Women Left to Contend With Bushwhackers During the Civil War

Union Army soldier's wife told stories of hard times, wouldn't allow word 'Confederates' to be said in her presence.

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My grandfather was a soldier in the Union Army during the Civil War. He died long before my grandmother, so I remember more of the stories she told of hard times when the women were left alone to keep the home fires burning, taking care of the homes and farms while the men were away fighting. My grandmother always said the worst to contend with were the "bushwhackers," and you just better not mention “Confederates” or "rebel soldiers," or you received a tongue lashing from her.

She told me that when a child died, the women had to dig the grave, make the coffin and bury the child.

She told me of a man coming home to see his family and how he was caught and a sabre run through his stomach, how he tightened his belt around him, holding his guts in until he got home, where he died.

She told how the women had to go in a group to the spring for water. And when they went to a salt lick for salt, it became so dangerous for the women because of the bushwhackers catching the women, that they went to the smokehouse and dug up the dirt where the meat had dripped on the ground floor and boiled that and somehow got salt from that.

She told me how the war came close, and the houses were shot full of holes, and how one old man had had the women prop him up with pillars, and although he was shot full of holes, he kept shooting back until he was shot through the head and killed. The War, as it was always called, held no glory for my grandmother; to her it was only bitterness and hurt.

Ruby Wilson
Pomona, Missouri


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.