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Copples of Kapple
Our state of Kapple, Germany was sometimes quiet. People did their work, business as usual. The butchers were making sausage, the carpenters slaved away on tables and furniture.
I was out in the fields with my son James Copple. We were harvesting potatoes, thinking about my wife who had died while I was away fighting. Her name was Katherine. Her dark hair was a fountain spouting out of her head. She was looking for crops when I went away. Several months later I came back.
Greta explained, “Papa, mother was ill and passed away after giving birth to Oskar, your new son.”
“Look Papa” James shouted, ”Schau.”
That was when I first noticed them. they came dressed in red. Looking for mercenaries.
James had just turned 17 and I was 40 even though I say I'm 30 to be allowed into the physical testing and eventually the army.
I clasped James's small hands we followed the workers to the soldiers.
“Name,” ordered one of the soldiers.
“Tim and James Copple,” I replied.
“You have some time to say goodbye to any family you have left,” the soldier informed, “and to pack your bags.”
I rushed to my humble home to say goodbye to my darling daughter Greta, after all, if a war broke out the men left and it was not uncommon for a lady or young boy to be missing or dead when the men returned or a man to not return.
Greta was dressed in a stunning dress with a faded brown skirt covered by a blue faded apron and an off-white top. She was cleaning as usual and was also cooking sausages for dinner. She was a fair maiden at the young age of 14.
My youngest son Oskar was asleep. He was not old enough to go fight. He was 5 but could work. His day was shorter than the rest of the workers.
“Greta,” I told my daughter, “my darling Greta, James and I must leave.”
“Where,” She questioned with tears in her eyes.
“America,” I answered as I dried her tears, “or at least that’s what I heard.”
“How long will you be,” my daughter pried
“You know that is never known in a war,” I answered, “see you after the war.”
“See you later,” She whimpered.
I packed quickly and quietly to avoid waking Oskar. I packed for James as well.
“Hessians come out,” one of the soldiers screamed at the top of their lung, “ it’s time to go.”I jumped and shoved James out the door.
Men of all ages funneled onto ships. A man pulled us aside to inform us. I was in a different battalion than my son. We were on the same ship.
We were given houses to stay in. our lives were mellow for a year. I was then put into the fighting once the war started.
Our battalions were fighting close together. Very few of my battalion was from our village. Many from Hesse-Cassel. One-quarter of our battalion were mercenaries the rest were British. What turned out to be Our final battle together was scaring me. We ran in, side by side, then, he was told to go to the other side. It was the Battle of Long Island. After the British won, I went to go find James. when I couldn’t find him, I started searching the dead bodies and the injured, I counted 399. Then when I got to a small creek which ended before where I was. There I found my son lying there. His leg was bleeding and his skin a deathly grey. I quickly found his pulse, he was alive. I carefully picked him up and stumbled out of the creek. I hurried to where the infirmary tent was. my son’s leg was broken. I had feared that he was shot.
“This war will be over soon,” our commanding officer informed us as he tossed several coins at us, “ Stay in America in case you are needed. We stayed in America after the war because we were told to. I sent a letter to Greta.
My dearest Greta,
We have been forced to stay in America. please bring Oskar with you. Safe travels and Godspeed. See you in a few months.
She explained that she was married and her husband will not come. She would escort Oskar to America then come straight back. My son’s leg was slowly healing. By the time Oskar came James was able to walk again.