Frederick W. Gerber

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Frederick William Gerber (1813 – November 10, 1875) was a German-American soldier who received the Medal of Honor for his 32 years of service in the US Army. He is one of only two people (the other being general Adolphus Greely) who received the Medal of Honor for his entire career rather than a single action. He was born in Dresden, Germany.

Gerber immigrated to the United States in the 1830s and enlisted with the 4th US Infantry in February 1839, leaving the army a first time in February 1844. He joined the 1st Engineer Battalion when it was created in 1846 and served in the Mexican–American War. During the Battle of Mexico City, he is said to have saved the life of then second lieutenant George B. McClellan.

During the American Civil War, Gerber was responsible for training volunteer recruits into combat engineers. In September 1864, he was promoted to Sergeant Major, becoming the senior enlisted soldier in the Corps of Engineers and the first person to hold this rank. He was appointed adjutant of the Corps of Engineers in February 1867. He was offered a commission on several occasions, but declined each time.

Upon his 7th re-enlistment in November 1871, Gerber received the Medal of Honor for his entire career. He was the first US Army engineer to receive the medal. Gerber died from asthma while serving at Willets Point, Queens, and was buried in Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Rank and organization: Sergeant Major, U.S. Engineers. Place and date: 1839-1871. Entered service at: Brooklyn, N.Y. Birth: Dresden, Germany. Date of issue: November 8, 1871.

Distinguished gallantry in many actions and in recognition of long, faithful, and meritorious services covering a period of 32 years.


  • Register of Enlistments in the US Army, 1798-1914

External links[edit]