looking for the Yankees every minute, sitting on the front gallery with our eyes strained in the direction they will come, going to bed late and getting up early so they will not find us asleep. Today as it is raining, they are apt to remain in camp, and so we have a little relief.
March 24: The life we are leading now is a miserable, frightened one — living in constant dread of great danger, not knowing what form it may take, and utterly helpless to protect ourselves. It is a painful present and a dark future with the wearing anxiety and suspense about our loved ones. We long for news from the outside world, and yet we shudder to think what evil tidings it may bring us. . . . We beguile the time sewing and reading well-thumbed books, starting at every sound, and in the evening play backgammon or chess.
– Submitted by Sarah Rooker, Project Director, Flow of History
Brokenburn: The Journal of Kate Stone, 1861-1868, by Kate Stone, John Q. Anderson, Ed., pp. 179, 185.