We once again have a post authored by Fred Eggers today. He is a fantastic researcher and brings us a fascinating Civil War story today.
Gabriel Bronenkant was born on March 25, 1839. As far as I can determine his descendants are the only people with that surname anywhere in our area. Tracking him down has been a long process and includes many sources. He was likely one of only a few true combat veterans of the American Civil War from the East Perry County area. I will discuss what I have found in chronological order except for the information about his birth that I discovered recently. The 1900 census has his immigration in 1850 and his obituary states that he came to America when about eleven years old first settling in Wisconsin for a brief period, but I have not found any records related to this.
He makes his first appearance in Frohna in the 1860 census as a 21 year old carpenter with a birthplace of Baden living with the John Militzer family, three dwellings after Rev. Christoph Loeber, the Pastor of the Frohna congregation from 1850 to 1862. Gabriel’s surname appears to be written and is transcribed by Ancestry.com as Bernken. Militzer, age 30, also has carpenter as his occupation. The date of the census is July 10, 1860. I mention that only because Gabriel Broenkamp, a 21 year old carpenter with a birthplace of Baden, can be found living in a boarding house in the census of the third ward of the city of St. Louis enumerated on June 7, 1860. It appears that Gabriel was counted twice in the 1860 U. S. Federal Census.
The next document finds Gabriel on the Civil War muster rolls of Company G, Simpson’s Six Months Militia, where he was enrolled and ordered into active duty as a private, age 22, on October 10, 1861. Colonel Samuel P. Simpson of St. Louis organized this unit, also known as the 4th Regiment, in Perryville. Simpson later served as the Adjutant General of Missouri in 1865. The commanding officer of Company G was Captain Charles A. Weber, who was a business man in Altenburg and Wittenberg that would later serve as Provost Marshal, County Clerk, and Probate Judge of Perry County. He was discharged from this unit on February 24, 1862.
Just sixteen days later, on March 12, 1862, Gabriel enlisted in Company H of the 26th Regiment of Missouri Infantry at Wittenberg for three years or “during the war” (that is, until the end of the war should it come in less than three years). Frederick C. Gerler from the Altenburg area and Charles Schweitzer from northern Cape Girardeau County also enlisted at Wittenberg on that date. The 26th Regiment of Missouri Infantry was composed primarily of men from Franklin, Gasconade, Osage and Maries counties of Missouri and the steamboat on which they were traveling apparently stopped in Wittenberg, possibly for fuel, which gave Gabriel and the others the opportunity to enlist. The Company Descriptive Book gives us additional information on him.
Gabriel was mustered into service on March 18, 1862 at New Madrid, Missouri where the Battle of Island Number 10 took place from February 28 through April 8. Following the Union victory in this battle the Mississippi River was open to the Union Navy to just North of Memphis, Tennessee.
The 26th Regiment participated in several major battles of the next twenty months including Iuka, Mississippi and the Vicksburg, Mississippi Campaign. A complete history of the unit can be found at http://freepages.military.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~the26thmo/. This site also includes a link to the 500+ page Regimental History.
The next major engagement for Bronenkant’s unit was in the Chattanooga Campaign where the Union Army led by notable generals Ulysses S. Grant, George H. Thomas, William Tecumseh Sherman, Philip H. Sheridan, and Joseph Hooker defeated the Confederate forces in the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge on November 24 and 25, 1863. The 26th Missouri Regiment and the 93rd Illinois Infantry Regiment played a major part in the battle at Tunnel Hill, which was at the northern end of Missionary Ridge, by climbing a steep ridge and capturing the Confederate artillery batteries that were firing on the approaching Union troops. A gold star shows the location at the beginning of the battle of the two Union regiments mentioned and a gold arrow indicates the location of the Confederate artillery batteries on this map.
This Casualty Sheet tells us that Private Gabriel Brienkamp of Company H of the 26th Regiment of Infantry of Missouri suffered a severely wounded arm at Tunnel Hill near Chattanooga on November 25, 1863.
The Company Muster Roll for November and December, 1863 lists Bronenkant absent on sick furlough from December 22, 1863 to January 25, 1864 due to being wounded at Chattanooga. Additional muster rolls from then until April of 1865 list him as being present or absent in hospitals. During this period the 26th Regiment served under General Sherman as he captured Atlanta, made his famous “March to the Sea”, and the march through the Carolinas.
On April 1, 1865 Bronenkant was mustered out upon completion of his three years of service in the U. S. Army at Goldsboro, North Carolina. At that time General Sherman had massed approximately 120,000 Union troops in the Goldsboro area preparing to make a final push to Richmond, Virginia, the capitol of the Confederacy. That move was not needed following the fall of Fredericksburg and Richmond early in April and the surrender of General Robert E. Lee on April 9. On April 26 General Sherman accepted the surrender of General Joseph T. Johnston and around 90,000 Confederate troops, which was the last major body of rebel forces remaining.
On May 15, 1865 he filed for a pension with the government for his battle wound. He certainly must have felt fortunate that his days in the war were over and that he was able to return home considering how many of the Civil War wounded died later from infections and diseases that were so common in the hospitals of that time.
After completing his military service, Bronenkant returned to Perry County, Missouri and the land deed records in the Perry County Recorder’s Office document his purchase along with Charles Ehrman of 1 and 48/100 acre from Peter Smith and wife on May 16, 1865. C. Peter Smith was listed immediately before the Militzers with whom Bronenkant lived in the 1860 census. This property is located in the middle of Frohna near the intersection of Highways A and C. I could not locate Charles Ehrman in any Perry County census or in the church records of area congregations. On November 7, 1867 Gabriel was married to Emma Moeckel by Reverend J. F. Koestering who was the Pastor of the Frohna and Altenburg congregations at that time. Emma was a niece of the Militzers with whom Gabriel was living in the 1860 census. Between 1868 and 1888 Emma gave birth to eleven children of which nine lived to adulthood.
In the 1870 census Bronenkant is listed with his wife, his son Martin, and his daughter Julia living at this Frohna location with clerk in store listed as his occupation. Next listed is the family of August Lueders who has dry goods merchant as his occupation. It appears likely that Gabriel was working in the Lueders store.
On February 14, 1871 the Perry County land deeds record Bronenkant purchasing around 103 acres from August and Marie Lueders in Section 13 of Township 34 North, Range 12 East. This land is located west of Frohna and south of Brazeau at the present intersections of PCR 414 with PCR 416 and PCR 418. In later censuses Gabriel is listed as a farmer and his farm remained in the Bronenkant family for many years and was Gabriel’s home until around 1920.
Gabriel Brounkant appears in the List of Pensioners on the Roll, January 1, 1883 with a post office address of Frohna and a wound of his forearm as the cause for his pension, which was $18.00 per month. On December 8, 1882, the U.S. Senate required the Secretary of Interior to submit a list of pensioners on the roll January 1, 1883. The Secretary of Interior submitted the completed list to the Senate on March 1, 1883 and it was then published in five volumes.
The next document that we find is the 1890 “Veterans Census”. It lists Gabriel Bronenkant living at Frohna, Perry Co., Mo., and that his disability incurred was “Shot through Right Arm”. The U.S. Pension Office requested this special enumeration to help Union veterans locate comrades to testify in pension claims and to determine the number of survivors and widows for pension legislation. This census was done together with the 1890 population census and although nearly all of the population census was destroyed in a fire, over 75,000 schedules listing veterans were saved.
Gabriel Bronenkant died on June 11, 1924 in Jacob, Illinois where his two oldest daughters, Mrs. Emma Juliana “Julia” Ross and Mrs. Maria Ernestine Ottilie Brandes, lived. He is buried in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery at Fountain Bluff near Jacob. His gravestone gives his name as Gabriel Brounenkant.
The following obituary was published in the June 19, 1924 edition of the Perry County Republican.
Only recently was I able to locate any information on the birthplace of Gabriel Bronenkant; however, Ancestry.com has recently added to their files a significant number of records for Germany, Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898. This record records the baptism of Gabriel Brennenkant on March 26, 1839 just one day after the birth date that appears in several other records for him. This record gives the place of baptism as Rust, Baden. This village is located near the Rhine River, just west of the Black Forest and about 100 miles southwest of Stuttgart and around 60 miles from the Swiss border.
It was an interesting journey to simply record the known facts for the life of Gabriel Bronenkant who was a combat veteran of the Civil War. One can only image what he saw and experienced during his service in the U. S. Army and his life of over 85 years and all of the changes that occurred during that lifespan. It was also interesting to see the many spellings of his surname which I have highlighted in this blog. I think that any one of his descendants and their family members can tell you how often they have had to spell out the name for other people. Right Dale, Karen, Scott, Greg, Trent, Lori, Carly, Leah and all the others?