Ludwig Blenker, "Louis"

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Ludwig Blenker, "Louis"

Birthdate: (51)
Birthplace: Worms, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
Death: October 31, 1863 (51)
Rockland, NY, USA (Sturz vom Pferd -accident with his horse)
Occupation: German soldier, demokratic Revolutionair and US-General
Managed by: Tobias Rachor (C)
Last Updated:

About Ludwig Blenker, "Louis"


Ludwig "Louis" Blenker

(July 31, 1812 – October 31, 1863) was a German and American soldier.

He was born at Worms, Germany. After being trained as a goldsmith by an uncle in Kreuznach, he was sent to a polytechnical school in Munich. Against his family's wishes, he enlisted in an Uhlan regiment which accompanied Otto to Greece in 1832. Due to his gallantry, he soon became an officer. A revolt in Greece obligated him to leave, with an honorable discharge, in 1837. He studied medicine in Munich and then, at the wish of his parents, opened a wine trading business in Worms. He also married. In 1848, he became a colonel in the Worms militia. A large majority of the citizens also preferred him for mayor of Worms, but the otherwise liberal Jaup ministry failed to confirm him due to intrigues by the opposition party. This drove him into the hands of the German Revolutionary party of 1848, and when the revolution broke out in Baden, he led an insurgent corps in spite of the poor prospects. He was noted on both sides for his fearlessness. His wife accompanied him on his campaigns.[1] As commander of the Freischaren (Free Corps) took Ludwigshafen (May 10, 1849), occupied the city of Worms, and made an unsuccessful attack on Landau. When the Prussian troops entered the Palatinate, he fought in several of the engagements in Baden, but after the suppression of the revolution was compelled to flee with other leading revolutionaries like Germain Metternich, Ludwig Bamberger, and Franz Zitz to Switzerland, whence he emigrated to the United States.[2]

On his arrival in the United States, he settled on a farm in New York, and ran a small business.[3] Upon the outbreak of the Civil War he organized the 8th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, of which he became colonel.[2] He was noted for his coverage of the retreat at Bull Run and for his performance in western Virginia at the Battle of Cross Keys.[1] For his gallantry at Bull Run he was raised to the rank of brigadier general of volunteers.[2]

But after Cross Keys a series of deficiencies plagued his command, the main accusation being carelessness with respect to supplies.[1] There were also allegations of financial irregularities. In a letter to the Illinois Staatszeitung, Gustav Struve defended Blenker on this score, i.e. with regard to a charge that he got $100 a month from each of the sutlers he had licensed to service his troops. But the charges persisted. Stories appeared in the German-language press and the New York Tribune accusing Blenker's troops of looting the countryside of edibles and theft of items of no military worth. Blenker was defended by the New Yorker Criminal Zeitung und Belletristisches Journal, and some editors suggested that Carl Schurz was planning to supersede Blenker.[3]

Also Blenker had a love of pomp. When McClellan became general of the Army of the Potomac, Blenker led a procession to his headquarters. Yet there were credible testimonials to his organizational ability, and no one questioned his courage. However, his command became notable for the quantities of foreign nobility in its ranks, the climax coming when Prince Felix Salm-Salm joined his ranks, an affront to republicans like Karl Heinzen and Struve. Struve, also a member of Blenker's corps, resigned, and Heinzen broadcast protests in his newspaper, the Pionier.[3]

The allegations reached the War Department, and when his appointment as a general reached the Senate for confirmation several senators repeated them: questionable finances, command hierarchies and distinctions more appropriate to Europe than to the United States, exploitation of his troops through the sutlers. Alexander Schimmelfennig, a fellow officer, referred to him as a “bum,” and there was much controversy between supporters of Schurz, Blenker and Franz Sigel. Blenker was ultimately confirmed as a general, but his career was ruined.[3]

Soon he was superseded by Sigel. He was mustered out of service March 31, 1863, and died in October of injuries sustained while with his command at Warrenton, Virginia,[2] leaving behind his wife, son and three daughters in dire circumstances.[1] Blenker died in poverty and there was no proof he profitted from the sutlers' trade. Some members of his staff were convicted for financial irregularities however. McClellan continued to esteem him as an officer.[3]


[1] a b c d ADB

[2] a b c d NIE

[3] a b c d e Carl Wittke (1952). Refugees of Revolution: The German Forty-Eighters in America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 233–235.


This article incorporates text from an edition of the New International Encyclopedia that is in the public domain.

Wilhelm Wiegand (1875) (in German). "Blenker, Ludwig". In Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). 2. Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot. p. 703–703.

Source: Wikipedia


Ludwig Blenker, in den USA Louis Blenker (* 31. Juli 1812 in Worms; † 31. Oktober 1863 im Rockland County, N.Y., USA) war ein deutscher Militär, 1848er-Revolutionär und späterer US-amerikanischer General.

Blenker ließ sich 1832 als Student des Münchner Polytechnikums von der bayrischen (damals bairischen) Legion anwerben und begleitete König Otto nach Griechenland. 1837 kehrte er nach Worms zurück und eröffnete dort eine Weinhandlung, die jedoch bald Konkurs ging. In der Revolution von 1848/49 wurde er zum Oberst der Bürgerwehr gewählt. Als seine Wahl vom Ministerium nicht bestätigt wurde, schloss er sich den demokratischen Ultras an. Er war einer der Hauptführer der revolutionären Kräfte in Rheinhessen und befehligte rheinhessische und pfälzische Freischaren. Am 10. Mai 1849 bemächtigte er sich der Stadt Ludwigshafen und besetzte am 17. Mai Worms. Später unternahm er einen Angriff auf Landau, der allerdings erfolglos blieb. Nach dem Einrücken der Preußen in die Pfalz wandte sich Blenker mit seinen Leuten nach Baden und kämpfte unter anderem an wichtiger Stelle im Kampf an der Murg.

Nachdem der Aufstand unterdrückt worden war, ging Blenker in die Schweiz, aus der er jedoch im September 1849 ausgewiesen wurde. Daraufhin ging er mit seiner Frau in die Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika. Dort lebte er als Farmer, später war er in New York ansässig.

Kurz nach Ausbruch des Amerikanischen Bürgerkrieges erhielt er das Kommando über das 8. New Yorker Infanterieregiment, das hauptsächlich aus deutschen Einwanderern bestand, und wurde in den Rang eines Colonels erhoben. In der Schlacht von Bull Run am 21. Juli 1861 befehligte er die Reservebrigade der 5. Division und hielt als einziger der höheren Befehlshaber der Bundestruppen den nachrückenden Südstaatlern stand. Dadurch rettete er die Bundeshauptstadt Washington vor der Einnahme durch die Konföderierten. Am 9. August 1861 wurde er zum Brigadegeneral befördert, befehligte bei der Eröffnung des Feldzugs von 1862 eine Division und zeichnete sich in West Virginia besonders bei Cross Keys aus. Nach der Schlacht legte General Blenker das Kommando über seine Division nieder und begab sich nach Washington, wo er seinen Abschied einreichte und auch in allen Ehren entlassen wurde.

Ludwig Blenker starb am 31. Oktober 1863 nach einem Sturz vom Pferd an seinen Verletzungen.


Wilhelm Wiegand: Blenker, Ludwig. In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Band 2, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1875, S. 703.



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Ludwig Blenker, "Louis"'s Timeline

July 31, 1812
Worms, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
October 31, 1863
Age 51
Rockland, NY, USA