Frederick (Fritz) Schlein and his younger brother, Wiegand, arrived in the United States on April 25, 1852. They were two of a million German "48ers'' who left Germany after the failed 1848 revolutions that demanded freedoms inspired by the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence's affirmation that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."
The brothers settled in Brooklyn, N.Y., amidst a large German population. In 1853, a yellow fever outbreak struck a section of Brooklyn. Fritz contracted the deadly fever.
A recovering Fritz moved to Union Point, Ga., in Greene County, to be near Daniel Mineral Spring, which was famous for its therapeutic powers.
Fritz decided to stay in Greene County rather than return to Brooklyn. It is nothing short of a miracle that he recovered.
Wiegand moved to New Haven, Conn., where he became an ardent abolitionist and helped organize the anti-slavery Republican Party. He helped bring candidate Abraham Lincoln to New Haven for a huge rally. At that rally, Lincoln said: "Slavery is a great moral, social and political evil ... the whole Democratic party has deliberately taken negroes from the class of men and put them in the class of brutes ... Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty, as we understand it."
After Lincoln issued a call to arms to put down the Southern rebellion in response to the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, Wiegand immediately volunteered for service in the 3rd Connecticut Army. Two days later, in Georgia, Fritz enlisted in the Stephens Light Guard to defend the South.
Within three months, the brothers fought against each other in the Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861.
Wiegand was captured and taken as a prisoner of war. Fritz was wounded. The Civil War was over for both of them.
After the war, Wiegand returned to New Haven and established the Connecticut Republican newspaper and became a Republican leader. Fritz moved to Augusta and became a respected resident and a loyal member of St. John's Methodist Church.
In 1885, Wiegand came to Augusta for Fritz's wedding. Their reunion symbolized the reunification of our nation -- a nation "conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
Our individual freedoms set forth in the United States Constitution are endowed to us by our Creator. These freedoms were a beacon of hope for oppressed people then and continue to light the way to freedom for oppressed people everywhere.
THE REV. DAN WHITE IS PASTOR OF NORTH COLUMBIA CHURCH IN APPLING. READ THE ENTIRE CIVIL WAR STORY OF THE SCHLEIN BROTHERS ON HIS BLOG, THE WHITEBOARD, AT AUGUSTACHRONICLE.COM/BLOGS/WHITEBOARD.