Library of Congress

Teachers

The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Presentations and Activities > Timeline
Timeline Home Page
home
Civil War and Reconstruction
Civil War Soldiers' Stories
Lewis McBride Joins the Union Army

In the following excerpt from an interview conducted during the 1930s, Lewis McBride tells stories about several interesting experiences he had as a young man. What does McBride say about his meeting Abraham Lincoln? What do you think about Lewis's joining the Union Army at such a young age? How common do you think that practice might have been?

View L. C. McBride's entire interview fromAmerican Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.


"We lived in South Bend, Indiana from 1855 to the end of the Civil War. It was there in about 1859 that I got a chance to hear Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas make speeches in a sort of debate. They spoke of LaPorte, Indiana and the railroad ran an excursion, 50 for the round trip from South Bend.

"At that time my father was a Democrat and of course, I was too, although only a boy. Mr. Lincoln appeared in a shiny black suit and rusty plug hat. Douglas was a regular dandy in tailor-made well fitting clothes and an elegant plug hat.

"I was seated with four other boys on the first row of seats and when the speaking was finished, Mr. Lincoln stepped down from the platform and stopped by us. He said 'I want to shake hands with these boys, they are the ones who will soon take up this great work.'

"It made us feel pretty good to be there to see and be seen. I came very near turning Republican that day.

"In December 1862 when I was fifteen years old, I enlisted in the Union Army and was in service until August of 1865. We went with Sherman on his march to the sea and I got as far as Atlanta, Ga. Rebel General Hood had crossed the Tennessee river into Tennessee and our division was ordered back to clean them up. In the battle, which followed at Franklin, Tennessee, I was struck in the knee cap by a Minnie ball and for 5 months I lay in a hospital 25 miles south of Nashville. At Murphysboro hospital gangrene had set in and they wanted to amputate my leg but I said I was going where my leg went so they left it on. It finally healed though it has always bothered. When I laid in that hospital I wished I was home with mother.

"In the army we were used to a menu of 'sow belly' salt meat and coffee, but in the hospital, we got hard biscuits and tea.

"There were four Rebels in there and they used to roast me something fierce. 'What did you'uns come down here to fit wouns for? I can hear them saying it yet. I had always been a Democrat but after that I turned Republican and have been so ever since. These Rebels are Democrats.

"I voted for Abraham Lincoln. On August 15, 1865, I was discharged from the army and went out to Marenge, Iowa, where my father had moved."
top of page


View L. C. McBride's entire interview fromAmerican Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.