Albin Francisco Schoepf

Albin Francisco Schoepf was born in Podgorz, Poland, then a part of Austria, on March 1, 1822, of an Austrian father and a Polish mother. Schoepf was educated in Vienna and had risen to a captaincy in the Austrian army by 1848 when he defected to the Hungarian revolutionists. After the suppression of the revolt he escaped to Syria, subsequently making his way to the United States in 1851. While working as a porter in a Washington hotel he attracted the attention of Joseph Holt, then Commissioner of Patents, who obtained a clerkship for him. He followed Holt to the War Department and on September 30, 1861, was commissioned a brigadier general of volunteers. He was sent to Kentucky, Holt's home state, and inflicted a repulse on the Confederate General F. K. Zollicoffer, who attacked his fortified camp in Rock Castle County in October, 1861. But he was later driven out by the same general in a panicky retreat which came to be known as the "Wild Cat Stampede." Schoepf took part in the battle of Fishing Creek, or Mill Springs, at which Zollicoffer met his death, and Schoepf's brigade was the advance of G. H. Thomas' forces in pursuit of the retiring Rebels. At Perryville he commanded a division of General C. C. Gilbert's III Corps of D. C. Buell's army, a command in which he won no laurels through no particular fault of his own. When Gilbert's head rolled, Schoepf's rolled with it, and he seems to have served out the balance of the war in a position of little importance, commanding the Federal prison at Fort Delaware, near New Castle. At the end of hostilities, Schoepf's name did not appear on the list of brevet promotions and he was honorably mustered out of service on January 15, 1866. It has been said that his principal shortcoming was his inflexible belief in the rigid discipline which characterized European armies of the day and which was not well adapted to democratic volunteers. He returned to the patent office and in time rose to be chief examiner, a position which he filled for the remainder of his life. General Schoepf died at his home in Hyattsville, Maryland, on May 10, 1886, and was buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.