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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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August Schmidt

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 469 - 470

August Schmidt, one of the leading merchants of Plymouth, Sheboygan County, possesses the double honor of belonging to a pioneer family, and of being a veteran soldier of the War of the Rebellion. Mr. Schmidt is a native of Hanover, Germany, where he was born August 4, 1845. When he was brought to the United States, he was a child between two and three years of age. He and an elder brother, William, were the adopted children of Alexander Schmidt. The family settled in the town of Plymouth, on a farm, and in 1858 they became residents of the present city of Plymouth. Alexander Schmidt went to California a number of years after coming to Sheboygan County, where he died. William Schmidt, the brother of the subject of this sketch, enlisted in the late war in Company B, Eighth Regiment Wisconsin Infantry, which was the famous "Eagle Regiment." He served during the war, and at its close settled at Marion, Perry County, Ala., where he still resides, a prosperous and respected citizen.

August Schmidt spent his early boyhood days in and about Plymouth. His attendance at school was limited, as but little opportunity was afforded him for an education. The War of the Rebellion came on while he was yet but a lad; but, not too young to be fired with patriotic impulses, he resolved to respond to the call of Father Abraham for volunteers to suppress the rebellion, and accordingly enlisted, June 3, 1861, in Company C, Fourth Regiment Wisconsin Infantry. It will be observed that Mr. Schmidt was but fifteen years old in the August preceding his enlistment, being considerably under the regulation age. He was the youngest, as well as one of the earliest, volunteers of Sheboygan County, and is believed to be the youngest long-term service volunteer soldier in the United States. It would be impossible in this article to give a detailed account of his service in the army, which covered a period of nearly five years—two and a half in the infantry and the remainder of the time, or after reenlistment, in the cavalry. The regiment rendezvoused at Camp Utley, Racine, going to Baltimore, Md., and thence to Camp Randall, Relay House, Md. It also occupied other camps in the same State, and on November 5, 1861, it embarked on the steamer "Adelaide," at Baltimore, and landed at White Haven, Md., whence it started down the Peninsula, under the command of Gen. Lockwood, the command forming a part of the Eastern Shore expedition, in which the regiment took an active part. Later it was ordered to join Gen. B. F. Butler in his expedition to the Gulf of Mexico, February 19, 1862. It is sufficient to say that the Fourth took an active and prominent part in that famous movement, and, with the Thirty-first Massachusetts, was the first to enter the captured city of New Orleans, May 1, 1862.

The Fourth Regiment engaged in the important operations that followed the surrender of that city, including the two expeditions of Gen. Williams to Vicksburg, Miss., in which it took a gallant part. The canal project of Gen. Butler, at Vicksburg, and its failure to accomplish the desired object are matters of history. In the events attending this expedition the Fourth bore well its part, witnessing the attack on Vicksburg by the combined fleets of Farragut and Davis, and participating in the battle with Gen. Breckenridge, in which the latter was defeated" by an inferior force. That noted Confederate General met with more than his match in the Union Brigade Commander, Gen. Williams. In fact, in all the operations of the Department of the Gulf, which was in command of Gen. Butler until December, 1862, the Fourth played a conspicuous part, as it did also under his successor, Gen. N. P. Banks.

In June, 1863, the subject of this sketch was taken captive, being made prisoner at Brashear City, La. He was paroled after two weeks and marched to New Orleans, a distance of about one hundred miles. Not long after the fall of Vicksburg, he rejoined his regiment, which in the mean time had been sadly cut up at Port Hudson, at Baton Rouge. Having been converted from the Fourth Infantry to the Fourth Cavalry, the regiment spent some time in scouting and fighting the rebels wherever they could be found, making headquarters at Baton Rouge. After participating in the Mobile campaign, the regiment went to Vicksburg, where the men expected to be discharged, as the war was practically over; but instead of a discharge, they were ordered to Texas. Taking a steamer down the Mississippi and up the Red River to Shreveport, and thence to San Antonio, Tex., they were ordered to the frontier to keep in check the Comanche Indians, who had become troublesome. The discharge of the regiment took place at Brownsville, Tex., May 28, 1866, more than a year after the war had closed. Mr. Schmidt was never seriously wounded, but met with many narrow escapes during his nearly five years' service, having served four years, eleven months and twenty-five days.

In October, 1866, a few months after his return from the army, he bought out Louis Ballschmidder at Plymouth, but continued business only a short time, when he went south and was associated with his brother William for a time. Returning in 1868, he engaged as a clerk for F. Benfey, whom he bought out in 1876, having since devoted his time and energy to mercantile pursuits.

Mr. Schmidt was married, May 11, 1872, to Mrs. Barbara Kreiss, daughter of John Schermack. Mrs. Schmidt was born in Germany, and in 1848 emigrated to America with her parents, who settled in Sheboygan, but are now deceased.

Mr. Schmidt is a successful business man, having begun his commercial career without material assistance, and having achieved a success of which he may well be proud through his own industry and enterprise. His five years of army life, from the age of fifteen to twenty, afforded him a discipline that has been of much value to him in later years. He is a Republican in politics, and is prominently identified with H. P. Davidson Post, G. A. R., of which he is Quartermaster.

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