#BlackHistoryMonth Civil War #AfricanAmerican Medal Of Honor Recipients

1 Civil War MOH

BACKGROUND

African Americans have fought and distinuguished themselves in every major American conflict before and since the Declaration of Independence was ratified. In the first year of the American Revolution, before the Continental Congress temporarily excluded blacks from service, African Americans distinguished themselves as able, and in some cases gifted, soldiers fighting valiantly for the cause of freedom later expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Lemuel Hayes, a gifted speaker and Congregational minister, was one of the Minutemen who defended the Concord bridge.

At Hayes’s side was Peter Salem, another Minuteman responsible for shooting the British Major John Pitcairn at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Other blacks who distinguished themselves in the Revolution were Pomp Blackman, Caesar and John Ferrit, Prince Estabrook, Samuel Craft, Primas Black, and Ephraim Blackman.

All of these men became notable at Lexington and Concord, the capture of Fort Ticonderoga (as members of Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys), and the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Bancroft in his History of the United States, vol. vii., p. 421, speaking of the Battle of Bunker Hill, says: ” Nor should history forget to record, that as in the army at Cambridge, so also in this gallant band, the free Negroes of the colony had their representatives. For the right of free Negroes to bear arms in the public defence was at that day as little disputed in New England as their other rights. They took their places, not in a separate corps, but in the ranks with the white men; and their names may be read on the pension-rolls of the country, side by side with those of other soldiers of the Revolution.”

Major Samuel Lawrence (white) served through the war of the Revolution. “At one time he commanded a company whose rank and file were all Negroes, of whose courage, military discipline and fidelity he always spoke with respect. On one occasion, being out reconnoitering with this company, he got so far in advance of his command that he was surrounded, and on the point of being made prisoner by the enemy. The men, soon discovering his peril, rushed to his rescue, and fought with the most determined bravery till that rescue was effectually secured.” — Memoir of William Lawrence, by Rev. S. K. Lothrop, D.D., pp. 8, 9.

The end of the Revolution brought freedom to some blacks and re-enslavement to others, especially those who fought with the British against the Americans and their French allies.

It is unfortunate that although 5,000 African Americans fought in most major battles of the Revolutionary War (500 were from Virginia), they achieved parity with the white patriots only because conditions were too desperate to impose artificial barriers between men in the field. Nevertheless, the legacy of heroism and determination followed those brave African Americans who risked their lives for the hope of freedom.

African Americans continued their service in the military during numerous land and naval engagements following the Revolution. In the War of 1812, they distinguished themselves at the Battle of Lake Erie (composing 10% of Commodore Oliver Perry’s forces), on Lake Ontario (with Commodore Isaac Chanuncey’s squadron), on Lake Champlain (serving with Commodore Thomas McDonough’s forces), and at the Battle of New Orleans (composing 2 of Andrew Jackson’s battalions) in Louisiana. Despite these victories and distinguished service, African Americans in the military establishment were subject to discriminatory treatment and second-class status as in other areas of American life.

***

Address of General Andrew Jackson to the Negroes.

Headquarters 7th Military District.
Mobile, September 21, 1814.

To the Free Colored Inhabitants of Louisiana:

Through a mistaken policy you have heretofore been deprived of a participation in the glorious struggle for national rights in which our country is engaged. This no longer shall exist.

As sons of freedom, you are now called upon to defend our most inestimable blessing. As Americans, your country looks with confidence to her adopted children for a valorous support, as a faithful return for the advantages enjoyed, under her mild and equitable government. As fathers, husbands, and brothers, you are summoned to rally around the standard of the Eagle, to defend all which is dear in existence.

Your country, although calling for your exertions, does not wish you to engage in her cause without amply remunerating you for the services rendered. Your intelligent minds are not to be led away by false representations.

Your love of honor would cause you to despise the man who should attempt to deceive you. In the sincerity of a soldier and the language of truth I address you.

To every noble-hearted, generous freeman of color, volunteering to serve during the present contest with Great Britain, and no longer, there will be paid the same bounty in money and lands, now received by the white soldiers of the United States, viz. : one hundred and twenty-four dollars in money, and one hundred and sixty acres of land.

The noncommissioned officers and privates will also be entitled to the same monthly pay and daily rations, and clothes, furnished to any American soldier.

On enrolling yourselves in companies, the Major General commanding will select officers for your government from your white fellow citizens.

Your non-commissioned officers will be appointed from among yourselves.

Due regard will be paid to the feelings of freemen and soldiers. You will not, by being associated with white men in the same corps, be exposed to improper comparisons or unjust sarcasm.

As a distinct, independent battalion or regiment, pursuing the path of glory, you will, undivided, receive the applause and gratitude of your countrymen.

To assure you of the sincerity of my intentions, and my anxiety to engage your invaluable services to our country, I have communicated my wishes to the Governor of Louisiana, who is fully informed as to the manner of enrollment, and will give you every necessary information on the subject of this address.

ANDREW JACKSON, Major General, Commanding.

Source: Nile’s Register, vol. vii., p. 205.

At the close of a review of the white and colored troops in New Orleans, on Sunday, December 18th, 1814, General Jackson’s address to the troops was read by Edward Livingston, one of his aids, and the following is the portion addressed:

To the Men of Color.

Soldiers! From the shores of Mobile I collected you to arms, I invited you to share in the perils and to divide the glory of your white countrymen. I expected much from you; for I was not uninformed of those qualities which must render you so formidable to an invading foe.

I knew that you could endure hunger and thirst and all the hardships of war. I knew that you loved the land of your nativity, and that, like ourselves, you had to defend all that is most dear to man.

But you surpass my hopes.

I have found in you, united to these qualities, that noble enthusiasm which impels to great deeds.

Soldiers! The President of the United States shall be informed of your conduct on the present occasion; and the voice of the Representatives of the American Nation shall applaud your valor, as your general now praises your ardor.

The enemy is near. His sails cover the lakes.

But the brave are united; and if he finds us contending among ourselves, it will be for the prize of valor, and fame, its noblest reward.” — Niles’s Register, vol. vii., pp. 345, 346.

Such are some of the views of our ancestors in regard to the employment of Negro soldiers. Is it not the duty of every loyal man to give a careful consideration to these facts?

THE CIVIL WAR

The President of the United States in the name of the Congress takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to:

29th Regiment: Connecticut Volunteers

29th Regiment: Connecticut Volunteers

Aaron_Anderson

ANDERSON, AARON (AKA SANDERSON)

Rank and Organization: Landsman, U.S. Navy.
Entered service at: Philadelphia, Pa.
Birth: North Carolina.
Date of issue: G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865.
Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Wyandank during a boat expedition up Mattox Creek, 17 March 1865. Participating with a boat crew in the clearing of Mattox Creek, L/man Anderson carried out his duties courageously in the face of a devastating fire which cut away half the oars, pierced the launch in many places and cut the barrel off a musket being fired at the enemy.

ANDERSON, BRUCE (no picture)

Rank and organization: Private, Company K, 142d New York Infantry.
Born: Mexico, OswegoCounty, N.Y., 9 June 1845.
Place and date: At Fort Fisher, N.C., 15 January 1865.
Entered service at: Ephratah, N.Y.
Date of issue: 28 December 1914.
Citation: Voluntarily advanced with the head of the column and cut down the palisading.

William H Barnes

BARNES, WILLIAM H.

Rank and organization: Private, Company C, 38th U.S. Colored Troops.
Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864.
Entered service at:——.
Birth: St. Marys County, Md.
Date of issue: 6 April 1865.
Citation: Among the first to enter the enemy’s works; although wounded.

Powhatan_Beaty

BEATY, POWHATAN

Rank and Organization: First Sergeant, Company G, 5th U.S. Colored Troops.
Place and Date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864.
Entered Service At: Delaware County, Ohio.
Birth: Richmond, Va.
Date of Issue: 6 April 1865.
Citation: Took command of his company, all the officers having been killed or wounded, and gallantly led it.

Robert_Blake_(MOH)_poster

BLAKE, ROBERT (Escaped Slave)

Rank and Organization: Contraband, U.S. Navy.
Entered service at: Virginia.
Date of issue: G.O. No.: 32, 16 April 1864.
Accredited to: Virginia.
Citation: On board the U.S. Steam Gunboat Marblehead off Legareville, Stono River, 25 December 1863, in an engagement with the enemy on John’s Island. Serving the rifle gun, Blake, an escaped slave, carried out his duties bravely throughout the engagement which resulted in the enemy’s abandonment of positions, leaving a caisson and one gun behind.

BRONSON, JAMES H. (no picture)

Rank and Organization: First Sergeant, Company D, 5th U.S. Colored Troops.
Birth: Indiana County, Pa.
Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864.
Entered service at: Delaware County, Ohio.
Date of issue: 6 April 1865.
Citation: Took command of his company, all the officers having been killed or wounded, and gallantly led it.

BROWN, WILLIAM H. (no picture)

Rank and organization: Landsman, U.S. Navy.
Born: 1836, Baltimore, Md.
Accredited to: Maryland.
Date of issue: G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864.
Citation: On board the U.S.S. Brooklyn during successful attacks against Fort Morgan rebel gunboats and the ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay on 5 August 1864. Stationed in the immediate vicinity of the shell whips which were twice cleared of men by bursting shells, Brown remained steadfast at his post and performed his duties in the powder division throughout the furious action which resulted in the surrender of the prize rebel ram Tennessee and in the damaging and destruction of batteries at Fort Morgan.

BROWN, WILSON (no picture)

Rank and Organization: Landsman, U.S. Navy.
Born: 1841, Natchez, Miss.
Accredited to: Mississippi.
Date of issue: G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864.
Citation: On board the flagship U.S.S. Hartford during successful attacks against Fort Morgan, rebel gunboats and the ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay on 5 August 1864. Knocked unconscious into the hold of the ship when an enemy shellburst fatally wounded a man on the ladder above him, Brown, upon regaining consciousness, promptly returned to the shell whip on the berth deck and zealously continued to perform his duties although 4 of the 6 men at this station had been either killed or wounded by the enemy’s terrific fire.

William_Harvey_Carney

CARNEY, WILLIAM H.

Rank and Organization: Sergeant, Company C, 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry.
Birth: Norfolk, Va.
Place and Date: At Fort Wagner, S.C., 18 July 1863.
Entered Service St.: New Bedford, Mass.
Date of Issue: 23 May 1900.
Citation: When the Color Sergeant was shot down, this soldier grasped the flag, led the way to the parapet, and planted the colors thereon. When the troops fell back he brought off the flag, under a fierce fire in which he was twice severely wounded.

DORSEY, DECATUR (Escaped Slave)

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company B, 39th U.S. Colored Troops.
Place and date: At Petersburg, Va., 30 July 1864.
Entered service at: Baltimore County, Md.
Birth: Howard County, Md.
Date of issue: 8 November 1865.
Citation: Planted his colors on the Confederate works in advance of his regiment, and when the regiment was driven back to the Union works he carried the colors there and bravely rallied the men.

Sgt Major Christian Abraham Fleetwood

FLEETWOOD, CHRISTIAN A.

Rank and Organization: Sergeant Major, 4th U.S. Colored Troops.
Place and Date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864.
Birth: Baltimore, Md.
Date of Issue: 6 April 1865.
Citation: Seized the colors, after 2 color bearers had been shot down, and bore them nobly through the fight.

James_Daniel_Gardner

GARDINER, JAMES

Rank and Organization: Private, Company I, 6th U.S. Colored Troops.
Place and Date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864.
Birth: Gloucester, Va.
Date of Issue: 6 April 1865.
Citation: Rushed in advance of his brigade, shot a rebel officer who was on the parapet rallying his men, and then ran him through with his bayonet.

James_H_Harris

HARRIS, JAMES H.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company B, 38th U.S. Colored Troops.
Place and date: At New Market Heights, Va., 29 September 1864.
Entered service at:——.
Birth: St. Marys County, Md.
Date of issue: 18 February 1874.
Citation: Gallantry in the assault.

Thomas_R_Hawkins

HAWKINS, THOMAS R.

Rank and Organization: Sergeant Major, 6th U.S. Colored Troops.
Place and Date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864.
Entered Service At: Philadelphia, Pa.
Birth: Cincinnati, Ohio.
Date of Issue: 8 February 1870.
Citation: Rescue of regimental colors.

HILTON, ALFRED B. (no picture)

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company H, 4th U.S. Colored Troops.
Place and date. At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864.
Entered service at:——.
Birth: Harford County, Md.
Date of issue: 6 April 1865.
Citation: When the regimental color bearer fell, this soldier seized the color and carried it forward, together with the national standard, until disabled at the enemy’s inner line.

Milton_M_Holland

HOLLAND, MILTON M.

Rank and organization: Sergeant Major, 5th U.S. Colored Troops.
Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864.
Entered service at: Athens, Ohio.
Born: 1844, Austin, Tex.
Date of issue: 6 April 1865.
Citation: Took command of Company C, after all the officers had been killed or wounded, and gallantly led it.

JAMES, MILES (no picture)

Rank and organization: Corporal, Company B, 36th U.S. Colored Troops.
Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 30 September 1864.
Entered service at: Norfolk, Va.
Birth: Princess Anne County, Va.
Date of issue: 6 April 1865.
Citation: Having had his arm mutilated, making immediate amputation necessary, he loaded and discharged his piece with one hand and urged his men forward; this within 30 yards of the enemy’s works.

Alexander_Kelly

KELLY, ALEXANDER

Rank and Organization: First Sergeant, Company F, 6th U.S. Colored Troops.
Place and Date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864.
Birth: Pennsylvania.
Date of Issue: 6 April 1865.
Citation: Gallantly seized the colors, which had fallen near the enemy’s lines, raised them and rallied the men at a time of confusion and in a place of the greatest danger.

John_Lawson

LAWSON, JOHN HENRY

Rank and Organization: Landsman, U.S. Navy.
Born: 1837, Pennsylvania.
Date of issue: G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864.
Citation: On board the flagship U.S.S. Hartford during successful attacks against Fort Morgan, rebel gunboats and the ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay on 5 August 1864. Wounded in the leg and thrown violently against the side of the ship when an enemy shell killed or wounded the o-man crew as the shell whipped on the berth deck, Lawson, upon regaining his composure,
promptly returned to his station and, although urged to go below for treatment, steadfastly continued his duties throughout the remainder of the action.

James_Mifflin_poster

MIFFLIN, JAMES

Rank and Organization: Engineer’s Cook, U.S. Navy.
Born: 1839, Richmond, Va.
Accredited to: Virginia.
Date of issue: G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864.
Citation: On board the U.S.S. Brooklyn during successful attacks against Fort Morgan, rebel gunboats and the ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay, on 5 August 1864. Stationed in the immediate vicinity of the shell whips which were twice cleared of men by
bursting shells, Mifflin remained steadfast at his post and performed his duties in the powder division throughout the furious action which resulted in the surrender of the prize rebel ram Tennessee and in the damaging and destruction of batteries at Fort Morgan.

Joachim_Pease_poster

PEASE, JOACHIM

Rank and Organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy.
Born: Long Island, N.Y.
Accredited to: New York.
Date of issue: G.O. No.: 45, 31 December 1864.
Citation: Served as seaman on board the U.S.S. Kearsarge when she destroyed the Alabama off Cherbourg, France, 19 June
1864. Acting as loader on the No. 2 gun during this bitter engagement, Pease exhibited marked coolness and good conduct and was highly recommended by the divisional officer for gallantry under fire.

Robert_A_Pinn_touchup

PINN, ROBERT

Rank and Organization: First Sergeant, Company I, 5th U.S. Colored Troops.
Born: 1 March 1843, Stark County, Ohio.
Entered service at: Massillon, Ohio.
Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864.
Date of issue: 6 April 1865.
Citation: Took command of his company after all the officers had been killed or wounded and gallantly led it in battle.

RATCLIFF, EDWARD (no picture)

Rank and Organization: First Sergeant, Company C, 38th U.S. Colored Troops.
Birth: James County, Va.
Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864.
Date of issue: 6 April 1865.
Citation. Commanded and gallantly led his company after the commanding officer had been killed; was the first enlisted man to enter the enemy’s works.

Andrew_Jackson_Smith

ANDREW JACKSON SMITH

Rank and Organization: Corporal, 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.
Date: November 30, 1864
Place: Battle of Honey Hill, South Carolina
Citation: Saving his regimental colors, after the color bearer was killed during al bloody charge called the Battle of Honey Hill, South Carolina.

VEAL, CHARLES (no picture)

Rank and Organization: Private, Company D, 4th U.S. Colored Troops.
Birth: Portsmouth Va.
Entered service at: Portsmouth, Va.
Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864.
Date of issue: 6 April 1865.
Citation: Seized the national colors after 2 color bearers had been shot down close to the enemy’s works, and bore them through the remainder of the battle.

Men of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment

Men of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment

1 Civil War MOH

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About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
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