The Civil War: Old Letter From Yankee Tells Tall Tale

Well-spoken, humorous Yankee describes one incident to his beloved wife in a treasured old letter.

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Enclosed please find an old letter from my great-grandfather written to my great-grandmother. He was a well-spoken Yankee soldier in the Civil War from 1862 to 1865.

Pulaski, Tenn.  

December 17, 1863 

Sarah E. Brewer  

Dear Companion, 

Again I am proud of the privilege to write to a bosom friend. This morning is a cold one: the ground is froze very hard, but the master planet (the Sun) is rising as usual in the Eastern horizon, so perhaps by noon the present cold will be more submissive. Yesterday was a very raw day. 

Well, Sarah, I sent $45 to be Expressed to you by our Q.M. (Hay). He left here with the money yesterday morning, for Nashville, that being the nearest express office. You will find the money at C. Brown's. There will be some expressage to pay, I don't know how much. If you send any person except your Pa after it, you had better send a written order, lest they would be bothered in getting it. 

A couple of days ago when I was on picket, George Strattan, myself, and a couple of men of the 7th Iowa were upon one post. Along about twelve o'clock, the sun shining very warm, George and I concluded to take our guns and walk down to the creek, which was close by. Accordingly we started, upon drawing nigh to the creek, what should we see, but two men sitting on the bank sunning themselves. We quickly halted, gazed at them and saw they were young, genteel-looking fellows. We pronounced them Rebels and immediately concluded to capture them. So George passed slyly to the right and I to the left, and at the same time closing in on them. 

We were successful in our undertaking and captured them and took them up to our post and kept them under guard until the next morning. At about relief time, when we took them out of the little obscure place where we put them, we cut their heads off and wrapped them up nicely in our blankets. 

What? Did I say men? A mistake, they were ganders, and made a fine roast, too, for our dinners. 

Christmas is drawing nigh. I feel quite different now to what I did last December. Perhaps enough, write soon. 

Yours, as ever, 
E.H. Brewer 

Serena Cundall
Glendo, Wyoming



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.