Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Theodore Hetz

Theodore Hetz or Heitz was born in 1824 in Frankfurt, Germany or in Prussia.

Theodore immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in western Michigan, and by 1860 he was a laborer living with another laborer, John M. Brown and his wife in Ionia, Ionia County.

Theodore was 37 years old and probably still living in Ionia County when he enlisted as Eighth Corporal in Company C on May 13, 1861. (Company C was made up largely of German and Dutch immigrants, many of whom lived on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids. This company was the descendant of the old Grand Rapids Rifles, also known as the “German Rifles,” a prewar local militia company composed solely of German troopers.)

He was promoted to Sergeant and then commissioned Second Lieutenant on January 1, 1862. He was reported sick in his quarters in July of 1862, and was probably wounded on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run. As a consequence, Theodore was eventually hospitalized in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and in September of 1862 he was dismissed pursuant to Order no. 90 (regarding deserters) promulgated by the headquarters, Army of the Potomac, on September 22.

In November he was still reported absent sick and dropped from the company rolls (presumably for being AWOL). However, he was restored to the rolls by order of General Hiram Berry (commanding the Third brigade) on December 4, the same day he was listed as having returned from missing in action to the Regiment at Camp Pitcher, Virginia. In February of 1863 he was transferred to Company G as First Lieutenant by Regimental order, replacing Lieutenant Joseph Mason.

He was a witness for the prosecution in the court martial of James Ayres, who was absent without leave for two days from the regiment during the battle of Chancellorsville.

According to Theodore Castor, one of Hetz’s comrades in Company C, while Hetz was in the hospital in Philadelphia in 1862 he met his future bride, and many years later Castor recorded the details of Hetz’s wedding in early September of 1863 while the Regiment was on detached duty in Troy, New York.

Hetz had been in the hospital in Philadelphia at the same time as Castor, and while he was there, according to Castor, he

fell in love with a rich young lady the only child of a widow. And while we were in Troy [early September, 1863] the two came and one of the grandest weddings that the city ever had took place. Hetz had no money and only one suit of clothes, the one he wore every day. So our bunch made a collection and bought him a brand new outfit and paid 130 dollars for it. And when he presented himself before his intended at the hotel he made a good impression. And him and the old lady made arrangements for the wedding. He was to invite everybody that he wanted to and make it a grand affair and the old lady was to foot the bill. He done his share to perfection as he invited all the city officials [and] all the military officers and all the officers of our command. And they and their wives were on hand. When the time for the wedding came for waiters, he invited our bunch of German boys and the boys were to invite the girls and we all -- about 30 in number -- were on hand when the time came. The old lady had made arrangements with the proprietor of the first class hotel Kirchner and everything went off in first class style. The wine alone cost the old lady 800 dollars, but that wine wasn't all used right there -- the balance of our Regiment carried it to camp in bushel baskets full and Company C had wine for two weeks after that.

In December of 1863 Hetz was transferred back to Company C and reported on detached service in Michigan (probably recruiting) from December 29 through January of 1864. By February, however, he was sick in a hospital in Philadelphia, and it is possible that he never returned to duty. He was mustered out of service on June 20, 1864.

Theodore returned to Michigan following his discharge and was living in Grand Rapids in 1867-68 working as a teamster for Chris Kusterer, and living on the west side of Flint between First and Bridge Streets. He may have been working as a butcher in Ionia village, Ionia County in 1870.

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