The Civil War in Missouri

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Uniform Coat and Sash of Captain Henry A. Kircher, 12th Missouri Infantry Volunteers

MHM Collections

Henry A. Kircher, the son of German immigrants, answered President Lincoln’s call for troops by joining the 9th Illinois Infantry for a three-month enlistment. Put off by political maneuvering within the regiment and friction between the Germans and the native-born soldiers, he chose not to re-enlist until urged by a family friend to reconsider his decision. The 19-year-old machinist from Belleville changed his mind, crossed the river into St. Louis, and enlisted with a predominantly German regiment, the 12th Missouri Infantry Volunteers.By midsummer 1863, Kircher had moved up the ranks to captain. Later that year at the battle of Ringgold Gap, Georgia, Kircher was seriously wounded by gunfire, resulting in the amputation of his right arm and left leg. Kircher remained in service but was designated absent on sick leave until mustered out in August 1864.After his discharge Kircher returned to Belleville and entered politics. A campaign photograph for circuit court clerk was circulated, showing the obvious sacrifices he had made while fighting for his country. He handily won the election and served his four-year term. Afterward he joined his father’s hardware company, pursued other business ventures, and remained a public servant for years to come. He married Bertha Engelmann in 1880 and had three sons—Harry, Joseph, and Theodore. Kircher died of pneumonia in 1908.