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Unraveling mysteries

Posted on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 1:35 pm

Author Anne Marie Ackermann will be conducting a book signing at Stratford Hall on November 4. Her book, Death of an Assassin, is a biography of a young Robert E. Lee wrapped inside a true-crime story with international intrigue.

The identity of once unknown German assassin, Gottlob Rueb, who turned out to be a war hero in the U.S., was revealed by Ackermann after stumbling upon a 150-year-old diary. Through her research she learned that Rueb was the first volunteer killed defending General Robert E. Lee’s position in battle; however, prior to his service, he assassinated Bönnigheim Mayor Johann Heinrich Rieber in 1835.

Ackermann was researching for a local historical society in Bönnigheim, Germany, when she was given the diary to research the town’s birth. From the diary she learned of the mayor’s murder.
After fleeing to the U.S. to escape the law, Rueb enlisted in a German company of the Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Mexican-American War and died defending Lee’s battery at the Siege of Veracruz in 1847.

On April 11, 1847 Robert E. Lee wrote home to his son Custis, praising an unidentified man who died at his feet, calling him a hero and saying, “I doubt whether all Mexico is worth to us the life of that man”

The man remained unnamed by Lee, but through vast research and the comparison of documents, Ackermann put the pieces together to identify Rueb as the assassin.
What’s even more fascinating is Frederick Rupp, a former suspect in the assassination fled to America and later solved the crime.

An award offered in 1835 for information leading to the murderer’s identification has never been paid. Based on the author’s research, Bönnigheim’s current mayor decided to offer the reward posthumously to Rupp’s descendant, a U.S. citizen. If she accepts, the reward will be ceremoniously presented in 2018.

Read more of this story in the October 18 issue of the Westmoreland News.