During the Civil War, many families experienced divided loyalties to the North and the South. That was true even for the extended family of Abraham Lincoln. His brother-in-law was Confederate General Benjamin Hardin Helm, married to Emilie Todd, the half-sister of Mary Todd Lincoln.
After rejecting an offer by Lincoln to become the Union Army paymaster, Helm had joined the Confederate army initially as a colonel and was later promoted to brigadier general. In command of Kentucky’s so-called Orphan Brigade, Helm was killed at Chickamauga.
In December 1863 Mrs. Helm visited the Lincolns at the White House, and on Monday, December 14, 1863 President Lincoln announced that Mrs. Helm had been granted amnesty after taking an oath of allegiance to the Union, as provided by his presidential proclamation of December 8.