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Today's Medal of Honor Moment for 27 June

As per usual, we open with the Civil War.

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 1892.  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.
Don't forget to note young George Sidman!


Rank and organization: Brigadier General, U.S. Volunteers. Place and date: At Gaines Mill, Va., 27 June 1862. Entered service at: Washington, D.C. Born: 31 October 1831, Utica, N.Y. Date of issue: 26 September 1892. Citation: Seized the colors of the 83d Pennsylvania Volunteers at a critical moment and, under a galling fire of the enemy, encouraged the depleted ranks to renewed exertion.


Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, Company G, 27th New York Infantry; and Captain, Company F, 121st New York Infantry. Place and date. At Gaines Mill, Va., 27 June 1862. At Rappallannock Station, Va., 7 November 1863. Entered service at: New York. Birth: New York. Date of issue: 17 August 1891. Citation: Although wounded at Gaines Mill, Va., he remained on duty and participated in the battle with his company. At Rappahannock Station, Va., while acting as aide, rendered gallant and prompt assistance in reforming the regiments inside the enemy's works.


Rank and organization: Corporal, Company I, 1st New Jersey Infantry. Place and date: At Gaines Mill, Va., 27 June 1862. Entered service at:------. Birth: Warren County, N.J. Date of issue: 9 July 1892. Citation: Voluntarily carried a wounded comrade, under heavy fire, to a place of safety; though twice wounded in the act, he continued in action until again severely wounded.


Rank and organization: Corporal, Company C, 16th New York Infantry. Place and date: At Gaines Mill, Va., 27 June 1862. Entered service at: Plattsburg, N.Y. Born. 8 January 1843, Chazy, Clinton County, N.Y. Date of issue: 3 March 1891. Citation: Voluntarily took up the regimental colors after several color bearers had been shot down and carried them until himself wounded.


Rank and organization: Private, Company C, 16th Michigan Infantry. Place and date: At Gaines Mill, Va., 27 June 1862. Entered service at: Owosso, Mich. Born: 25 November 1844, Rochester, N.Y. Date of issue: 6 April 1892. Citation: Distinguished bravery in battle. Rallied his comrades to charge vastly superior force until wounded in the hip. He was a 16_year_old drummer.


Rank and organization: Major and Aide_de_Camp, U.S. Volunteers. Place and date: At Gaines Mill, Va., 27 June 1862. Entered service at: New York, N.Y. Birth: Sweden. Date of issue: 23 August 1893. Citation: While voluntarily serving as aide_de_camp, successfully and advantageously charged the position of troops under fire.


Rank and organization: Quartermaster Sergeant, 1st Battalion, 14th U.S. Infantry. Place and date: At Gaines Mill, Va., 27 June 1862. Entered service at:------. Birth: England. Date of issue: 28 August 1897. Citation: While on duty with the wagon train as quartermaster sergeant he voluntarily left his place of safety in the rear, joined a company, and fought with distinguished gallantry through the action.

Seven Days, 1862


Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company E, 2d U.S. Artillery. Place and date: At Richmond, Va., 27 June 1862. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Germany. Date of issue: 2 April 1878. Citation: Gallant and meritorious service during the 7 days' battles before Richmond, Va.

Shelbyville, Tennessee, 1863.  A battle fought during the Tullahoma Campaign, when Union General Rosecrans and the Army of the Cumberland forced Confederate General Bragg's Army of the Tennessee to withdraw from Tennessee, losing as it did so a prime agricultural resource area.  The Tullahoma Campaign is notable because it was mostly a campaign of maneuver, with very little fighting, Rosecrans being able to continually flank Bragg, requiring Bragg to retreat to secure his rear. 


Rank and organization: Major, 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Place and date: At Shelbyville, Tenn., 27 June 1863. Entered service at: Harrisburg, Pa. Born: 15 August 1830, Harrisburg, Pa. Date of issue: 14 June 1894. Citation: Led one of the most desperate and successful charges of the war.

Led one of the most desperate and successful charges of the war up ot the muzzles of an artillery battery, and that down a narrow street, too.  The 7th Pennsylvania's Regimental History describes the battle thusly:

"On the 24th, General Rosecrans commenced his advance on Tullahoma and Shelbyville. The cavalry, under General Stanley, moved on the right flank of the army. On the morning of the 27th, Colonel Minty was ordered to charge and carry Guy's Gap, on the Murfreesboro Pike. With the Fourth Michigan Cavalry leading the advance, and the First Division supporting the flanks, he moved rapidly on through the gap, driving the rebels towards Shelbyville, and making captures on every hand. Arrived within five miles of the town, the enemy opened with artillery from his intrenchments. Colonel Minty promptly deployed the Fourth Michigan, and Fourth United States, as skirmishers, mounted, and held the Seventh in column. The advance was sounded, when, from some cause, the men commenced cheering, the skirmish line charged, and Colonel Minty, taking advantage of the favorable moment, ordered the Seventh to charge also.

Dashing forward with wild shouts, the intrenchments were stormed and taken, with many prisoners, and, nerved by their success, pushed on after the flying foe. A mile from town a rebel regiment was hemmed in, in an open field, and captured, offering little resistance. As the troops advanced towards the town, they were suddenly checked by the rapid fire from a battery of six pieces, posted in the public square.

Colonel Minty at once brought up two pieces of artillery, and, directing the Fourth United States and the Fourth Michigan to take a parallel street to the right, Colonel Jordan, with the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry, of the First Division, the first street to the left, and three companies of the Seventh, under Captain Davis, to take the centre, the signal to charge was given. The Seventh was obliged to move in the face of the rebel guns, which were trained full upon it, and were served with great rapidity, at first dealing shot and shell, and then double shotted canister. But, unmindful of the storm, Davis dashed up the narrow street, filling it from curb to curb, the shouts of the men ringing above the noise of battle. As they came near, they were saluted by a shower of bullets from the rifles and pistols of the enemy. A short run brought the column hand to hand with the hostile force, and a brief struggle ensued over the guns; but the slash of the sabre, and the rapid rounds from pistols and carbines proved too much for rebel valor. He was driven in confusion, and the powerful battery was captured, as few have been, by a direct charge of cavalry.

After the loss of his artillery, a panic seemed to seize the enemy, and he fled in consternation to the bank of Duck River, a mile away, where he attempted to form a line to cover the passage of his trains. But it was a vain attempt. Charge after charge was delivered with an impetuosity inspired of success, and, finally, a wagon having been overturned upon the bridge, in wild affright the rebels broke, and threw themselves by hundreds into the river, where large numbers were drowned.

Shelbyville, with all its military stores, fell into Union hands, and a powerful impetus was given to the retreat of the entire rebel army. Wheeler's boasted cavalry was broken, and never afterwards recovered from the blow. Lieutenants Amos B. Rhoades, and Francis W. Reed were among the killed in this engagement. "

Kennesaw Mountain, 1864.  What's missing from the citation is that Fife Major Webber borrowed his regimental commander's Henry Rifle.  That's a tough musician.


Rank and organization: Musician, 86th Illinois Infantry. Place and date: At Kenesaw Mountain, Ga., 27 June 1864. Entered service at: Illinois. Birth: Greene County, N.Y. Date of issue: 22 June 1896. Citation: Voluntarily joined in a charge against the enemy, which was repulsed, and by his rapid firing in the face of the enemy enabled many of the wounded to return to the Federal lines; with others, held the advance of the enemy while temporary works were being constructed.

Interim Awards, 1871-1898.  Another Medal that today would be a Navy and Marine Corps medal for non-combat heroism.


Rank and organization: Seaman, U.S. Navy. Biography not available. Citation: For rescuing a man from drowning at Mare Island, Calif., 27 June 1878.


Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company C, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division. Place and date: Binh Duong Province, Republic of Vietnam, 27 June 1969. Entered service at: Jacksonville, Fla. Born: 30 November 1947, Lagrange, Ga. Citation: S/Sgt. Bowen distinguished himself while serving as a platoon sergeant during combat operations in Binh Duong Province, Republic of Vietnam. S/Sgt. Bowen's platoon was advancing on a reconnaissance mission into enemy controlled terrain when it came under the withering crossfire of small arms and grenades from an enemy ambush force. S/Sgt. Bowen placed heavy suppressive fire on the enemy positions and ordered his men to fall back. As the platoon was moving back, an enemy grenade was thrown amid S/Sgt. Bowen and 3 of his men. Sensing the danger to his comrades, S/Sgt. Bowen shouted a warning to his men and hurled himself on the grenade, absorbing the explosion with his body while saving the lives of his fellow soldiers. S/Sgt. Bowen's extraordinary courage and concern for his men at the cost of his life served as an inspiration to his comrades and are in the highest traditions of the military service and the U.S. Army.


Based on these dates...(and maybe my math is a little fuzzy) But, wouldn't he have been 18 at the time of the battle, not 16? Maybe 16 when we joined up. (emphasis mine)

Rank and organization: Private, Company C, 16th Michigan Infantry. Place and date: At Gaines Mill, Va., 27 June 1862. Entered service at: Owosso, Mich. Born: 25 November 1844, Rochester, N.Y. Date of issue: 6 April 1892. Citation: Distinguished bravery in battle. Rallied his comrades to charge vastly superior force until wounded in the hip. He was a 16_year_old drummer.
Good catch.

Of course, it could also have been a case of fibbing about his age in order to enlist, like great-grandpa on my Dad's side did. Little rapscallion turned fifteen two days before he drummed at Shiloh.
Vitae - aside from what Bill said, the data comes from the only official US source (the Senate records) on the Medal - and the repository for that data has a disclaimer on it about the inaccuracies, especially in the pre Span-Am War citations that are beyond checking (or no one wants to spend the time trying to track it down).  Truth to tell, I didn't even do the math - but I'm gratified to know *someone* reads this stuff!  I'll poke around, there might be a story that goes with it that I can add to the post.
Okay - while no date of birth is given, it's strongly suggested that he was born late in 1844 and he enlisted at the beginning of the war in 1861, and the reason he was enlisted as a drummer is because of his age.

So, while everybody is correct, the cite as listed in the book is a touch misleading.
"and by his rapid firing".
Well, if the offical certificate mentioned an ordinary soldier using the repeating Henry to an effect good enough to win him a Medal of Honor, the powers that be might have to reconsider the idea that soldiers with repeating rifles would only waste ammo. Better to leave that part out of it and make your ordinary soldiers think the rapid fire was with a springfield muzzle-loading musket. That'll make them practice with motivation!

Well, Windy - seeing as how he didn't get the award until 1892, the question had been settled... oh, wait.  The Ghost of Ripley didn't die until the adoption of the M16.

Never mind.