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.