The Civil War: The Blue and the Gray Converged on Small Farm

Grandfather remembers days of the Civil War, as the Blue and the Gray armies converged and looted property.

| Good Old Days

Our grandfather, Martin I. Smith, lived with his children several years before his death in 1939. While he was in our parents' home, my sister and I were often reminded of Grandpa's childhood in Maryland as he reminisced. Mart, as he was familiarly known, was a lad of eight or nine years, living in Maryland's Washington County when the armies of the Blue and the Gray were encroaching his father’s, Solomon Smith, farm on Elk Ridge Mountain in Pleasant Valley not far from Rohrersville. Troops – Confederate and Union both traveled the area – converged and looted his family's mountainside home during confrontations at Antietam in September 1862 and during the advance to and retreat from Gettysburg in mid-1863.

One incident was that the family was forced to leave the home, the house was ransacked, and belongings and personal effects were taken. When they returned, the Northern Army shared bedding and food until the family could stock up again. Another encounter was the use of the little farmhouse as a temporary infirmary, and this curious youngster peeking through a window witnessing amputation of a limb from a wounded soldier.

To escape troops marching to or retreating from Gettysburg, his mother, Sophia, took refuge up the side of the mountain and got lost in a briar thicket. She struggled for an hour or so before reaching a clearing. Three-month-old daughter, Emma, was carried in her arms, 6-year-old Sam and 9-year-old Mart held onto her skirts. 

Helen C. Dingler
Enterprise, Kansas

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. 

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