No Shave November – Edmund B. Alexander

No Shave November
Each Saturday in November, an Old Guard veteran will be featured that sports impressive facial hair.
Edmund Brooke Alexander was born 1802 in Haymarket, Virginia. Alexander attended West Point Military Academy and graduated in 1823. On July 1, 1823, he was promoted to second lieutenant and joined the ranks of the 3d Infantry Regiment. Duty with the Third took him to the frontier, serving at: Jefferson Barracks, Missouri; Natchitoches, Louisiana; Fort Towson, Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). Along the way, he served as assistant quartermaster, all the while being  promoted to first lieutenant (Dec 1827) and captain (Jul 1838).
When the War with Mexico started, Alexander served in most of the major campaigns, earning himself a Brevet Major promotion* as a result of the Battle of Cerro Gordo. During the battle, Alexander led the 3d Infantry in a bayonet charge up El Telégrafo. The uphill charge was under made under heavy fire and resulted in the taking of the enemy breastworks. General Winfield Scott recognized Alexander in his official report giving him “highest praise” for his actions. Later in the war, at the Battle of Contreras, Alexander was recognized for his leadership. This time he led a bayonet charge against a convent being used by the Mexican Army as a defensive position. His actions resulted in the convent being taken, along with 1,200+ prisoners and several pieces of artillery captured. Among the captured men were three Mexican general and eighty-five deserters who had joined the Mexican Army. He was again recognized with a promotion to Brevet Lieutenant Colonel.
After the war, he commanded the 8th and 10th Infantry Regiments and took part in the Utah War. During the Civil War, he would be appointed to serve in various capacities in St. Louis, MO, due to mistrust held by many against Southern-born officers serving in the Union Army. He served with excellence receiving a brevet promotion to brigadier general. Alexander retired in 1868, having served for 45 years active duty. He is buried today at Oakland Cemetery near Saint Paul, MN.
As a coincidental note — In Summer 1940, the United States signed the “Destroyer for Bases” agreement with Great Britain. The agreement transferred fifty surplus destroyers to England in exchange for U.S. leases on British bases, one of the bases being Fort Pepperrell Air Force Base located at St. John’s, Newfoundland. As the base did not have barracks, the Army Transportation Service purchased the USS America, to be converted to a floating barracks so that soldiers could live on the ship while barracks were constructed. The America was re-christened the US Army Transport Edmund B. Alexander. One of the first units to mobilize as a result of “Destroyers for Bases” was the 3d Infantry Regiment, stationed at Fort Snelling, MN. When the unit prepared to ship out from New York City, it was the USAT Edmund B. Alexander that they boarded and lived on from January 1941 until June 1941.

*A brevet promotion was one that recognized a soldier’s meritorious service. These promotions did not result in higher pay or rank that was officially recognized, but showed a commander’s recognition of individual bravery or leadership.


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