Civil War Stories from White House Guard

Family stories about the Civil War are part of my earliest memories. While my great-great-grandfather was a guard at the White House, he kept a diary revealing many interesting stories. Among the more thrilling accounts is when Lincoln called him onto the porch and challenged him to a game of checkers, which Lincoln proceeded to win.

An evening several weeks later might have turned out less happily. A horse and rider swept past the sentry, ignoring his command to halt and give the countersign. After the second command to halt was ignored and the sentry raised his rifle to shoot, the door to the White House office was opened and Secretary of State Stanton said, “Sentry, hold your fire, it is the President’s son.”

Grandfather survived the War and later he and his young bride went to Georgia to establish the first freedman’s school. Later they organized a boarding school for Negro girls.

Paul Bamberger
Hanston, Kansas

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.