Tuesday, July 02, 2013

George Helmich Served at Gettysburg

The most devastating conflict of the Civil War, the battle of Gettysburg, was being fought 150 years ago on this date. Of the more than 7000 who died in this battle, one was a German immigrant who made his home in Sandusky.

In the 1860 U.S. Census for Erie County, Ohio, George Helmich was 32 years of age, a native of Baden. He and his wife Fredericka had a family of six children, ranging in age from infancy to ten years of age. As often is the case with individuals of German descent, George's surname appears in census, vital, and military records with several different spellings, including Helmich, Helmick, Helmig, and Hellmich. On August 20, 1862 he enlisted in Co. F of the Ohio 107th Infantry. The 107th Infantry was initially led by Sanduskian Louis Traub, who had formerly been in charge of the local military unit known as the Jaeger Company. On July 2, 1863 George Helmich was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg. His remains were brought back to Sandusky, and he was buried in Block 31 of the North Ridge of Sandusky's Oakland Cemetery; in 1884, his body was re-interred to Block 65 of the North Ridge section.

An article in the April 11, 1920 issue of the Sandusky Register featured an article in which three Sandusky men recalled the re-interment of George Helmich. The cemetery employees found that the coffin of Mr. Helmich was still in excellent condition in 1884. While moving the coffin, the lid became opened accidentally. The grave diggers were amazed to find the remains of George Helmich to be in a perfect state of preservation, though twenty two years had passed since he had been killed in the Civil War. His military uniform was so perfect, that it was still bright blue, and its buttons looked as though they had just been polished. The Register articled concluded by stating that the case of the preservation of the remains of Mr. Helmich was "without parallel."

To read more about Ohioans who served in the Battle of Gettysburg, read the book Buckeye Blood: Ohioans at Gettysburg, by Richard A. Baumgartner (Blue Acorn Press, 2003), available for loan through the ClevNet Consortium.

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