Family Divided Between Union Army and Confederacy

The Civil War pits brother against brother as family members join Confederacy and the Union Army.

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Two stories my father told about the Civil War stand out in memory; one was tragic, the other humorous. Grandfather's family lived in a border state. Most of his family went to the Confederacy. When his favorite uncle chose the Northern side, Grandpa, a boy in his teens, soon followed him into the Union Army.

One battle Grandpa never could erase from his memory was an especially fierce one. After it was over, he was wandering around in a kind of a daze when he heard among the groans of the wounded, a sharp, bitter cry. He went toward the sound and found a man in blue bending over a man in gray. Grandfather looked on in horror while the one in blue gathered the dying boy in gray in his arms. The one in blue was the favorite uncle and the other was the uncle's youngest brother.

Is it any wonder that Grandfather used to say, with a look of pain on his face, “War is always a terrible thing, but Civil War is the most terrible of all."

There was a young man in Grandpa's company by the name of John Smith who thought he was better than other people. When he was made captain, he was sure of it. Once when they camped near a woods – on a moonlit night – Grandpa awoke and saw a figure stealing towards the woods.

He awakened a buddy and they followed it. Into the woods they went and to a clearing. Evidently the figure thought he was a safe distance from camp for he straightened up and said three times in-a commanding voice," Captain John C. Smith. Law, don't that sound!"

When anyone in our family got a "big head," Grandpa would say with a twinkle in his eye, "Captain John C. Smith. Law, don't that sound!"

Mrs. Grant Larrance
Hutchinson, 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.