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Max Frauenthal (also Frankenthal, or Fronthall) (November 11, 1836 – March 8, 1914) is known for the courage he showed during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in the American Civil War.

Origin of his last name[]

The name "Frauenthal" was derived from the German city the Frauenthals lived in. Max Frauenthal's grandfather, who was called simply Meyer, adopted the name Frauenthal in early nineteenth century, when the Napoleonic Code required European Jews to take surnames.[1]

Early life[]

Max Frauenthal was born on November 11, 1836, in Marienthal, Germany. His family moved to the United States when he was 15 years old, settling in Brookhaven, Mississippi.[1]

The war[]

Frauenthal enlisted in the Confederate States Army as a private in the Sixteenth Regiment, Company A, Mississippi Volunteers at Summit, Mississippi, one of 1500 Jewish volunteers in the Confederate Army. Although he was officially an army drummer, he often used his musket in battle. Some of the most “terrific and long-sustained fighting” (as described by a private A. T. Watts) was fought at Bloody Acute Angle at Spotsylvania, Virginia on May 12, 1864. For several hours, surrounded by the soldiers from Union Army, Frankenthal fought between the "most terrific hail of lead, and coolly and deliberately loaded and fired without cringing."[2]

Frauenthal’s bravery made a lasting impression on Watts. Almost 30 years after the battle, in an 1893 letter, Watts (by then a judge in Dallas) wrote:

I cannot forego the mention of one individual. Fronthall, a little Jew, though insignificant in appearance, had the heart of a lion… I now understand how it was that a handful of Jews could drive before them the hundred kings; they were all Fronthalls![3]

The phrase "a regular Fronthall" was used to refer to the bravest soldiers in 16th Regiment. Brought home by the veterans from Texas, it is still in use in the area around Galveston.[2][3][4]


In 1869, Frauenthal married Sallie Jacobs. They had 13 children; six survived to adulthood. A successful businessman, Frauenthal donated land for a court square in anticipation of the formation of a new county and built a courthouse on the land he donated. He also donated Spring Park to the town of Sugar Loaf (now Heber Springs) in Arkansas.[1]

Frauenthal died on March 8, 1914, and is buried at Temple Israel Cemetery in Memphis.[1]