Major General, United States Army
Alexander of Maryland
Private and Sergeant, Company G, 4th United States Infantry, 7 April 1886 to 29 January 1890
Second Lieutenant, 7th United States Infantry, 17 December 1889
First Lieutenant, 12th United States Infantry, 7 January 1897
Transferred to the 11th United States Infantry, 21 March 1898
Captain, 14th United States Infantrry, 2 October 1899
Transfered to the 11th United States Infantry, 17 February 1900
Courtesy of the Longwood Community:
Major General Alexander, under whose command the 77th Division operated during the last three phases of this history, the Vesle-Aisne advance, the Argonne campaign, and the advance on Sedan, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on the seventeenth of October, 1863. His father was Justice William Alexander of the Circuit Court of Baltimore City and the Court of Appeals of the State of Maryland.
In his youth it seemed that the future general would choose the profession of law as had his father, but after reading law for two years in the office of Messrs. J. B. and Edwin H. Brown, Centerville, Maryland, and subsequent admission to the bar, Robert Alexander, lawyer, enlisted April 7, 1886, in Company G, 4th Infantry and became Robert Alexander, Private, U. S. Army.
On July 4, 1887, he became 1st Sergeant of his company, in which capacity he served until commissioned 2d Lieutenant of Infantry on December 19, 1889. To follow the rise and adventures of Captain, Major, Colonel, and General Alexander is to follow the tale of the American Army through its campaigns against the Indians, the War with Spain, the Cuban Occupation, the Philippine Insurrection, the A. E. F. Mexico, and the A. E. F. France.
His first assignment as an officer was with the 7th Infantry, with which he served in the expedition against the hostile Sioux Indians in the winter of 1890-91 and in suppressing the quasi Civil War in Denver, Colorado, and the Debs Railway Strike (1894). In December, 1896, he became a 1st Lieutenant and was assigned to the 12th Infantry.
In March, 1898, he was assigned to the 11th Infantry and was with that regiment in Porto Rico when it was part of the brigade under Brigadier General Theodore Schwan that cleared the western end of the island of the enemy. Lieutenant Alexander commanded Company C, 11th Infantry, in both engagements of the operation, Hormigueros (August 10, 1898) and at Los Marias (August 13, 1898). He was cited, once in each engagement, for gallantry by General Schwan.
Lieutenant Alexander remained in Porto Rico until August, 1900, as disbursing officer of the United States Provisional Court for the Department of Porto Rico, at which time he returned to the United States with his company (then Company D, 11th Infantry). On October 2, 1899, he became a captain.
In February, 1901, with the 11th Infantry, he was ordered to the Philippine Islands, and stationed at Carigara, Island of Leyte. From then on to 1908 he served with this regiment through its numerous changes of station. Most notable of his service in the Philippine insurrection was in 1901-02 against the hostile bands on the Islands of Samar and Leyte. During one of these actions he was wounded by a bolo. On January 2, 1902, he was cited by Brigadier General Jacob H. Smith "For courage, skill and perseverance in action."
In 1903 the regiment was stationed in Manila and returned in 1904 to the United States, Fort D. A. Russell, Wyoming. In October, 1906, the regiment was ordered to Cuba as part of the Army of Occupation.
In 1908 be became a student officer in the Army School of the Line, graduating in 1909, and in 1910 graduated from the Army Staff College; after which he was assigned as inspector-instructor of the National Guard of Maryland, remaining on this duty until 1913.
In 1913 he was assigned to the 17th Infantry, and commanded a battalion when the regiment was sent to the Mexican border, serving at Eagle Pass until April 20, 1916. At this time the 17th Infantry was ordered to Mexico as part of the United States Punitive Expedition. Although a major, through lack of senior officers he commanded the regiment. On July 1st he was promoted lieutenant-colonel. The troops of the 17th Infantry succeeded in destroying Candelario Cervantes, one of the principal lieutenants of Francisco Villa, for which it was commended by General Pershing -one of the few citations of that time.
Returning to the United States in February, 1917, with the Punitive Expedition, Colonel Alexander was detailed on special work, mustering and inspecting National Guard troops, rejoining his regiment some months later at Fort Oglethorpe.
On August 26, 1917, he was made permanent colonel, Regular Army, and on November 2d was ordered to France, upon his arrival being assigned Inspector General of Lines of Communication. He remained on that duty until the 12th of February, when, becoming a brigadier-general, he was placed in command of the 41st (Ist Depot) Division. On the third of August, 1918, he was assigned to the command of the 63d Infantry Brigade, joining the next day, and was in the second Battle of the Marne. He remained with this brigade until the 26th of August when, having become a major-general, he was given the command of the 77th Division.
He joined the 77th Division on the 27th of August and commanded it through its campaigns and the armistice. On the 9th of November, two days before the cessation of hostilities, he was slightly wounded by the fragment of a shell that landed in front of his headquarters in Raucourt.
In the front line General Alexander was a familiar figure to the Doughboys. He always visited the front line during the fighting and would encourage the men verbally as well as by his presence. On March 7th last he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the citation reading as follows:
"For extraordinary heroism in action near Grand Pre, France, October 11, 1918. During the advance in the Argonne Forest and at a time when his forces were fatigued by the stress of battle and a long period of active front line service, Major-General Alexander visited the units in the front line, cheering and encouraging them to greater efforts. Unmindful of the severe fire to which he was subjected he continued until he had inspected each group. His utter disregard of danger and inspiring example resulted in the crossing of the Aire and the capture of Grand Pre and St. Juvin."
General Alexander died on 25 August 1941 and
was buried with full military honors in Section 3 of Arlington National
Cemetery. His wife, Mollie Augur Thomas Alexander (4 September 1871-23
March 1953) and his son, William Alexander, Colonel, United States Army
(8 March 1893-18 December 1978) are buried with him.
ALEXANDER, MOLLIE T
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 28 June 2003