Skip to main content

Exclusive Trip to Vienna in January 2025 – Select from two different ball packages

Austria’s capital Vienna, once the seat of the multicultural Austro-Hungarian Empire, is a vibrant and modern city with stunning reminders of its imperial past, a lively art and theatre scene, museums, shopping, famous coffee houses and culinary delights influenced by the cuisines of Central Europe.

Continue reading

Auto Draft

Ferdinand F. Rohm





Civil War

Biography

Ferdinand Frederick Rohm was a native German who served as a soldier for the Union Army during the American Civil War. Rohm served as the chief bugler for the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry regiment from September 1862 to June 1865 and was present for multiple campaigns and thirty-eight battles and military operations during the course of the war. For his heroism at the Second Battle of Ream’s Station, Rohm was awarded the Medal of Honor; the highest military decoration in the United States Armed Forces.

Ferdinand Rohm was born in Esslingen in the Kingdom of Württemberg on Aug. 30th, 1843. It is unknown when exactly Rohm immigrated to the United States, however, he was one of the many German immigrants that left the disunited German states who would go on to serve the Union Army during the American Civil War. 

In September of 1862, Rohm enlisted in service of the Union Army in Juniata County, Pennsylvania; where he was assigned to the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment. After a year of enlistment, Rohm was transferred from F Company to the central command as chief bugler for the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry regiment in 1863.

Prior to the Civil War, armed forces used drums and fifes to communicate messages across the battlefield and organize troop movements. However, due to many of the battles of the Civil War being staged in the hills and forests of the United States rather than open fields, it was difficult for soldiers to interpret the messages over consistent artillery, musket fire, and close quarters combat. The introduction of the bugle allowed for messages to travel greater distances across the battlefield and became indispensable to maneuver skirmishers during combat.  

The chief bugler was the bugler at the regimental level, responsible for instructing, training, and drilling the buglers attached to the companies of the regiment. Instructions and calls from the commanding officers were broadcasted with the chief bugler and further echoed by the buglers in their respective companies. 

As chief bugler, Ferdinand Rohm played an instrumental role on the battlefield in facilitating the orders from the commanding officers to the companies of the regiment. For the remaining two years of war, Rohm served as the chief bugler of 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry and directed the regiment in combat for thirty-eight operations and battles throughout seven different military campaigns. Rohm was present for many prominent battles during the Civil War including as the Battle of Gettysburg in July of 1863, the Battle of the Wilderness in May of 1864, and the Battle of Cold Harbor in late May of 1864. However, despite being present for these prominent battles, Rohm is most known for his actions at the Second Battle of Ream’s Station in Virginia of August 1864. 

During the Second Battle of Ream’s Station, Chief Bugler Rohm performed an act of bravery and valor in which during an attack from Confederate forces, Rohm, rather than seeking immediate cover from enemy fire, remained on the battlefield to assist an officer, Colonel James A. Beaver, who in 1887 would become the 20th governor of Pennsylvania. In 1894, Rohm reflected on his service and heroic act in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:  

“Directly after [the rebels’] retreat a heavy skirmish line of the rebels appeared. It was followed by a line of battle which opened fire on us. We suffered considerably from their fire and fell back toward our infantry. Just after we had passed a small piece of woods about ten yards from our line of entrenchments I noticed a field officer lying on his back in the dust in the middle of the road, waving his hand toward us. My attention was particularly attracted to him by the fine, new dress uniform and the shoulder straps of a colonel which he wore. As I drew nearer I saw he was wounded. I knew if we did not take him along he would be captured by the enemy or killed. I jumped on my horse and upon examination saw he was shot through the thigh. I had three of our pioneers dismount and assist.” 

After his heroic act at the Second Battle of Ream’s Station, Rohm continued to fight against the Confederacy in the Appomattox campaign. However, just two days before the war’s end, on April 7th, 1865 during a charge in Farmville, Va, Rohm was hit in the head with a minie ball wounding him greatly. Although he survived his wounds, Rohm became permanently deaf in his left ear. On June 15th, Rohm was honorably discharged from the military and sent back to his home in Juniata County, Penn. 

After his honorable discharge from the United States army, Rohm married Mary Lindsay and would go on to raise seven children with her in Juniata County. In 1887, twenty-two years after the war, newly elected governor, James A. Beaver appointed Rohm to the park police at the Pennsylvania State Arsenal. Ten years later, Rohm would receive the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Second Battle of Ream’s Station and his act of service in saving the life of a wounded officer. Rohm continued his employment with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Public Grounds and Buildings department and in 1912 was promoted to sergeant in the Capitol Police. 

In November of 1917, Rohm fell ill while on guard at the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex and was transported to Harrisburg’s Polyclinic Hospital, however, a couple days later Ferdinand F. Rohm would pass away at the age of seventy-four. His body was laid to rest at the Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery in Mifflintown, Penn. 

By Luke Romeo Alley

Continue reading

Auto Draft

Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben

Portrait of Major General von Steuben by Ralph Earl (c. 1786)


Revolutionary War

Biography

Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben was a famed German-American officer who played an instrumental role in transforming the Continental Army into a disciplined and trained fighting force during the American Revolutionary War. Through Steuben, the Continental Army saw great success in combat against the British Army. His presence and training subsequently led to the victory of the American Colonies over the British Empire, which established the United States of America. 

Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben was born to a military family in Magdeburg, Prussia, on September 17th, 1730. His father was Wilhelm Augustin von Steuben, a Royal Prussian Engineer Captain who served in both the Russo-Turkish War of 1735-1739 and the War of Austrian Succession. Due to his father’s military prominence, Steuben regularly observed his father’s military campaigns and was exposed to the military and the art of warfare from a very early age.  

At 17, von Steuben enlisted in the Prussian army and would go on to serve in the Seven Years’ War. At the outbreak of the war in 1756, Steuben served as a second lieutenant within the Prussian army and battled at both the Siege of Prague (1757) and the Battle of Kunersdorf (1759). Throughout the war, Steuben would quickly rise in rank, eventually reaching the rank of captain in the Prussian army. As a captain, Steuben served on the general staff of Frederick the Great, advising the King of Prussia at both the Third Siege of Kolberg (1761) and the Siege of Schweidnitz (1762) towards the end of the Seven Years’ War. 

With the conclusion of the Seven Years’ War in 1763, Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben retired from the army when the Prussian military reduced its size at the war’s end. Steuben would remain unemployed until 1764, when he became a Hofmarschall, or court marshall, for Prince Josef Friedrich Wilhelm of Hohenzollern-Hechingen. During this period in Hohenzollern-Hechingen, Steuben received the Cross of the Order of Fidelity and was honored with the title of baron. Despite working in the court of the principality, Steuben still desired to serve in the military. It is unknown whether he voluntarily retired from his post at the prince’s court or was obliged to leave due to rumors alleging he was homosexual. Still, after his leave, he began to search for employment in European armies. 

In 1777, an acquaintance of Steuben’s, Claude Louis, Comte de Saint-Germain, introduced the retired Prussian captain to Benjamin Franklin. During their meeting, Franklin informed Steuben of the Continental Army’s need for military professionals; however, Franklin was not authorized to grant rank within the Continental Army and could only suggest that Steuben travel to America for employment within the army on his own. Out of desperation, Steuben accepted the offer, and in turn, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to Congress and General George Washington introducing them to Steuben. However, in Franklin’s letter, Franklin falsely stated that Steuben achieved the rank of lieutenant general during his time in the Prussian army. Whether this error was due to mistranslation or an attempt to make Steuben a stronger candidate for the Continental Army is unknown. 

Nonetheless, impressed with his credentials, Steuben was inducted into the Continental Army in late 1777. In February 1778, Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben arrived at Valley Forge and reported for duty. At Valley Forge, Steuben was appointed as an inspector general of the Valley Forge encampment. With this role, Steuben set new standards for the organization and training of the Continental Army. Before Steuben’s arrival to the Continental Army, each colony utilized different drills and maneuvers for their armed forces. Seeing this practice, Steuben created a standard method that would allow for the entirety of the army to be more coordinated. Steuben used the commander-in-chief’s honor guard to teach this standardized method, which consisted of soldiers from various regiments from each colony. Steuben utilized the honor guard as a model company to demonstrate each new drill. In turn, honor guard members would train other regiments, thus setting a standard for drills across the whole army. In addition to standardizing methods throughout the Continental Army, Steuben instructed the men on proper sanitation and weaponry usage, transforming the Continental Army into a legitimate fighting force. 

Impressed with Steuben’s accomplishments, General George Washington appointed Steuben as inspector general of the army with the rank of major general in May 1778. In the summer of 1778, Steuben’s methods and training showcased their immense value in the Battles of Stony Point, Barren Hill, and Monmouth, which resulted in victories and minimized casualties for the Continental Army.  

In the winter of 1778, Steuben left the army and resided in Philadelphia to write his book, Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, a manuscript on the training methods he had implemented at Valley Forge. The book became standard in the US military and was utilized in the army until 1814. 

In April 1779, Steuben rejoined the Continental Army and their southern campaign and served as an instructor and supply officer for the South Continental Army. At the final campaign in Yorktown, Steuben commanded one of the three divisions of the Continental Army, which fought in key battles that led the British to surrender. Steuben aided the army’s demobilization at the end of the American Revolutionary War and established a defense plan for the newly created United States. 

In March 1784, von Steuben resigned from the military and became a citizen of the United States. He settled in New York on land granted to him for military service. This piece of land later became the town of Steuben, New York, which was named in honor of his contributions to the nation. In his estate, Steuben resided with his two aide-de-camps, William North and Benjamin Walker, both of whom he met while serving at Valley Forge. Historians suspect that Steuben, North, and Walker may have been in a homosexual relationship together. However, there is no confirmation. For the remainder of his life, he served as president of the German Society of the City of New York, which aided German immigrants in the United States. Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben died on November 28th, 1794 at his estate. He was laid to rest in a grove marked by a monument that can be visited today. 

Continue reading

Tribute to Erich Ast, 2019 Distinguished German American of the Year

Erich C. Ast of New Hope, Pa. passed away peacefully at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Langhorne, Pa. on Sunday, April 28, 2024. He was 94 years old. He was the husband of 71 years to his beloved late wife, Grete. Her passing in 2022 left a large hole in his life – he missed her dearly every day.

Continue reading

Meet our GAHF Scholarship Winners: Katrina Klopcic and Yasmin Moule

After many months of planning under the leadership of scholarship committee chairman Daniel Villanueva, GAHF’s first vice president, the German-American Heritage Foundation announced last October that it would award two domestic scholarships to young German American students–a first in our almost 50-year history.

Continue reading