To my great-grandfather, August Hammel, who left his beloved Germany and adopted America as his new home; he settled in Dubuque in 1856; he enlisted in the 5th Regiment of the Iowa Volunteer Cavalry in the War of Rebellion (Civil War); he attained the rank of Eighth Corporal; who endured and survived Andersonville; who founded a successful feed and flour mill (Rooster Mills) in Dubuque and who was a Member of Old Number One of the Dubuque Volunteer Fire Department.


During the War Between the States, many soldiers had the misfortunate of falling into their enemy's hands. Corporal August Hammel experienced a second strike of that lightning, being captured by the Confederates on two different occasions. On May 5, 1862, he was one of a large group of Union troopers who fell into rebel hands at Lockridge's Mill, Tennessee. He was returned to the regiment a month later, reenlisting for the duration of the war in 1864. He was promoted to the rank of Eighth Corporal on March 1, 1864.

It was during his second enlistment that Hammel was taken prisoner a second time. On July 31, 1864, he was captured during an engagement on the Chattahoochee River, Georgia. Unfortunately, his second imprisonment was not to be as brief as his first. The following passage from The History of Dubuque County includes notes about Hammel's service:

When the Government was plunged into war and all patriotic men were urged to come forward and maintain the union of the States, the stirring call of his adopted country met with a responsive answer from young Hammel. In August, 1861, he enlisted in the Fifth Iowa Calvary and shortly thereafter became a corporal. His first important engagement was at Fort Donelson when he carried dispatches from Fort Henry to Fort Donelson during the engagement and where General Grant became famous for his demand upon General Buckner for "immediate and unconditional surrender." Mr. Hammel served all through the Civil war with great credit. On the 5th of May, 1862, while on a scouting expedition with about 120 men, Major Schaffer commanding, the party was surprised by the enemy under Major-General Cleburne. Mr. Hammel had barely time to mount his horse and in the confusion rider and horse were thrown off a bridge, whereupon he was taken prisoner by a young rebel. An older rebel coming along declared with an oath he would shoot himů but the young soldier forbade him, saying, "I dare you: he is my prisoner."