Alexander Schimmelfennig was born in Lithauen, Prussia, on July 20, 1824. He served as an engineer officer in the Prussian army during the Schleswig-Holstein war and later in the revolution in Baden, which was crushed by the intervention of Prussia. He came to the United States in 1853, taking up residence in Philadelphia where the following year he published a book which forecast the Crimean War. He made his living as an engineer and draftsman and by 1860 seems to have been working for the War Department in Washington in this capacity. Schimmelfennig offered his services to the government immediately after the outbreak of hostilities in 1861 and in September was mustered in as colonel of the 74th Pennsylvania Infantry; because of an injury suffered when his horse fell with him and a bout with smallpox, he saw no active service in the field until the campaign of Second Manassas in which he succeeded to the command of the 1st Brigade of Schurz's division of Sigel's corps after General Henry Bohlen was killed at Freeman's Ford on August 22, 1862. His next important battle was that of Chancellorsville where he was caught up in the rout of the XI Corps, now commanded by Oliver O. Howard. At Gettysburg, on the first day of the battle, Schimmelfennig was briefly in command of Schurz's division when he was "struck down by the blow of a gun" during the retirement of the XI Corps to Cemetery Ridge; he sought shelter in a nearby pigsty where he remained for two days. After this battle he sought transfer to South Carolina, since he no longer wished to serve in the XI Corps, but an attack of malaria took him out of action again for an extended period. He recovered in time to be present at the capitulation of Charleston on February 18, 1865, and for some time thereafter was in command of the city. On April 8, 1865, he was granted sick leave for thirty days after becoming a victim of a most virulent type of tuberculosis. He sought relief at Dr. Aaron Smith's Living Springs Water Cure Establishment near Wernersville, Pennsylvania, but died there suddenly on September 5, 1865, and was buried in Charles Evans Cemetery, Reading, Pennsylvania.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.