The Civil War: Those Left Behind Dealt With Dreadful Bushwhackers

A knock at the door could lead to bloodshed as bushwhackers hunted down anyone who didn't agree with them.

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Having heard many stories of the Civil War from my mother, handed down from her parents, I believe this period must have been as dreadful for those left behind as the men at the front. A knock at the door at night could mean bloodshed and terror. One grandfather was an officer in the Union Army’s infantry, was captured and in a Southern prison for months, but came home to live out his natural years. The other was home for a brief visit with his family when a knock sounded upon the front door.

Everyone froze where they were. Bushwhackers were on the prowl and no man was safe. Slipping out a side window, Grandfather hid in a hillside cave all through the bitter cold night. He was stricken with pneumonia, a fatal thing in those days, and died within the week, a victim of the Civil War as much as those who were killed in battle.

A neighbor did not escape when the knock came at his home. He was taken to the hillside and shot where he stood.

Fear was everywhere in those days; windows must be cautiously covered, not a glimmer of light shown when darkness came. There was not only fear, there was loneliness, isolation and actual hunger. And it seems the scars of hatred still remain, each blaming the other for the war and its results.

The war was fought by young men, I believe. Even the generals were young. This was to be a war to end all wars, but it is always so, we hope. Let us keep praying that wars shall cease and difficulties be settled by peaceful means.

Ohla Edwards
Leawood, 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.