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Today's Medal of Honor Moment for 12 June

The Medal took a breather on this date in history.  Only two three awards - back to the Civil War and the second day's fighting at Trevilian Station. In 2011, PFC Henry Svehla was added to this day for his actions during the Korean War and took this from a deathless day to adding a posthumous award.. 


Rank and organization: Captain, Company F, 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Place and date: At Trevilian Station, Va., 12 June 1864. Entered service at: Philadelphia, Pa. Birth:------. Date of issue: 20 October 1899. Citation: Voluntarily carried a box of ammunition across an open space swept by the enemy's fire to the relief of an outpost whose ammunition had become almost exhausted, but which was thus enabled to hold its important position.

Captain Furness was a young man with a bright future as an architect ahead of him... 

Born on November 11, 1839, Frank Furness was the son of a prominent Philadelphia clergyman and abolitionist, William Henry Furness. Frank elected to take up the study of architecture, apprenticing in New York under the famed architect Richard Morris Hunt. Instead of doing what most of his peers did, twenty-two year old Frank Furness did not flee to Europe to avoid military service. Instead, he enlisted in Company I of the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry and was quickly commissioned lieutenant. After a successful stint as a staff officer, on January 11, 1864, he was promoted to captain and assigned to command Company F.

You can read the rest by clicking here, at


Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, 2d U.S. Artillery. Place and date: At Trevilian Station, Va., 12 June 1864. Entered service at: San Francisco, Calif. Birth: Norwich, Vt. Date of issue: 6 April 1892. Citation: Distinguished gallantry.

I think we need to expand on Lieutenant Williston's performance here.  He's a Norwich University alum, which is useful to us, as the University commissioned noted artist Dale Gallon to do a painting of the event.  Williston was to eventually rise to the rank of Brigadier General, and like Confederate General "Fightin' Joe Wheeler, would be one of those Civil War vets who fought in the Spanish American War, too.  From General Merritt's report on Trevilian Station (Merrit would be one of the people pushing to get Willison his Medal - note the award was not until 1892):

The enemy’s retreat finally became a rout, led horses, mounted men, and artillery all fled together in the wildest confusion. Williston, with his battery, took position nearby, and did elegant practice with his guns, planting shells in the midst of the confused masses of the retreating enemy. Trevilian Station was thus gained. In this retreat part of the enemy went toward Gordonsville, while fragments were driven off on the road to Louisa Court House. In their headlong career these latter came in contact with the First Brigade, which, being engaged toward its rear by the advance of Fitzhugh Lee’s division coming from Louisa Court House, was compelled to abandon some captures it had made from the led horses and trains of the force that was engaging the rest of the First Division, as above described. The brigade soon formed a junction and took position to the left rear of the Reserve Brigade. In the meanwhile, Fitz. Lee’s division advanced on the Louisa Court House road and took up a line on the left of the Reserve Brigade, his line being perpendicular to the last. The two parts of the line at this time formed a right angle, the Reserve Brigade occupying the right of the line, to the vortex of the angle, the Second Brigade, on its left, occupying part of the other line, and the First Brigade, with the Second Division, remained in echelon to the left rear, as above mentioned.

On the night of the 11th the enemy retired from our left front and took up position on the Gordonsville front.

About 3:00 p.m. on the 12th the brigade was ordered to attack the enemy’s left, while it was intended that the First Brigade should cooperate on its left, while the Second Brigade of the division was held in reserve. The brigade went into an open field to its right and attacked the enemy’s left flank vigorously. It was slow work, however, and as the enemy was not pressed on the left he concentrated his force on the brigade, and by large numbers and fresh troops, gave the command as much as it could attend to. Still both officers and men stood up to their work, doing manfully all that their former prowess would lead the most sanguine to expect, holding everything they had gained on the left, where the line was weakest, and driving the enemy on the right before them in expectation of a general advance. In thus advancing the right of the brigade was so swung round as to be exposed to the enemy’s attack on its wing. This he was not slow to take advantage of, when a squadron of the Second Cavalry, my only remaining mounted support to the battery, was thrown in to meet the attack. Here again the Second did nobly. Coming up on the right of the Sixth Pennsylvania, which up to that time had been the extreme right regiment in line, they charged gallantly, and, though few in numbers, by the impetuosity of their onslaught, drove the enemy back and protected the right until relieved by two regiments of the Second Brigade ( the Fourth and Sixth New York ). After these two regiments got in position this squadron of the Second was withdrawn to again act as support to the battery, which was ordered to advance, a good position having been gained on the right. Right gallantly did the battery come up in the midst of a heavy musketry fire, we being at that time so close to the enemy that their shells all flew over us. Planting three guns of the battery in this position, where it dealt the enemy heavy blows, Lieutenant Williston moved on of his brass 12-pounders onto the skirmish line. In fact, the line was moved to the front to allow him to get an eligible position, where he remained with his gun, in the face of the strengthened enemy ( who advanced to its very muzzle ), dealing death and destruction in their ranks with double loads of canister. It was now dark and I was ordered to retire the brigade, which was done slowly and leisurely, the enemy not advancing. This day the loss of the brigade was heavy for the numbers engaged. The general advance was not made.

I cannot speak too highly of the battery on this occasion. The light 12’s were magnificent. It has always been my good fortune while commanding the Reserve Brigade to have good batteries connected with it, and consequently our standard is high, but Williston and Dennison have always come up to our best expectations, if not exceeded them. At the fight of Cold Harbor, Dennison was inimitable, always in the right place; all orders found him anticipating almost what was intended, rushing his guns in position on the line of battle in the thickest of the fight. These two gallant officers can justly challenge a parallel to their conduct in the history of this war.
Emphasis in that last paragraph is mine.

Korea, during those days of seemingly endless stalemate in 1952.


Private First Class Henry Svehla distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Rifleman with F Company, 32d Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy in Pyongony, Korea, on 12 June 1952. That afternoon while Private First Class Svehla and his platoon were patrolling a strategic hill to determine enemy strength and positions, they were subjected to intense enemy automatic weapons and small arms fire at the top of the hill. Coming under the heavy fire, the platoon's attack began to falter. Realizing the success of the mission and the safety of the remaining troops were in peril, Private First Class Svehla leapt to his feet and charged the enemy positions, firing his weapon and throwing grenades as he advanced. In the face of this courage and determination, the platoon rallied to the attack with renewed vigor. Private First Class Svehla, utterly disregarding his own safety, destroyed enemy positions and inflicted heavy casualties, when suddenly fragments from a mortar round exploding nearby seriously wounded him in the face. Despite his wounds, Private First Class Svehla refused medical treatment and continued to lead the attack. When an enemy grenade landed among a group of his comrades, Private First Class Svehla, without hesitation and undoubtedly aware of the extreme danger, threw himself upon the grenade. During this action, Private First Class Svehla was mortally wounded. Private First Class Svehla's extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

*Asterisk indicates posthumous award.