Preacher – Teacher – War Hero


Hear the narration:

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Eight years ago, on April 12, 1861, America’s Civil War began shortly after the election of Abraham Lincoln. South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union, fearing that Lincoln would end slavery, and by 1861, six more followed. So, in spring 1861, Lincoln called for volunteers to help stop the rebellion and defend the antislavery Union. I was an avowed abolitionist, which no doubt stemmed from the teachings of my father, so when Lincoln called for help, I eagerly enlisted. Even though I was eager to join, I did not want to fight in battles that were, without a doubt, quickly approaching without having married the love of my life. Major-General Ulysses S. Grant, who was my commanding officer at the time, gave me a short leave so that I could return to Michigan to marry Miss Emma Dean. We were married on the 28th of November, and two hours after our ceremony, I was on a train heading back to Cape Girardeau in Missouri to continue training groups of men on how to fire cannons. I had been immediately appointed as sergeant major of my regiment and was soon promoted to captain and moved to the front line during a battle that took place near a small meeting house known as Shiloh Church. On the very first day of battle, I raised my hand in order to signal for my gunners to fire and a musket ball smashed through my wrist, crushing my bones so badly, that I eventually had to have my arm amputated below the elbow.


Looking back now, I may have lost my arm, but 23,000 other soldiers lost their lives and many thousands more were injured just like me in the battle of Shiloh which, unbeknownst to me now, would eventually become known as one of the deadliest battles of modern warfare. As soon as she received the news, my wife Emma arrived from Michigan on the first train to take care of me. We spent time together in a makeshift hospital while I recovered. Because of my injury, I was able to be discharged from the army; however, I chose to remain active and I served in several more campaigns which eventually led to my promotion to major. I fought in the American Civil War because I supported and believed in Abraham Lincoln, and what he stood for. I did not follow in my father’s footsteps and become a preacher; I choose instead to be a teacher. I was decorated for heroism in America’s Civil War and was extremely proud of it. Men with whom I had fought with in the war told me that I was blessed with an extraordinary ability to inspire others. The Civil War gave me the drive, energy and organizational ability to become a great leader.