Civil War Veteran Recalls Cooking and Eating Rattlesnake

After a sickness kept him at Fort Smith, man returns to unit only to encounter larger rattlesnake.

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My grandfather was a Civil War veteran. He was in Company A of the First Iowa Cavalry. He was sent to Burlington, Iowa, then on to the battlefields at Sedalia, Missouri. His first captain was Dinsmore. At Fort Smith, he was so ill he was taken to a hospital where he remained for four months. Then he returned to his cavalry unit at Chalk Bluffs. Here the country was full of big rattlesnakes, and one night when the men were all lying in line of battle, Grandfather was at one end of the line. He was thinking of the rattlesnakes when he felt one crawl over him. He lay real still, and it crawled clear on down the line of soldiers. Next morning they followed its trail in the dust and found it in a thicket. It had 14 rattles and had swallowed two squirrels.

The soldiers thought it would be great sport to be able to say they had eaten rattlesnake. Grandfather was a cook in the Army, so he very carefully dressed and cooked the huge snake, and they ate it. Many times they had very little to eat.

Fern Boyles
Woodburn, Iowa


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.