Farm Boy Recruit Tells Gunpowder Tale From the Civil War

Working as a teamster, young recruit recalls hauling loose gunpowder to front lines during the Civil War.

| Good Old Days

Our favorite story goes back to the Civil War. It concerns our great-grandfather who was a raw recruit, an overgrown Indiana farm boy at 16. After joining up, he was assigned as a teamster in the Indiana Regulars of the Union forces. One of his first jobs was to take his team of mules and an open wagon to haul a load of loose gunpowder to the front lines.

At this time, Grandad, like so many soldiers, smoked a pipe whenever he had the opportunity. This time was no different. After he loaded his wagon, he lit his pipe and started to return to the armory. One of the first things to happen was that the wagon hit a bump and caused a spark to fly out of his pipe and ignite the gunpowder.

His report stated that nearly one-half bushel of the gunpowder burned before he could get the fire stamped out. They didn't even charge him with destroying government property!

Rex O. Wonnell
San Jose, California

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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