Devillez was with Christian later for an event which many of the dying prisoners
took to be a miracle. In the intolerable summer heat, with nothing to drink but
the foul water from the creek, a spring of clear, fresh water suddenly broke the
surface of the ground inside the stockade, near where Christian lay.
Devillez helped Christian to the spring so he could drink, shortly thereafter Christian
died. He was 37 years of age, and Devillez' affidavit to the War Department is the
only record of his death. He had been in America just ten years.
There is now a monument to that "Providence Spring" at the site. Subsequent investigation
determined that the subterranean spring had been blocked during construction of
the stockade, and had eventually worked its way to the surface.
Christian was originally buried in a mass trench grave at the prison site. When
the war ended Clara Barton,
the founder of the American Red Cross, went to Andersonville and organized a National
Cemetery there to provide decent burial for the dead.
Christian is now buried in section F, grave number 4229, at what
is now the
Andersonville National Historic Site. His apple wood
pipe is on display in the museum there.
Estel Saalman, Christian's great-grandson provides an account of the pipe's recovery
and return to the museum. Estel's brother Otis was instrumental in correcting a
spelling error on Christian's grave stone at Andersonville.
Today, the Friends of Andersonville
organization continues the work of preserving the memory of Andersonville.
Back to Branchville
Devillez survived his captivity, lived to reach his home in Leopold, Indiana, near
Branchville, and gave Christian's $5 gold piece to Dorothea. App Miller, whose place
in the Army Christian had agreed to take, also turned out to be as good as his word:
he helped support Dorothea and the children.
Devillez, Lambert Rogier, and Isadore Naviaux, all young men from Leopold who had
survived imprisonment at Andersonville, had made a vow that, if delivered from the
horror of Andersonville, they would return to their native land of Belgium to have
a replica of
the statue of Our Lady
of Consolation made and brought back to Leopold.
With the help of several others, they did so and gave the statue to the Saint Augustine
Catholic Church in Leopold, Indiana as a memorial to the Andersonville dead, where
it still stands today. Until his death Devillez rarely discussed his experiences.
Captain Henry Wirz, the Commandant at Andersonville, was the only Confederate soldier
put on trial after the war by US federal authorities. He was charged with war crimes
and crimes against humanity. He was convicted and hanged; his defenders claimed
he was insane.
Historians now acknowledge that two factors were responsible for the hatred and
crushing hardships inflicted on the South by northerners during the Reconstruction
period: the first was the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln; the second
factor was the terrible stories of Andersonville brought home by surviving prisoners.