Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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MORDECAI, Alfred, soldier, born in Warrenton, North Carolina, 3 January, 1804; died in Philadelphia, 23 October, 1887. He was graduated first in his class at the United States military academy in 1823, assigned to the corps of engineers, and was assistant professor of natural and experimental philosophy in 1823-'4 and principal assistant professor of engineering in 1824-'5. From 1825 till 1828 he was assistant engineer in the construction of Fort Monroe and Fort Calhoun, Virginia, and he was assistant to the chief engineer in Washington, D. C., from 1828 till 1832. He became captain of ordnance on 30 May, 1832, and in 1833-'4 was on leave of absence in Europe. In 1842 he became assistant to the chief of ordnance in Washington, D. C., and from 1839 till 1860 he was a member of the ordnance board. In 1840 he was a member of a commission to visit the arsenals and cannon-foundries of the principal powers of Europe, and in 1842 was assistant inspector of arsenals and engaged in constructing ballistic pendulums. He was a member of a military commission to the Crimea in 1855-'7, and his observations, particularly on military organization and ordnance, were published by order of congress (Washington, 1860). He was a member of the board to revise the course of instruction at the military academy in 1860. He was brevetted major on 30 May, 1848, for services during the war with Mexico, and became major of ordnance, 31 December, 1854. He resigned on 5 May, 1861, and from 1863 till 1866 was a railway engineer in Mexico. From 1867 till his death he was treasurer and secretary of the Pennsylvania canal company. He was the author of a "Digest of Military Laws" (Washington, 1833): "Ordnance Manual for the Use of Officers in the United States Army" (1841 ; 2d ed., 1850) ; "Reports of Experiments on Gunpowder" (1845 and 1849); and "Artillery for the United States Land Service, as devised and arranged by the Ordnance Board," with plates (1849).
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