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Pvt. Joseph Frantz

USCIS Indianapolis Field Office

Picture of Pvt. Joseph Frantz

Private A. Joseph Frantz was born in France on March 9, 1837, and immigrated to the United States, moving to Indiana. During the Civil War, he enlisted in the Union Army’s Company E, 83rd Indiana Infantry on August 20, 1862. His unit was at Vicksburg, Mississippi, on May 22, 1863, when Union General Ulysses S. Grant ordered an assault on a Confederate position. Private Frantz was among 150 volunteers for a storming party of “forlorn hope” – in other words, an extremely dangerous mission.

When the attack failed, Grant ordered a withdrawal. “Of the storming party eighty-five percent were either killed or dangerously wounded, and few of them escaped without a wound of some kind,” Grant later wrote in his memoirs. Frantz survived and received the Medal of Honor more than 30 years later, on August 13, 1894. His citation reads: “Gallantry in the charge of the volunteer storming party.”

The Northfield News in Minnesota reported on Private Frantz’s award, along with details of the mission, in its September 22, 1894, edition:

Medal of Honor

Joseph Frantz, for several years a resident of Northfield, now living in Bridgewater, has just received a medal of honor from the U.S. government. He is a loyal member of the J. L. Heywood Post and during the late war was a member of Company E, 83rd Ind. Vols. One morning, just as he returned from duty on the picket line, his captain called for two men from the company to volunteer to join a forlorn hope storming party in front of Vicksburg. Only one man stepped forward. Comrade Frantz volunteered to fill the quota. The gallant storming party carried two lines of entrenchments but after suffering terrible loss failed to carry the third. The survivors, after exposure to the deadly fire of the enemy for many hours, found their way to our lines as soon as darkness came on. He was in all the battles around Vicksburg, in Gen. Sherman’s Atlanta campaign and severely wounded at the battle of Atlanta. Mr. James Otis, of Portland, Maine, is writing, for publication in book form, a biography of all soldiers who have earned medals of honor during the war, and sent a request for Frantz to send his photograph. All honor to the heroes who risked their lives during these supreme moments of destiny to our Republic.

Private Frantz died on October 14, 1913, at the age of 76. He is buried with his wife, Theresa, in the Calvary Cemetery in Northfield, Minnesota.

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