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I was surfing the net, found this article describing Catherine Hunsecker's recollections of the war and thought you may enjoy reading them. Catherine was 17 when the Civil War broke out so she most likely would have vivid memories of what happened.

The site is:


The story, as told by Catherine Hunsecker, was translated from Pennsylvania-German by a grandnephew.

Civil War Reminiscences By Catharine Hunsecker

My father was about eighteen years old when he, with his parents, moved to Franklin County, Pa., from Lancaster County. They moved to a place near North Mountain. There were seven children in the family. My grandmother died there and was buried, in a graveyard nearby. Later grandfather married again and moved to the Rowe district near Shippensburg. Then my father married and began housekeeping on a farm, near Chambersburg.

I was born on August 5, 1844, and was the oldest of seven children. The Civil War started in 1861, and I can remember quite distinctly many of the events that took place in our community during that troublous time. Most of the soldiers were volunteers in the first few years of the war. Later the draft was used; and many people were drafted. My father, however, was never drafted. He had a crippled hand, as a result of being caught in a threshing machine. This was sufficient to disqualify him for military service, and my brothers were too young.

Hiding Horses In The Mountains

In the beginning of the war everything was pretty quiet so far as we were concerned. Later the Southern soldiers began to make raids thru the north. The Cumberland Valley, being a rich farming section and a continuation of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia was one of the favorite sections for raiding parties. When word first came that the "Rebels" were coming, the people became very much scared and hardly knew what to do. We could hear the noise of the battles in Maryland and Virginia before they came as far north as Pennsylvania. People generally started to hide their goods and valuables as soon as possible in the bottom of the smokehouse, which was kept securely locked. The best of the horse gears were hidden in the bake oven. Some of the older and less valuable harness was allowed to remain in the usual place to avert suspicion that things were hidden away. Then the horses were taken away since the Confederates were known to be badly in need of horses and took all they could get. The hired man took four of the horses to Lancaster county and one of my brothers (who had a horse of his own) took his to Cumberland County. The first ones escaped but my brother's horse was taken as the Rebels came that far north. The people of the whole community took their horses away. Many of them hid them in the mountains that skirt both sides of the Valley. The men would go together in bands and take care of the horses in the mountains. One of our horses was put into a stable of the tenant house, which stood farther back in the woods. She was left for quite a while, but was finally discovered and taken. The colts were turned loose in the woods. Father thought they would not be able to catch them, but they drove them into a corner with their horses and caught them in this way.

Worthless Bluebacks

In one of the first raids the Rebels came into our place in search of horses; the horses had been previously sent away. A squad (of) three or four called father out and demanded that he tell them where the horses were. He told them he could not tell, as he did not know, which was true, because he did not know where the men had taken them. Then they said if he did not tell they would shoot him. We were out on the porch, mother and all of us chilren, and needless to say, were very much scared. Father stuck to his story and insisted that he could not tell them something that he did not know. They must have believed his story for they soon ceased their threatening, and rode away. Affterward many of them came and the connnunity was full of them. They took hay and grain for their horses, but I do not remember that they took any cattle. They helped themselves to the hogs but I do not remember that they butchered them at home as they did at some places. However, they paid for their things with paper "Greenbacks." It was absolutely worthless. They carried printing outfits with them and made their money as they went. For a while they had their presses installed in a schoolhouse near home. They would tell us that their money would soon be worth face value as they were going to win the war. They also assured us that our money would soon be worthless. Sometimes our people would refuse to take their money telling them that it would soon be worthless, but they would reply that they would soon win the war and then it would be quite valuable. We wouldn't take their money and when they did business with us we would give it to them whenever possible. They would take it, but no doubt they knew as well as we did, that it was worthless.

Requesting Cooked Bread

The Rebels camped on a neighboring farm ancd often came to our place for things to eat. Every morning we could hear the bugle blow. I still remember it as well as we could hear the drums as they drilled. They would come and ask that we cook bread for them, not seeminq to know the difference between cooking and baking. We baked for them as best we could under the circumistances, as at that time the bake oven was full of gears. They sometimes took nearly all the eatables we had. They provided guards for the farmhouse so that the soldiers would not destroy the things and take things when they had no orders to do so. The guards usually treated us very respectfully, and they slept on the floor. Most of the Rebels soldiers were very poorly dressed. Their uniforms were not new and bright like those of the Union Soldiers. The harvest came and the boys were still away with the horses. Father did what he could in cradling the wheat and we helped to rake and bind the sheaves, but much of the wheat was destroyed and trampled over by the soldiers and horses. As I remember the harvest was not large that year because it was either destroyed or could not be harvested. Finally the Rebels left without any battles having been fought in our vicinity.

Loading The Emigrant Wagon

At a later period during the war, word came that the Rebels were coming again. There were three distinct raids of considerable proportions and many minor ones by foraging parties. Besides there were many rumors of raids that never materialized. I want to tell of such an instance at this time. The rumor was that a battle would be fought at Chambersburg and we prepared to move to a safer place. We loaded the large covered emigrant wagon with bedding, necessary furniture, and supplies. Then some of us followed in the carriage, the carriage in which I rode was full of crockery, jugs, and such things as we could haul in a light conveyance. The wagon was large and held a great deal but we stored many of our things in a cave or arch cellar that was apart from the regular cellar. People told us that things would not be destroyed there in case of a battle as they could be in the course. Some of our neighbors moved too. We moved about seven to eight miles to my grandfathers near Shippensburg, which was supposed to be out of reach of the battles that were believed to be coming. But this time the Rebels did not come. They were either driven back and had to retreat before they reached Chambersburg. We were gone only about a week. Then we came back and had to carry our things back to their places which was no small task. We never moved away again although the Rebels came afterwards a number of times. We learned to know that things were safer when we were there than when we were away.

Source: Catherine Hunsecker, "Civil War Reminiscences,"Christian Monitor16 (January 1924): 406-407.]

I hope you don't mind reading accounts from two different people these last two weeks. It seems to me there is more to be learned from diaries, letters and books written by people who were actually there.

© 2006 Winifred Ledoux