During the Civil War, Grandfather served four full years in the 9th Illinois Cavalry with the troops in the West, as he called it, meaning along the Mississippi River and the Southwestern states. Somewhere in the campaigns, the men were running short of supplies and were tired of the hardtack they were issued. Grandfather spied some beehives near a farmhouse and thought how good honey would taste. Under cover of darkness, he grabbed a hive and away he ran. He was fleet of foot and was making good progress back to his companions when he tripped and fell.
Out came the bees, humming angrily. Grandfather was determined not to lose the honey, so he picked himself up and ran on, stinging bees and all. The boys had their honey and Grandfather had numerous bee stings.
Sometime after this, the cavalry had to dismount and advance on foot. Grandfather was delegated to remain in the rear to hold the reins of his comrade's horses. While doing this, a stray shot struck him in the knee, disabling him for some time. After recovering, he rejoined his company, serving until the end of the war. He was with the troops who marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to be reviewed by President Abraham Lincoln.
He often spoke of Mother Bickerdyke, the brave woman who did so much by her nursing to relieve the suffering of sick and injured men. He said she was like an angel to the troops.
As long as Grandfather lived, he retained the erect military bearing he acquired during the four years of the Civil War.
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.