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Gustavus Zesch

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Gustavus Zesch (1832 – February 13, 1926) was a captain in the Union Army during the American Civil War and commanded a company from Leavenworth, Kansas that included German immigrants. Zesch served from August 10, 1861[1] until June 16, 1864. Zesch commanded 1st Regiment Kansas Volunteer Infantry Company I, known as the Steuben Guards. He also commanded a company referred to as Zesch's Battery that was part of the 9th Kansas Militia Infantry Regiment.

Zesch and many of his men were Turnverein (Turners), a society of veterans of the German States Army.[2] He served at the rank of captain.[3]

Early in the Civil War, Zesch commanded at the Battle of Wilson's Creek, the first major battle of the Trans-Mississippi Theater, where his company sustained heavy losses.[4] Late in the war his company saw action in Louisiana[5] as the Union Army closed in on Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Steuben Guards was named for Baron von Steuben of Revolutionary War fame. The unit included German-American volunteers from Leavenworth, Kansas.[6] It was the first company mustered in Leavenworth and drew from the population of Leavenworth, Kansas, then state's largest city and by Fort Leavenworth.[7] Leading up to Vicksburg, Zesch commanded his troops in Bayou Macon, Louisiana. He earned plaudits from his commanding general.

Military service[edit]

Zesch was appointed May 27, 1861. He was from Leavenworth, Kansas. He was discharged June 16, 1864, filed for a pension October 14, 1892 and died February 13, 1926 in St. Louis, Missouri.


Joseph Taggart presented accolades to Zesch and other German-American troops in a presentation to the U.S. Congress in 1916.[1] The Kansas state historical society has a silk flag from Zesch's company that was made by the ladies of the Leavenworth Turners Society and presented in 1861.[8]

See also[edit]

  • Revolutions of 1848
  • Forty-Eighters


  1. 1.0 1.1 Congress, United States (14 May 2018). "Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the ... Congress". U.S. Government Printing Office – via Google Books.
  2. EARLY LEAVENWORTH-- Post Survives Abandonment Attempts--Civil War Thrills by Harry H. Seckler Leavenworth Times, Sunday, April 27, 1947
  3. Grabau, Warren (14 May 2018). "Ninety-eight Days: A Geographer's View of the Vicksburg Campaign". Univ. of Tennessee Press – via Google Books.
  4. Hall, Jesse A.; Hand, LeRoy T. (14 May 2018). "History of Leavenworth County Kansas". Historical Publishing Company – via Google Books.
  5. https://books.google.com/books?id=Xq13AAAAMAAJ&q="Gustavus+Zesch"&dq="Gustavus+Zesch"&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj58My1voXbAhVE7oMKHbIxC4A4ChDoAQhKMAY
  6. Piston, William Garrett; III, Richard W. Hatcher (1 August 2004). "Wilson's Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It". Univ of North Carolina Press – via Google Books.
  7. Hall, Jesse A.; Hand, LeRoy T. (14 May 2018). "History of Leavenworth County Kansas". Historical Publishing Company – via Google Books.
  8. https://books.google.com/books?id=zHFLAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA32&lpg=PA32&dq=Gustavus+zesch&source=bl&ots=2EOh5guAkF&sig=_QQmSD_ScMWpUKW6p5aTct3PSy8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiItLay2IXbAhWl5YMKHW31BTEQ6AEISTAJ#v=onepage&q=Gustavus%20zesch&f=false

External links[edit]

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