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Image © 2001, Linda Fluharty & David Aeberli

     The U. S. Army Congressional Medal of Honor for distinguished service was approved by Resolution of Congress No. 43 on 12 July 1862. Initially reserved to enlisted men, this restriction was retroactively amended to include officers by Section 6 of the U. S. Congress on 3 March 1863. The Army medal differs from the Navy in its suspension from a spread eagle atop two crossed cannon and eight cannon balls. Two thousand medals were ordered to be struck in 1862 and 470 recipients during the Civil War are listed in the Official Records. The majority of the U. S. Army Congressional medals were awarded many years after the Civil War through recommendations of a former commander, by application of the soldier, or his family. The greatest percentage of a U. S. Army Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded in the 1890s and these recipients do not appear in the Official Records. The Medal of Honor of the United States Army published in 1948 by the Public Information Division of the Department of the Army includes a complete listing of Congressional Medals of Honor.



Rank and organization: Private, Company D, 1st West Virginia Cavalry. Place and date: At Nineveh, Va., 12 November 1864. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Cabell County, Va. Date of issue: 26 November 1864. Citation: Capture of State flag of 14th Virginia Cavalry (C.S.A.). [Born 26 Aug 1844; died 12 Mar 1922; Buried Oaklawn Memorial Park, Barboursville, Cabell County, West Virginia - Plot: Lot 160, Space 1]



Rank and organization: Corporal, Company I, 1st West Virginia Cavalry. Place and date: At Appomattox Station, Va., 8 April 1865. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Washington County, Pa. Date of issue: 3 May 1865. Citation: Capture of Confederate flag.[Born 12 Jul 1841; died 8 Sep 1912; buried Ten Mile Cemetery, Dunkard Rd., Washington County, Pennsylvania.]



Rank and organization: Lieutenant, Company H, 1st West Virginia Cavalry. Place and date: At Five Forks, Va., 1 April 1865. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Bristol, Pa. Date of issue: 23 October 1897. Citation: At a critical stage of the battle, without orders, led a successful advance upon the enemy. [Born 15 July 1841; died 16 July 1905; buried Cedar Grove Cemetery, Dorchester, Massachusetts.]

From Deeds of Valor:
     At the battle of Five Forks, Va., April 1, 1865, Lieutenant Wilmon W. Blackmar, of Company H, First West Virginia Cavalry was brigade provost-marshal on the staff of General Capehart, commander of the Third Brigade of General Custer's Cavalry Division. General Capehart's Brigade had been ordered to join in the general charge and follow what seemed to be the main body of the Confederates. The order was carried out. Presently Lieutenant Blackmar saw the flankers being driven in and riding to their assistance made the startling discovery that the brigade was in pursuit of a small detachment only, the main body of the enemy being posted in another direction. He also observed that the enemy were about to take advantage of the mistake and by a bold move push their troops between the cavalry and infantry in the Union line of battle. He rode rapidly after and overtook his brigade commander, hastily told what he had discovered and was ordered to ride back at once and form the brigade in line of battle (facing the enemy's position) as rapidly as it should be turned back to him. He formed a new line of battle on the edge of a deep ditch facing in the new direction. The situation was highly critical, and no one realized the danger more keenly than Lieutenant Blackmar. He had no authority to give orders to advance, nevertheless he assumed the responsibility, not waiting for the arrival of the larger portion of the brigade now moving rapidly toward the new line, and with the brigade colors and that portion of the brigade which had arrived, he ordered a charge, jumped the ditch and a most brilliant and impetuous charge was thus begun. The charge was made so irresistibly that the Confederates fled in great confusion; the brigade pursued for more than five miles, picking, up prisoners, cannon, wagons and ambulances from the utterly demoralized enemy.
     General George A. Custer, happened to be an eye-witness of this incident and riding to Lieutenant Blackmar's side he laid his hand on his shoulder and called him captain, at the same time joining in the charge. Recommendations from Generals Custer and Capehart promptly brought Lieutenant Blackmar commission as captain of cavalry.



Rank and organization: Captain, Company B, 1st West Virginia Cavalry. Place and date: At Sailors Creek, Va., 6 April 1865. Entered service at:------. Born: 28 July 1831, Washington, Pa. Date of issue: 3 May 1865. Citation: Capture of flag. [Died 14 Jan 1908; buried Washington Cemetery, Washington County, Pennsylvania.]

From Deeds of Valor:
     "See the Johnnies down there!" "Why doesn't the bugle sound the 'Charge'?" "You'll hear it soon enough." These were some of the remarks passed along the line as Custer's men stood 'to horse' at Sayler's Creek on the morning of April 6, 1865, and saw the enemy throw up breastworks of logs, rails and earth.
     "Boys, you'll hear that bugle soon enough," said Captain Hugh P. Boon, of Company B, First West Virginia Cavalry, and soon the command came: "Mount, right dress, forward march."
     "When about 400 yards from the enemy's position," says Captain Boon, "the bugle sounded the charge, and away we went. When our line had reached the enemy's works I saw a battalion of their infantry a short distance to the right, and my command being on the extreme right I wheeled it out of line and charged the rebels. In the clash that followed I cut down the color-bearer and captured the colors of the Tenth Georgia Infantry; but I admit I felt scared when I realized what I had done. Had I failed in checking and routing this rebel battalion I should, in all probability, have been cashiered and dishonorably dismissed the service for leaving the line of battle.
     "But my action had been witnessed by one of the superior officers, who judged that I had acted correctly."



Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company C, 1st West Virginia Cavalry. Place and date: At Charlottesville, Va., 5 March 1865. Entered service at: Wirt Courthouse, W. Va. Birth: Monroe County, Ohio. Date of issue: 26 March 1865. Citation: Capture of flag. [Born 15 Jun 1830; died 5 July 1914; buried Parkersburg Memorial Gardens, Parkersburg, Wood County, West Virginia.]



Rank and organization: Major, 1st West Virginia Cavalry. Place and date: At Monterey Mountain, Pa., 4 July 1863. Entered service at: Washington, D.C. Born: 1883, Conemaugh Township, Cambria County, Pa. Date of issue: 7 April 1898. Citation: While commanding the regiment, charged down the mountain side at midnight, in a heavy rain, upon the enemy's fleeing wagon train. Many wagons were captured and destroyed and many prisoners taken. [Born 1833; died 11 Jul 1911; buried Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.]



Rank and organization: Colonel, 1st West Virginia Cavalry. Place and date: At Greenbrier River, W. Va., 22 May 1864. Entered service at: Bridgeport, Ohio. Born: 18 March 1825, Johnstown, Cambria County, Pa. Date of issue: 12 February 1895. Citation: Saved, under fire, the life of a drowning soldier. [Born 18 Mar 1825; died 15 Apr 1895; buried Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.]

From Deeds of Valor:
     While part of Sheridan's cavalry was being thrown across the Greenbriar River, Va., May 22, 1864, Colonel Henry Capehart, of the First West Virginia Cavalry, performed a most daring rescue.
     The enemy's sharpshooters were menacing the passage of the army, and, with a view to dislodging these sharpshooters, the command forded the river just above the falls.
     Being an expert rider, and having a mount well-known in the army for its swimming qualities, Colonel Capehart, whenever a fording was to be made, invariably took up a station some hundred yards below the proposed crossing, his experience being that on such occasions both men and horses frequently lost their heads, thus causing the loss of life, and on more than one occasion his foresight in taking up this position enabled him to help many an unlucky rider.
     A few moments after a platoon of Troop B had entered the water, one of the men, Private Watson Karr, was swept out of his saddle and down the swift stream. What followed is told by Colonel Capehart:
     "When I started, I did not know that the falls were so near, until I saw Karr disappear over them. Being in the swift current, in the midst of a swollen river, I had only to clutch my mare by the mane with the left hand and the pommel of the saddle with my right, when we also took the plunge - and oh, such a dive! I thought I should never reach the surface again; when I did I had only time for a breath or two before the second plunge. Either this was not so great a fall as the first or I was becoming accustomed to deep diving; at any rate I did not mind it so much as the first.
     "When I came up the second time I found I was close to Karr and also that Minie balls were uncomfortably numerous. I reached out and grasped him, drew him across my mare's neck, and turned her head towards the south shore. The north bank was quite near to us, but so rocky and precipitous, with a heavy current fretting against us, that I had no alternative but to swim my mare to the south side. Fortunately, I struck a bar and drew my man along until we stood upon firm ground, where we were a little under cover from the enemy's fire and could take a much needed rest. After vomiting a great quantity of water Karr regained consciousness. When I asked him some questions, however, he was not able to reply and could not speak. After a few minutes I remarked: 'Watty, you have lost your hat.' He slapped his hands down upon his trousers. 'Yes,' he said, 'and my pocket book, too.' He had recovered his power of speech."



Rank and organization: First Sergeant, Company H, 1st West Virginia Cavalry. Place and date: At Sailors Creek, Va., 6 April 1865. Entered service at: Springfield, Pa. Birth: Somerset County, Pa. Date of issue: 3 May 1865. Citation: Capture of battle flag of 12th Virginia Infantry (C.S.A.) in hand-to-hand battle while wounded. [Born 12 Dec 1837; died 11 May 1919; buried Sugar Grove Cemetery, Ohiopyle, Fayette County, Pennsylvania.]

From Deeds of Valor:
     "For six days we had been pounding at the rebels and for six days they had been pounding at us," says Sergeant Francis Marion Cunningham of Co. H, First West Virginia Cavalry. "In fact, the pounding seemed to be one of the most popular pastimes. It was on the afternoon of April 6th that we again came up with them in a strong position on the thickly wooded banks of Sailor's Creek. They were behind rude fortifications and the thick growth of underbrush kept their numbers concealed from us. We didn't know how many rebels there were in those ditches until we charged. Then we got the information in the most convincing manner all along our line. I was one the men lowered to terra firma swiftly, my fine black charger being killed under me. We were repulsed, and as we fell back over logs and inter-leaving vines, the rebel volleys continued thinning out the ranks. Men and beasts were floundering together in the dense thicket.
     "I groped about with my eyes blinded with the smoke and fortunately bumped squarely into a phlegmatic mule with a Confederate saddle on. He was taking in the scenery in the most nonchalant manner and modifying the ennui of the situation by actually grazing there in that screaming pandemonium of exploding shells.
     "His saddle was slippery with the life-blood of some luckless 'reb' who had fallen beneath one of our scattering volleys. There wasn't much time to talk the thing over with the mule. I mounted him and hurried back through the woods to the clearing where our forces were rallying.
     "In going back through the woods I made several observations pertinent to the disposition and qualifications of that mule. Of all his shining attainments two stood out as conspicuously as his ears. He could run very fast and I think he must have broken his own record while I rode him.
     He could jump like a steeplechaser and he seemed rather to prefer taking a four-foot stump to passing around it.
     "Just as I reached the rallying troops the bugle sounded 'Charge' again and back we went at those breastworks over stumps and through drooping branches. It took my mule just about four jumps to show that in an obstacle race he could outclass all others. He laid back his ears and frisked over logs and flattened out like a jackrabbit, when he had a chance to sprint. Soon I was ahead, far ahead of the rest of the boys. That mule never even stopped when he came to the breastworks. He switched his tail and sailed right over among the rebs, landing near a rebel color-bearer of the Twelfth Virginia Infantry.
     "About all that I can remember of what followed was that the mule and I went after him. The color-bearer was a big brawny chap and he put up a game fight. But that mule had some new side steps and posterior upper-cuts that put the reb put of the game.
     "A sabre slash across the right arm made him drop his colors and I grabbed them before they touched the ground."
     The foregoing incident, humorously told by Sergeant Cunningham, was witnessed by General Custer, who was so delighted with the plucky cavalryman's valorous deed that he at once placed him on his staff, and later recommended him for the Medal of Honor. During his encounter with the color-bearer, Sergeant Cunningham was severely dealt with by rebels in the immediate vicinity, who succeeded in wounding him twice before he captured the rebel colors.



Rank and organization: Commissary Sergeant, 1st West Virginia Cavalry. Place and date: At Sailors Creek, Va., 6 April 1865. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Clymer, N.Y. Date of issue: 3 May 1865. Citation: Capture of flag. [Born 29 Sep 1835; died 18 Feb 1918; buried Abilene Cemetery, Abilene, Kansas.]



Rank and organization: Private, Company K, 1st West Virginia Cavalry. Place and date: Winter of 1864_65. Entered service at: Pittsburgh, Pa. Born: 6 March 1845, Philadelphia, Pa., Date of issue: 3 March 1873. Citation: Was 1 of 2 men who succeeded in getting through the enemy's lines with dispatches to Gen. Grant. See Secrets of a Union Spy. [Born 6 Mar 1845; died 15 Dec 1913; buried Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania - Plot: Section 23, Lot 62.]

From Deeds of Valor:


The thrilling adventures of two of General Sheridan's scouts form an interesting chapter of the episodes of the War of the Rebellion. One of the scouts was Joseph E. McCabe, a sergeant in the Seventeenth Pennsylvania Cavalry; the other, Archibald H. Rowand, a private in Company K, First West Virginia Cavalry, the former being the general's chief scout.
     Among the many achievements of these two men, the capture of the Confederate general, Harry Gilmor, and staff was the most brilliant and consequential. The occurrence dates at the time when General Sheridan had his headquarters at Winchester during the winter of 1864. It was Rowand who first got onto the trail of the Confederate general, who in a mansion near Moorefield, W. Va., was nursing his wounds received at the battle of Winchester. He imparted his information to General Sheridan, who at once formulated plans for the capture of the wounded commander. The task was entrusted to McCabe, chief scout, Major Henry H. Young with a detachment thirty cavalrymen, and Rowand, who acted as guide. After a ride of forty miles the party - all dressed as Confederates - reached the general's place of abode at daybreak. Approaching the house cautiously, Rowand went ahead, overpowered the sentinel and made him prisoner. McCabe and Major Young followed and demanded the surrender of the general and his staff. Resistance being out of question the order was readily complied with, and thus the two daring scouts were able to report the complete success of their mission to General Sheridan and turn over to him the Confederate commander.
     McCabe was the leading scout in still another important capture -that of General Rufus Barringer.
     It was on the morning of April 6, 1865, when McCabe and five companions, all attired in Confederate uniforms, were riding along on their way to Danville, Va. Presently they met a group of four Confederates, whom they halted and engaged in conversation. The Confederates said they belonged to a North Carolina brigade, and McCabe and his comrades pretended to be men of the Ninth Virginia. They rode along together till they were joined by a Confederate officer of apparent high rank. He revealed himself during the course of the conversation as General Barringer. McCabe drew from the unwary rebels much valuable information, when, without any previous warning, he presently informed the general and his men of his identity and demanded their surrender. His determined attitude completely nonplused the Confederates, who were too greatly surprised to make even a show of resistance. Only one rebel escaped. For this clever capture of General Barringer McCabe was awarded the Medal of Honor.
     Rowand's other great feat was the delivery of a message from General Sheridan to General Grant in 1865.
     Sheridan had been ordered to pass around to the west of Richmond and effect a junction with Sherman in North Carolina, but owing to heavy rains and swollen streams he had been delayed until the Confederates had time to throw a heavy force in his front and prevent his advance, a fact of which it was important that Grant should be notified. Rowand and his comrade, James A. Campbell, volunteered to deliver the message, and shortly thereafter, dressed as Confederates, they each received a copy of the message written on tissue paper, and tightly rolled in the form of a small pellet inclosed in tin foil. Their orders were to deliver the message, but in case of capture to swallow the pellets before giving them up to the enemy.
     The journey began on horseback and for forty-eight hours they were in the saddle, during which time they entered the Confederate lines and were within eight miles of Richmond. They met and conversed with a chief of Confederate scouts and were within five miles of the James River when some of the scouts of the enemy recognized them and gave chase. Rowand and Campbell put the spurs W their horses and reached the river ahead of their pursuers. Here they abandoned the horses and plunging into the river seized a floating skiff and with their hands paddled so rapidly, going diagonally with the current, that they reached the opposite shore just as the enemy reached the south bank. The fugitives were ordered to halt and shots were sent after them, but it only stimulated Rowand and his comrade to greater exertions. And so, with the enemy coming behind, the two made a run, afoot, of about ten miles, when they reached the Union lines.
     The lieutenant in charge of the picket refused to accept their statement that they were messengers from Sheridan and was inclined to treat them as spies. Finally, however, he consented to take his prisoners to the Colonel, who at once forwarded them under escort, to Grant's headquarters. While sitting at Grant's desk waiting for the general to appear, they both fell asleep - the first time in over two days. Grant coming in, awakened Rowand by tapping him on the shoulder, and after receiving and reading the dispatches ordered that every attention be paid to the two young soldiers.



Rank and organization: Chief Bugler, Company M, 1st West Virginia Cavalry. Place and date: At Appomattox, Va., 8 April 1865. Entered service at: Mason City, W. Va. Birth: Germany. Date of issue: 3 May 1865. Citation: Capture of flag of the Sumter Flying Artillery (C.S.A.). [Born 1 May 1842; died 25 Mar 1915; buried Sacred Heart Cemetery, Pomeroy, Meigs County, Ohio.]



Rank and organization: Corporal, Company A, 1st West Virginia Cavalry. Place and date: At Sailors Creek, Va., 6 April 1865. Entered service at:------. Birth: Preston County, W. Va. Date of issue: 3 May 1865. Citation: Capture of flag of 76th Georgia Infantry (C.S.A.). [Born 14 Aug 1843; died 17 Nov 1919; buried Masonic Cemetery, Elma, Grays Harbor County, Washington.]



Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company A, 1st West Virginia Cavalry. Place and date: At Nineveh, Va., 12 November 1864. Entered service at:------. Birth: Monongalia County, W. Va. Date of issue: 26 November 1864. Citation: Capture of flag of 22d Virginia Cavalry (C.S.A.). [Born 1840; died 1917; buried East Oak Grove Cemetery, Morgantown, Monongalia County, West Virginia.]



Rank and organization: Private, Company K, 1st Virginia Cavalry. Place and date: At Sailors Creek, Va., 6 April 1865. Entered service at: ------. Birth: Ohio County, W. Va. Date of issue: 3 May 1865. Citation: Capture of flag of 18th Florida Infantry (C.S.A.). [Born 1847; died 10 Aug 1894; buried Greenwood Cemetery, Wheeling, Ohio County, West Virginia]



Online list, originally compiled and printed as Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1963-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973). This book was later updated and reprinted in 1979.

Deeds of Valor, How America's Civil War Heroes Won The Congressional Medal of Honor. Edited by W. F. Beyer and O. F. Keydel, 1903.