The Civil War Finds Immigrant Among Union Army's Volunteers

Man enlists in Iowa regiment of volunteers during the Civil War, survives Andersonville Prison.

| Good Old Days

John Jacob Kindscher, my paternal grandfather, came from Switzerland to the United States at age 11, and his family settled in Iowa. At age 18, he enlisted in the Union Army to fight in the Civil War. He was a private in Co. K, 16th Regiment, Iowa Volunteers. The following is taken from his obituary.

"During his active life in the army he enjoyed good health, but he came close to death when returning with a supply of water to his comrades. On finding a wounded Confederate soldier who asked for a drink, Mr. Kindscher stopped to comply with the request. When only a few feet away, the Confederate who was wounded fired at him. This bullet struck the metal part of the U.S. belt he was wearing, which doubtless saved his life.”

A short time before entering upon the fourth year of the War, Kindscher was captured at the Battle of Wilderness while detailed by a commanding officer to procure food for his company and was sent to Andersonville Prison, where he was confined for nine months. His granddaughter, Georgia (Kindscher) Binegar, who compiled the Kindscher Genealogy, wrote the following.

“While at Andersonville, Grandfather Kindscher found a pocket knife that was in good condition. He saw a Confederate guard carrying some potatoes. He asked the guard if he might swap the knife for a good potato. Never had anything tasted as juicy and crisp. This potato seemed to revive Grandfather Kindscher and give him a new zest and incentive to live."

After nine months at Andersonville Prison, because of a break in health, Kindscher was sent home. As soon as he was physically able, he reenlisted, but the war ended before he reached the front.

Barbara (Kindscher) Cowgill
Silver Creek, Nebraska

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