Utterly disappointed, Hecker fled to Switzerland, where, unwilling to admit to mistakes in directing the revolution, he had a falling-out with his companions. In an embittered state, he emigrated to America in
September 1848, where he was greeted with a rousing reception. The already existing "Hecker culv'held banquets and torchlight processions to help him raise funds for a second revolution. In 1849 he returned to Germany, but
only got as far as Strasbourg. The rebellion had already been put down by the Prussians in Rastatt (where Carl Schutz made his daring escape from arrest in the bastion). Deeply grieved, Hecker went back to America, bought a farm
near Belleville, Illinois, and began to raise cattle and cultivate wine. He was one of those called "Latin farmers" because of their now superfluous classical education.
In his "Reminiscences",
Schutz describes paying Hecker a visit on his prairie farm, and finding him in a state of blustering wrath, plagued by intermittent fever, and a dissapointing far cry from the former "lion". Yet instead of giving way to
resignation, Hecker intensively took part in public affairs in his new homeland. Like his friend Gustav von Struve, he helped found new gymnastic associations in America together with other former "Turners", the first of
which was established in Cincinnati in October 1848, only a few weeks after his first arrival in the U.S. He played an active part in the founding of the Republican party, and, as many other "48ers" such as Schurz and
Sigel, played a role in the vigorous growth of the German-American press. Though already in his 50s, he energetically supported preservation of the Union and abolition of slavery; when the Civil War broke out in 1861, he assembled
an entire regiment of German-Americans and became commander first of the 24th and later of the 82nd Illinois Regiment. He was wounded at Chancellorsville and received his discharge from the army in early 1864.
Friedrich Hecker, who died in Saint Louis on 24 March 1881, was one of the most famous "Forty-Eighters" who bore their ideals and goals with them to America and sought to realize them there.