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August 28, 2012

Saint Vincent Hero

Fr. Emmeran Bliemel, O.S.B.

 Father Emmeran Bliemel, a monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey who was the first Catholic chaplain killed on the battlefield during an American war while attending to his men.  Several monks served in the Civil War, both for the Grand Army of the Republic (the Union Army), and for the Confederate Army. Father Bliemel served the Confederate Army as a chaplain for the 10th Tennessee Infantry and 4th Kentucky Infantry of the Confederate States of America. He was killed while performing last rites on a soldier during the Battle of Jonesboro, which marked the end of the Atlanta Campaign.  

Elizabeth Cousins, Saint Vincent Archabbey Public Relations 

Holy Cross Cemetery
Tuscumbia, Alabama

In 1860 Father Bliemel was assigned to a German Catholic parish in Nashville, Tennessee. Six months after his arrival most of the adult men of his parish joined the Tenth Tennessee regiment to fight for the Confederacy. After Nashville was occupied by Union forces early in 1862,Father Bliemel dedicated himself to giving aid to wounded soldiers in Nashville, whether they were Confederate or Union. Smuggling medicine to Confederate forces, Father Bliemel was arrested twice by the Union occupation forces. Eventually Father Bliemel decided that he had to take a more active role. The Tenth Tennessee had elected him in absentia their chaplain. Seeking permission from his bishop, which was reluctantly given, Chaplain Bliemel joined the Tenth Tennessee. On August 31, 1864, now a veteran of many battles, Chaplain Bliemel stood with the men of the Tenth Tennessee as they launched an assault on a Union position during the battle of Jonesboro, Georgia. In the course of the attack Father ”Emery”, as the men fondly called him, performed his customary duty of rendering assistance to the wounded and the Last Rites to the dying. Colonel Grace, the commanding officer of the Tenth Tennessee (an Irish-Catholic Brigade), fell to the ground mortally wounded. Immediately Father Bliemel was at his side administering the Last Rites. In the midst of the sacrament, Father Bliemel was decapitated by a cannonball. Father Bliemel was the first American Catholic Chaplain to die on the battlefield

Pax et Gaudium

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