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August Kautz was born in Germany in 1828. He emigrated to the United States and after joining the United States Army he saw action in the Mexican War. He studied at West Point before serving on the frontier where he was twice wounded. In 1861 Kautz was promoted to the rank of captain.
When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, President Andrew Johnson ordered the formation of a nine-man military commission to try the conspirators. The commission included Kautz, David Hunter, Lewis Wallace, Robert Foster, Thomas Harris and Albion Howe.
On 29th June, 1865 Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, George Atzerodt, David Herold, Samuel Mudd, Michael O'Laughlin, Edman Spangler and Samuel Arnold were found guilty of being involved in the conspiracy to murder Lincoln. Surratt, Powell, Atzerodt and Herold were hanged at Washington Penitentiary on 7th July, 1865. Surratt, who was expected to be reprieved, was the first woman in American history to be executed.
Kautz had reached the rank of brigadier general when he retired from the United States Army in 1892. August Kautz, who wrote several books on army duties and customs, died in 1895.