Henry Buermeyer is a founding father of the New York Athletic Club and a 1981 Hall of Fame inductee.
Henry Buermeyer was born on August 19th, 1839, in New York City.
Like his fellow NYAC founding fathers William Curtis and John Babcock, Buermeyer also served in the Union Army during the Civil War. In May 1861, Buermeyer enlisted in the 83rd New York Infantry Regiment; over the next three years, Buermeyer and his comrades were involved in some of the bloodiest and most infamous conflicts of the war, including the Battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Cold Harbor and Spotsylvania Court House. It was during the latter battle that Buermeyer was shot in the left leg. So serious was the wound, doctors considered amputating Buermeyer's leg, but, fortunately, they decided against it. Buermeyer was sent to recover in Washington, DC.
Buermeyer was also present at, arguably, the two most significant battles of the Civil War: Antietam and Gettysburg. He was shot in the left foot at Antietam, but the wound was slight and he recovered quickly. Many others were not as fortunate. September 17th, 1862 - the day of the battle - remains the bloodiest single day in American history, with casualties on both sides numbering around 22,000.
Ironically, Buermeyer was unharmed at Gettysburg, the bloodiest battle of the war, which took place between July 1st and 3rd, 1863. Buermeyer was ordered to assist with the evacuation of wounded Union soldiers; as such, he was granted access to most parts of the battlefield, giving him a unique vantage point of the historic battle. Buermeyer recorded his experience at Gettysburg, including the decisive action on the third and final day, in his memoirs, which offers a valuable first-hand account of the conflict.
After the war, Buermeyer became very involved in athletics and was recognized as one of the strongest men in America. In addition to being a weightlifter, he was also a renowned shot putter, gymnast, and sprinter; he also won the first amateur boxing championship in the US at Madison Square Garden in 1878. Because his athletic reputation was so great, he was introduced to another distinguished athlete and Civil War veteran, William B. Curtis.
In 1866, Buermeyer, Curtis and John C. Babcock organized a gymnasium at 200 Sixth Avenue and 14th Street. Curtis knew Babcock from their rowing days in Chicago and invited him to be a part of their organization. The gym was organized in hopes of attracting other athletically inclined individuals to form an athletic club. Unfortunately, despite taking out several newspaper ads, they did not get any support for two years.
On September 8th, 1868, after years of planning, Buermeyer, Curtis, Babcock and 14 other men gathered in the Knickerbocker Cottage and formed the New York Athletic Club. Using the recently formed London AC as a guide, the founders established a club that brought uniformity and organization to amateur athletics. Buermeyer served as the Club’s first treasurer, under President J. Edward Russell.
Buermeyer died on October 10th, 1922, at the age of 83.