★  Schimmelfennig, Alexander

Alexander Schimmelfennig


Born: July 20, 1824

Birthplace: Bromberg, Prussia

Father: Johann Heinrick Samel Schimmelfennig

Mother: Helene Rosalie Von Knocke

Wife: Sophie Schimmelfennig 1826 – 1890
(Buried: Charles Evans Cemetery, Reading, Pennsylvania)​


Bertha M. Schimmelfennig 1850 – 1925​
(Buried: Charles Evans Cemetery, Reading, Pennsylvania)​
Agnes S. Schimmelfennig 1854 – 1855​
(Buried: Charles Evans Cemetery, Reading, Pennsylvania)​
Hermann A. Schimmelfennig 1860 – 1887​
(Buried: Charles Evans Cemetery, Reading, Pennsylvania)​

Occupation before War:

Served in the Prussian Army​
Member of Palatine Military Commission​
1849: Wounded twice at Battle of Rinnthal​
Lived in Exile in Switzerland​
Sentenced to death for his involvement in Revolution​
Member of German Democratic Movement​
1854: Immigrated to the United States of America​
Employee of United States Government War Department​
Associated with the Forty – Eighters​
1854: Author of The War between Russia and Turkey

Civil War Career:

1861: Attempted to raise an all German Regiment in Philadelphia
Colonel of 74th Pennsylvania Volunteers Infantry Regiment​
Brigadier General in the Union Army Volunteers Infantry​
1863: Brigade Commander during Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania​
1863: Hid during the Battle of Gettysburg on Baltimore Street then a shed on the property of Henry and Catherine Garlach​
1863: Served in the Union Army District of Department of the South​
1864: Union Army Commander of the District of Charleston, South Carolina​
1865: Accepted Charleston, South Carolina's Surrender on February 18​

Died: September 5, 1865

Place of Death: Wernersville, Pennsylvania

Age at time of Death: 41 years old

Cause of Death: Tuberculosis and Malaria

Burial Place: Charles Evans Cemetery, Reading, Pennsylvania
Last edited by a moderator:


Jul 28, 2015
New York City
The most noteworthy story I have read about the general is how he evaded capture after the collapse of the XI Corps at Gettysburg. He was reported to have stayed hidden in an animal shed in downtown Gettysburg till the battle was over. Unfortunately, that episode contributed to the negative feelings that many held against the so-called "Germans" of that Corps for its rout starting with Chancellorsville and further exacerbated by its performance at Gettysburg.


Sep 15, 2018
South Texas
After the '48 revolution, during his time in Britain, Schimmelfenning and other future German American officers like August Willich were part of a conservative faction of the Communist League of Karl Marx.
That 2 1/2 day stay in the pigsty at Gettysburg was due to him getting struck in the head by a rifle butt as he was climbing a fence.Confused, he crawled into a pigsty and was secretly fed by the woman of the house. After the Confederates withdrew he emerged to rejoin his command.
"To satisfy the large German ethnic constituency in the North, Lincoln felt it necessary to appoint a number of German-American generals. Pouring over a list of eligible men one day in 1862, the President came across the name of Alexander Schimmelfennig. 'The very man!' said Lincoln. When Secretary of War Stanton protested that better-qualified officers were available, the President insisted on Schimmelfennig. 'His name,' said Lincoln, 'will make up for any difference there may be,' and walked away repeating the name Schimmelfennig with a chuckle."
Lincoln The War President: The Gettysburg Lectures, pg. 37, Gabor S. Boritt (editor)


Sep 15, 2018
South Texas
His regiment, 74th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, was originally the 35th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment until Schimmelfennig became ill and the unit lost it's designation. When the War Department reinstated him the unit became the 74th.