August Willich was born in Germany in 1810. A graduate of the German military academy he joined Franz Sigel, Carl Schurz, Peter Osterhaus, Alexander Schimmelfennig, Max Weber in taking part in the failed 1848 German Revolution.
Willich emigrated to America and worked as a carpenter in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. A follower of Karl Marx, Willich later he found work as a journalist. On the outbreak of the American Civil War Willich joined the Union Army . Commissioned as a lieutenant his regiment routed the Texas Rangers in November, 1861. Promoted to the rank of colonel he commanded the 6th Brigade of the Army of the Cumberland for most of the war.
He offered his services to Germany during the Franco-Prussian War. His age and his communist views resulted in him being refused. August Willich died in 1878.