Old Man Recalls Civil War Experience as Forager

Flintlock rifle part of old man's equipment as a forager during the Civil War.

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A yellowed portrait of a slender old man caught my attention today. His keen eye is squinting down the long barrel of a flintlock rifle. That man was my great-grandfather who served in the Civil War. He enlisted a month after fighting began, served as a forager and did not muster out until a few weeks after the last shot was fired. In the photo he is barefooted as was always his custom in summer, pant legs rolled up enough to keep them out of dust or mud.

The rest of Grandpa's life, he reminisced about his war experiences to anyone who would listen. He never tired of telling how he served as a forager, gathering food from the countryside for his comrades, as they pushed into new territory. His captain admitted that Grandpa had his eccentricities, but said, "The nation has no more gallant defender."

Grandpa's captain told how Grandpa refused to leave an injured comrade when the regiment was ordered to fall back. The captain saw at a glance that the wounded man must be left behind. Grandpa declared, with tears streaming down his face, that he would die first.

Only by hard coaxing was Grandpa persuaded he must escape in order to further serve his country. By hard running, he did escape into the woods with the rest of the men. The next day, the wounded boy was found dead, kindly placed under a tree by a soldier in the opposing army. He had been made as comfortable as possible, with his knapsack under his head, canteen of water within reach.

From an article originally printed in Capper's, November 7, 1989.

Elaine Carr
Nyssa, Oregon

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.