Teen Does His Duty, Serves With Union Army

Passed over as bugle boy, teen joins Union Army and sees surrender at Appomattox court house.

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My father was a Civil War veteran. He was born in the state of Pennsylvania, and when the Civil War broke out in 1861, he was only 17 years old. He wasn't quite tall enough either, but he was eager to get in the Union Army and do his duty for his country.

With the consent of his father, he could overcome the lack in years, but not the lack of height. The officer that measured the soldiers was a friend of Father's, and because there wasn't sufficient time to measure each boy separate, the officer just stood the men in a line.

Then the officer used a pole five and one-half feet long, which was the required height, then stood the pole on end, and looked over it at the line of men to see that none were too short.

The officer kept Father in one line while he measured other lines, then slipped Father to a line he had already measured. That way he wasn't measured at all.

He was passed to become a bugle boy, but as soldiers were needed so badly, he enlisted as a soldier.

He went all through the Civil War and witnessed Lee's surrender to General Grant at the Appomattox court house, Virginia, April 9, 1865.

The soldiers fired 100 rounds of minute rifles as a salute to Lincoln after he was assassinated.

Laura Dyken
Smith Center, 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.