Saalman Family Website by todd saalman

Christian Saalmann in Union Army uniform - painting from photo

Reinhard Gottfried Christian Saalmann

25 Jan 1829 - Jul or Aug, 1864

From Plowshares to Swords

Two years after the family had arrived in Branchville, Abraham Lincoln, who had spent his boyhood years just 30 miles from Christian's new farm, was elected President of the United States. Fearing that Lincoln's views on the issue of slavery would destroy the basis of their economy, thirteen southern states, one after another, seceded from the Union. It was not long before Perry County found itself near the front lines in the American Civil War.

A local farmer named App Miller lived near Apalona, five miles from Christian's farm. Miller was obligated for Army service. Without a military draft at the time, Miller's obligaion is unclear. Perhaps he had been a member of the state militia and was being called to duty. At any rate, Miller didn't want to go. It was a permited practice at this time for a man with a military obligation to get someone to voluntarily substitute for him. The practice was so common there were standardized fees involved. Miller offered Christian 500 dollars, a very large sum in those days, to substitute for him, and Christian agreed.

He may have seen the 500 dollars as an opportunity to buy additional land or necessary farming equipment, or to pay off a mortgage on the he already had. More than financial considerations were probably involved, since he had rejected the lifetime financial security of his life in Hoym. He agreed when no law required him to serve, and he left a young wife and four small children behind when he left. It must have made a difference to him what the war was about. He was under no illusions about the risks involved, since his agreement with Miller required Miller to look after and help Dorothea and the children if Christian didn't make it back from the war.

The Civil War was to become the greatest disaster ever to befall America in its history. Both armies used military tactics essentially unchanged since the Napoleonic Wars in Europe a half century before. Unfortunately, the technology of weapons had changed dramatically in that time, they were much more efficient killing machines. Ultimately more than 3,000,000 men from both sides fought in that war, more than 600,000, one of every five, was killed. Another 600,000 men were wounded, often grievously. Very few families, North or South, escaped the war's terrible effects. Nothing before or since can compare.

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