The Civil War: Family Suffered Hardships as Rebel Soldiers Demanded Food

Father hid in the woods with the only horse during much of the Civil War; Rebel soldiers came into the house and demanded food, asked about man of the house and the horses.

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Mother often told of the hardships they had to endure as the Rebel soldiers came through this part of Missouri, not far from where I live today. This was her story of the Civil War.

“Father would go hide out in the woods for weeks at a time. He had taken the best horse with him. Each day sister Louise and myself would have to take food and water to him, also some for the horse.

“One day, here they came, direct in the house and demanded food. Mother luckily was baking bread, but it was not done. In a gruff voice, they demanded to see it. Mother opened the oven, and they said, "Let's have it."

“Then they ordered soup plates, broke the bread into it, ordered molasses, which was the only spread people had those days as neighbors would cook that in the fall, poured it over the hot steaming bread and ate it with spoons.

“Then Mother and Louise had to go along to the stable or barn. They wanted to know where the boss was, so sister being older said, "He died." "Where is the horse?" they asked. "It's dead." So the reply was, "Everything must of died around here," and they went on.

“Mother said that was the happiest day of their life. The family was so frightened while the soldiers were eating. Her little 3-year-old brother was curious and was watching the soldiers the way they were acting and eating.

“Finally in a gruff voice, one said, "Doesn't that boy ever get anything to eat?" Sister Louise grabbed him and slipped him in another room.

“Later in the day we went out to the woods, got Father and all home, but it was a long time before we could feel safe.”

E.D. Rohlfing
Berger, 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.