Living now in this land of plenty, it’s next to impossible to turn back the pages to the terrible Civil War when no one could be sure this great nation would survive. Brig. Gen. John Logan’s 31st regiment of Illinois volunteers, of which my Grandpa John Brandon was an eager participant, did their state (yes, their whole country) proud from almost the onset of the War Between the States. During the Battle of Champion Hill, the men of the 31st slung their knapsacks and lay on the high ground looking across to the farmhouse where enemy field batteries were positioned to defend the double line of infantry.
A Corporal Anderson of a Missouri brigade later told Herb Phillips, author of Champion Hill, of seeing Southern ladies on the lawn of the Roberts’ house nearby singing “Dixie” and cheering their men on.
Logan rode up, proud and straight in the saddle and pronounced, “We are about to fight the battle for Vicksburg.” The order – “Fix bayonets” was quickly followed by “Forward – double quick – march!” His men rose up, plunged into the deep underbrush and soon faced the enemy at close range. A Corporal (later Capt.) Byers of Iowa wrote: “I have been in (what history pronounced) greater battles than Champion Hill, but only this once did I see two lines of blue and gray stand close together and fire into each other’s faces for an hour and a half! I think the courage of the private soldier on that awful day gave us Vicksburg, made Grant immortal and helped save this country.”
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.