At Chancellorsville…

May 2nd, 1863.

On this date, this famous man was shot and badly wounded at ChancellorsvilleFriedrich-Hecker-1

Obviously not Stonewall Jackson. Instead, this is Friedrich Karl Franz Hecker, the famous Republican hero of Germany.

Wait, who?

There was a time, in the years after the failed 1848 Revolution, that Hecker was one of the most famous men in the Germanic-speaking states and statelets of Europe. As Karl Schurz once said of him: “He was the [subject] of popular songs, his picture was spread all over Germany, and as an exile he had become a sort of legendary hero.”

Hecker moved to Belleville Illiniois in the 1850s. At Chancellorsville, he was commanding the 82nd Illinois Infantry, an ethnic German regiment recruited mainly from Chicago. The 82nd had the misfortune of facing Stonewall Jackson’s attackers on the evening of the 2nd, where, despite heroic resistance, they failed to stop that onslaught.

Hecker was badly wounded, crawling off the battlefield under his own limited power. He was eventually sent north to recover. The regiment’s casualties amounted to 29 killed, 88 wounded (including the colonel) and 38 missing – a total of 155, out of 450 engaged.

I will have an article on Hecker and the 82nd in the forthcoming Emerging Civil War “Civil War Regiments” project, but I thought I would take note of the good Colonel’s sacrifice on the anniversary of his wound.


About Dave Powell

I'm a middle-aged guy with a fascination with the American Civil War, and especially the battle of Chickamauga. In my day job, I am president and an owner of CBS Messenger, a courier company in Chicago, but whenever I can am off pursuing all things Chickamauga. I am also a wargamer, having designed more than fifteen boardgames on various battle topics. Join me as I ramble about things that hold my attention.
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7 Responses to At Chancellorsville…

  1. Joe Reinhart says:

    Looking forward to your article.

  2. Chris Kolakowski says:

    Great tribute. The 82d was actually the Second Hecker Regiment; the First Hecker Regiment served in the Army of the Cumberland as the 24th Illinois.

  3. Darryl Smith says:

    We were just walking the ground the 24th Ill. occupied at Perryville.

    • Dave Powell says:

      Yes. I could have given you quite the riff on Hecker, the 24th, the controversy over command of the regiment, and another favorite of mine, Geza Mihalotzy.

  4. Joe Reinhart says:

    I have posted about a dozen letters written by members of the 24th Illinois (some by the regimental surgeon Dr. Wagner) on my 82nd Illinois website.. I have translated them from German to English.

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