|Medal of Honor History
|What is the Medal of Honor?
What is the Medal of Honor?
Early in the American Civil War, a medal for individual valor was proposed to
General-in-Chief of the Army Winfield Scott. But Scott believed that medals "smacked of European affectation" and he killed
Public Resolution 82, containing a provision for a Navy medal of valor, was signed
into law by President Abraham Lincoln on December 21, 1861. The medal was "to be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen,
landsmen, and Marines as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry and other seamanlike qualities during the present
A similar resolution was introduced on behalf of the Army. Signed into law July 12,
1862, the measure provided for awarding a medal of honor "to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish
themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldierlike qualities, during the present insurrection."
Although it was created during the American Civil War, Congress made the Medal
of Honor a permanent decoration in 1863. Since the Medal's inception, more than 3,400 men and one woman have received
the award for heroic actions in the nation's battles.
The President, in the name of Congress, has awarded more than 3,400
Medals of Honor to our nation's bravest Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen since the decoration's creation
in 1861. For years, the citations highlighting these acts of bravery and heroism resided in dusty archives and only sporadically
were printed. In 1973, the U.S. Senate ordered the citations compiled and printed as Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S.
Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973). This book was later updated
and reprinted in 1979. The breakdown of these is a duplicate of that in the congressional compilation. Likewise, some minor
misspelling and other errors are duplicated from the official government volume. These likely were the result of the original
transcriptions. The following is an index of the full-text files by war.
Meet the Medal of Honor Recipients of the American Civil War
Meet the Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients
Medal of Honor Recipients by Demographics:
*Not included in "Complete List of American Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients"
Sources: United States Department of Defense; United States Department of Veterans Affairs; United States Army; Congressional
Medal of Honor Society; The Congressional Medal of Honor, published by Sharp and Dunnigan Publications; America's
Medal of Honor Recipients, Highland Publishers.
Recommended Reading: Medal of Honor:
Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty (Hardcover), by Peter Collier (Author), Nick Del Calzo (Photographer).
Description: First published on Veteran’s Day
2003 to glowing reviews (“Powerful”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer), energetic cross-country events,
and instant national bestseller status, Medal of Honor has now been revised, updated, and augmented into an even more
important and newsworthy second edition. New features include. Continued below.
DVD rich in historical footage and first-person reflections of these ultimate acts of courage
of 22 additional Medal recipients by National Book Award nominee Peter Collier
new portraits by award-winning photographer Nick Del Calzo
Introductory essay by Victor Davis Hanson, military history scholar and author of A War Like No Other, The Western Way of War, and The
Soul of Battle
The 116 living
Medal of Honor recipients fought in conflicts from World War II to Vietnam, serving in every branch of
the armed services, and here is their ultimate record—the only book sponsored and endorsed by the Congressional Medal
of Honor Foundation.
Since the Civil
War more than 39 million men and women have answered the call to serve. Of those, 3,440 served with such uncommon valor and
extraordinary courage that they were presented with the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award. Each of their
heroic actions is as unique as the recipient. Journey with more than one hundred of America's living Medal of Honor recipients as they are honored and as their bravery
is recounted by best-selling author Peter Collier. It is presented in duotone portraits by award-winning photographer Nick
Recommended Reading: Heroes: U.S.
Army Medal of Honor Recipients (Hardcover). Description: The honored few...From the bloody fields of the Civil War to the global conflicts of the modern age, here are
the stories of 100 Army Medal of Honor winners. Since its Revolution-era formation as the Continental Army, the United States
Army has earned a hard-won reputation for duty, courage, and brotherhood. But there are those whose exploits in combat have
set them apart, earning them the most sacred and honored citation there is-the Medal of Honor. Continued below...
From the killing
fields of the Civil War, through World Wars I and II, to the jungles of Vietnam and America's fight against terrorism around
the world, this comprehensive book features detailed information on 100 Army Corps Medal of Honor recipients-including many
lesser-known recipients-whose courage and sacrifice in the service of their country remain the foundations of the United States
Army. Their achievements are chronicled in this complete and compelling memorial of those who have earned the right to be
called "The Bravest of the Brave."
Recommended Reading: Ordinary Heroes:
A Tribute to Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients: Reflections of Freedom, Faith, Duty and the Heroic Possibilities of
the Everyday Human Spirit (Hardcover). Description: This collection of moving black-and-white photographs of recipients of the Medal of Honor shows not the glory of war,
but the underlying spirit and humanity of true heroism. Forty-eight portraits are combined with comments, observations, and
statements from the recipients of America's
highest military honor. Continued
of words and pictures of men who served in the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps is both humbling and poignant.
Their actions and lives vary as much as the conflicts (World War II, Korea, and Vietnam) and include a conscientious objector who never wielded
a weapon and a man known as the "Last Eagle," as he was the last World War II pilot to retire. Each recipient's full official
citation is included in the appendix.
Beyond Glory: Medal of Honor Heroes in Their Own Words. Description: This New York
Times best-selling account of battlefield courage celebrates the larger-than-life sacrifices of those awarded the nation's
highest honor for valor in combat. Exclusive interviews with these twenty-four men—firsthand accounts of battlefield
sacrifice from the greatest generation to Vietnam,
along with before-and-after stories—form the core of this classic work. Continued below.
The recipients represent a cross-section as diverse as America
itself—officers and enlisted men; African Americans, Hispanics, and Caucasians; men who went on to become famous (Daniel
Inouye, James Stockdale, Bob Kerrey) and others who returned proudly to small towns. Beyond Glory, in the voices of these
heroes, is a testament to the courage of the American nation. About the Author: Larry Smith is a veteran editor with the New York Times and Parade magazine, where he was managing editor.
Eddie Adams is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer.
Recommended Reading: Stealing the General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal
of Honor. Description:
"The Great Locomotive Chase has been the stuff of legend and the darling of Hollywood.
Now we have a solid history of the Andrews Raid. Russell S. Bonds’ stirring account makes clear why the raid failed
and what happened to the raiders."—James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
On April 12,
1862 -- one year to the day after Confederate guns opened on Fort Sumter -- a tall, mysterious smuggler and self-appointed
Union spy named James J. Andrews and nineteen infantry volunteers infiltrated north Georgia and stole a steam engine referred
to as the General. Racing northward at speeds approaching sixty miles an hour,
cutting telegraph lines and destroying track along the way, Andrews planned to open East Tennessee to the Union army, cutting
off men and materiel from the Confederate forces in Virginia. If they succeeded, Andrews and his raiders could change the
course of the war. But the General’s young conductor, William A. Fuller, chased the stolen train first on foot, then
by handcar, and finally aboard another engine, the Texas. He pursued the General until, running out of wood
and water, Andrews and his men abandoned the doomed locomotive, ending the adventure that would soon be famous as The Great
Locomotive Chase, but not the ordeal of the soldiers involved. In the days that followed, the "engine thieves" were hunted
down and captured. Eight were tried and executed as spies, including Andrews. Eight others made a daring escape to freedom,
including two assisted by a network of slaves and Union sympathizers. For their actions, before a personal audience with President
Abraham Lincoln, six of the raiders became the first men in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor -- the nation's
highest decoration for gallantry. Americans north and south, both at the time and ever since, have been astounded and fascinated
by this daring raid. Until now, there has not been a complete history of the entire episode and the fates of all those involved.
Based on eyewitness accounts, as well as correspondence, diaries, military records, newspaper reports, deposition testimony
and other primary sources, Stealing the General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor by Russell S. Bonds
is a blend of meticulous research and compelling narrative that is destined to become the definitive history of "the boldest
adventure of the war."