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.Next »