Alfred Mordecai (1804 - 1887)

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Birthplace: Warrenton, Warren, North Carolina, United States
Death: Died in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Managed by: Kevin Hanit
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About Alfred Mordecai

Was a Major in the US Army during the Mexican War. -------------------- Alfred entered West Point at age 15 and graduated first in his class in 1823 at age 19. Upon graduation, he became an assistant professor at the United States Military Academy in New York. Later, he was commissioned in the engineers and was involved in the construction of two forts in Virginia. Eventually, he became commander of the Washington Arsenal. Alfred was recognized for his meritorious service in the line of duty during the Mexican War (1845-1847) with his promotion to Major. When the war was over, he was sent to Mexico to adjust claims for losses suffered by Mexicans during the conflict and to survey and construct a national railroad. The military sent him and Captain George B. McClellan, who became one of the top generals in the Civil War, to observe and report on the nature of field maneuvers during the Crimean War in 1854. They were granted a private conference with Czar Nicholas I and Alfred's observations were published in Congress. In 1857, Alfred was sent to command the military post at Watervliet, near Troy, NY. His daughter, Rosa, in her reflections, stated that when rumors of the Civil War were circulated, her father, mother, and sister Laura were in Richmond. He mentioned in a letter to his brother, George, that he had been approached by the governor of NC, who offered him the command of the State troops. He asked George to decline for him. He was torn with his love for the South, his distaste for secession and his loyalty to the army and country. If he would identify with the Union cause, he would satisfy his immediate family, but alienate his mother and siblings. After much soul-searching, he made a decision to resign his U.S. Army commission at age 57, so he wouldn't have to fight against either side. His devotion to his conscience probably cost him a higher place in American history. Alfred made important contributions to the military technology with his introduction of scientific research and development to the military art. He instituted the scientific testing of munitions and weapons for the United States military. He authored the first manual for the standardized manufacture of weapons with interchangeable parts. He wrote "Second Report of Experiments in Gun Powder" (1849) and "Ordinance Manual for the Use of Officers of the United States Army" (1841), revised in 1950. He was a Brigadier General and Assistant to Secretary of War and Chief of Ordnance. Alfred had been stationed in various places including Fortress Monroe, VA; Washington, DC; Frankford Arsenal, PA; and Troy, NY. He was assistant engineer (1863-66) of the Mexico and Pacific Railroad, and treasurer and secretary (1867-87) of canal and coal companies controlled by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. After the war, Alfred had a brief assignment in Mexico as a consultant for the Verz Cruz and Mexican Railway. He obtained employment with a company owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad. He remained in this position for 25 years. One of the highlights of his life was the celebration in 1886 of his golden wedding anniversary. Alfred died the next year.

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Maj. Alfred Mordecai's Timeline

January 3, 1804
Warrenton, Warren, North Carolina, United States
June 2, 1836
Age 32
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
June 5, 1837
Age 33
February 1, 1839
Age 35
June 30, 1840
Age 36
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
November 10, 1841
Age 37
September 7, 1843
Age 39
November 16, 1844
Age 40
September 8, 1847
Age 43
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States
December 17, 1849
Age 45
Washington, District of Columbia, DC, USA