Diaries From the Civil War Detail Hardships, Soldier's Duty

Woman treasured items from her father's Civil War experiences, including diaries with anecdotes of military life.

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I am 86 years old, the daughter of a Civil War veteran who enlisted August 11, 1862, at 16 years of age, and served until the war's end. I have his cartridge box, belt with large U.S. buckles, his bayonet, cap box, some caps and primers, and three bullets that bear marks of use. I also have two diaries dated 1862 to 1865, which have interesting anecdotes of military life, the hardships and privations suffered, and hope and cheer at doing his duty for his country.

Here is one story from his diary.

"Dec. 31, 1862. Jacob Sell, James Palmer and myself went out on a foraging expedition about 2 1/2 miles north of Trenton, then one mile east to the home of an ‘old Sesesh.’ He met us at the gate, and we asked him politely if he would give us a chicken for New Year's dinner.

“He told us he had none. We might have credited his story had not, at that moment, three or four big roosters stepped out from under the house.

“Jim hauled away at one and I at another. Jim killed his, but mine I only crippled. I reloaded and shot him. We got one apiece and started off, telling the old man we were ‘much obliged’ to him for them.

“He said he wouldn't say we were welcome, so we threw down our chickens and went back and shot four more, which were all we wanted to carry. We left the old man in a violent rage.”

Pauline King
Melvern, Kansas

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.