A Veteran’s Last Days

Asthma and rheumatism had wrecked the health of August “Pop” Schliermacher, age 72, so much that he realized the diseases were going to kill him. Things had gotten so bad for him that he could not always make it out of his apartment to eat his meals at a local restaurant.

Schliermacher loved to tell the neighborhood children stories of his experiences on the battlefield. It didn’t hurt, either, that he would his pockets with pennies and nickels to hand out to them, but the children enjoyed “Pop’s” company. One favorite story surely had to be when he saw a flagbearer fall at First Bull Run and ran to the dying soldier to retrieve the United States flag and bring it back into the lines.

Sometime in August or September, 1911, Schliermacher wrote to a friend, who happened to be an undertaker, that he did not expect to live much longer and asked him to arrange the details of his funeral.
On December 2, Schliermacher told one of his neighbors that he was “wretched, but it will soon be all over.”

Sitting in his two-room ground-floor apartment, he was surrounded by memories of his Civil War service. Hanging on the walls were photographs of his comrades in the 8th and 68th New York Infantry regiments, sketches and prints of Civil War scenes and “carefully penciled maps” of major battles with positions and movements of both armies’ units. A large United States flag hung above his mirror. He survived his flag-saving adventure at First Bull Run and fought at Cross Keys and later at Gettysburg and other battles.

On December 3, Schliermacher gathered together his important papers and treasured items. Next to his rocking chair, which was at the window looking out on East 6th Street, New York City, was a table. On the table he had a tin box and placed his will over the box. His money was to go to his relatives; his mementos and furniture to his friends.

Schliermacher sat in the rocking chair as another neighbor happened to walk by the window as she left the building. She saw him and he smiled at her before blowing a kiss to her. When she returned a few minutes later it looked as if he had fallen asleep but his face was white. She knew something was not right, so she tried to open his apartment door but it was locked. She went back to the street and hailed a policeman who forced the door open. When they entered the apartment they found him dead, a bullet wound in his heart, with his revolver lying on the floor.

Word quickly spread of “Pop” Schliermacher’s suicide; the children came to pay their respects, many in tears. Fellow veterans at the Koltes Post, Grand Army of the Republic, reminisced about Corporal Schliermacher and his bravery during the war. The pre-planned funeral was held at Stark’s Hall and burial was with military honors by his G.A.R. comrades.


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7 Responses to A Veteran’s Last Days

  1. Pat Young says:

    Great to see a blog on the 11th. Any recommendations on books devoted to the Corps or its commanders?

    • 11thcorps says:

      That’s a good question; probably can’t be answered very completely in a comment reply and needs to be the subject of a blog post. That being said, I’m not aware of any books devoted to the 11th Corps; they just never had the cache of other corps (for example, the 2nd Corps). There are books by Christian Keller, such as “Chancellorsville and the Germans” that look more at the ethnic aspect. John Carpenter’s “Sword and Olive Branch” (published in 1999) is a biography of Oliver Howard. Francis Barlow’s Civil War letters are available as well (I think there’s an interesting story to be told about Barlow and the 11th Corps besides the famous Gordon-Barlow “incident”. Of course, Google Books has free copies of Howard’s and Schurz’s autobiographies. Keep in mind that I am not giving an opinion on the above books, only providing a compact bibliography of sorts.

  2. Pat Young says:

    Thanks. I love Schurz’s autobiography. He is a very attractive figure for modern immigrants. I just picked up Keller’s book, but haven’t read it yet.

    I am writing a series for a website aimed at Latino and Asian immigrants on the role of immigrants in the Civil War, and I find that the experiences of the Germans in particular resonate well with them. I am really happy to find you’ve posted some great stuff and I’ll be back for more.

    By the way, an archeologist in Ireland started a site devoted to Irish in the Civil War. Do you know if anyone has done the same for the Germans?

  3. Stefan says:

    There is a biography on Sigel by Stephen D. Engle, Yankee Dutchman: The Life of Franz Sigel. Scott L. Stabler, Race, Reaction, Policy and Perception: A tri-cultural study of postbellum America through the life of General O. O. Howard, a manuscript for University of Oklahoma Press returned for revisions.

  4. Pingback: “A memorable season of extraordinary rains” | The 11th Corps of the Army of the Potomac

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