Colonel Henry Flad, 1st MO Eng. USV
(1824 Germany-1898 PA)
Original Member of the Missouri Commandery of MOLLUS

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Henry Flad was born in 1824 in the Grand Duchy of Baden, Germany. He was educated in the University of Munich, from which he graduated in 1846. His first engineering work was onthe Rhine. It was not long after that he began working in his profession that the French revolution of 1848 swept Louis Philipe from the throne and estabilished the French Republic. The spirit of the times renewed the fight in Germany for the people's constitutional rights, which resulted in the holding of a National Assembly for the purpose of outlining the rights of the people, but the German Princess , who had countenanced the move at the first, later repudiated it. In southern Germany the champions of the Parliment took up arms in its behalf. Among them none entered it with more eagerness than Henry Flad, who was a Captain of Engineers. But the struggle was brief, and Capt. Flad with the entire army, was driven into Switzerland, where the men disbanded. Many executions followed the disbandedmentof the Parlimentary army, and among others the sentence of death was pronounced against Capt. Flad when he should be captured. He had been thinking of America before, and his extreme peril led to his taking passage for this country, he landing in New York City in the Fall of 1849.

He soon obtained employment in his profession and was engaged for several years as engineer on the New York and Erie Railroad, the Buffalo and Niagara Falls Road, the Ohio and MIssissippi, and in 1854 he went to the Iron Mountain Railroad, where he remained for several years.

When the Civil War broke out he enlisted June 15, 1861, as a Pvt. in the 3rd MO Infy (3 months). His ability as an engineer soon advanced him through all the grades, Corporal, Sergeant, Captain, Major, and Lt. Colonel, receiving the promotion as Colonel in the "Engineer Regiment of the West," October 16, 1863. This regiment was consolodated with the 25th MO Infy and was afterwards known as the 1st MO Eng. USV.

In the Fall of 1861 he joined Gen. Pope at New Madrid and was engaged in the operations which led to the capture of Island No.10. Subsequently with his regiment he participated in the operations before Corinth; engaged during the summer of 1862 repairing the Mobile and Ohio Railroad; building forts at Corinth; repairing the Mississippi Central Railroad, and in Grant's advance on Granada. Subsequently he was with Gen. Sherman on his advance east of Corinth, putting the Memphis and Charleston Railroad in operating condition. During the summer of 1864 he was engaged in completing the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad from Nashville to Johnsonville, and constructing various defensive works. On August 15, 1864 he was order to Atlanta and during October was engaged in constructing new Reserve lines of fortifications at that place.

The Regiment was mustered out NOvember 12, 1864 at Nashvillle, TN. He served three years and six months, continually in the field, never sick, never had more than a week's leave of absence.

The value of these services can be estimated when one considers that Gen. Grant was operating with an army of 100,000 men far from his base of supplies. Roads had to be made, bridges restored, and long lines of communication kept open. Captain Pitzman of St. Louis bears testimony to the fact that several times in his presence both Gen. Grant and Gen. Sherman spoke in the highest terms of Col. Flad, and of the efficiency fo the Regiment under his command, and what is the highest praise, these Generals said that they could always rely upon his reports as to the time when a line of communication could be opened.

At the close of the Civil War, Col. Flad returned to St. Louis. In connection with Mr. James P. Kirkwood he made plans for the old water works at Bissell's Point, and the Compton Hill Reservoir, which formed a solid basis for the present magnificent system. Col. Flad was the right hand man of Capt. Eads during the entire period of construction of the St. Louis Bridge (Eads' Bridge), from 1867 to 1874. It was in the construction of this work that Col. Flad's great ability and fertility of resource to apply scientific principles to the mastery of engineering problems placed him in the estimation of engineers at he head of his profession.

Col. Flad was elected by the people of St. Louis, the first President of the Board of Public Improvements, under the new Scheme and Charter, in the Spring of 1877. Subsequently he was re-elected in 1881, 1885, and agin in 1889, serving until the Spring of 1890, when he resigned to accept from the President of the United States the appointment of member of the Mississippi River Commission.

During all these years as President of the Board of Public Improvements Col. Flad labored unceasingly in the interest of the people. His was the directing mind in the discussions of all matters before the Board. HIs interest never flagged, no subject relating to public works which came up for action that did not receive the most painstaking investigation on his part. He would listen to no project for public work entailing a charge against the city's treasury that did not lead directly to a benefit to the people who had put him in office. The "Promoters" and "Lobbyists" as we know them today found no congenial atmosphere in Col. Flad's office.

The work preparing the way and putting into successful operation the system of conducting public improvements, under the present charter of the City of St. Louis, was performed under the direction of Col. Flad, and much of the work was personally done by him.

Under his direction the new system was inaugurated and carried on until it achieved a widespread reputation and was copied by other large cities.

The impetus and direction given by his ability and integrity is still felt, and his personal work will long survive as an enduring monument and a safeguard of the public welfare.

His simplicity of character, when one takes into account his great ability was grand. He was without guile or deceit, and it was always difficult with him to believe that it existed in others with whom he was brought in contact. Nothing but indisputable evidence of deception, could bring Col. Flad to believe that he had been wronged. And then it provoked no animosity, nor would he give vent in strong language of condemnation, but there would come from him expressions of sadness, as though something had happened which moved his soul with sorrow.

He was married to to Caroline Richard and had the following children: Edward Flad, ?. Henry died suddenly June 20, 1898 in Pittsburh, PA on his return to St. Louis from New York and stopped over to visit his lifelong friend, Mr. G. Steingel.

Colonel Henry Flad, 1st MO Eng. USV was elected a Companion the MO Commandery, Insignia #7599 and was held in high esteem by all his Companions. His son Edward Flad MO#?? a hereditary member of the MO Commandery. Henry was also a member of the Frank P. Blair Post #1, GAR in St. Louis, MO.

1) MO Commandery of MOLLUS, Circular No.182, 04Feb1899
2) Membership Records of the MO Commandery of MOLLUS
3) The Book of St. Louisans, c1912, p.199-200

Copyright (c) 2000 Douglas Niermeyer, MO Commandery of the MOLLUS