Lt Col. Francis Romer

Francis Romer was selected by Col. Hassendeubel as one of the original company commanders in the 17th Missouri, later serving as regimental operations officer, regimental executive officer and finally regimental commander during its final campaign.  He emigrated from St. Gallen, Switzerland to St. Louis, Missouri  where he was a saddle maker.  Romer, along with many of his Swiss countrymen was a member of the  well known hunting club called die Swartzen Jaegerswhich also served as a secret pro-union militia opposed to the secessionist element in St. Louis. He was twenty-five years of age at the outbreak of the Civil War, and quickly laying down the tools of his trade, took up arms for his adopted country.  When the  Swartzen Jaegers joined the  German-American 4th Regiment en mass, Romer was elected  1st Lt. of Company L. He was second in command of Company L during the capture of Camp Jackson and General Fremont's expedition down the Mississippi to protect Cairo, Illinois  from Confederate forces moving up from Tennessee and Arkansas.

After the 4th Regiment completed its ninety day enlistment, Romer convinced many of the men in his company to follow him into the Turner Society's new three year regiment known as the Western Turner Rifles Regiment. He was commissioned Captain on September 2, 1861 and appointed commanding officer of Company C.  He was extremely popular with the men of the regiment, especially those of  Swiss heritage who naturally looked upon him as their leader.   During the Missouri Campaign, his tactical abilities came to the attention of Col. Hassendeubel and he was promoted to Major on December 11, 1862.  Thereafter, he left his company and was assigned to the regimental staff, serving as regimental operations officer at Pea Ridge, the long march through Arkansas, the assault on Arkansas Post and the Vicksburg Campaign. After Col. Hassendeubel's death at Vicksburg in July, 1863, he became the regimental executive officer, serving in that capacity during the Chattanooga Campaign. While on the march through rebel infested Tennessee the regiment was often divided into two battalions  and he acted as the second battalion's commander.  His unit attacked a rebel cavalry unit, severely wounding Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest, the South's most famous cavalry officer. On November 26, 1863, he was wounded leading the 17th Missouri's  bloody assault on Taylor's Ridge near Ringgold, Georgia while pursuing Bragg's Army after the capture of Missionary Ridge.

He was appointed regimental commander after the death of Col. Cramer on May 2, 1864 and promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel on June 13, 1864.  He successfully led the 17th Missouri during the victorious North Georgia and Atlanta Campaign.  In September 1864, at the expiration of the regiment's three years of service in the field, he led the 17th Missouri back to St. Louis where he was recognized as one of the regiment's most durable and effective officers. Mustered out of service on September 28, 1864, he was reunited with his wife Caroline and his two sons Frank age ten and William S. age seven. He initially resumed his profession as a saddle maker, but was appointed deputy sheriff for St. Louis, a position he held until his retirement. He was a member of G.A.R. and MOLLUS, the union officers association. He was part of a group of former officers who was close to "Uncle Billy" Sherman when he resided in St. Louis. His family continued to live in St. Louis until recent times  where his son, William S. Romer and his  grandson, William J. Romer operated  Kohler & Romer's, a well known men's clothing store.

Philip R. Hinderberger 1/7/01

Copyright(c) 2001 Philip R. Hinderberger