Nick Kam

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Conjoined twins and legal conundrums

Conscripted and Conjoined

After traveling the world, exhibiting their intertwined bodies, Chang and Eng Bunker settled down in Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to farm their land and raise families with their wives (sisters to boot). Chang and Eng became quite wealthy — amassing large estates, tended to by some 33 slaves, and large families. In 1865, the throes of the American Civil War, Union General George Stoneman raided the state and set up a lottery to draft all able-bodied men over the age of 18.  Whether Chang and Eng Bunker would be considered “able-bodied” for purposes of the Selective Service System is another question (the regulations require that even disabled men who live at home must register with Selective Service if they can reasonably leavetheir homes and move about independently).

According to Clint Johnson’s 2011 travel companion, Touring the Carolinas’ Civil War Sites, the names of the men were put into a lottery wheel. Eng’s name was chosen for conscription but not that of his brother Chang. Besides the fact that both Chang and Eng were ardent Southern sympathizers, Stoneman would have had a hell of a time trying to enlist one brother without the other due to the fusion of the conjoined twins’ livers.

As Rebekah Brooks concludes the story: “Neither brother ended up fighting in the war although both of their eldest sons, Christopher Wren Bunker and Stephen Bunker, joined and fought for the Confederacy. Both Christopher and Stephen survived the war but Christopher was captured and spent nearly a year as a prisoner of war at Camp Chase in Ohio in August of 1864.”

Via Civil War Days and the Smithsonian.

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