William Joseph Franks

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William Joseph Franks
Pittsboro, North Carolina
DiedApril 18, 1880
Independence County, Arkansas
Place of burial
Maple Springs Cemetery, Batesville, Arkansas
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Navy
Years of service1863 - 1865
RankActing Master's mate
UnitUSS Marmora
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War
AwardsMedal of Honor

William Joseph Franks (1830 – April 18, 1880) was a United States Navy sailor who received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the American Civil War.


Franks was born in Pittsboro, North Carolina in 1830. He enlisted in the United States Navy on September 16, 1863, during the American Civil War.

Franks distinguished himself in action at Yazoo City, Mississippi on March 5, 1864, when he and his shipmates from the USS Marmora landed a 12-pound howitzer to defend the city, which was threatened by strong Confederate forces. He and his group were in the thickest of the fighting, but it was never enough to drive them from their cannon. The actions of Franks and his men came to play the most important role in maintaining the Union position. Franks received the Medal of Honor and was promoted to Acting Master's Mate in recognition of his actions. Two of his shipmates, Seaman James Stoddard and Seaman Bartlett Laffey, were also awarded the medal for being on the gun crew.[1][2]

Franks was discharged from the Navy in August 1865, and settled in Arkansas.[3]

He married Mary Francis in 1865, after his separation from the Navy; according to the 1880 Federal census, they had five children.[4]

William J. Franks died in April 1880 and is buried in Maple Springs Cemetery in Batesville, Arkansas.[5]


A Fletcher-class destroyer, USS Franks (DD-554), was named in his honor and launched on December 7, 1942.

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Born: 1830, Chatham County, N.C. Entered service at: Duvalls Bluff, Ark. G.O. No.: 32, April 16, 1864.


The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Seaman William J. Franks, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving on board the U.S.S. Marmora off Yazoo City, Mississippi, 5 March 1864. Embarking from the Marmora with a 12-pound howitzer mounted on a field carriage, Seaman Franks landed with the gun and crew in the midst of heated battle and, bravely standing by his gun despite enemy rifle fire which cut the gun carriage and rammer contributed to the turning back of the enemy during the fierce engagement.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients (A–L)". Medal of Honor Citations. United States Army Center of Military History. December 3, 2010. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
  2. ^ "Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients (M–Z)". Medal of Honor Citations. United States Army Center of Military History. December 3, 2010. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
  3. ^ "Lost to History » Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States". www.mohhsus.com.
  4. ^ 1880 Federal Census for Town of Christian, Independence County, Kansas.
  5. ^ "William Joseph Franks (1830-1880) - Find A Grave..." www.findagrave.com.


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.