Shoemaker Conscripted into Union Army, Survives Battle of Bull Run

Woman's brothers enlisted in Union Army, while her shoemaker husband was conscripted.

Content Tools

My grandmother had her husband and seven brothers all in the Civil War at the same time. There were 13 children in my grandmother's family, five girls and eight boys.

The youngest boy wanted to go as a drummer boy, but his father put his foot down and would not let him go. They all enlisted from Tarrytown, New York. They were the Van Tassel boys.

My grandfather, John Rowell, was a shoemaker, and the officers came and took him right from his place of business and did not let him come home to tell his family goodbye.

My mother said she slept in a trundle bed, and that night a soldier knocked on the door. When Grandmother went to the door, the soldier told her that Grandfather would not be home as he had been conscripted to serve in the Union Army. And my mother said she would always remember seeing Grandmother sitting down in a rocking chair and crying her eyes out.

It left Grandmother with five children to raise. She was young as she was only 16 when she was married. But they all came through the War safe. Grandfather was in the Battle of Bull Run.

Hazel Johnson
Lincoln, Nebraska


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.