The Info List - George Warren Alexander

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GEORGE WARREN ALEXANDER, known throughout most of his life as "G.W.", was a New Hampshire
New Hampshire
native who made significant contributions to the communities of Reading and West Reading in Berks County , Pennsylvania , from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s.

Born on May 9, 1829, he was a son of Philip C. and Mary Ann (Taylor) Alexander. His entry on a Massachusetts
marriage ledger documents his place of birth as Derry , Rockingham County , New Hampshire.

By September 1850, Alexander had relocated to Holyoke in Hampden County , Massachusetts
, where he resided with his parents and sisters: Elvina, Rosette, Sarah, Merriam, Lois and Dorothy. Also residing with the family in 1850 was his future wife, Harriet N. Appleton, a daughter of Robert and Jane Appleton. Sometime after their marriage in Holyoke on September 10, 1851, G.W. and Harriet Alexander relocated to Reading, Pennsylvania.


* 1 Military service * 2 Civil War – Three months\' service * 3 Civil War – Three years\' service * 4 Civilian life and the Alexander Hat Company * 5 Death and interment * 6 References


Shortly after his arrival in Berks County, G.W. Alexander joined the Reading Artillerists , and was appointed captain of that local militia group in 1857. The Artillerists had a distinguished history, helping to end the Whiskey Rebellion
Whiskey Rebellion
during the unit's founding year (1799), serving during the War of 1812
War of 1812
, and fighting in the Mexican–American War under General Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott
. A notice in the September 12, 1861, edition of the Reading Times confirmed his status as commanding officer:

"Reading Artillerists, Attention!

You will meet this evening at 7 o’clock, at the Armory, 5th and Washington sts., for the purpose of transacting important business. Punctual attendance is requested.

By order, WM. MCNALL, O.S.

G. W. ALEXANDER, Captain."


In response to President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
's April 1861 call for 75,000 troops to defend Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
, following the fall of Fort Sumter to Confederate forces, Alexander enrolled for military service in Reading at the age of 31. Commissioned a captain, he mustered in for duty with Company G of the 1st Pennsylvania
Infantry in Harrisburg on April 20, 1861. Regimental assignments during this three-month period often involved guard duty along key transportation points (railroads, main roads used by Union Army
Union Army
troops, etc.), as well as the occupation of Martinsburg, Virginia
, and other towns in Maryland and Virginia
. Following the honorable completion of their service, Alexander and his fellow 1st Pennsylvania
Volunteers mustered out at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg on July 23, 1861.


George W. Alexander then re-enrolled at Camp Curtin on August 5, 1861, for a three-year term of service. Commissioned at the age of 32 as a lieutenant colonel with the newly formed 47th Pennsylvania Infantry , he mustered in as the regiment's second in command on September 24 at Washington, D.C., at the 47th's encampment at Camp Kalorama on the Kalorama Heights near Georgetown, roughly two miles from the White House. That same day, the 47th Pennsylvania
Volunteers were officially mustered into federal service with the U.S. Army.

Initially assigned to help defend Washington, D.C., the 47th Pennsylvania
Volunteers were shipped to Florida
at the end of January 1862. Arriving in Key West in February, they were assigned to garrison duties at Fort Taylor . From October 1-3, G.W. Alexander and his men participated in the capture of Saint John\'s Bluff , Florida. The regiment then suffered a significant number of casualties during the Battle of Pocotaligo , South Carolina, October 21-23, 1862. Two officers and 18 enlisted men died; an additional two officers and 114 enlisted men were wounded in action.

Ordered back to Fort Taylor on November 15, 1862, the 47th Pennsylvania
Volunteers became a divided regiment on December 22 when Alexander was ordered to take the men from Companies D, F, H, and K to the remote Dry Tortugas off the coast of Florida, where they were assigned to garrison Fort Jefferson . Alexander and his men remained there in this capacity until rejoining the remainder of the regiment in Key West in February 1864.

Ordered west to join Union Major-General Nathaniel Banks ' forces, the 47th Pennsylvania
departed from Florida
via steamship in late February 1864, becoming the only regiment from the Keystone State to fight in the Union's 1864 Red River Campaign
Red River Campaign
across Louisiana
. During the 47th's first major combat action there – the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads (Mansfield) on April 8, 1864 – Alexander was severely wounded in both legs.

Although he officially mustered out from the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers on 23 September 1864 upon expiration of his three-year term of service, Alexander was reported by the Reading Times (in its 20 September 1864 edition) to have returned home sooner: "HOME. – Col. G. W. Alexander of the 47th P.V., arrived home on Saturday, after a protracted absence, during which he has seen much service. His many friends will be glad to hear that he is well and hearty."


In 1867, Alexander was confirmed by the U.S. Congress as U.S. Assessor of the Internal Revenue for the agency's district, which included the city of Reading. A year later, he became the subject of an investigation by the federal Treasury Department , and was put on trial in December for abusing his position by allegedly aiding others with the removal and concealment of whiskey in order to avoid paying taxes.

The December 5, 1868, edition of The Evening Telegraph in Philadelphia noted that, after Alexander was convicted, Judge George Cadwalader (a former Union Army
Union Army
general during the Civil War) asked the jury to recommend mercy; the jury subsequently sentenced Alexander to three years in prison.

After serving his time, Alexander resumed life with his family in Reading; by 1880, he had relocated with his wife and children to West Reading , and had launched G.W. Alexander & Co., a hat factory which thrived, expanded to a work force of 300, and continued to be successful even after a fire forced him to rebuild a decade later. According to the Reading Eagle:

"Alexander ">

* ^ Montgomery, Morton L. Biographical and Historical Annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania. Chicago, Illinois: J. H. Beers