Leonard August Frailey’s first gig as a naval officer was a plum assignment. In August 1864, authorities dispatched the newly minted acting assistant paymaster to the sidewheel steamer Quaker City. The vessel had participated in blockade operations up and down the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico since almost the beginning of the war. Along the way, its crew had captured a number of enemy ships and prize cargo.
For Frailey, a Washington, D.C., native who had recently celebrated his 21st birthday, his arrival aboard the Quaker City offered something of a homecoming. His father, James Madison Frailey, commanded the warship. The elder Frailey had started his navy career in 1828, distinguished himself during the Siege of Vera Cruz during the Mexican War, and became a mainstay of the highly effective blockade in the Civil War.
Father and son did not remain together long on the Quaker City. Before the end of 1864, Cmdr. Frailey left for the steam sloop Tuscarora, and participated in the assaults against Fort Fisher. In May 1865, he and his crew also played a minor role following the capture of senior figures in the Confederate government, when they carried Vice President Alexander H. Stephens and Postmaster General John H. Reagan to Fort Warren in Boston Harbor. Frailey died on active duty in 1877 with the rank of commodore and 49 years of service to his credit. His remains were interred in Woodlands Cemetery in Philadelphia.
The younger Frailey followed his father’s footsteps as a career navy officer. He attained the rank of rear admiral before he joined the retired list in 1905 after 41 years in uniform. He died in 1913 and was buried with honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
This portrait is part of the Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) Book Project. Established by Jim Quinlan, owner of The Excelsior Brigade, its mission is to identify approximately 15,000 Civil War veterans interred on the hallowed grounds of the cemetery, and to provide a biographical sketch and photograph of each individual. If you have an image to share, or would like more information about the ANC project, please contact Jim at 703-307-0344.
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