Mar 17, 2017

March 17: A Girl Named Frank

On March 17th, 1908 Frances 'Frank' Hook died at age 60 or 61. Her exact birthdate is unknown, except that it was sometime in 1847 in Illinois. When she was three years old both of her parents died, leaving her older brother to raise her. At the time the Civil War began Hook and her brother were living in Chicago, Illinois when her brother decided to enlist the Union Army. Frances, only 14, and not wanting to be parted, enlisted as well, disguised as a man and claimed to be 22.

The brother and sister served with the blue coats for 3 years, Frances reenlisting under various versions of a male personality named Frank every time she was discovered as a female disguised as a man.  After her brother was killed she was taken prisoner by the Confederate army and her true identity was discovered. The grey coats were so impressed by her courage that Confederate President Jefferson Davis offered to make her a lieutenant if she joined his army. In true Yankee form, Hook declared she'd rather be a private in the Union Army than a lieutenant for the Rebels. The press found out about the bravery of a young female soldier and interviewed her.  Her heroics were written about in periodicals but the Union Army refused to reinstate her. She promised reporters she would head home, but with no home to return to, many speculated that she again reenlisted under a new name. 

Later in life she married and had a child, Maggie, who wrote to the War Department after her mother's death seeking confirmation of her mother's military service. The letter was forwarded to the Adjutant General's Office, who was able to confirm Hook's service in the Union Army. 

Photo: Frances 'Frank' Hook (Public Domain)