William Joseph Franks MOH

b. 1830 Pittsboro, North Carolina. d. 18/04/1880 Independence County, Arkansas.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 05/03/1864 Yazoo City, Mississippi.

Franks was born in Pittsboro, North Carolina in 1830. He enlisted in the Navy on September 16, 1863.

Franks distinguished himself in action at Yazoo City, Mississippi on March 5, 1864 when he and his shipmates from the USS Marmora (1862) 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. Franks was discharged from the Navy in August 1865, and settled in Arkansas.

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



Served on board the U.S.S. Marmora off Yazoo City, Miss., 5 March 1864. Embarking from the Marmora with a 12-pound howitzer mounted on a field carriage, 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.