Who Do You Think You Are? was back once again last night, as ER star Noah Wyle delved into his family's past to clear up some mysteries that took him all the way back to the battlefields of the Civil War.
For generations, family lore had dictated that Wyle's great-great-great-grandfather, John Henry Mills, had avoided the carnage of the War by paying someone to take his place on the battlefield. For Wyle, a native of California, the idea that an ancestor could have shirked his duty was a difficult one, and he sought to get to the bottom of this long-held family belief.
The truth of John H. Mills, as it transpired, was even more difficult. Wyle discovered that, far from avoiding the fight, Mills not only served, but served at the Battle of Shiloh, one of the bloodiest engagements in the entire conflict. The kicker? He fought for the South. Genealogists helped Wyle to discover that Mills had spent some time in the South prior to the War, possibly with some links to slavery.
Mills survived the War, going on to become a prosperous and well-known member of the Mississippi community in which he lived. That is, until financial woes began to mount, leaving Mills unable to pay his bills. Tragically, his story ended when he shot himself in the head, taking his own life.
Though this was an unexpected and unpleasant outcome to Wyle's investigation, he said that he felt some pride in the fact that his ancestor didn't buy his way out of service, but - regardless of the side - he stood and fought.
Did you catch last night's episode?
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