Colonel Franz Hassendeubel

The 17th Missouri Regiment's commanding officer, Major Franz Hassendeubel was born on January 18, 1817 at Gemmersheim, Palatinate on the Rhine River in what is now Germany. He received a classical education in Zweibruecken; being especially proficient  in mathematics and athletics, graduated with high honors as a civil engineer. In 1844, at the age of twenty-seven, he emigrated with Apolonia, his wife, to St. Louis, Missouri  where he found a position as a civil engineer serving in that capacity until the outbreak of the war with Mexico.  Responding to the President's call for volunteers, Franz Hassendeubel was one of the first to offer his services and was commissioned 2nd lieutenant on May 31, 1846 in Captain Waldman Fisher's artillery battery. This battery was designated as Battery B of Clark's 1st Battalion, Missouri Light Artillery, consisting of six pieces, which supported Colonel Alexander Doniphan's 1st Missouri Volunteer Regiment. These units  were part of General Stephen Kearney's  Army of the West  during its celebrated movement across the great plains and mountain ranges between Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Kearney's  men marched over 900 miles in less than three months from June 1846 until August 18th when  the Army of the West entered Santa Fe.

Along the way Lieutenant Hassendeubel had ample opportunity to demonstrate his prowess with a rifle by bringing down many  buffalo to supply  his battalion with meat.  Later during the occupation of Sante Fe, the section of the battery under command of Hassendeubel was called into action on February 4, 1847 to quell the Pueblo de Taos uprising.  After a siege of some duration, he entered the pueblo as head of his small command, climbed the ramparts and leaped into the enemy fortifications, with his lightly armed force closely following.  Hassendeubel demanded and received the surrender of the Mexican garrison.  The humane treatment and care of the besieged populace of Taos by Lieutenant Hassendeubel who provided them with provisions, clothing and other necessities, won their admiration. The officials and council of the Pueblo de Taos tendered him their thanks and gave him and his men a banquet in grateful acknowledgment.  For his gallant and meritorious service he was promoted to Captain of Artillery on February 14, 1847.  His bravery  was officially acknowledged by his commanding officer General Sterling Price, who would later find himself on the losing side at Pea Ridge and other battles in which Hassendeubel  was in command of Union forces.  Captain Hassendeubel went on to distinguish himself at Santa Cruz, Chihuahua, and in other engagements during the Mexican War.   He was mustered out on June 15, 1847 after leading his battery  back to St. Louis where he was received with accolades by his fellow citizens.

After returning to St. Louis, he was appointed City Engineer and won distinction through his knowledge and integrity.  In 1860 he paid a visit to his native Germany for further studies and observations in his vocation as a civil engineer.  The threatening conflict between the North and the South becoming more and more acute in the United States, he hurries home, and was recognized as a potential leader by some of his former comrades in arms who favored the Confederate cause.  He steadfastly resisted their blandishments, and at a special conference with rebel Generals Price, Frost and others at the Planters House, he plainly expressed his devotion to the Union cause.  Unknown to them,  in anticipation of the outbreak of  war, he had been secretly drilling Turner Society members since his return from Germany.

 Upon the outbreak of hostilities, he joined Colonel Sigel's 3rd Missouri Volunteers as second in command of the regiment. He was commissioned lieutenant colonel in April 1861 and served in that capacity during the regiments ninety days of service. He was now forty-five years of age, healthy and fit, an accomplished rider, a good tactician, thoughtful but keen when the opportunity to act presented itself, and he had the respect of the men under his command.  Because of his distinguished service, his men trusted and followed him implicitly.  To his peers and superior officers he appeared unassuming in his manners and in his speech, often provoking laughter through his good humor.  In short, he was an accomplished administrator, experienced soldier and a gentleman.

In May 1861, Lieutenant Colonel Hassendeubel played an important part in the orderly movement of Union troops in St. Louis during the capture of Camp Jackson.  Later while the 3rd Missouri was posted to protect the tracks of the Pacific and Southwest Railroad, Hassendeubel worked with Army engineers to design and construct ten earthen forts and seven artillery batteries around St. Louis. These fortifications protected the exposed western flank of the city stretching from Hyde Park on the north side, along Grand and Jefferson Boulevards to the Naval Hospital on the south side. On June 12, Hassendeubel led the first contingent of  Union forces out of St. Louis on General Lyon's  expedition through  Rolla, Lebanon, Springfield and Neosho in pursuit of rebel governor Claiborne Fox Jackson and his Missouri State Militia.  Jackson's five thousand strong state militia led by General Sterling Price  was joined with the ten thousand strong Confederate Army from Arkansas led by General Ben McCollough.  Sigel's 3rd Brigade came into contact with elements of Jackson's  state militia led by Captain Hiram Bledsoe at Dry Fork Creek near Carthage. Sigel seized the moment and attacked the rebels who were assembled  on a low hill but after rebel cavalry appeared Sigel pulled his troops back across Dry Fork Creek.  When the rebels pursued, Hassendeubel suggested a bayonet charge to break the counterattack.  Sigel approved and Hassendeubel ordered three companies to fix bayonets and follow him across the creek.  Hassendeubel briskly led his troops out of the brush and  directly at the startled rebel cavalry  who turned and ran at the sight of flashing steel in the hands of  Hassendeubel's feared Dutchmen.

After  returning to St. Louis, Hassendeubel was selected by the Turner Society to lead their Western Turner Regiment which was mustered into service on August 23, 1861 for three years service.  Designated as the 17th Missouri Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the Western Turner Rifles was composed of  veterans from the ninety day regiments and new Turner recruits from as far away as Philadelphia.  Hassendeubel, commissioned Colonel  of the 17th, quickly brought the regiment into fighting trim. Hassendeubel's regiment was attached to General Fremont's Army of the West and took part in Fremont's advance on rebel forces assembling at Springfield, Missouri.  The following yeat, he led the regiment into battle at Pea Ridge in March 1862 where the 17th played a pivotal role in driving Confederate forces from the field with his trademark bayonet charge.  Later that year he led the 17th through Arkansas as part of General Curtis' Army of the Southwest.  After a short period of garrison duty at Helena, Arkansas, Hassendeubel's troops operating along the Mississippi River, participated in Sherman's Yazoo, Chickasaw Bayou, and Chickasaw Bluff operations. During 1863, Hassendeubel led the 17th Missouri  at Arkansas Post and performed well in the capture of Fort Hindman.  On January 17, 1863 Hassendeubel's 17th Missouri moved to Young's Point, Louisiana and was attached to Grant's Army of the Tennessee. For the duration of his service he  participated in Grant's Vicksburg Campaign leading his regiment  in battle during the expedition up Steele's Bayou, the assault on Schnyder and Haines Bluffs, the skirmish at  Fourteen Mile Creek, the capture of Jackson, Mississippi, and the final assault and siege of Vicksburg.

During the month of June 1863, General  Grant ordered each of his commanders to undertake sapper operations against the enemy fortifications at Vicksburg. These approaches were strongly contested by the rebels who launched counterattacks against the work parties. On June 25, 1863  Union sappers  working in Logan's approach set off a tremendous explosion under the rebel defenses  on Fort Hill which was followed by a furious fight in the smoking crater created by the explosion. Colonel Hassendeubel because of his engineering background took a special interest in these efforts.  He was severely wounded on June 28, 1863  while  accompanying a group of officers who were observing the site of  the fight in the crater. The Daily Missouri Democrat on July 6 and 7, 1863  reported the action at that time along the lines as follows,

"Grant's Headquarters, June 27, 9 a.m., via  Cairo, July 4- At five o'clock yesterday afternoon our men were withdrawn from the breach in the rebel fort, in front of Logan.  We were not driven out by the enemy, but our loss being severe from their hand grenades, we fell back a few feet, out of the way of that kind of missile still commanding the breach with musketry.  We have not yet succeeded in planting our guns on the rebel fort.  Our casualties in the whole affair will reach 150.  Nearly all from their hand grenades, and a large majority of them slightly wounded, the killed being comparatively few."
Two days later, the following report appeared in the Missouri Democrat,
" Rear Vicksburg, June 29, via Cairo, July 3-The latest information from Logan's approach is highly satisfactory. This morning at nine o'clock everything worked well there.  Another mine is expected to be sprung tonight. Blair's, Tuttle's, and Steele's approaches are progressing  handsomely. I understand that Col. Hassendeubel, of  Vols. was wounded last night. "

Colonel Robert J. Rombauer, author of The Union Cause in St. Louis in 1861 accompanied Hassendeubel that fateful day.  In a letter to his son Rombauer  reported,

" Col. Hassendeubel was mortally wounded while unofficially inspecting the main approach of Union trenches at Vicksburg.  He was separated from the enemy only by the width of a parapet when a hand grenade thrown over it burst right near him and a piece of it entered his chest and wounded his lung.  General Leggett and myself were in friendly conversation with him at the time.  The place was near the main road to Vicksburg and if I recollect right under Colonel or General Wood's command, Logan's division.  To words of solace while being carried out Hassendeubel answered quietly, 'I am done for.' "
 Colonel Hassendeubel was taken to the field hospital where he suffered greatly from his wounds. He was alert most of the time and was cheered by the fall of Vicksburg on July 4th. After lingering for three weeks, he died of fever on July 17, 1863 surrounded by his family and comrades in arms. Hassendeubel was the highest ranking St. Louis officer to die in the war since General Lyon at Wilson's Creek. His death was front page news in all the St. Louis newspapers. The Daily Missouri Democrat on July 31, 1863 contained a report of his career, death and funeral.
                                                                                                              MILITARY RITES FOR COLONEL HASSENDEUBEL
 The body of gallant Hassendeubel, slain in his country's cause, was yesterday laid to rest with her glorious dead. Soldiers and civilians united to render him the last honors due to the patriot hero. The long cortege of military, civilian societies and citizens in carriages, formed at about eleven A.M. on Tenth Street at Turner Hall, to receive the corpse there lying state, and escort it with deserved honors to the cemetery at Bellfontaine.  An immense concourse of spectators assembled to witness the imposing scene.  After some necessary delay, the procession moved off in nearly the following order:
Colonel Henry Almstedt, commanding the military, and acting as chief marshal, aided by the following marshals: Lieutenant Colonel Tony Niederwieser, Colonel Charles Stiffel, Captain Christopher Stiffel, Colonel Nicholas Schuttner, Colonel Christian Ploeser, and Ferdinand Blacheff, Esq.
Boehm's City Post Band.
Companies F and G of the National Guards under Captain Kleinachmidt.
Eight companies of the 10th Kansas, and two companies of the 9th Wisconsin infantry, all under Major Woolweber.
The Corps of Mounted City Guards, under Captain Walter.
A body of veterans who were comrades of the deceased in the Mexican war, Major Goerrisch commanding.
The hearse, and mounted pall bearers, the latter being Colonel Soloman, Colonel Wolfe, Colonel Barstow, Colonel Sigel, Colonel Weiner, and Lieutenant Colonel Weydemeyer.
Two carriages containing the family and relatives of the deceased.
General W. K. Strong and staff mounted.
In carriages, Major General Schofield, Generals Totten, Edwards, and Lieutenant Governor (acting Governor) Hall, with staff officers.
Turners in uniform, under Captain Gollmer.
The German Singer' Association.
The German Benevolent Society, under Marshall Charles Sauerwein.
Body of commissioned officers, mounted.
Officers and citizens, on foot.
Retinue of some one hundred and fifty carriages, buggies, &c., containing citizens.
The mournful airs played by the bands, the long lines  of reversed muskets, the numerous draped flags and banners, and especially the striking symbols of sorrow exhibited by the Turners, with the air of sadness pervading the thronging multitudes rendered the display a solemn and touching demonstration of grief.  With slow and measured tread the funeral train moved along Market, Eighth, Spruce, and Fourth streets to "'Washington avenue, on the avenue to Ninth, and up Ninth to North Market street.  The infantry and civilians on foot here filed down this street to the North Missouri railroad depot, and entered some eighteen cars, furnished gratuitously by the railroad company, while the horsemen, hearse and carriages, proceeded on towards the cemetery.  They arrived in its vicinity in time to form again with the soldiery, societies, &c., whom the cars had brought up, and the column moved up to the cemetery in good order.
                                                                                                                                         AT THE GRAVE
The burial scene was imposing and impressive.  When the usual disposition of the ranks had been made, a solemn dirge was played by Boehm's band, and an appropriate hymn was sung by the Sangerbund choir.  Lieutenant Colonel Weydemeyer stepped forward and delivered a brief and pertinent address, paying a beautiful tribute to the worth of the deceased, and commending his examples and patriotism to the emulation of the bearers.  Hon. Emil Pretorius followed in a few eloquent and touching remarks.  The choir sang another hymn, after which, amid feeling music from the band, and a salute of artillery, the hero's remains were committed to their kindred dust.  The salute consisted of eleven rounds, the number due a Brigadier General -deceased having acted in that capacity during his last days of service.
                               "How sleep the Brave, who sink to rest,
                                 by all their country's wishes blessed."
                                                                                                                            THE MEXICAN VETERAN
An exceedingly interesting feature of the procession , briefly noted above, was the appearance of the veteran comrades of Hassendeubel in the Mexican war.  They were members of Company B, battery of light artillery, from St. Louis, and formed part of the forces engaged in Colonel Doniphan's celebrated Mexican campaigns in 1846-1847.  The old flag of the company, still in good preservation, was borne by Mr. Wm. Flohr.  It bore the suggestive and historic words "Cavada-Puebla de Taos-Bracito-Sacramento"-memoric terms to the worn veterans marching once more beneath its familiar folds.  The ensign was presented to the company in Santa Fe by Mexican friends.  The names of the veterans are thus given: Charles G. Weber, Nick Wochner, Martin Seyfarth, Julius Bachel, Henry Steinberg, M. Faunsberger, Jno. Rieser, Adolph Gebhardt, Sigmund Homberg, Henry Dresing, Peter Patterson, Chris. Kribben, Louis Garnier, Frank Gates, Wm. Flohr.

                                                                                         MEETING AND RESOLUTIONS OF HIS BROTHER OFFICERS
At a meeting of the commissioned officers of volunteer and militia service, at the Walhalla, on last evening, Colonel Henry Almstedt was called to the chair, and Captain Louis Lippman was appointed Secretary. The Chairman stated that the object of the meeting was to unite in an appropriate expression of sentiment in view of the worth, services and decease of Colonel Franz Hassendeubel.  On motion, the Chair designated a committee of three to draw up appropriate resolutions.  The committee consisted of Colonel C. D. Wolfe, 4th regiment infantry, E. M. M.; Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Weydemeyer, 2nd Missouri regiment artillery; and Lieutenant Colonel Christian Ploeser, 4th regiment infantry E.M.M. The meeting took a recess till the committee were prepared to report, after which, the Chairman having again called to order, the  committee submitted the following preamble and resolutions, which, on motion of Major Alfred D. Sloan, were unanimously adopted:

WHEREAS Colonel Franz Hassendeubel, of the 17th Regt., Missouri Vol. Infantry, after a series of gallant services to this, his adopted country, received his death wound before the fortifications of Vicksburg, Miss.
RESOLVED, That we received with great regret the announcement of the death of our companion in arms, Colonel Franz Hassendeubel, 17th Regiment Missouri Volunteer Infantry.
RESOLVED, That the services of the deceased in the cause of his country, in the war with Mexico, on the battlefields of Taos, Santa Cruz, and elsewhere, and in the present war for the maintenance of the union of this country, at Camp Jackson, Carthage, Arkansas Post, Searcy Landing, and finally before Vicksburg Mississippi, were he lost his life, have not only made his name known throughout the country as a gallant and able soldier, but have rendered effective assistance to this country in its struggle against a traitorous foe.
RESOLVED, His accomplishments as a soldier, his merits as a man, and his qualities as a citizen, endeared him not only to us who knew him intimately, but also to the citizens of this community in which he so long lived and in which he had filled offices of responsibility and trust.
RESOLVED, That in his noble life and heroic death he nobly illustrated and adorned the profession of arms.
RESOLVED, That we offer our sincere condolence to the family of the deceased hero; but while we offer them our heartfelt condolence we cannot but remind them of the glory their family name has achieved by the heroic conduct and death of Col. Franz Hassendeubel.
On motion, it was ordered that a copy of the resolutions, signed by the President and Secretary of the meeting, be sent to the brother and family of the deceased, and also that the resolutions be published in the journals of the city.  The meeting then adjourned sine die.

                                                                                                         THE DEATH OF COLONEL HASSENDEUBEL
The following preamble and resolutions were passed by the General Court Martial and Military Committee upon hearing of the death of Colonel Hassendeubel:

WHEREAS, It please Almighty God to take from our midst our comrade in arms, Col. Franz. Hassendeubel; be it, threrfore, Resolved
1. That in the decease of Colonel Hassendeubel, our country has lost a worthy and patriotic soldier, whose loss we deeply feel; and while we regret we have the consolation in knowing that our loss has been his gain.
2. That we tender to the family of the deceased, our heartfelt sympathy and condolence in this sad hour of their bereavement, and express our sympathy to them for their loss as well as the loss to our Government, of a true and patriotic soldier of his adopted country.
3. That the Missouri Republican, the Missouri Democrat and the Daily Union, be furnished a copy of these resolutions, and that they be transmitted to the family of the deceased, in expression of our sympathy.
The Court then adjourned to attend the funeral in a body.
S.S.Curtis, Lieutenant Colonel, 3rd Colorado Volunteers, President.
R. M. Swander, Capt. Co. K, 31st Missouri Volunteer Infantry, Judge Advocate

Franz Hassendeubel was survived by his widow Apolonia and three children, Franz, Marie and Peter as well as his brother Peter who served as a Lieutenant  in the 17th Missouri. Peter and other members of the 17th Missouri  who served  under Hassendeubel's command  were instrumental in the founding of a G.A.R. post  in his memory.  The charter of Col. Hassendeubel Post, No. 13, Department of Missouri G.A.R. was granted on May 20, 1882 at the historic Washington Hall, Third and Elm Streets, St. Louis , Missouri.  Several hundred of Hassendeubel's old comrades were carried on the Post rolls over the many years of its existence.


Copyright (c) 2000 Philip R. Hinderberger