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Frederick Schirmeier was born on September 23, 1840 in Teterow, Mecklenburg Schwerin, Germany and was also known as Frederick Meir. Nothing is known of his migration to the United States, but like many others he likely arrived on an immigrant ship.  A large number of Germans left that area of Germany since either they were a landowner and in the gentry or they were a serf.  When the serfs all left the population of Mecklenburg decreased by almost 25%. He was employed in a soap factory at the time of his enlistment and was only 20 years old, enlisting as a Private at Mascoutah, Illinois in Captain Otto Koellein’s 9th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, unit number 427427, on April 22, 1861; one day after Lincoln publicly called for volunteers. He is listed on company rosters as “Friedrich” Schirmeier. Nearly half of all officers and men who joined the 9th Illinois were in fact, of German descent. He was assigned to Company E, on April 25, 1861.

Organized at Camp Douglas, Chicago, Illinois in 1809 and mustered in on November 30, 1861,  the 9th was a three months service unit, Colonel Eleazer A. Paine commanding, and during their three-month period, the regiment were never issued uniforms. The men were allowed to wear any costumes that their fancy suggested, or whatever their patriot friends at home may have supplied. The regiment was ordered to Cairo, St. Clair County, Illinois where it was stationed doing garrison duty, until the close of their term of service on July 26th, 1861, when it was mustered out. St. Clair County, Illinois had and still has a large German population. Their entire time was principally spent drilling and preparing for future active service. While at the end of their enlistment some of the men went home, the majority of those in the company immediately re-enlisted for three year periods of service and later became known as the “Bloody Ninth”. Frederick, however, was not among those who reenlisted. He apparently quickly developed a distaste for life in the military and immediately headed west to California. He remained in California for the next twenty-six years, managing to elude further military service during the American Civil War, before leaving San Francisco and the U.S., in June 1887; bound for Australia.

 Upon arriving in Australia he spent time in Sydney, New South Wales, where in January 1889 he married Agnes Jentisch; later settling in Kensington, a suburb of Melbourne. There he found work as a plumber and Agnes died in January 1896. In February 1905 Frederick married again, to a widow named Janet Elizabeth Ann Lindsey Groves, the daughter of a former British Army soldier. For reasons of his own, Frederick later changed his name to “Meir”; likely due to the anti-German sentiment during World War I.

Despite Fredericks short period of service in the U.S. military he was granted an American pension of $18 (US) a month beginning in 1912 which increased to $21 a month in September 1915; at the age of 75. Frederick “Meir” Schirmeir died at Richmond, Victoria on June 12, 1925 and was buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery at Carlton. His wife Janet survived him by only six months. In 1989 a bronze plaque was obtained from the American Veterans Administration in Washington DC and placed on his grave.

 

Ancestry.com

Birth, Marriage and Death Records, New South Wales

Birth Records, Mecklenburg Schwerin, Germany

John Schmale Mascoutah, Illinois

Melbourne General Cemetery Records

Military Induction Records, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Military Pension Records, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Regimental Histories, Illinois

 

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