Thursday, April 25, 2013

16002. Frank S. Alger

Frank Alger deserves a full-blown biography, more than I can accomplish here.

He was West Bridgewater-born, and as a teen enlisted with the 40th Massachusetts as a cavalryman to fight in the Civil War. And fight he did, at many engagements down the eastern seaboard. His troubles began at the Battle of Olustee, Florida, where he was wounded in his right side by a musket ball and fell from his horse. He was left on the battlefield in this condition and considered dead by his retreating comrades. His commanding officer even wrote a letter to his father stating so, saying "He died as he lived, a true hero."

But he survived, and after two days of struggling on the battlefield was taken by a Confederate soldier to a place of respite, and thence to a church so his wounds could be dressed. After several weeks in medical care, he was, according to his stone, "a prisoner at Andersonville, Ga., 13 mos." According to other primary and secondary sources, he spent just six months at Andersonville before transfer to other facilities. He escaped from one prison in Charleston, South Carolina, before bloodhounds brought him back.

Andersonville Prison was known as a death trap for Union soldiers. Unable to feed their own armies, the Confederates had absolutely no way to feed their prisoners. Of the 45,000 Billy Yanks that entered Andersonville, 13,000 died of starvation and malnutrition. Frank weighed 175 healthy pounds as a strapping late teen when he was captured, but only 90 when he was finally released.

After the war he forged a life in business as a blacksmith in Weymouth, Hingham and finally Hanover, where he also served as a policeman for seventeen years. He lived until 1936.

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