Family in Great Smoky Mountains Hit Hard by the Civil War

Mother, children forced to save livestock from soldiers raiding communities in Great Smoky Mountains during the Civil War.

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Great-Grandmother was only 13 when the Civil War started, and soldiers often came to the area. The family lived in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. Times were hard, and with the menfolk gone off to war, it was about all my great-grandmother could do to rustle up enough food for her five children and keep the livestock alive.

In the years gone by, Great-Grandfather had cleared enough ground for a hillside garden and land for what corn and wheat his family would need to see them through until the next season.

One day a neighbor boy came running down the toe-path, bringing word that soldiers were headed in that general direction. Great-Grandmother sent my grandmother to round up the cow and oxen and drive them into the woods.

Great-Grandmother gathered all the available food, then she and the four younger children hurried into the woods to find my grandmother. They stayed hid out until they were sure the soldiers were gone.

They were thankful the warning came in time for them to hide the stock. Many families in their locality did not fare as well, because the hungry soldiers slaughtered their stock for food.

Adeline Ferguson
San Diego, California

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.