Hecker, Friedrich K. F.

Born: 1811-09-28 Eichtersheim, Prussia

Died: 1881-03-24 Summerfield, Illinois

Fredrich K. F. Hecker was a German attorney, politician, revolutionary, and Union Army officer. Born in the Grand Duchy of Baden, Hecker received a doctorate in law from Heidelberg University in 1834. He then traveled to Paris, France, to study to be a civil servant before deciding to become an attorney in 1836. He married Josephine Eisenhardt in 1839, with whom he had nine children. Hecker entered politics in 1842, winning election to the Mannheim city council and then to the Baden Lantag. He quickly rose to prominence as a liberal democrat and participated in the 1848 Frankfurt Pre-Parliament to establish a German republic. When the assembly broke down, Hecker became a leader in the revolutionary army. After suffering a military defeat, Hecker fled to Switzerland and then to the United States in September 1848. He settled in Summerfield, Illinois, but returned to Germany in 1849 to participate in another revolution that collapsed before his arrival.

Upon returning to Illinois, Hecker became a farmer and immersed himself in Illinois' German community. He attended the Illinois Anti-Nebraska Convention and served as one of John Fremont's state electors (along with Abraham Lincoln) during the 1856 election. He also supported Lincoln's 1858 senatorial and 1860 presidential campaigns. Following the secession crisis, Hecker joined the Third Missouri Volunteer Regiment under fellow German revolutionary Franz Sigel. Hecker became an officer but soon fell out of favor with his volunteer troops due to his strict methods and resigned before the end of 1861. He served as colonel of the Eighty-Second Illinois Volunteers in October 1862, which became part of the Army of the Potomac. Hecker was wounded at Chancellorsville but returned to active duty in time to participate in the Chattanooga and Knoxville campaigns, during part of which he commanded a brigade. Hecker resigned his commission again in January 1864 because he felt he had been unfairly treated by his superiors.

Steven Rowan, "Hecker, Friedrich Karl Franz," American National Biography, ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 10:486-87.