A Too Young Country Boy Runs Away to Enlist in Union Army

Parents and teen soon discover that the too young country boy is stuck in the Union Army.

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Back in the year of 1861, a country boy almost 16 years of age, so young that a razor had never touched the soft down beginning to grow on his face, felt it his duty to enlist and take up arms to help do his bit to preserve the union his country knew, and maybe also because of his love and admiration for a tall, tired man down in Washington, D.C., the nation's capitol, who was needing the loyal support of his people at a very critical time.

Naturally, the parents of this boy would not give their consent to his enlisting in the Union Army, saying he was too young to endure the hardships of war and also he was needed at home where a boy of his age was able to do many chores on the farm.

Yet all this talk did not deter him from leaving his home. One night he packed his few clothes in a small bundle and, like the Arab, stole silently away in the darkness. Going to the nearest Army post in Mansfield, Ohio, he enlisted by giving his age as 18, thus making himself two years older than his actual age.

He was just a young country boy, slender of face with dark, curly hair, used to wearing cotton jeans and going barefoot as he pleased, so the Army discipline with the monotony of camp life and his first experience of being away for home for any length of time caused him to become very homesick.

Of course, his parents tried to get him released because he was under age, and also he was needed to help with the work on the farm as his older brother was already serving in their country's service, but he, as well as his parents, was to learn he was in the Army now, and stay, he must.

(Later, the young man saw honorable duty, was captured and served 13 months in prison.)

Isa Palmer
West Salem, Ohio


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.