John F. Cramer  was one of the original  officers selected by Col. Hassendeubel in August 1861 to lead the Turner Society's new regiment called the Western Turner Rifles.  He was commissioned Lt. Col. of the 17th Missouri Voluntweer Infantry Regiment to rank from August 22, 1863.  He served as regimental executive officer from August 1861 to July 1863 during the campaigns in Missouri, Arkansas and Vicksburg. During Col. Hassendeubel's frequent absences to serve as brigade commander, he was acting commanding officer of the regiment. He was a skilled administrator and managed the regiment's affairs  in a commendable manner.  After Col. Hassendeubel's death from wounds  before Vicksburg, he was appointed commanding officer and promoted to the rank of Colonel effective July 18, 1863.  He successfully led the 17th Missouri during the relief of Chattanooga, but the responsibilities of command were more than he could handle. After the Chattnooga Campaign, he turned over command to Major Romer and returned to St. Louis on recruiting duty. His efforts failed to bring the regiment up to full strength, and after returning to the regiment during the winter of 1863-64, was unable to convince the three year veterans to reenlist for the duration of the war. He had developed a serious drinking problem while in St. Louis and as the regiment prepared to leave its winter quarters at Bellefonte, Alabama to embark on the Atlanta Campaign, he became despondent and committed suicide on May 2, 1864.  He was remembered by his men with affection and compassion for the sacrifices he made for his adopted country during his three continuous years of service under trying circumstances.


Copyright (c) 2001  Philip RHinderberger