(Apr. 12,  1833-June 14, 1901). Born in Arad, Hungary, to Nathan Knoepfler, a Hungarian Jew and physician, Frederick Knefler (Knoepfler Frigyes) would become a solider and attorney. Both father and son enlisted in the revolutionary forces during the 1848-1849 Hungarian War of Liberation or the “great Magyar uprising.” Frederick was only 15.

The entire Knoepfler family fled to America in 1849 for safety. They settled briefly in New York, where Frederick learned the carpentry trade, before migrating west to Indianapolis. Nathan Knoepfler and his family were one of the earliest Jewish families to settle in Indianapolis. Dr. Knoepfler was one of the original founders of the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation.

In Indianapolis, Knefler secured a position in the office of the court clerk and read law. When the Civil War began, he joined the 11th Indiana Regiment as first lieutenant under the request of Lew Wallace, the lawyer, soldier, and future author of the popular novel Ben Hur, whom Indiana governor Oliver P. Morton appointed adjutant general and then organized the state’s quota for the Union cause.

Knefler became captain of Company H when the regiment enlisted for three years service. Appointed colonel of the 79th Indiana in August 1862, he led his regiment in battle at Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Atlanta, and Nashville. He mustered out with his men on June 7, 1865. Retiring with the brevet rank of brigadier general, Knefler was among the highest-ranking officers to come from Indianapolis.

Following the war, Knefler entered the practice of law as the partner of John Hanna, former U.S. District Attorney. President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed him pension agent for the district to succeed W. H. H. Terrell. After eight years in this position, he became president of the board of regents of the Soldiers And Sailors Monument. Knefler oversaw the laying of the cornerstone for the monument in 1889 but died before the completion of the monument in 1902. He is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery.

Revised February 2021

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