Assenheimer, Godfrey (Private)

Württemberg Castle, Germany (circa 18th century, Jakob Heinrich Renz, public domain).

Alternate Spellings of Given Name: Godfrey, Gottfeit, Gottfried. Alternate Spellings of Surname: Arsenheimer, Arsonheimer, Assenheimer, Assenhimer, Asunheimer, Osenheimer, Ossenheimer.

The story of Godfrey Assenheimer is the quintessential saga of the American immigrant. Born circa 1826 in Württemburg, Germany, he arrived in the United States sometime before his adopted homeland descended into the full-blown madness of its darkest time in history—the U.S. Civil War.

Civil War Military Service

In 1864, at the age of 35, Godfrey Assenheimer enlisted for military service at Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania on 1 March, he then mustered in at Philadelphia the next day as a Private with Company B of the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. He was joining just in time to make history. That spring, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers became the only regiment from the Keystone State to fight in the Union’s Red River Campaign across Louisiana as part of the U.S. Department of the Gulf’s 19th Army Corps.

Note: Godfrey Assenheimer also performed prior service with Company B of the 38th Pennsylvania Infantry. This service was documented in pension materials filed by his widow, “Margareth” Assenheimer, who was ultimately awarded a U.S. Civil War Widow’s Pension on 4 June 1901.

19th U.S. Army Map, Phase 3, Battle of Sabine Cross Roads/Mansfield (8 April 1864, public domain).

On 8 April, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers engaged in the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads (also known as the Battle of Mansfield), losing 60 of their friends to fierce gun and cannon fire.

The next day, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were ordered into a critically important defensive position at the far right of the Union lines, their right flank spreading up onto a high bluff. By 3 p.m., after enduring a midday charge by the troops of Confederate General Richard Taylor (a plantation owner who was the son of Zachary Taylor, former President of the United States), the brutal fighting still showed no signs of ending. Suddenly, just as the 47th was shifting to the left side of the massed Union forces, the men of the 47th Pennsylvania were forced to bolster the 165th New York’s buckling lines by blocking another Confederate assault.

On that day, now known as the Battle of Pleasant Hill, the 47th nearly lost its second-in-command, Lieutenant-Colonel George W. Alexanderwho had been severely wounded in both legs. In addition, 68-year-old Color-Sergeant Benjamin Walls of Company C was wounded while trying to mount the regimental colors on a caisson that had been recaptured from Confederate troops, as was Sergeant William Pyers of the same company, who had picked up the American flag when Walls fell, preventing it from falling into enemy hands.

In B Company, John Fries and Tilghman H. Reinsmith were wounded; Edward Fink was killed. Others, who had been captured, were marched roughly 125 miles to Camp Ford near Tyler, Texas (the largest Confederate prison west of the Mississippi), where they would be held as prisoners of war (POWs) until released during prisoner exchanges in July, August, September, or November. Sadly, at least two members of the 47th died while in captivity there while still others remain missing to this day, possibly having been hastily interred on or between battlefields—or in unmarked prison graves.

Following what some historians have called a rout by Confederates at Pleasant Hill and others have labeled a technical victory for the Union or a draw for both sides, the 47th Pennsylvanians fell back to Grand Ecore, where they remained for a total of eleven days (through 22 April 1864). After engaging in the hard labor of strengthening regimental and brigade fortifications, they then moved back to Natchitoches Parish on 22 April, arriving in Cloutierville at 10 p.m. that night after completing a 45-mile march. En route, the Union forces were attacked again—this time in the rear, but they were able to end the encounter fairly quickly and continue on.

The 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were stationed just to the left of the “Thick Woods” with Emory’s 2nd Brigade, 1st Division as shown on this map of Union troop positions for the Battle of Cane River at Monett’s Ferry, Louisiana, 23 April 1864 (Major-General Nathaniel Banks’ official Red River Campaign Report, public domain),

The next morning (23 April 1864), episodic skirmishing quickly roared into the flames of a robust fight. As part of the advance party led by Brigadier-General William Emory, the 47th Pennsylvanians took on Brigadier-General Hamilton P. Bee’s Confederate Cavalry in the Battle of Cane River (also known as “the Affair at Monett’s Ferry” or the “Cane River Crossing”).

Responding to a barrage from the Confederate artillery’s 20-pound Parrott guns and raking fire from enemy troops situated near a bayou and on a bluff, Emory directed one of his brigades to keep Bee’s Confederates busy while sending the other two brigades to find a safe spot where his Union troops could ford the Cane River. As part of the “beekeepers,” the 47th Pennsylvanians supported Emory’s artillery.

Meanwhile, other Emory troops found and worked their way across the Cane River, attacked Bee’s flank, and forced a Rebel retreat. That Union brigade then erected a series of pontoon bridges, enabling the 47th and other remaining Union troops to make the Cane River Crossing by the next day. As the Confederates retreated, they torched their own food stores, as well as the cotton supplies of their fellow southerners.

In a letter penned from Morganza, Louisiana on 29 May, Henry Wharton described what had happened to the 47th Pennsylvanians during and immediately after making camp at Grand Ecore:

Our sojourn at Grand Ecore was for eleven days, during which time our position was well fortified by entrenchments for a length of five miles, made of heavy logs, five feet high and six feet wide, filled in with dirt. In front of this, trees were felled for a distance of two hundred yards, so that if the enemy attacked we had an open space before us which would enable our forces to repel them and follow if necessary. But our labor seemed to the men as useless, for on the morning of 22d April, the army abandoned these works and started for Alexandria. From our scouts it was ascertained that the enemy had passed some miles to our left with the intention of making a stand against our right at Bayou Cane, where there is a high bluff and dense woods, and at the same attack Smith’s forces who were bringing up the rear. This first day was a hard one on the boys, for by ten o’clock at night they made Cloutierville, a distance of forty-five miles. On that day the rear was attacked which caused our forces to reverse their front and form in line of battle, expecting too, to go back to the relief of Smith, but he needed no assistance, sending word to the front that he had ‘whipped them, and could do it again.’ It was well that Banks made so long a march on that day, for on the next we found the enemy prepared to carry out their design of attacking us front and rear. Skirmishing commenced early in the morning and as our columns advanced he fell back towards the bayou, when we soon discovered the position of their batteries on the bluff. There was then an artillery duel by the smaller pieces, and some sharp fighting by the cavalry, when the ‘mule battery,’ twenty pound Parrott guns, opened a heavy fire, which soon dislodged them, forcing the chivalry to flee in a manner not at all suitable to their boasted courage. Before this one cavalry, the 3d Brigade of the 1st Div., and Birges’ brigade of the second, had crossed the bayou and were doing good service, which, with the other work, made the enemy show their heels. The 3d brigade done some daring deeds in this fight, as also did the cavalry. In one instance the 3d charged up a hill almost perpendicular, driving the enemy back by the bayonet without firing a gun. The woods on this bluff was so thick that the cavalry had to dismount and fight on foot. During the whole of the day, our brigade, the 2d was supporting artillery, under fire all the time, and could not give Mr. Reb a return shot.

While we were fighting in front, Smith was engaged some miles in the rear, but he done his part well and drove them back. The rebel commanders thought by attacking us in the rear, and having a large face on the bluffs, they would be able to capture our train and take us all prisoners, but in this they were mistaken, for our march was so rapid that we were on them before they had thrown up the necessary earthworks. Besides they underrated the amount of our artillery, calculating from the number engaged at Pleasant Hill. The rebel prisoners say it ‘seems as though the Yankees manufacture, on short notice, artillery to order, and the men are furnished with wings when they wish to make a certain point.

The damage done to the Confederate cause by the burning of cotton was immense. On the night of the 22d our route was lighted up for miles and millions of dollars worth of this production was destroyed. This loss will be felt more by Davis & Co., than several defeats in this region, for the basis of the loan in England was on the cotton of Western Louisiana.

After the rebels had fled from the bluff the negro troops put down the pontoons, and by ten that night we were six miles beyond the bayou safely encamped. The next morning we moved forward and in two days were in Alexandria. Johnnys followed Smith’s forces, keeping out of range of his guns, except when he had gained the eminence across the bayou, when he punished them (the rebs) severely.

Christened “Bailey’s Dam” for the Union officer who ordered its construction, Lt.-Col. Joseph Bailey, this timber dam built by the Union Army on the Red River near Alexandria, Louisiana in May 1864 facilitated Union gunboat passage (public domain).

Having finally reached Alexandria on 26 April, they learned they would remain at their latest new camp for at least two weeks. Placed temporarily under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Bailey, they were assigned yet again to the hard labor of fortification work, helping to erect “Bailey’s Dam,” a timber structure that enabled Union gunboats to more easily make their way back down the Red River. According to Wharton:

We were at Alexandria seventeen days, during which time the men were kept busy at throwing up earthworks, foraging and three times went out some distance to meet the enemy, but they did not make their appearance in numbers large enough for an engagement. The water in the Red river had fallen so much that it prevented the gunboats from operating with us, and kept our transports from supplying the troops with rations, (and you know soldiers, like other people, will eat) so Banks was compelled to relinquish his designs on Shreveport and fall back to the Mississippi. To do this a large dam had to be built on the falls at Alexandria to get the ironclads down the river. After a great deal labor this was accomplished and by the morning of May 13th the last one was through the shute [sic], when we bade adieu to Alexandria, marching through the town with banners flying and keeping step to the music of ‘Rally around the flag,’ and ‘When this cruel war is over.’ The next morning, at our camping place, the fleet of boats passed us, when we were informed that Alexandria had been destroyed by fire – the act of a dissatisfied citizen and several negroes. Incendiary acts were strictly forbidden in a general order the day before we left the place, and a cavalry guard was left in the rear to see the order enforced. After marching a few miles skirmishing commenced in front between the cavalry and the enemy in riflepits [sic] on the bank of the river, but they were easily driven away. When we came up we discovered their pits and places where there had been batteries planted. At this point the John Warren, an unarmed transport, on which were sick soldiers and women, was fired into and sunk, killing many and those that were not drowned taken prisoners. A tin-clad gunboat was destroyed at the same place, by which we lost a large mail. Many letters and directed envelopes were found on the bank – thrown there after the contents had been read by the unprincipled scoundrels. The inhumanity of Guerrilla bands in this department is beyond belief, and if one did not know the truth of it or saw some of their barbarities, he would write it down as the story of a ‘reliable gentleman’ or as told by an ‘intelligent contraband.’ Not satisfied with his murderous intent on unarmed transports he fires into the Hospital steamer Laurel Hill, with four hundred sick on board. This boat had the usual hospital signal floating fore and aft, yet, notwithstanding all this, and the customs of war, they fired on them, proving by this act that they are more hardened than the Indians on the frontier.

On Sunday, May 15, we left the river road and took a short route through the woods, saving considerable distance. The windings of Red river are so numerous that it resembles the tape-worm railroad wherewith the politicians frightened the dear people during the administration of Ritner and Stevens. – We stopped several hours in the woods to leave cavalry pass, when we moved forward and by four o’clock emerged into a large open plain where we formed in line of battle, expecting a regular engagement. The enemy, however, retired and we advanced ‘till dark, when the forces halted for the night, with orders to rest on their arms. – ‘Twas here that Banks rode through our regiment, amidst the cheers of the boys, and gave the pleasant news that Grant had defeated Lee.

“Sleeping on Their Arms” by Winslow Homer (Harper’s Weekly, 21 May 1864).

Having entered Avoyelles Parish, they “rested on their arms” for the night, half-dozing without pitching their tents, but with their rifles right beside them. They were now positioned just outside of Marksville, Louisiana on the eve of the 16 May 1864 Battle of Mansura, which unfolded as follows, according to Wharton:

Early next morning we marched through Marksville into a prairie nine miles long and six wide where every preparation was made for a fight. The whole of our force was formed in line, in support of artillery in front, who commenced operations on the enemy driving him gradually from the prairie into the woods. As the enemy retreated before the heavy fire of our artillery, the infantry advanced in line until they reached Mousoula [sic], where they formed in column, taking the whole field in an attempt to flank the enemy, but their running qualities were so good that we were foiled. The maneuvring [sic] of the troops was handsomely done, and the movements was [sic] one of the finest things of the war. The fight of artillery was a steady one of five miles. The enemy merely stood that they might cover the retreat of their infantry and train under cover of their artillery. Our loss was slight. Of the rebels we could not ascertain correctly, but learned from citizens who had secreted themselves during the fight, that they had many killed and wounded, who threw them into wagons, promiscuously, and drove them off so that we could not learn their casualties. The next day we moved to Simmsport [sic] on the Achafalaya [sic] river, where a bridge was made by putting the transports side by side, which enabled the troops and train to pass safely over. – The day before we crossed the rebels attacked Smith, thinking it was but the rear guard, in which they, the graybacks, were awfully cut up, and four hundred prisoners fell into our hands. Our loss in killed and wounded was ninety. This fight was the last one of the expedition. The whole of the force is safe on the Mississippi, gunboats, transports and trains. The 16th and 17th have gone to their old commands. 

It is amusing to read the statements of correspondents to papers North, concerning our movements and the losses of our army. I have it from the best source that the Federal loss from Franklin to Mansfield, and from their [sic] to this point does not exceed thirty-five hundred in killed, wounded and missing, while that of the rebels is over eight thousand.*

After the surviving members of the 47th made their way through Simmesport and into the Atchafalaya Basin, they moved on to Morganza, where they made camp again. According to Wharton, the members of Company C were sent on a special mission which took them on an intense 120-mile journey:

Company C, on last Saturday was detailed by the General in command of the Division to take one hundred and eighty-seven prisoners (rebs) to New Orleans. This they done [sic] satisfactorily and returned yesterday to their regiment, ready for duty. While in the City some of the boys made Captain Gobin quite a handsome present, to show their appreciation of him as an officer gentleman.

While encamped at Morganza, the nine formerly enslaved Black men who had enlisted with the 47th Pennsylvania in Beaufort (1862) and Natchitoches, Louisiana (April 1864) were officially mustered into the regiment between 20-24 June 1864. The regiment then moved on once again, and arrived in New Orleans in late June.

During this same period of service, Private Charles Schwenk of Company B died on 20 June at a Union Army hospital in Baton Rouge.

As they did during their tour through the Carolinas and Florida, the men of the 47th had battled the elements and disease, as well as the Confederate Army, in order to survive and continue to defend their nation. But the Red River Campaign’s most senior leader, Union Major-General Nathaniel P. Banks, would not. Removed from command amid the controversy regarding the Union Army’s successes and failures, he was placed on leave by President Abraham Lincoln. He later redeemed himself by spending much of his time in Washington, D.C. as a Reconstruction advocate for the people of Louisiana.

Snicker’s Gap and the Battle of Cool Spring

Undaunted by their travails in Bayou country, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers continued their fight to preserve the Union during the summer of 1864. After receiving orders on the 4th of July to return to the East Coast, they did so in two stages.

Companies A, C, D, E, F, H, and I steamed for the Washington, D.C. area aboard the McClellan beginning 7 July while the men from Companies B, G and K remained behind on detached duty and to await transportation. Led by F Company Captain Henry S. Harte, they finally sailed away at the end of the month aboard the Blackstone, arrived in Virginia on 28 July, and reconnected with the bulk of the regiment at Monocacy, Virginia on 2 August.

Due to the delay, the boys from B Company missed out on a memorable encounter with President Abraham Lincoln, and also missed the fighting at Snicker’s Gap, Virginia.

Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign

Attached to the Middle Military Division, Army of the Shenandoah from August through November of 1864, it was here at this time and this place that the now full-strength 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers would engage in their greatest moments of valor.

Regimental records confirm that the 47th Pennsylvanians were assigned to defensive duties in and around Halltown, Virginia in early August 1864, and engaged in a series of back-and-forth movements between Halltown, Berryville and other locations within the vicinity (Middletown, Charlestown and Winchester) as part of a mimic war being waged by Sheridan’s Union forces with those commanded by Confederate Lieutenant-General Jubal Early.

From 3-4 September, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers fought in the Battle of Berryville, and engaged in related post-battle skirmishes with the enemy over subsequent days.

Victory of Philip Sheridan’s Union army over Jubal Early’s Confederate forces, Battle of Opequan, 19 September 1864 (Kurz & Allison, circa 1893, U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

Inflicting heavy casualties during the Battle of Opequan (also known as “Third Winchester”) on 19 September, Sheridan’s gallant men forced a stunning retreat of Jubal Early’s Confederates—first to Fisher’s Hill (21-22 September) and then to Waynesboro, following a successful early morning flanking attack. Their victories helped Abraham Lincoln win a second term as President.

On 23-24 September 1864, Colonel Tilghman Good and Lieutenant-Colonel George W. Alexander mustered out upon the expiration of their respective terms of service. Fortunately for the 47th, they were replaced by others equally beloved for their temperament and front line experience.

Sheridan’s army also began the first Union “scorched earth” campaign during this period, starving Confederate forces and their supporters into submission by destroying Virginia’s farming infrastructure. Viewed by many today as inhumane, the strategy claimed many innocents. This same strategy, however, almost certainly contributed to the turning of the war further in favor of the Union. Early’s men, successful in many prior engagements but now weakened by hunger, strayed from battlefields in increasing numbers to forage for food, thus enabling the 47th Pennsylvania and others under Sheridan’s command to rally and win the day during the Battle of Cedar Creek on 19 October 1864.

Alfred Waud’s 1864 sketch, “Surprise at Cedar Creek,” which captured the flanking attack on the rear of Union Brigadier-General William Emory’s 19th Corps by Lieutenant-General Jubal Early’s Confederate army, and the subsequent resistance by Emory’s troops from their Union rifle pits, 19 October 1864 (public domain).

From a military standpoint, it was an impressive, but heartrending day. During the morning of 19 October, Early launched a surprise attack directly on Sheridan’s Cedar Creek-encamped forces. Early’s men were able to capture Union weapons while freeing a number of Confederates who had been taken prisoner during previous battles—all while pushing seven Union divisions back. According to Bates:

When the Army of West Virginia, under Crook, was surprised and driven from its works, the Second Brigade, with the Forty-seventh on the right, was thrown into the breach to arrest the retreat…. Scarcely was it in position before the enemy came suddenly upon it, under the cover of fog. The right of the regiment was thrown back until it was almost a semi-circle. The brigade, only fifteen hundred strong, was contending against Gordon’s entire division, and was forced to retire, but, in comparative good order, exposed, as it was, to raking fire. Repeatedly forming, as it was pushed back, and making a stand at every available point, it finally succeeded in checking the enemy’s onset, when General Sheridan suddenly appeared upon the field, who ‘met his crest-fallen, shattered battalions, without a word of reproach, but joyously swinging his cap, shouted to the stragglers, as he rode rapidly past them – “Face the other way, boys! We are going back to our camp! We are going to lick them out of their boots!’”

Sheridan Rallying His Troops, Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia, 19 October 1864 (U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

The Union’s counterattack pounded Early’s forces into submission, and the men of the 47th were commended for their heroism by General Stephen Thomas who, in 1892, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his own “distinguished conduct in a desperate hand-to-hand encounter, in which the advance of the enemy was checked” that day. Bates described the 47th’s actions:

When the final grand charge was made, the regiment moved at nearly right angles with the rebel front. The brigade charged gallantly, and the entire line, making a left wheel, came down on his flank, while engaging the Sixth Corps, when he went “whirling up the valley” in confusion. In the pursuit to Fisher’s Hill, the regiment led, and upon its arrival was placed on the skirmish line, where it remained until twelve o’clock noon of the following day. The army was attacked at early dawn…no respite was given to take food until the pursuit was ended.

By the end of combat that day, more than 170 members of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers—nearly two full companies of the regiment—had been declared as killed, wounded, missing, or captured.

Given a slight respite after Cedar Creek, the men of the 47th were quartered at the Union’s Camp Russell near Winchester from November through most of December before receiving orders to assume outpost duty at Camp Fairview in Charlestown, West Virginia just five days before Christmas.


Spectators massing for the Grand Review of the Armies, 23-24 May 1865, at the side of the crepe-draped U.S. Capitol, flag at half mast following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln (Matthew Brady, U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

By February of 1865, the 47th Pennsylvania was assigned to the Provisional Division of the 2nd Brigade of the Army of the Shenandoah.

By 19 April, the regiment was back in Washington, D.C., ordered there to defend the nation’s capital again following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. While serving in the 2nd Brigade of the Department of Washington’s 22nd Corps (Dwight’s Division), the 47th also participated in the Union’s Grand Review of the Armies on 23-24 May. Captain Levi Stuber of Company I was also promoted to the rank of Major with the regimental command staff during this time.

Letters home during this period and interviews conducted in later years with survivors of the 47th Pennsylvania confirm that at least one member of the 47th was given the honor of guarding President Lincoln’s funeral train while still others were assigned to guard duties at the prison where Mary Surratt and the other alleged Lincoln assassination conspirators were being held during the early days of their imprisonment.

Ruins of Charleston, South Carolina as seen from the Circular Church, 1865 (U.S. National Archives, public domain).

Taking one final swing through the South, the 47th served in Savannah, Georgia from 31 May to 4 June as part of the Department of the South’s 3rd Brigade (Dwight’s Division) and at Charleston, South Carolina beginning in June.

Duties during this time were Provost (military police) and Reconstruction-related, including rebuilding railroads and other key aspects of the region’s infrastructure that had been damaged or destroyed during the long war. Sadly, the 47th Pennsylvanians would be called upon during the opening days of September to investigate, arrest and prosecute one of their own.

Court martial of Corporal Lewis H. Seip for his September 1865 thefts from Private Godfrey Assenheimer (11 October 1865, Charleston Daily News, South Carolina, public domain).

According to a Supplement to the Charleston Daily News, which was published on 11 October 1865, Corporal Lewis Seip of the 47th Pennsylvania was charged with theft from fellow B Company soldier Private Godfrey Assenheimer. The newspaper presented the details of Seip’s court martial case as follows:


SPECIFICATION:– In this, that he, LEWIS H. SEIP Corporal Co. ‘B,’ 47th Penna. Vet. Vols., one gold watch, valued at $40.00 (forty dollars) and $23.00 (twenty-three) in bills.

All this at Charleston, S.C., on or about the 5th day of September, 1865.

To which Charge and Specification the accused pleaded, ‘Not Guilty.’

The Court, having maturely considered the evidence adduced, find the prisoner, Corporal Lewis H. Seip, Co. ‘B,’ 47th Penna. Vet. Vols., as follows:

Of the Specification – ‘Guilty.’
Of the Charge – ‘Guilty.’

And the Court do, therefore, sentence him, the said Corporal Lewis H. Seip, Co. ‘B,’ 47th Penna. Vet. Vols., to be publicly deprived of his insignia of his rank, to be ignominiously discharged and drummed out of the service of the United States, and to be imprisoned at hard labor for the period of two years, at such place as the Commanding General may direct.

Finally, on Christmas Day in 1865, the majority of the 47th Pennsylvania’s Company B—including Private Godfrey Assenheimer—began to muster out from military life, a process which continued through early January 1866.

Following a stormy voyage to New York City and a train trip to Philadelphia, the now very experienced 47th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers received their final discharge papers at Camp Cadwalader, and were then sent home to their loved ones and neighbors.

Return to Civilian Life

Following his honorable discharge from the military, Godfrey Assenheimer returned to Pennsylvania; in fairly short order, however, he opted for a dramatic change of life. Relocating to Michigan sometime between 1866 and 1868, he subsequently wed Margaretha Baker (alternate surname: Bendle) in Marshall, Calhoun County, Michigan on 26 November 1868. Both were residents of Marshall at the time of their marriage. Those records also documented that Margaretha (Baker) Bentley (circa 1831-1909) was a 36-year-old widow who was a native of Bavaria, Germany, and that Godfrey, a farmer, had been born in the Kingdom of Württemburg (now the German state of Baden-Württemburg).

Note: Margaretha Assenheimer’s maiden name was “Baker.” Her married surname (from her first marriage) was spelled on various records as “Bendle” or “Bentley.”

A son, William (1869-1886), was born in Michigan 1869, and was followed (respectively on 10 April 1872 and 1 May 1874 in Fredonia Township, Calhoun County, Michigan) by daughter Matilda Margaret (1872-1946) and son Herman (1874-1951).

According to the federal census of 1880, Godfrey Assenheimer continued to reside in Fredonia Township, Calhoun County, Michigan with his wife, Margaret, and their children, William (aged 10), Matilda (aged 8), and Herman (aged 6). Tragically, just six years later, their eldest son, William, was gone, having passed away on 3 October 1886 in Fredonia Township. Michigan death records noted that he had been employed as a farmer at the time. He was interred at the Lyon Lake Cemetery in Wrights Corners, Calhoun County.

The 1890 U.S. Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War provided an even finer level of detail, noting that Godfrey Assenheimer was a resident of the community of Ellis in Fredonia Township, and that he had sustained an injury to his eyes at some point during his Civil War service. That same year, on 17 May, his wife Margaret celebrated her 55th birthday. The Marshall Statesman documented the occasion a week later in its 23 May 1890 edition:

Last Saturday, May 17th, was the 55th anniversary of the birthday of Mrs. Godfrey Assenheimer, and the day was made memorable to her by a surprise visit from her sons George and John Bentley, of Jackson, and Joseph Bentley, of Marshall, who brought with them a beautiful couch and rocking chair and presented them to her. They were accompanied, by their wives, and all remained until Monday.

Three years later, 21-year-old daughter Tillie married 25-year-old Gottlieb Fousel on 2 March 1893 in Calhoun County. A farmer and resident of Tekonsha in Calhoun County, Gottlieb was a son of Christian and Louise Fousel. Then, on 29 September 1897, 23-year-old son Herman, a farmer, also wed in Calhoun County, taking as his bride Nettie M. Hatfield, a 23-year-old resident of Ludington, Michigan and daughter of R. Hatfield.

By the turn of the century 1900, Herman’s surname was being shown on various records as “Ossenheimer.” A fireman, he resided in the Jackson County’s City of Jackson with wife Nettie and their children, Donald (born August 1898) and Marguerite (born September 1899).

Death and Interment

A farmer for much of his adult life, Godfrey Assenheimer lived a life of courageous moments worthy of celebration. From the time of his emigration from Germany to the United States, to his fight to help preserve America’s Union during the U.S. Civil War—to the pioneering spirit he showed in relocating from Pennsylvania to Michigan in order to grow both a family and a successful future in farming. A witness to America’s Industrial Revolution and the turn of the century, he passed away in Fredonia Township, Calhoun County, Michigan on 5 May 1901, and was buried in the same cemetery where his eldest son, William, had been laid to rest 15 years earlier—Lyon Lake Cemetery in Wrights Corners, Calhoun County.

Nearly eight years later to the day, his widow Margaret followed him in death, passing away in Calhoun County, Michigan on 15 May 1909. She was laid to rest beside her husband and their son at the Lyon Lake Cemetery in Wrights Corners, Calhoun County.

Their surviving children then both passed away in Tekonsha, Calhoun County mid-century. Daughter Matilda Margaret (Assenheimer) Fousel, who had wed and was widowed by Gottlieb Fousel, died on 22 November 1946 while son Herman Ossenheimer died on 20 January 1951. He was buried at the Riverside Cemetery in Tekonsha—the same cemetery where Tillie’s husband Gottlieb had been laid to rest in 1937.


1. Assenheimer, Godfrey, in Michigan Deaths and Burials, 1800-1995 (Fredonia, Calhoun Michigan, 5 May 1901; FHL microfilm 1,009,293). Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch.

2. Assenheimer, Gottfried and Margaretha Bendel; Assenheimer, Tillie, Gottlob Fousel, Christian Fousel, and Godfrey Assenheimer; and Assenheimer, Herman, Nettie M. Hatfield, R. Hatfield, and Godfrey Assenheimer, in Michigan County Marriages, 1820-1940 (Calhoun County, 28 November 1868; 2 March 1893; and 29 September 1897). Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch.

3. Asunheimer, William, Godfrey Asunheimer and Margaret Asunheimer; and Assenhimer, in Michigan Deaths and Burials, 1800-1995 (Fredonia, Calhoun County, 3 Oct 1886 and 5 May 1901; FHL microfilm 1,009,292 and 1,009,293). Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch.

4. Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5, vol. 1. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1869.

5. Birthday Announcement (Mrs. Godfrey Assenheimer). Marshall, Michigan: The Marshall Statesman, 23 May 1890.

6. Civil War Muster Rolls, in Records of the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs (Record Group 19, Series 19.11). Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1861-1865.

7. Civil War Veterans’ Card File, 1861-1866. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State Archives.

8. Ossenheimer, Herman and Fousel, Matilda, Godfrey Ossenheimer and Margaret Baker, in Death Records (Tekonsha, Calhoun County). Lansing, Michigan: State of Michigan, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, 22 November 1946 and 20 January 1951.

9. Schmidt, Lewis. A Civil War History of the 47th Regiment of Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers. Allentown, Pennsylvania: Self-published, 1986.

10. U.S. Census (1880, 1900, 1910) and U.S. Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War (1890). Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and Michigan: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.