From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall
Alexander Crosman '55

Date of birth: June 11, 1838

Date of death: April 12, 1872

Age: 33


Alexander was aboard a boat on April 12, 1872 when it capsized while crossing over a bar off the coast of Nicaragua. He, one of his officers who attempted to rescue him, and four sailors were drowned.

He was commanding officer of Kansas; he and his men were part of the Nicaragua Canal Surveying Expedition.

He was survived by his wife Daisy, daughters Daisy and Ethel, and son Alexander. He has a memory marker in Philadelphia.

Alexander was admitted to the Naval Academy from Pennsylvania.


From Baseball’s Greatest Sacrifice:

Alexander F. Crosman, the son of George H. Crosman, a U.S. Army officer, was born in St. Louis, Missouri on June 11, 1838. Crosman was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy [from Pennsylvania] and graduated in 1855. The following year he was attached to the frigate USS Congress, which served in the Mediterranean.

By 1860, Crosman was stationed back in his hometown. At this time baseball was in its infancy and Crosman played for the Cyclone Base Ball Club of St. Louis. The Cyclones, formed the previous year, played their games at Lafayette Park. On July 9, 1860, they played against the Morning Star Club, a game that has been recognized as the first official game played west of the Mississippi River according to the rules of the National Association.

With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Crosman was promoted to lieutenant and left St. Louis to command the USS Somerset, a wooden-hulled, side-wheel ferryboat assigned to the East Gulf Blockading Squadron. He attained the rank of lieutenant commander in July 1862 and spent most of the remainder of the war on the steam screw frigate USS Wabash, as part of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

After the war, Lt. Cmdr. Crosman served on the wooden, screw sloop of war USS Ossipee, the clipper USS Onward, and at Portsmouth (NH) Naval Yard. A son, Alexander, Jr., was born to Crosman and his wife, Frances, at Portsmouth on August 1, 1871. Crosman was later commissioned commander and led surveying expeditions in South America, searching for an interoceanic canal route.

On April 12, 1872, aboard the 836-ton screw steam gunboat USS Kansas, Commander Crosman, pioneer baseball player, drowned in the harbor of Greytown, Nicaragua, while trying to save two sailors who had fallen overboard. He was 33 years old.


Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

January 1856
Midshipman, Frigate Congress

Others at this command:
January 1857
Midshipman, Frigate Congress
January 1858
Midshipman, Frigate Congress
January 1860
Master, Steam Sloop Mohican
September 1861
Lieutenant, Steam Sloop Mohican
September 1862
Lieutenant Commander, Steam Gunboat Tahoma
January 1863
Lieutenant Commander, commanding officer, Steamer Somerset
January 1864
Lieutenant Commander, Steam Frigate Wabash
January 1865
Lieutenant Commander, South A.B. Squadron
January 1866
Lieutenant Commander, Assistant to Commandant of Midshipmen, and Assistant Instructor of Naval Gunnery and Howitzer Drill, Naval Academy

July 1867
Lieutenant Commander, Ossipee

Others at this command:
July 1868
Lieutenant Commander, Ossipee

Others at this command:
January 1869
Lieutenant Commander, temporary commanding officer, Onward
July 1870
Lieutenant Commander, Navy-yard, Portsmouth, N.H.
January 1871
Commander, League Island, Penn
January 1872
Commander, temporary commanding officer, Marion

Related Articles

Alfred Forée '67 was drowned when attempting to rescue Alexander, his commanding officer.

Memorial Hall Error

Alexander is not listed with his classmates in Memorial Hall. This error was discovered by researcher Kathy Franz.

Class of 1855

Alexander is one of 7 members of the Class of 1855 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of alumni in Memorial Hall.