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 Leopold Von Gilsa

Leopold Von Gilsa

Birth
Erfurt, Stadtkreis Erfurt, Thüringen, Germany
Death 1 Mar 1870 (aged 44–45)
New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA
Plot Section 153, Lot 19308
Memorial ID 8053 · View Source
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Civil War Union Army Officer. An officer of the Prussian Army who fought in the failed 1848-1850 Schleswig-Holstein War, he was exiled by Danish officials after the end of that conflict, and immigrated to the United States in the 1850s. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War he helped recruit and marshal the large German immigrant population towards the Union cause, and was commissioned Colonel and commander of the 41st New York Volunteer Infantry (known as the "De Kalb Regiment"), which consisted mostly of German expatriates. The regiment was made part of Major General Franz Sigel's Corps, and fought in the Spring 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign. Colonel Von Gilsa was wounded and incapacitated in the June 8, 1862 Battle of Cross Keys. When he returned from his wounds he assumed command of his brigade, which was now part of the Army of the Potomac's XI Corp. In the May 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville, his command was one of the first to be crushed and routed by General Stonewall Jackson's famous Flank March, which succeeded in rolling up the entire XI Corps. Although he could not be blamed for the rout (he had warned his superiors that Rebels were massing near his position, and those warning were ignored) he fell under the disfavor his whole Corps sustained after the Battle was over. Just prior to the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg he was placed under arrest by his division commander, General Francis Barlow, for allowing straggling, but on July 1, as the Corps approached Gettysburg and fighting was imminent, he was restored to his brigade command. He positioned his unit the area north of the town now known as "Barlow's Knoll". His brigade, which stretched from Carlisle Road to Rock Creek, was then attacked on its weak right flank, and was forced back by Rebels from General John B. Gordon's brigade. Colonel Von Gilsa bravely but vainly tried to rally his retreating men, having his horse shot out from under him in the process. The collapse of his brigade unhinged the entire Union line, and facilitated the rout and retreat through the town to Cemetery Hill, where the remnants of his brigade ended up. On the Second Day, July 2, his brigade again was attacked, and broke under pressure (the routing Confederates were eventually repulsed by Union Artillery on the Hill). Two weeks after the Battle his division was transferred to South Carolina, and he returned to command of the 41st New York. With the stain of being routed three times on his record, he would never again hold an effective combat command, and finished the war in the defenses of Washington DC. He was mustered out in December 1865, and received no brevets, despite serving as a Colonel for over 4 years.

Bio by: Russ Dodge


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 8 Jan 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8053
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Leopold Von Gilsa (1825–1 Mar 1870), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8053, citing Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .