My grandparents told me many stories of the Civil War. My grandfather fought with the Confederate Army under General Robert E. Lee. For a time, he was a forage master and went to the home of my grandmother's parents in Virginia foraging for food and feed for the horses. It was during this line of duty that he met my grandmother. They were married the next year, and their little girl was born during the last year of the war.
While my grandmother was lying in bed with the new baby, a young Confederate soldier, who was being pursued by the enemy, went to the home and begged them to hide him. They took him in the room where the young mother and baby were lying and had him hide behind the head of the bed.
Soon the enemy came and demanded entrance to search the house. When they came to the bedroom where the soldier was hiding, my great-grandfather begged them not to enter because there was a young mother who was very ill. The men did not enter Grandmother's room and the young soldier was not captured.
But at another time my great-grandfather's home was visited by a band of soldiers who were just terrorizing people and were not acting under orders. They went to the cellar where there were barrels of cider, molasses, vinegar, coal oil, etc., and opened all of the spigots, letting the contents of all the barrels run together on the floor. They then went up to the kitchen and dining room and picked up stacks of dishes and dropped them to the floor, breaking them. They took pillows and feather beds from the house to the yard and ripped them open, letting the feathers fly in the wind. But their fun ended abruptly for they were caught and shot.
The sad part was the fact that they were neighbor boys, well known to my grandmother's family. So war surely makes devils of men, and they will do things they would not dream of doing under other circumstances.
My grandfather was standing near General Lee when he surrendered. Shortly after the surrender, General Lee turned to my grandfather, whose name was Smith, and said, "Smith, take your horse and go home."
Helen M. Christus
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.