Among the treasured keepsakes handed down to our generation of the family from our great-grandfather, who was a captain in the Civil War, are his Union Army blue cap, his discharge certificate, a portion of his diary and the watch he carried through the war.
The Captain was still a Corporal when the following excerpts were written in his neat, legible handwriting. All were written in 1863.
"We were busy all day pitching camp. Cold rain night and day. I now go to the Surgeon with the sick.”
"Rain and cold again today. Three of our men had half their heads shaved for being drunk. Could get no news from Hooker's Army."
"Bright and warm. At 15 minutes to 2 p.m., we had news of the capture of Richmond by General Dix. Hope it is so. After dress parade we received news that the Star-Spangled Banner waves over Richmond. The news was received with cheers and patriotic speeches until a late hour. God grant this War may soon close and I can come home to enjoy the blessings of peace!"
"A stormy day. In the evening we were paid two months' pay. Received $36.30."
"Saw General Grant today. At 12:00 at night, heavy firing was heard in the direction of Vicksburg. Over 60 reports of cannon in a minute."
"The Rebs asked to have the firing stopped until four o'clock so they could bury their dead. Then we laid in the woods all day, the next day firing at the Rebs and they at us."
"Our company went on picket but I was so sick I stayed in camp."
"We marched at noon but I had to be carried in the ambulance wagon. Got a pass from Surgeon Prince for myself and 11 men to ride."
"I suffered very much from fever. Men have died from heat. Before night we crossed the Big Black, and the ambulance carried us to the hospital where we all took quinine."
"Another day in the hospital with the shakes. Passed a hard day. Large bumps behind each ear."
"Doctor says I have the mumps. My face continues to swell and aches very bad."
"My health is improving. Our Doctor's name is Norton, a Massachusetts man. Captain Draper came to see me. I have had a long time suffering with my neck."
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.