Born in Germany but later a naturalized American citizen, Wasmuth enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on June 11, 1861. Ultimately attached to the Marine detachment of the sidewheeler Powhatan, Wasmuth took part in the assault on Fort Fisher, North Carolina, on January 15, 1865.
During the battle, Ensign Robley D. "Fighting Bob" Evans fell wounded from a Confederate sharpshooter's bullet. Private Wasmuth picked up the seriously wounded young officer and carried him to a place of comparative safety-—a shell hole on the beach. The private stayed with the future admiral, ignoring the latter's urgings to take cover, until a sharpshooter's bullet pierced Wasmuth's neck, cutting the jugular vein. Within a few minutes, Wasmuth dropped in the edge of the surf and died. Evans later wrote: "He was an honor to his uniform."
USS Wasmuth (DD-338) was named for him.
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