The Civil War Finds Immigrant Among Union Army's Volunteers

Man enlists in Iowa regiment of volunteers during the Civil War, survives Andersonville Prison.

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John Jacob Kindscher, my paternal grandfather, came from Switzerland to the United States at age 11, and his family settled in Iowa. At age 18, he enlisted in the Union Army to fight in the Civil War. He was a private in Co. K, 16th Regiment, Iowa Volunteers. The following is taken from his obituary.

"During his active life in the army he enjoyed good health, but he came close to death when returning with a supply of water to his comrades. On finding a wounded Confederate soldier who asked for a drink, Mr. Kindscher stopped to comply with the request. When only a few feet away, the Confederate who was wounded fired at him. This bullet struck the metal part of the U.S. belt he was wearing, which doubtless saved his life.”

A short time before entering upon the fourth year of the War, Kindscher was captured at the Battle of Wilderness while detailed by a commanding officer to procure food for his company and was sent to Andersonville Prison, where he was confined for nine months. His granddaughter, Georgia (Kindscher) Binegar, who compiled the Kindscher Genealogy, wrote the following.

“While at Andersonville, Grandfather Kindscher found a pocket knife that was in good condition. He saw a Confederate guard carrying some potatoes. He asked the guard if he might swap the knife for a good potato. Never had anything tasted as juicy and crisp. This potato seemed to revive Grandfather Kindscher and give him a new zest and incentive to live."

After nine months at Andersonville Prison, because of a break in health, Kindscher was sent home. As soon as he was physically able, he reenlisted, but the war ended before he reached the front.

Barbara (Kindscher) Cowgill
Silver Creek, 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.