My ancestors lived in southeast Missouri during the
Civil War. When my great-great-uncle, Andrew Martin Bugg, hiked from Patterson, Missouri, to Union City, Tennessee,
to enlist in the Confederate Army on July 22, 1861, at the age of 21, the
family he left behind undoubtedly suffered nearly as much hardship as he. Martial
law was declared in Wayne County, Missouri, on August 3, less than two weeks
after Andrew arrived in Union City.
Shortly after hostilities started,
Missouri Gov. Claiborne Jackson immediately organized a Home Guard throughout
the state, supposedly to repel both Union and
Confederate forces. The North interpreted it as an act of war, and
reinforcements of Union troops chased the Home Guard into Arkansas. Residents of Wayne County
were under a constant struggle to survive throughout the war. The Union
soldiers would commit atrocities, then the former Home Guard would ride across
the border from Arkansas
and retaliate. Pillaging went on from both sides.
My great-great-grandparents lived
on a farm outside of Patterson, just about 3 miles from Fort Benton,
a Union fort. During a Union foray, my great-great-grandparents spotted the
Union soldiers coming and hid the silver and some large portraits in the oven.
It was a chilly day and the soldier
in charge insisted the stove be lit. Whether it was a clever ploy on the part
of the soldier for amusement as he watched their faces as the oven grew warmer,
or merely from the cold is not known. Finally, either sufficiently warmed, or
satisfied there was nothing in the oven, the soldiers departed, but not before
the portraits were badly charred.
This was minor compared to real
suffering that went on in Wayne
County. Men of Southern
extraction had to stay in hiding, livestock was taken, homes burned and
families exiled. Many men remaining at home joined the Enrolled Missouri
Militia just to stay alive and keep families from being persecuted.
One Union report relating a typical
scouting expedition that took place just two months after martial law was
proclaimed sums it up well: "Having been out 6 days, marched 145 miles,
killed 10 men, burned 23 houses, captured 15 horses and mules all of which is
That particular Union lieutenant
had grown up in Wayne
County and knew all the
residents. He knew the names of all the men shot, the first three who were just
walking on the road, and named the owners of the houses he burned, saying he
knew them to be Rebels and bushwhackers.
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.