5 August – We make up for the 8 Medals in the past four days as we open with the Civil War with a Medal for Baton Rouge in 1862 and then a huge number of Medals for the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864. I would note that Yeoman Atkinson had an interesting career. The Battle of Mobile Bay is the second-most be-Medalled battle in the history of the Medal – with 97 awards. Only Vicksburg on 22 May surpasses it with a total of 102 awards.
4 August has one award. This day in history has thus far generated 101 total awards. Almost 3 percent of the total awards of the Medal stem from this one day of the year – and the bulk of that from one battle in 1864. This didn’t occur often, and after the Spanish-American War didn’t happen at all.
Today, these actions would be covered by Navy Commendation Medals, Bronze Stars, Silver Stars, and Navy Crosses, in addition to the Medal. But only the Medal existed in this era. By contrast, Operation Tidal Wave, the air attack on the refineries at Ploesti, Romania in August of 1943 was every bit as desperate as Mobile Bay, but only (if “only” is an apt word) resulted in 5 awards of the Medal – which is a singular event in what could be termed the modern era for the Medal of Honor. This first week in August is a fascinating week, including as it does the greatest single day for the Medal and a day for which, as yet, no Medals have been awarded.
This is an unusual day for the Medal. 1 August was unmarked by specific Medal actions until World War II. However… there are two Civil War Medals and one during the Indian Campaigns that cover the entire month – or, in the case of the flag capture, do not specify a day. So, I’m including them here, rather than just embedding them randomly throughout the month.
CUMPSTON, JAMES M
Rank and Organization: Private, Company D, 91st Ohio Infantry. Place and date: Shenandoah Valley Campaign, Virginia, August 1864.
Citation: Capture of flag.
HART, WILLIAM E
Rank and Organization: Private (Highest rank, Corporal) Company B, 8th New York Cavalry. Place and Date: Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, August 1864
Citation: Gallant conduct and services as scout in connection with capture of the guerrilla Harry Gilmore, and other daring acts.
Rank and Organization: Private, Company K, 8th US Cavalry Place and Date: Arizona Territory, August 1868-1869
Citation: Bravery in scouts and actions against Indians.