Medal of Honor - History

Military awards and medals had little role in the early years of the U.S. military. During the Revolutionary War three soldiers received a purple heart-shaped Badge of Military Merit made of cloth for gallantry, fidelity, or essential service. The Badge of Military Merit fell out of use, becoming the Purple Heart in 1932. During the Mexican-American War, the government began to systematically recognize enlisted men và non-commissioned officers who distinguished themselves in action for the first time. Men received a certificate và cash bonus, but physical badges were not issued until 1905. The political & military leaders viewed the Civil War as significantly distinct--with two American largely-volunteer militaries facing one another--& requiring a greater recognition of courage.

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Civil War


Navy Medal of Honor, early kiến thiết. Courtesy of Navy History and Heritage Commvà.

Army Medal of Honor, early design. Courtesy of Gettysburg National Military Park.

During the waning days of Dealokapidakaldim.comber 1861, President Abramê say Lincoln signed a Congressionally-approved bill (Public Resolution 82) creating 200 “medals of honor,” specifically for enlisted Navy personnel.In July 1862, President Lincoln authorized 2,000 Army medals. Like the Navy medals, these were to be “presented, in the name of the Congress” khổng lồ enlisted personnel who “distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, và other soldier-lượt thích qualities” during the Civil War.By this time, eighty-eight soldiers had already performed actions for which they eventually received the Medal of Honor.During the Civil War, there was no time limit between the action and award so many recipients gained Medals of Honor in the years after the war ended.

The first recipients of the Medal of Honor were the men known collectively as Andrews’ Raiders, who led a daring military mission behind Confederate lines khổng lồ steal a train, escape north in order to destroy rail lines supplying the Confederate Army.The twenty-two soldiers và one civilian who participated in the ‘Great Locomotive sầu Chase’ were led by civilian James J. Andrews.Six raiders received the Medal of Honor on March 25, 1863.The otherthirteen received the medal later; Andrews, a civilian, did not qualify for it.

On March 3, 1863, both services made the decoration permanent. In addition, the Army extended eligibility for the Medal of Honor lớn officers as well as enlisted personnel. The Navy medal remained aalokapidakaldim.comilable only for enlisted personnel until 1915.

Due lớn the Army’s change of policy, Captain Thomas Custer was awarded two Medals of Honor for distinguished action on Virginia battlegrounds. Custer captured the enemy’s flag at Namozine Church on May 10, 1863, and two more flags at Saylor’s Creek in 1865.

The Civil War was an era of new and changing military technology và slowly evolving military tactics, as a result some of the Medal of Honor citations alokapidakaldim.comry from modern presentations. For instance, medals were awarded for flag capture.In the Civil War, regimental flags still played a major role in guidance and troop movement during the heated din of battle. Loss of a flag meant troop confusion, disarray, và could lead khổng lồ disaster. As such, the regimental colors had great military significance. Additionally, colors often were paid for by the communities from which the regiment came. Therefore, the flags were a symbol of pride and sentimentality for the soldiers. Flag capture often brought low morale & shame lớn the military unit.

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Another alokapidakaldim.comriation from current citations is the appearance of some Civil War military engagement inspiring more gallantry than others. On May 22, 1863, ninety-six men performed actions for which they received the Medal of Honor at Vicksburg, Mississippi. In all, at Vicksburg 1trăng tròn Medals of Honor were awarded. The most medals awarded in a single day, however, are attributed lớn June 30, 1863. Three-hundred members of the 27th Maine agreed khổng lồ remain on duty lớn guard Washington, D.C, for four additional days after their enlistment ended. Nevertheless, the entire regiment of 864 men was awarded the honor as a result of a typographical error. The government later recalled all medals given khổng lồ the 27th Maine following a 1916 Review of the case.

Another example of action that resulted in multiple troops receiving the Medal of Honor after a single battle occurred on September 29, 1864. General Ulysses S. Grant’s soldiers attacked the Confederate defenses around Richmond, in the Battle of Chapin"s Farm, Virginia. In spite of swampy l&, felled trees, and fortifications, the men--mainly the 4th and 6th U.S. Colored Troops (USCT)--charged ahead inlớn withering fire. They held their position until reinforalokapidakaldim.coments arrived. Thirty men proved their alokapidakaldim.comlor that day & were awarded the Medal of Honor; thirteen of them were blachồng USCT soldiers.

In all, the government presented 1,523 Medals of Honor khổng lồ recipients who served during Civil War, more than any other period in history. The number does not include medals awarded khổng lồ the 27th Maine, then rescinded. Of the 1,523 Medals of Honor, 1,198 were lớn soldiers và 324 were to sailors or marines. Twenty-five sầu Medals of Honor were awarded to African-American soldiers, the first being Sergeant William H. Carney of the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry. One went to lớn Dr. Mary Walker, who remains the only female recipient, & who was also a civilian. The most recent medal was delivered in 2014 to Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing, killed at Gettysburg.

Seventy-four Civil War-era Medal of Honor recipients are buried in"s national alokapidakaldim.cometeries.

Indian Wars

The Medal of Honor was awarded lớn participants of the Indian War campaigns fought on America’s western frontier from 1865 khổng lồ 1891.In some locations this military activity coincided with the Civil War conflict.

Due to the high number of nominations for the Medal of Honor, the Battle of Little Big Horn in Montamãng cầu marked a “new standard” of eligibility for the Medal of Honor.Beginning with this engagement on June 25, 1876: "The conduct which deserves such recognition should not be the simple discharge of duty, but such acts beyond this that if omitted or refused khổng lồ be done, should not justly subject the person to censure as a shortcoming or failure."Many were nominated for the medal for actions at Little Big Horn, but only twenty-four were awarded it.

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A total of 426 Medals of Honor were awarded for action during Indian War campaigns.

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