Free Land Draws Grandfather in Covered Wagon

Sitting in a rocking chair, girl hears Civil War stories from her grandfathter after family travels in covered wagon to reach Kansas claim of free land.

| Good Old Days

  • Civil War Battle Field in Autumn With Cannon
    If these old Civil War battle fields could talk, the stories they would tell.
    Delmas Lehman/Fotolia

  • Civil War Battle Field in Autumn With Cannon

I would sit in my little rocking chair beside my grandfather, rocking and listening to these stories. My grandparents left Indiana with two small children in a covered wagon, traveling for days before reaching what is now Kansas, to stake the claim of 160 acres of free land. This land was only two miles from the Missouri line, which had joined the Union as a slave state.

On arriving in Linn County, the friends who had reached Kansas sometime before met them several miles from the place they planned to call home. Told Grandfather to work fast, get the wife and two children to hide in a cornfield and take one horse and move west as fast as he could to where the Union soldiers’ camp was. The friends helped unload the wagon, took the other horse to wooded area, where it was tied to a tree, the wagon was placed in tall grass. This had to be done to keep the bushwhackers from Missouri from stealing them. If they had met Grandfather before he reached the Union camp, he would have been shot.

The word had reached the Union camp in Linn County that Gen. Sterling Price of the Confederate Army was planning to move across Eastern Kansas and reach Fort Scott. The Union Army had a big supply of guns, also their trained men were in camp there.

Camped close to Mound City, Kansas, most of these men was untrained, and had only hoped to be farmers. When the raiders moved into Linn County, they got a big surprise, these men fought as the South had never seen before. What men who had not been killed, gave up within a few days. This was a great victory for the Union Army.

My grandfather was shot in the leg; he could not walk, no way to stop the bleeding. He crawled two miles away from the battlefield, passed out and was finally picked up by men of the North and taken to a makeshift hospital in Mound City.

Where Grandmother and the little children were hiding in the cornfield, this was only a few miles from where the fighting was taking place. They could hear the guns. One night some men on horses rode around this cornfield hunting for people and whatever they could steal. Grandmother had the family dog. She and the children talked to the dog, prayed it would not bark and give their hiding place away.

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