Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 3 July

Medal of Honor recipient Michael F Folland. Courtesy the CMOHS.

There are 44 Medals awarded for actions on this day in our history militant.

Not surprisingly, we open with the Civil War and the most dramatic day of the Battle of Gettysburg – the last day and Pickett’s Charge. 32 Medals today in 1863 alone, with 12 others in the beyond for 44 total for this one day in history. As I’ve noted before in other posts – today, most of these would be Bronze Stars w/V, Silver Stars, or Distinguished Service Crosses. Especially all the flag captures going on. That said – clearly, capturing the enemy’s Color is a Big Deal to soldiers of the era. So, check out Sergeant Harvey Munsell, Company A, 99th Pennsylvania Infantry. Talk about painting a target on your chest… NB: When I first composed this post as a part of the original series, Lieutenant Cushing had not yet been awarded his Medal – that happened in 2014, hence the very different style of the citation. Continue reading “Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 3 July”

Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 2 July

Medal of Honor recipient Joshua L Chamberlain. Courtesy the CMOHS.

There are 32 Medals awarded for actions on this day.  Not surprisingly, we start with the 2nd Day at Gettysburg – the hardest-fought day (though the survivors of Pickett’s Charge on the 3rd might argue the point). Continue reading “Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 2 July”

Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 1 July

Medal of Honor recipient Andre C Lucas. Courtesy the CMOHS.
Good Golly!  There are *42* Medals awarded for actions on this day – and only one is a posthumous award. Also unusually, we have two Lieutenant Colonels earning the Medal this day, one famous, one not so famous, except in the 101st Airborne.

1 July is a very busy day for the Medal in the 19th Century.  During this time the Medal of Honor was the only available option,  so many of the Medals awarded during the 1863-1900 era would be Bronze Stars, Silver Stars, and Distinguished Service Cross/Navy Cross today.

As usual – we start with the Civil War and the two big battles occurring on July 1st – Malvern HIll and Gettysburg. Continue reading “Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 1 July”

Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 30 June

There are fourteen Medals awarded for actions on this day, spanning from the Civil War to Vietnam – but skipping WWI, WWII, and Korea, which is kind of interesting.  We have another Drummer Boy stepping up this day.

Civil War

BRONNER, AUGUST F.

Rank and organization: Private, Company C, 1st New York Artillery
Place and date: At White Oak Swamp, Va., 30 June 1862. At Malvern Hill, Va., 1 July 1862
Date of issue: Unknown
Citation: Continued to fight after being severely wounded.

BURKE, THOMAS

Rank and organization: Private, Company A, 5th New York Cavalry
Place and date: At Hanover Courthouse, Va., 30 June 1863
Date of issue: 11 February 1878
Citation: Capture of battle flag.

HOWARD, HENDERSON C.

Rank and organization: Corporal, Company B, 11th Pennsylvania Reserves
Place and date: At Glendale, Va., 30 June 1862
Entered service at: Indiana, Pa.
Date of issue: 30 March 1898
Citation: While pursuing one of the enemy’s sharpshooters, encountered 2 others, whom he bayoneted in hand-to-hand encounters; was 3 times wounded in action.

KING, RUFUS, JR.

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, 4th U.S. Artillery
Place and date: At White Oak Swamp Bridge, Va., 30 June 1862
Entered service at: New York
Date of issue: 2 April 1898
Citation: This officer, when his captain was wounded, succeeded to the command of two batteries while engaged against a superior force of the enemy and fought his guns most gallantly until compelled to retire.

LEVY, BENJAMIN

Rank and organization: Private, Company B, 1st New York Infantry
Place and date: At Glendale, Va., 30 June 1862
Date of issue: 1 March 1865
Citation: This soldier, a drummer boy, took the gun of a sick comrade, went into the fight, and when the color bearers were shot down, carried the colors and saved them from capture.

McMAHON, MARTIN T.

Rank and organization: Captain, and aide-de-camp U.S. Volunteers
Place and date: At White Oak Swamp, Va., 30 June i862
Entered service at: California
Date of issue: 10 March 1891
Citation: Under fire of the enemy, successfully destroyed a valuable train that had been abandoned and prevented it from falling into the hands of the enemy.

SHAMBAUGH, CHARLES

Rank and organization: Corporal, Company D, 11th Pennsylvania Reserves
Place and date: At Charles City Crossroads, Va., 30 June 1862
Entered service at: Indiana County, Pa.
Date of issue: 17 July 1866
Citation: Capture of flag.

UHRL, GEORGE

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Light Battery F, 5th U.S. Artillery
Place and date: At White Oak Swamp Bridge, Va.. 30 June 1862
Date of issue: 4 April 1898
Citation: Was 1 of a party of 3 who, under heavy fire of advancing enemy, voluntarily secured and saved from capture a field gun belonging to another battery, and which had been deserted by its officers and men.Place and date: At White Oak Swamp, Va., 30 June 1862. At Malvern Hill, Va., 1 July 1862
Date of issue: Unknown
Citation: Continued to fight after being severely wounded.

Continue reading “Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 30 June”

Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 29 June

Medal of Honor recipient Steven L Bennett. Courtesy the CMOHS.

There are seven Medals awarded for actions on this day. We open, as we often do, with the Civil War, and three Medals, all awarded well after the war was over.

HICKEY, DENNIS W.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company E, 2d New York Cavalry
Place and date: At Stony Creek Bridge, Va., 29 June 1864
Date of issue: 18 April 1891
Citation: With a detachment of 3 men, tore up the bridge at Stony Creek being the last man on the bridge and covering the retreat until he was shot down.

QUINLAN, JAMES

Rank and organization: Major, 88th New York Infantry
Place and date: At Savage Station, Va., 29 June 1862
Entered service at: New York, N.Y.
Date of issue: 18 February 1891
Citation: Led his regiment on the enemy’s battery, silenced the guns, held the position against overwhelming numbers, and covered the retreat of the 2d Army Corps.

WHITAKER, EDWARD W.

Rank and organization: Captain, Company E, 1st Connecticut Cavalry
Place and date: At Reams Station, Va., 29 June 1864
Entered service at: Ashford, Conn.
Date of issue: 2 April 1898
Citation: While acting as an aide voluntarily carried dispatches from the commanding general to Gen. Meade, forcing his way with a single troop of Cavalry, through an Infantry division of the enemy in the most distinguished manner, though he lost half his escort.

Continue reading “Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 29 June”

Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 28 June

Medal of Honor recipient Michael P Murphy. Courtesy the CMOHS.

[NB – I wrote this one before the relative flood of Medals from the war in Afghanistan started flowing, and back when the ones that had been awarded were all posthumous. -the Armorer]

While the criteria for the Medal has changed over time, I exalt no Medal holder over another as we should honor the opinion of their contemporaries, and not apply a filter informed from a remove of decades to over a century.  But I understand that a lot of these Medals can seem, well, *musty* when most of the people alive today were not alive when most of them were earned.  It truly is history in it’s driest sense for many people.

Today, we have a Medal earned and awarded during the lives of most of the people on the planet.  In historical terms, it’s a current event.

And in recognition of that, we’ll open with it.  The only Medal of Honor awarded thus far for actions in Operation Enduring Freedom – Navy Seal Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who earned his Medal 27-28 June, 2005, near Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan, as a part of Operation Redwing.

*MURPHY, MICHAEL P.

Rank and Organization: Lieutenant, United States Navy
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as the leader of a special reconnaissance element with Naval Special Warfare Task Unit Afghanistan on 27 and 28 June 2005. While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader, Lieutenant Murphy demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan. On 28 June 2005, operating in an extremely rugged enemy-controlled area, Lieutenant Murphy’s team was discovered by anti-coalition militia sympathizers, who revealed their position to Taliban fighters. As a result, between 30 and 40 enemy fighters besieged his four-member team. Demonstrating exceptional resolve, Lieutenant Murphy valiantly led his men in engaging the large enemy force. The ensuing fierce firefight resulted in numerous enemy casualties, as well as the wounding of all four members of the team. Ignoring his own wounds and demonstrating exceptional composure, Lieutenant Murphy continued to lead and encourage his men. When the primary communicator fell mortally wounded, Lieutenant Murphy repeatedly attempted to call for assistance for his beleaguered teammates. Realizing the impossibility of communicating in the extreme terrain, and in the face of almost certain death, he fought his way into open terrain to gain a better position to transmit a call. This deliberate, heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire. Finally achieving contact with his Headquarters, Lieutenant Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team. In his final act of bravery, he continued to engage the enemy until he was mortally wounded, gallantly giving his life for his country and for the cause of freedom. By his selfless leadership, courageous actions, and extraordinary devotion to duty, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Continue reading “Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 28 June”

Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 27 June

Medal of Honor recipient Alason P Webber. Courtesy the CMOHS.
There are twelve Medals awarded for actions on this day.  As per usual, we open with the Civil War, and a connection that still echoes across the valleys for us today.

Gaines Mill, 1862.

Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield, in addition to being a hero, affects all of us with a military connection today.  He gave us Taps.  He’s also unusual in that he was a general officer when he earned his Medal.  While not so true for the Civil War, and even up through the Spanish American War, Generals don’t often find themselves in a position to display the personal level of heroism usually attendant to the Medal of Honor.  At least, they shouldn’t, if they’re doing their jobs right.

This was the third battle of the Seven Days series of battles as McClellan moved on Richmond in 1862.  On 27 June, Confederate General Robert E. Lee renewed his assault on Union Brigadier General Fitz-John Porter’s V Corps, which was established in a strong defensive line behind Boatswain’s Swamp north of the Chickahominy River.

Porter held fast for the afternoon against disjointed Confederate attacks, inflicting heavy casualties on the attacking Rebels.   At dusk, Lee was finally able to conduct a coordinated assault which broke V Corps line and drove Porter’s troops back to the Chichahominy, which they retreated back across during the night. Before we got too critical of Lee, remember he’s doing this by sending aides on horseback with notes or verbal orders around to his commanders as well as riding around the battlefield himself – as are his generals. Today we’re spoiled, radio is a wonderful thing in moderation.

The defeat at Gaines’ Mill convinced General McClellan to abandon his advance on Richmond, Virginia and begin the retreat to the James River. Gaines’ Mill saved Richmond and ended the best chance for an early end to the war. Continue reading “Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 27 June”

Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 26 June

Medal of Honor recipient Kiyoshi Muranaga. Courtesy the CMOHS.

There are seven Medals awarded for actions on this day, beginning, as we usually do, with the Civil War.  An early instance of “Leave no man behind” as a command philosophy:

WILLIAMS, JOHN

Rank and organization: Captain of the Maintop, U.S. Navy. Born: 1828, New Orleans, La. Accredited to: Louisiana. G.O. No.: 11, 3 April 1863. Citation: Serving as captain of the maintop of the U.S.S. Pawnee in the attack upon Mathias Point, 26 June 1861, Williams told his men, while lying off in the boat, that every man must die on his thwart sooner than leave a man behind. Although wounded by a musket ball in the thigh he retained the charge of his boat; and when the staff was shot away, held the stump in his hand, with the flag, until alongside the Freeborn.

Next, back to the Indian Wars, and the diminuendo of Little Big Horn.  They weren’t listed yesterday because I’ve adopted the convention that when there is more than one covered date on a citation, I’m using the last day as the day for marking the award.  All products of the Reno-Benteen fight, and while they probably would be Bronze Stars with V or Silver Stars today – it still took notable courage to get out of your rifle pit, and attract attention to yourself getting water and bringing it to the wounded. Continue reading “Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 26 June”

Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 25 June

Medal of Honor recipient Henry Mechlin. Courtesy the CMOHS.
There are 29 Medals awarded for actions on this day, including 18 for 7th Cavalry troopers who had a slightly better day than Custer did, there in the Greasy Grass by the Little Big Horn.

Today is a very representative day for the Medal of Honor.  We have Medals awarded to take the sting out of failure, we have Medals awarded that are classics of the genre, and we have Medals awarded that would not be awarded under today’s criteria.  A little microcosm of the changes the Medal has gone through over the decades.

We start with the Civil War.  First up, the Battle of Oak Grove in 1862.  If you want to find something that will start a geek-fight, find some medieval Bishops and ask ’em how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, find some Army colonels and ask ’em to define strategic communications (is that *with* an ‘s’ or without?) or some other doctrinal term du jour, or ask a Virginia-based Civil War roundtable about whether or not the Battle of Oak Grove is, as conventionally portrayed, the opening battle of the Seven Days, or should it more properly be classified as the final battle of McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign?  Regardless, the fight stands ‘twixt the two, and for a named battle of the Civil War had a moderately low casualty count, with Union losses running at around 600 to all causes, with the Confederates about 450.  And it provided a chance for Private Dillon of the 2nd New Hampshire to shine while helping out some Gunners at Williamsburg and doing a little reconnaissance at Oak Grove. Continue reading “Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 25 June”

Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 24 June

Medal of Honor recipient James R. Church. Courtesy the CMOHS.
There are four Medals awarded for actions on this day.  We start with the Civil War:

First is St. Mary’s Church, the closing fight of the bigger campaign that included the battle at Trevilian Station.  There were two Medals for this fight, one for Colonel Smith of the First Maine, and one for Captain Henry Weir, Assistant Adjutant General of the Second Division.  I just finished a book-length analysis of the campaign, called Glory Enough for All, by Eric J. Wittenberg.  A very readable history of Sheridan’s second raid and it’s climax at Trevilian.  Not a dry classic history, this one is full of the words and spirit of the times.  From Wittenberg’s perspective, Sheridan’s reputation takes on some tarnish after his study of the campaign, and Wade Hampton’s star waxes ascendant.  Here’s Wittenberg’s description of Smith’s Medal action:

“Col. Charles H. Smith of the First Maine, a thirty-seven-year-old-school-teacher, was shot in the leg.  The same ball also killed his horse.  His men became demoralized and started falling back.  Despite the pain of his wound, Smith refused to leave the field.  Instead, he rallied his troopers, who in spite of the din of battle, called out three cheers for their injured commander.  The Maine men turned on the enemy and made a stand, the tide of battle flowing back and forth.  One of the Maine men wrote, “Up close to our works they come and after a few rounds are fired, muskets are clubbed, and savagely the conflict rages.”  They repulsed three attacks before finally being driven from the field by the ferocity of the Southern attack.  IN the closing moments of the fight, the Colonel lost a second horse shot out from under him.  Mounting an orderly’s horse, the injured Colonel rallied his troopers, preventing them from breaking and running.  Smith was the last member of the First Maine to leave the field, and he received a brevet to Brigadier General of Volunteers for his gallantry that day.  When Smith returned to duty, he received command of a brigade of cavalry that was specifically assembled for him.”

Continue reading “Today’s Medal of Honor Moment for 24 June”