Reticent Grandfather Served During the Civil War

Granddaughter learns of Union Army experiences not from her reticent grandfather but from her mother.


| Good Old Days



My maternal Connecticut grandfather served with the "boys in blue" and was a Union Army cavalry man during the Civil War. I remember him well with his long white beard, but because I was a small child when I knew him, I didn't appreciate or value the few things he told. He was always reticent about his war experiences, and that chapter of his life had to be passed from Mother to me.

On reconnaissance one day in Virginia, the riders came upon a lovely Southern mansion where a slave was holding his master's saddled horse. Grandfather, whose horse had been shot from under him, and being fleet of foot, kept up with his detachment for three days, saw his chance to get another mount. He drew his revolver and creeping through the shrubbery, accosted the slave. "Give me the horse or I'll shoot you dead," he said quietly. A few days later Grandfather declared he saw that same man in Northern territory, free from his master's wrath.

Another time significant in his memory was that while on a flanking maneuver, provisions became exhausted, and they knew extreme hunger. Seeing a cow in a pasture, they slaughtered it, tore the meat apart and ate like ravenous wolves. They had no water to drink for many, many hours and were almost desperate from heat and thirst. Not long after, they came upon a vacant pasture freshly wet from heavy rain, with water filling the dried dung. The men dismounted, and lying flat on their stomachs, drank their fill of the newly fallen rain. "Never had water tasted so good to man or beast," Grandfather admitted.

Mrs. L.J. Tomlinson
Onslow, Iowa


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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