On a cold New Year's Eve in December of 1862, twenty-one-year-old Joshua Hobbs Brown listened wistfully to combined Union and Confederate bands playing Home Sweet Home as he and 80,000 other men prepared for the bloody carnage that would follow at daybreak along Stones River-just as the Emancipation Proclamation took effect to free millions of enslaved men, women, and children. Joshua would be seriously wounded by Confederate fire but survive to fight on with his valiant 84th Illinois Infantry Regiment from Chickamauga and Atlanta to Chattanooga, Franklin, and Nashville. Joshua's adventures were not limited to his battlefield exploits. He also made history by helping settle not one, but two states as a pioneer: first in the earliest days of the settlement of the prairies of Illinois and then in the first years of settling the high plains of western Nebraska. Persevering against every possible hardship from prolonged drought and blizzards to pandemics and economic depression, he helped forge two civilizations and turn the American frontier into the breadbasket of the world. On another cold December day in 1928, Joshua was laid to rest not far from his beloved homestead carved out of the wild Nebraska prairie. Thanks to his sacrifice, the republic he loved and served was still one nation, under God, indivisible. Joshua Hobbs Brown was once a solider and twice a pioneer. He is forever an American hero.
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