Medal of Honor: Ferdinand Rohm

Medal of Honor recipient Ferdinand Rohm, Mifflintown
Note: Rohm’s name is spelled incorrectly on his tombstone.

The Medal of Honor symbolizes the ideals of patriotism, courage, sacrifice, and integrity and is the highest award presented for military valor in action. Those recipients have shown bravery in combat, going above and beyond the call of duty, risking – and often sacrificing – their lives for the welfare of others.

First introduced for the Department of the Navy in 1861, the Medal of Honor would be created for the Department of the Army’s Medal of Honor in 1862. The Department of the Air Force, which originally used the same Medal as the Department of the Army, introduced their own Medal of Honor in 1965. Since its inception during the U.S. Civil War, more than 3500 recipients have been honored with the Medal of Honor.

This is the story of a Medal of Honor recipient.


It had been two years since I had last been in Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery in Mifflintown. I entered the gates to the cemetery at the junction of North and North Third Streets and drove slowly along the roadway searching fot the grave I was most familiar with – Nancy Kulp. Seeing her grave, I parked the vehicle and got out. Note : more about Nancy Kulp can be found here: Nancy Kulp.

“You sure you know where you’re going this time?” my father asked.

“Of course,” I answered.

“That’s what you said at the last one,” he stated. “Do I need to get out and find this one for you?” We had arrived here after paying our respects to Medal of Honor recipient James B. Thompson. Note: More about James B. Thompson can be found here: James B Thompson.

“He’s buried almost directly behind Nancy,” I replied as I closed the door and walked carefully over to the grave of actress Nancy Kulp and paused to pay my respects. After a couple moments of silence, I continued past Nancy’s stone to the grave of Ferdinand Rohm, who rests a couple rows behind and slightly to the left.

I stopped at the memorial marking the resting place of Ferdinand Frederick Rohm and his wife, Mary. Beneath Ferdinand’s name it is marked “Bugler 16th PA Cav Vols” and on the ground, slightly to the left of his stone, a military plaque recognizing Ferdinand as a recipient of the Medal of Honor.  

Rohm was born August 30, 1843 in Esslingen in the Kingdom of Württemberg (Germany). Note: most genealogical sites places his birth in Germany. However, almost every military site places his birthplace as being listed as Patterson, Juniata County or just Juniata County.

In September 1862, at the age of nineteen, Rohm entered military service and on September 19, he was officially mustered into service as a private in Company F of the Sixteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry. In February of the following year he was promoted to chief bugler. As chief bugler, he was responsible to call and direct the regiment, which he did during many of the US Civil War’s battles.

It was during the Second Battle of Ream’s Station he performed the act of bravery that not only would see him awarded with the Medal of Honor, but would have an affect on Pennsylvania’s future. On August 25, 1864, Rohm was directing the action of the Sixteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry. While the regiment was retreating, Rohm remained behind on battlefield. As he played out directions, he noticed a badly wounded officer waving to get his attention. With the enemy only yards away, Rohm managed to rescue the officer and get him to safety. The officer Rohm rescued that day was Colonel James Beaver, who would later become governor of Pennsylvania.

At the Battle of Sailor’s Creek, which was a part of the Appomattox Campaign, Rohm was severely wounded in action. While directing a cavalry charge, Rohm was felled by a minnie ball which struck him in the head. Rohm recovered, but lost his h:aring in his left ear. He was honorably discharged on June 15, 1865.

For his bravery, Rohm received the Medal of Honor on October 16, 1897. The citation reads “The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Chief Bugler Ferdinand Frederick Rohm, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on August 25, 1864, while serving with 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry, in action at Reams’ Station, Virginia. While his regiment was retiring under fire, Chief Bugler Rohm voluntarily remained behind to succor a wounded officer who was in great danger, secured assistance, and removed the officer to a place of safety.”

After the war, Rohm returned home where he wed Mary Lindsay and settled down to raise a family. In 1887, Rohm was appointed as a park police officer at the Pennsylvania’s State Arsenal by Governor Beaver. This would be the beginning of his work with the Commonwealth that peaked with his promotion to Sergeant with the Capitol Police in 1912.

On November 18, 1917, Rohm was talking to another Capitol Police officer when  he collapsed. He would pass on November 24. Sadly, he had just turned in the paperwork for his retirement when death overtook him.

I finished paying my respects to the man who faced the enemy and rescued the colonel who would later be the state governor. Thanking him for his service and bravery, I left him in the garden of stone that overlooks the flowing waters of the Juniata River.

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