John Andreas Wagener

John Andreas Wagener was born on July 21, 1816, at Sievern in Hanover, at that time a kingdom in the German Confederation. His parents were Johann A. Wagener, a merchant, and Rebecca Hencken. When very young he immigrated to the U.S., landing in New York. Soon thereafter, at age seventeen, he went to Charleston, South Carolina. Wagener entered the mercantile trade, and very soon became the political, business, and social leader of the (not inconsiderable) German community, not only in Charleston but throughout the state. He established and published a German language newspaper, organized a German church, Organized German fire companies and German lodges, and was president of the Carolina Mutual Insurance Company. It was said that "his was one of those noble natures, that never considered self; ever active, even unto self-sacrifice, to promote the welfare of his countrymen." As early as 1843 Wagener was a lieutenant in a militia company, the "German Fusiliers."

By 1860 Wagener was elected major of the German artillery, another crack city militia unit. As such he and his unit participated in the bombardment of Fort Sumter. Wagener was rapidly promoted to lieutenant colonel, and on September 5, 1861, to colonel, of the 1st Regiment of the South Carolina Militia Artillery. Wagener commanded the batteries at Fort Walker during Du Pont's attack on Port Royal. Although stunned by a bursting shell and temporarily disabled, Wagener won praise for his gallant conduct. He also led the militia artillery during the siege of Charleston in 1863 and 1864- Wagener's militia regiment, 215 strong, was stationed in the city proper and acted as infantry. His two sons, the younger only fifteen years old, endured the shelling with their father. In the latter stages of the siege Wagener was promoted to brigadier general of militia.

A prewar anti-secessionist, Wagener's postwar career was devoted to reconciling South Carolina to the post-slavery order. He was a member of the 1865 Constitutional Convention, and was elected to represent Charleston in the Forty-Seventh General Assembly (1865 to 1866). In 1867 the governor appointed him state commissioner of immigration. In 1871 Wagener, a Democrat, was elected mayor of Charleston on a "Citizens' Conservative" ticket. During his two years in office, his administration was widely criticized for extravagance and corruption. Although Wagener himself was credited with honesty and integrity, the charges stuck, and he lost his bid for reelection. In 1876 Wagener lent his aid to General Wade Hampton's electoral campaign to rid the state of carpetbag rule. Wagener did not live to see the successful end of that campaign, dying at Walhalla, South Carolina, on August 27, 1876. General Wagener was first buried in Walhalla, where he had founded a German settlement. The next year his remains were reinterred in Charleston.

Wagener is listed in Lonn as a general.

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Reference:  More Generals in Gray.  Bruce S. Allardice.  A companion volume to Generals in Gray.  Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.