Canadian Medal of
Life's complications have yet again resulted in a few day delay. The Sunday blog ought to be posted for Wednesday night... if not earlier.
Sixty three years ago this week the United States Senate passed a bill authorizing the President to award a medal to four very rare men.
The medal was almost as rare. It was the Congressional Gold Medal and the senate directive to the Treasury Department said they could spend up to $3,500 to strike four medals, send them off to President Eisenhower and he, or his delegate had the authority to present these to the four rarest of rare war veterans.
They were the only ones left. Of the 2,213,000 men (and women) who fought on the Union side, there was only one left. And three from the Confederate side. And its safe to say the Confederates were very rarely awarded medals by the US Congress.
The three inch circular medals of gold authorized by the 18 July 1956 bill contained images, as shown above, of Generals US Grant and Robert E Lee. On the reverse are shown the Union seal at left and Confederate seal on right.
The inscription reads... "presented with honor to the surviving veterans of the War between the States, by Act of Congress, United States of America."
The medals were supposed to be presented to Albert Woolson, a Union soldier from Minnesota, and Confederates William Lundy of Florida, John Salling of Virginia, and Walter Williams of Texas.
Out of several million who served these four were said to be the very last of the last Civil War veterans.
A few months before the end of the war Albert Woolson signed up with the First Minnesota Volunteer Heavy Artillery as a musician. His father was so employed with the unit till killed a few years earlier. His mother finally gave in to his hounding and allowed Albert to take his father's place in the same unit as a 17 yr old drummer boy. Six months later, and after no front line action, he was released at war's end.
Albert spent many active years with the Grand Army of the Republic, and at age 107 was still known to pull out his snare drum to play a few beats. He appears above shortly before death in a hospital bed while his nurse lit his latest cigar. At left a few years earlier he appears, at left, proudly wearing his GAR membership badge. It looks very much like a Medal of Honor, a matter commented on in this space in past blogs.
Just a few weeks after the July announcement of the medal being made, Albert passed away. None of the 4 medals were yet presented and, as being a survivor was mandatory, only three were later awarded... all to Confederate veterans. At death Albert was still serving in the GAR and was in fact its Snr Vice Commodant in Chief. As its last member to pass away, the powerful organization, once numbering over 400,000, was then closed down.
President Eisenhower's birthday wishes to Albert were joined, as in many of his last years, by cards of best wished from thousands.
The President, Vice President Nixon and some 3,000 attended at the famous Cemetery Hill at Gettysburg about a month after Albert's death to witness the Sons of the Union Veterans as they unveiled this, larger than life depiction of him, as an old veteran, sitting on a tree stump and staring off in the direction of the famous on coming Pickett's brigade some nine decades earlier. The monument is not only a trbute to Albert but to all union veterans and their historic Grand Army of the Republic.
This picture of the three Confederate survivors was taken in 1951.
On 5 October 1956 General Twining, the Air Force Chief of Staff at Washington DC presented 108 yr old Willam Lundy with his Congressional Gold Medal in Florida. Lundy passed away a year later. He is believed to be the vet on the left in above picture.
Almost a month later, on 1 November Secretary of the Army Hugh Milton presented John Salling, 110 yrs old, with his medal, and the day after, presented the medal to Walter Williams who was 114 at the time.
Salling is belived to me in the center in above picture, and died in March of 1959. Williams, belived to be on the right, died a week before Christmas in 1959..in his 118th year of life.
He was the last of over 4 million who served in the Civil War!
hope to see you next week
There once was a time when bread was such an important commodity that laws were passed to ensure the baker gave you just what he was supposed to. In other words... he'd better not short you on the total weight and ingredients in what you were buying.
In the early days of Egypt a baker selling you a bill of goods that were not quite up to snuff could get his ear pinned to the wall of his shop. If the baker in Babylon cheated you and got caught, he could get his hand chopped off. In Britain it would take several centuries before tough rules for the bakery profession were slackened.
In order to make sure the baker did not goof up in his or her preparations of the day, many simply decided that more was better than less. Instead of just giving you the dozen ordered, he'd throw in an extra just for safety (his own). And thus, so say some, came the term... the bakers dozen.
Well folks, today I am going to share with you my list of the first bakers dozen of 13 Victoria Crosses being awarded to Canadians, or those with connections to Canada.
And the list will be without sleight of hand. Pardon the pun. hehe.
The idea came to me as a result of recent news with regards to the RCMP doing special sentry duty at Ottawa's Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers/National War Memorial, outside of the Parliament buildings. (shown above)
Back in 2006 some buffoon decided the memorial was fit to urinate on. Since then the summer months have found the memorial under the watchful eyes of volunteer military sentries during daytime hours for the summer months, and recently expanded till Remembrance Day.
The press release by Canadian Press and many others noted that the Mounties have performed this sentry duty on July 5th for years. This is a special day for them, and all Canadians, as it was on that day, 115 years ago that a member of the North West Mounted Police, saved a wounded man from heavy fire in the Boer War and was later awarded the Victoria Cross.
That man was a fellow called Arthur Richardson. He was born at Southport England, but moved to Canada in his youth. He signed up with the NWMP and served several years but asked for a leave to join the military for service in the Boer War. Granted leave, he joined the Strathcona Horse and on 5 July 1900 he rode out under severe enemy fire to rescue another soldier who had his horse shot out from under him and was also under heavy fire. The bravery was recognized by the awarding of the Victoria Cross on 14 September 1900.
Sgt Richardson is shown in all three photo's above. The first probably with the Lord Strathcona's pre July 1900, the center image after his receiving the VC worn in the picture and the third whilst later back with the NWMP.
The Canadian Press (CP) news release dated 3 July told of the RCMP's sentry duties being performed on the 5th. It also had the curious statement that... "Richardson was the first member of the Canadian Armed Forces to be awarded the prize, which is reserved for officers who served the crown in the presence of the enemy."
Regular readers of my blogs know how I and many others feel about any reference to an award that trivilizes it. The Victoria Cross is the most widely known and recognized medal of bravery in the world. IT IS NOT A PRIZE. Prizes come from winning in tiddlywinks.
Further, the CP ought to surely know that the VC is NOT RESERVED FOR OFFICERS, but can be awarded to any man or woman, regarless of rank.
And had CP done some research, it would have also come to the conclusion that there have been several awards for actions NOT IN THE FACE of the enemy.
Past blogs have told that when speaking of the first awards, there are at least three ways to look at the matter. Each produces a separate list. First there is the date of the action resulting in the award. Second is the date the subsequent award is approved and made public, and the third is of course the date in which it is actually presented to the recipient, or relatives in the case of a posthumous award.
Sergeant Richardson's award was a first for a Canadian serving in a Canadian unit you are looking at a list of gazetting dates. But the award was second to Lieutenant William Nickerson when you look at a lits of action dates. Nicherson's took place on 20 April, over two months before Richardson's deed resulting in the VC award.
That being said, here is my compiled list of the first 13 Victoria Crosses awarded to Canadians or those with ties to our country.
By Date Of Deed....
Alexander Dunn from Toronto Ontario
Herbert T Reade from Perth Ontario
Willam Hall from Horton's Bluff NS
George Richardson from Ireland
Timothy O'Hea from Ireland
Douglas Campbell from Grose Ille Quebec
Raymond De Montmorency from Montreal
Henry Douglas from England
William Nickerson from Dorchester NB
Arthur Richardson from England
Hampden Cockburn from Toronto Ontario
Edward Holland from Ottawa Ontario
Richard Turner from Quebec City Quebec
And by Date of Gazetting...
Dunn (details for all are above)
Arthur Richardson became the first in a Canadian Unit, as noted above, as those before him served in the British Navy or Army. But by nationality he was far from the first to be earn the medal.
That aside, his bravery is without doubt most deserving, and nothing in this blog is intended to diminish anyone's respect and admiration for this hero.
Hope you will join me again next week,
He was a navy enlisted man who served in the navies of three different countries and on no less then 14 war ships. But most reports fail to make note of one and often a second country of service.
In a late June Globe and Mail story of his latest recognition the article stated that... "at age 15 he joined a merchant marine ship and moved on to the Royal Navy at 22." Thus said, service to two countries was simpy errased. Hmmm!
I of course am referring to the great Nova Scotia born man of colour... Petty Officer William Hall, born at Horton's Bluff, some 80 km NW of Halifax. Hall's story has been oft mentioned in this space. He was the son of escaped slaves, the mother having escaped slavery as the DC capital was burning, and the father enroute to America from Africa as part of a slave cargo, when the Brits seized it during the war of 1812.
Born in 1827, his early teens took William to the sea in mechant ships but by early 20's he left that career at Boston and joined the US Navy. He would serve for two years on three war vessels, the USS Franklin, The USS Savannah (the Admiral's flag ship) and the USS Ohio.
On this later ship William served with Lt John Taylor Wood. During the Civil War of a few years later, Wood served as a lieutenant on the Confederate Merrimack, faimed for its battles with the Monitor and other Union vessels in 1862 that resulted in navies around the world changing the way they built navy war ships.There are many Canadian connections to that battle, including the Medal of Honor. Wood was also a relative of a Confederate President and his decendants made excellents names for themselves in the RCMP. A son was the first Canadian killed in the Boar War, despite an erroneous date on a monument at the NS Legislature. Wood also became a legend in Halifax during the chase of the Confederate Tallahassee. In later years he retired at Halifax and today rests at its well known Camp Hill Cemetery.
After his US service William Hall went back into merchant trading and soon found himself leaving one of these vessels in England and joining up with the Royal Navy. But William was not the only black Canadian who served with the American Navy.
Some say that thousands took the Underground Railway in reverse to fight causes including the end of slavery. The US National Park's Service alone has a list of over 70 blacks serving in the US Navy in that war. And that is just the navy, and just from NS. Many more no doubt also took up the cause, in both the army and navy, and from other provinces also.
The story of Nova Scotia's Ben Jackson has surfaced over the years, and noted elsewhere at this site. As is the story of Nova Scotian Joseph Noil, who went on to earn the Medal of Honor but is very little known in his own province, let alone the rest of Canada, or even with Black History historians. He rests in a grave at Washington DC on the very land that now houses the US Coast Guard Headquarters. A base named after Vancouver BC born Douglas Munro KIA at Guadalcanal, and a posthumous MOH recipient. His was the ONLY Medal of Honor awarded to a coast guard serving member. Though this blog has recently discovered a former coast guard member that went on to earn the MOH in the army.
This airshot of a portion of northern Washington DC shows, within the triangle, the cemetery where Joseph Noil is buried. Past blogs have told of my continued montoring of the move to have a very old marker for Noil updated at this site. To the left is the US Coast Guard headquarters building complex, also noted in past blogs. Most interesting that real-estate within just a few miles of the actual US Capitol has a connection to the both the east and the west coasts of Canada within its boundaries.
Willam Hall's heroism in the Crimean War and during the India Mutiny are well covered in the press and on this site in the past. The image of the left is his actual Victoria Cross awarded during the Siege of Lucknow in 1857. An image, from an old photo of about 1900 appears at the right and a much older William is seen at the center.
I was most priviledged to have seen and actally hold this Victoria Cross many years ago when living in Halifax and visiting the Nova Scotia Museum where the medal is held.
Hall left the Royal Navy for two years with other RN men to man a gunboat of the Imperial Emperor of China. Their durties were to help curtail the pirates and smugglers along the nations river system.
He would then return to the RN for continued service and retired in 1876 to return to Nova Scotia and a farm life after sailing with the British alone for over 20 years.
In Febrary 2010 Canada Post marked the 100th anniversary Cdn. Navy with issue of the Willam Hall commemorative stamp.
The RN's HMS Shannon is in the background. This was one of 11 Royal Navy vessels he served on, and in which he served in the Shannon Brigade to free the men, women and children under siege at Lucknow, and where he earned his VC.
Notice his Victoria Cross is without the blue ribbon he, and
about half a dozen others from Canada were entitled to wear up until the Royal Air Force was created. The ribbon was then taken out of service and all then went to the standard crimson colour of today.
The ribbon, in his words, was "borrowed by a relic hunter." He also is wearing the Indian Mutiny Medal, the Turkish Crimea Medal and the Crimea Medal.
Willam Hall's latest recognition for bravery, as noted in the title of this blog, is in the form of an Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship, which will be named in his honour. The announcement came from the Associate Minister of National Defence in late June.
This image is an artist's concept of what the Halifax Shipyards will build. There will be between 6 and 8 constructed and will be known as the Harry DeWolf class, named after Bedford (just north of Halifax) born Harry DeWolf who served for over 42 years in the Cdn Navy and retired with the rank of Rear Admiral.
He would no doubt be thrilled to learn that his name was affixed to this class of vessel and that his name would also appear on the first one to be built, as will Hall's from Nova Scotia on another from the same class of ships.
More news next week
Canadian, US and British updates on Medal of Honor and Victoria Cross recipients are covered in today's blog.
The last 2 blogs in this place brought you some news about Toronto born Peter Lemon, a Medal of Honor recipient from the War in Vietnam, and Canada's last living MOH recipient. There were many MOH men born in Toronto and within a few hours drive in most directions. So too, for many Victoria Cross heroes.
Traveling north west about 90 miles is a small community of around 5,000 folks in a unicorporated community called Mount Forest. Back a little before the early 1850's the area was a village, turned township and was actually thought to be located on one river system but later found to be on another. Such was the cause of it them having to abandon an old name for the current one.
A Wikipedia entry makes note of four notable men from Mount Forest. One was a physique champ, another a commedian, another a senator, and finally there was Fred.
Fred was no doubt in good physical shape and probably didn't find much humor in his chosen profession. He no doubt could have taught ethics to more than one senator, and is still remembered today as a true hero.
Fred died a hero. In fact his fatal shot was received on one of the battle fields of the Great War and on his 48th birthday. Some present! Within days his wounds took his life. The story will be in this space in the near future.
The above marker commemorating the life and bravery of Captain Frederick William Campbell and is located outside the legion named in his honour at Mount Forest. His image also is shown above.
In May of this year Fred Campbell was again honoured with the unveiling of a display at the legion named after him. Military engineering members, legion officals and others played a role in collating some of Fred's historic records, official military documents and even letters home from the battlefield.
These are contained in front of the display in the book shown above. Within the display are also some memorabilia including his medal group with the Victoria Cross shown at the left on the medal bar above.
There have been about 1350 Victoria Crosses awarded since the mid 1850's. Internet figures for those coming to Canadians and those with connections to Canada are not up to date. If truth be known, I believe almost one in every 13 had a Canadian connection. Fred's was of course one of these.
Moving along, it was 100 years ago last month that this 510 foot monster terrorized the skies over London. She was the size of two ball fields and sailed way out of reach of conventional craft of the day. The bombs thrown overboard from the two gonolas hanging below the dirrigible did plenty of damage on the streets of London. But her notes thrown overboard were even more horrendous. They said... "You English, we have come and we will come again soon to kill or cure."
But Rex put a stop to that. His story has been covered in past blogs in this space. Use the search engine at above right and look for Rex Warneford.
When Rex was only 23 years old, he found himself on his first ever night flight. It was near Brussels when he spotted a rather large cigar shaped craft in the distance. He gave chase, got forced off by the German balloon, but kept following it from a distance. He would eventually be the first ever to shoot one of these monsters down when he bombed the famous LZ 37, the very craft above pictured and to 1st drop bombs on Britain. The very next day, in June of 1915 he was awarded the Victoria Cross and soon after, the French Legion d Honeur for his actions.
My earlier stories on this hero have noted that he was born in India, and like Colonel Bent from Halifax, both cases and others caused a furror in Britian when that country decided to honour all the WWl VC recipients that were born in Britain. But not Bent or Warneford... and as it turns out...about another 175 heroes as well.
Past blogs have told how government reversed its position and decided that all should be properly honoured, regardless of place of birth. Today I bring news that earlier this month, again of the 100th anniversary of the June event, Warneford's Paving Stone was unveiled in England... Here is an image of the stone..
This month saw several memorials honouring Rex.The paving stone above was unveiled near his mother's home at Highworth. The picture above was probably one of the last taken beore he was killed in Paris whilst on a second test flight the very day he received his French medal.
Had there been no crash, he was to fly the plane to England and there, get his VC presented by the King.
Crossing the ocean and back to North American, we go for the third update to Clinton Ohio, which is about 60 miles south east of the state capital at Columbus.
At Clinton's Veterans Park are many significant memorials to those who have served for their country in one of the miltary branches. There is a reflecting pool in remebrance of POW's and those still listed as Missing in Action. An impressive Purple Heart memorial is also on the grounds as is the country's longest free standing granite wall in the country. It honours over 3,000 lost in Vietnam.
About 325 Medals of Honor were awarded to men with a connection to Ohio. The very first six awarded back in March of 1863 went to Ohio men..or better stated, boys in some cases. Their stories have also appeared in these blogs. Search under Andrews Raiders.
About 2/3rds of the medals were awarded for Civil War actions. One of these came to a fellow named Fred Rock who was born in Germany. He came to the US as a child, with his family, later moved to Canada briefly and then returned to the US and fought at Vicksburg with so many other Canadians. He and two others came away with Medals Of Honor, and are part of an ever expanding Canadian list now well over 100. One of them was even recommended for the medal..by the ENEMY.
Earlier this month at the Veterans Park a memorial to all the MOH recipients was unveiled, as shown above. Note the three sides with images for the Navy/Marines and Coast Guard, the Army and the Air Force.
Unveiling officials inluded a Congressman, the town Mayor and Woody Willams, the last living Medal of Honor recipient from actions at Iwo Jima.
(The famous image of the men raising the flag includes an American born to Canadian parents.)
See you next week
Peter Lemon is Canada's last living Medal of Honor recipient. But his accomplishments do not end with Vietnam heroism!
Last week I wrote about my 2013 research trip to Gettysburg and on to Washington DC regarding the Canadian MOH recipients. The blog mentioned that the timing of the trip was as a result of my continuous "news" searches of these recipients and thus learning of the Medal Of Honor convention in Pa at that time. The trip's timing was further influenced when I learned of the memorial being built to honour the then living recipients, and the opportunity for my contribution in that regard.
Along these same lines, another search in early May of this year led me to a wonderful story in the Toronto Sun about Peter Lemon. Very rarely are these Canadian heroes covered in the Canadian press so I was very pleased to see the 27 April article. While it has taken me this long to get to bring it to you, I would encourage you taking a few minutes to read it. You can find it at. http://www.torontosun.com/2015/04/27/the-vietnam-war-hero-canada-forgot
Much has been written in this place and on the net about Peter's heroism back in Vietnam days. Actions that led to his being subsequently awarded the MOH for bravery. Some of this is repeated in the Sun story. But it adds a new twist. It tells of a move on the net to see Peter awarded our own county's Order of Canada, a move this blog fully supports. A move I discussed with Peter a few years back, but somehow ended up getting put on a back burner unfortunately.
You can join me in support of the recomendation by going to the site at... https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peter-C-Lemon-deserves-the-Order-of-Canada/1604298196478773
At this site you will see some very unfortunate comments about Peter's choice of fighting in Vietnam, and also regarding his choice to become an American Citizen.
Peter and his sister moved with his parents to the US when he was less than 3 years of age. The move was probably not his choice! He was given many freedoms in the US, attended public and high school and went with his parents when they took out US citizenship. He was only 12 years of age at the time.
After public and high school, Peter answered the call of his newly adopted country, like so many Canadians did when their counrty made the same call. He did not start the war, but he gave his blood for it... repeatedly... and helped so many others that his adopted country awarded him with the highest medal they had.. the Medal of Honor. There are over 300 million in the US, yet only about 3,500 got this highest of highest honours.
A fact apparently missed by some of those commenting at the above Order of Canada recomendation site!
Peter Lemon is much more than a military hero. After the war he tried to improve his less than honourable record of schooling. He had taken on a few jobs but wanted to better himself. So he tried and tried and tried and tried to get higher education. His previous schooling records precluded those giving higher education to open the doors to him.
But I will let Peter tell you this story himself. Go to this link, and be prepared to hear a dynamic speaker motivate you, like the hundreds of thousands he has spoken to over the years since Vietnam days. Here is the link... https://vimeo.com/77234909
Peter over several decades has made a living not only in the business world but as an international motivation speaker. He talks of his medal and the three men he lost in battle and how he wears the medal... not for himself but for those three men. In fact, if truth be known, when awarded the medal he hid it in a box and did not wear it for about TWO DECADES.
He talks about the conflicts and obstructions thrown in his way over the years and how he has overcome them and how you too, can do the same thing.
His wonderful story about getting a haircut should have you in stitches. It's here ...https://www.google.ca/#q=https:%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D9iMaHFXNJ
You can learn more about the Order of Canada by googling it. There are there levels, the lowest being as a member, the second as an officer and the third as a companion. Peter's accomplishments deserve an award at the highest level, not the lowest.
Peter Lemon has brought his message of hope, conquering of obstacles and duty to family, community and country to, I suspect, hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of women and men and children from all walks of life over the decades. His trips to see school children number in the hundreds. And his message is not about war..but peace. His gift of talk has resulted in considerable accolade from leaders in may fields, from presidents to the public schoolroom.
Shown at above left, his compilation of the stories of many Medal of Honor recipients resulted in the above center pictured book which he has donated to over 17,000 schools in the US. One of the high points in Peter's life must have been one of his many visits to DC. This one in 2009 shows President Obama presenting the Outstanding American By Choice Award, spondored by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
While about 100 of these awards have been presented since inception back in 2006, to men and woman from over 40 countries, Peter would be one of I believe only two such recipients from Canada. The above presentation was the first ever by a serving President.
In commenting on making the award to Peter, President Obama said that... " his experience is a testament to the men and women who have come to this country to work for a better life for themselves and their families and also have, by their very accomplishments, made America a better place as well."
Most interesting as these words seem to sum up some of what you can see on our own Order of Canada site and reasons for making that award.
Peter Lemon's heroism is recognized throughout the United States, but not so in Canada, a shame if ever there was a shame in Canada. His name can be found enscribed in various places. His awards and acknowledgements are far and wide..in the US.
And weeks back this continued with yet another series of stamps honouring the brave Medal of Honor men. This one is for the recipients from Vietnam. There are 50 of these heroes still alive, and 48 gave the US Post permission to use their images on these memorial stamps.
Called the Vietnam Memorial Forever Stamps, they were unveiled in the presence of several of these heroes on Memorial Day at the Vietnam Memorial Monument at the National Mall at Washington DC, shown above.
Peter Lemon's image is at the top and third from the left. Both the Canadian Embassy at Washington and the Press Secretary for the Minister of National Defence at Ottawa have been contacted by me to advise that this former Canadian is now being celebrated across the United States on these stamps. Yet again I made the plea that these Canadian Medal of Honor heroes need considerable more attention given to them in THIS country as well.
I have already purchased copies of these stamps and you can too by contacting the US Post.
Peter Lemon is shown here visiting a US Post office where he once lived and bringing along an image of the new stamps, representing the three main services.
Each folio of stamps consists of 24 stamps that can be peeled off and used. The folio opens up and a description of the criteria for receipt of the MOH is given. It also notes that of the 268 recipients from the Vietnam war, only 50 survive today, and 48 of these are depicted.
At the right, as shown above, are the names of these 48 Vietnam recipients. Peter Lemon's name appears at mid page on the line shown by the red arrow.
See you next week,
Every Canadian should stand up and salute Pete! And while you are doing that, take the time to wish him a happy 65th birthday!
Regular readers of these blogs know that I like to not only bring you stories of Canadian Medal of Honor recipients, but also stories about our Victoria Cross heroes as well. Sometimes I also go off on other mission to bring miltary stories that I believe are of sigficance to this site.
I also spend considerable time trying to keep up with any news or updates that I think you should be aware of regarding these Canadian and US heroes. Often what appears here, is little covered...if at all by the Canadian media. This is most unfortunate and sad.
It is now about 2 years ago that I first learned of a plan in the US to honour all the then living Medal of Honor men with a special memorial at the famous town of Gettysburg, Pa. The site chosen was most significant. The timing was also important because most of the then living Medal of Honor recipients, members all, of the very prestigious Congressional Medal of Honor Society, would be at Gettysburg for their annual several day convention. One of the numerous public events was the unveiling of the above mentioned monument.
The town memorial to be built consisted of a series of bricks inscribed with the names of about 80 MOH recipients that were still alive. The "Main Street Gettysburg" organization, who were planning the memorial sought public donations for the work and bricks were sold to help with costs. I donated the funds for the brick inscribed with the name of Toronto born Peter Lemon. I'm told this donation was the only one from Canada.
I then decided that I would actually go to Gettysburg for the unveiling and even attend several of the public functions hosted by the Medal of Honor men. Back then I brought you about 20 daily blogs from the field about my trip to Pa. I also told of my continuing on to DC, a visit to the Canadian Embassy, Arlington, the Pentagon and the National Archives. These were published in September and Oct of 2013 and can still be found on this site.
(The above three images are of the current Navy, Marine and Coast Guard Medal of Honor, the Air Force MOH and at the bottom, the Army MOH.)
The picture at the left is of the entrance to the 1860's Wills home at Gettysburg, (now a museum). It is here that President Lincoln (and a future Canadian Father of Confederation) spent the night before riding out to the cemetery, and the giving of the famous Gettysburg Address. Next, standing in front of the bench are Deb Adams, President, and Pat Bucker, Operations Manager of the "Main Street Gettysburg" folks who created the memorial. At far right is the memorial marker and below it, in the 3rd image is the dark border, and within, all the individual inscribed bricks.
These ladies unveiled the memorial for the first time to anyone not having a role in its building, when they showed it to me hours before the public ceremony took place. At the time they told me of a few workers that were very moved at the stories of the heroes. Some were so humbled at the chance to work on the preserving this history that they actually had tears in their eyes.
Nine MOH recipients attended the ceremony and I too was very humbled at the opportunity being given to meet and chat briefly with each man. Many of the remainder of about 45 recipients were on school duty that day. They were visiting many schools and tallking to the staff, teachers and students about the CMOH society and its role and messages it wanted to bring to the youth of the country.
If you have a look back at my 2013 articles you will find this picture and the identity of the nine Medal of Honor men who witrnessed the unveiling of the very bricks containg their names and others. At the right, in its lower left corner you can hopefully read the name of Peter Lemon, Canada's last living Medal of Honor recipient.
Much has been written about Peter Lemon in past blogs, searchable in this space. Here he is pictured probably at about 19 years of age, when he performed the heroic deeds that later saw him standing in front of President Nixon at the White House and receiving his Medal of Honor. Before his term of some 4 years was up he would have an impressive chest full of bravery medals.
About 2 weeks ago this teen turned 65. Happy birthday Pete!
If memory is correct, it was Vice President Chaney whom once said that.... "the Presidency and Vice-Presidency may be the highest office in the land... but there's an even greater distinction that our country bestowes... the Congressional Medal of Honor."
Despite calling it by the wrong name, his message is still very clear.
But I believe Peter Lemon needs to be remembered for far more than his incredible military heroism. More about this on Sunday.
Hope you can join me then!
It is hoped that regular readers of these blogs will recall the sad story of Lindsay Ontario born Denis Buckley. As a youth he was lured away, probably by inducemeants, to join the Union Army in the US. He mustered into the 136th New York Infantry where he served, was taken prisoner, later released to rejoin his regiment and then killed in battle at Peachtree Creek Georgia in 1864. He had just captured an enemy flag and was rallying his troops when a bullet bounced off the flag poll and struck him in the head. He had yet to reach his 21st birthday.
His story has appeared, with updates on this site and can be found by using the search engine at upper right on this very page.
Denis was buried at the site of battle and his rermains were later moved to the National Cemetery at Marietta Georgia, some 25 km North West. But ne was buried under the wrong name. His marker also did not include the fact that he was a Medal of Honor recipient.
Over 100 years later and after tremedous efforts of a fellow named John Dubois, descendant of another 136th vet, and others, the marker was found and steps taken to have a new marker issued that reflected Buckley's hero status, correct spelling, and with the new designed MOH marker. A very impressive ceremony was conducted to unveil the stone in 2006. The following year I played a roll in unveiling a memorial at Lindsay Ontario for Buckley and was most priviedged to be join by John Dubois in its unveiling.
The center image shows the new marker that replaced the one on the left. John Dubois is at the centre of the right image, with me at its right and at left, looking at the 3rd image is the then, Chief Consular Officer Jeff Tunis, representing the United States through his offices at the US Consular Office at Toronto.
It was just a few years earlier that this same community of Marietta Georgia played a historic roll in the US Civil War. So too, for the beginning of the Medal of Honor story.
At the bottom of this map you can see Atlanta Georgia. Just north a few miles a few miles is Marietta. At the top of the map is Chattanooga Tn., just north of the border between both states.
This very area was a major hub for several rail lines. Control of these gave considerable military advantage to either the North..or the South... in the war.
In early 1862 that control rested with the Southern States and the North badly needed it. Therefore they gave plenty of attention to a civilian spy by the name of Andrews. He came up with a plan, not once but twice, to take a handful of men, infiltrate deep into enemy Southern lands, take contol of a train, blow up a buch of important bridges, pull a few rails and cut telegraph lines. Success would mean major problems for the South and major benefits to the North who wanted to make a move on Chattannooga from the South West.
The Walt Disney movie about the capture of the train locomotive..called ... the GENERAL... made the story famous. All except the part that Disney got wrong. More about this can be learned by searching for the story on this site.
Andrews and his "raiders" were a bust at first go...because the very man they planned to operate the locomotive was drafted... by the SOUTH, just as the operation was to begin. Revised plans had a much different result.
Just North of Marietta the 2nd group of men seized an engine and a few box cars as the operator, small crew and passengers were opposite the machine in a stop-over and enjoying morning breakfast.
The raiders jumped the train and raced out heading northbound while two of the train operators began a chace starting on foot. Soon the raiders had to pull of track to allow other trains to pass by. The delays caused the Southern pursuers to get very close, even though their own train locomotive was giving chase...backwards.
This is an early artist's sketch of the engine after a few box cars had been ditched. The last being actually set on firre and left on a bridge hoping to have it also go to flames and destroyed. But like several earlier attempts to light logs and burn bridges, all failed as bad weather of late had everything too wet to ignite.
While managing to pull a few ties, cut some telegraph lines and make a lot of people very mad, the plan was a flop when the raiders ran out of fuel to burn and had to abandon the line and head for the woods and their own safety.
But thousands of Cavalry, slave hunters with bloodhounds and neighbourhood men were by then scouring the area and closing in. Eventually most were caught and coutmarshalled, all being convicted in kangaroo court style. Eight were hung within days. The remained were moved about repeadly and some would escape, but the final six were actually traded for the release of southern prisoners held by the North.
The six released made their way to Wahington DC and met with the Secretary of War and other officials including the Vice President. Most recently the President had approved the creation of the Medal of Honor for the ARMY, and these six men would be the first to receive them. Later a few others would get the medal for actions before the Andrews Raiders seized this train. (This presentaion took place on 25 March 1863, and thus today in many parts of the US they celebrate Medal of Honor Day on this date.)
Civilans were not entitled to be awaded the medal in 1863 so some of the raiders did not get it.
While not one of the 6 first to get it, above is an image of raider John M Scott. Shown above is the very medal he was awarded back in 1863. It is being presented by Linda Waggoner, one of Scott's descendants.
This medal was first loaned, and recently actually presented to the Southern Mureum of Civil War and Locomotive History at Kennesaw Georgia. Their holdings also include the very locomotive captured so many years earlier by the raiders.
Above is fellow raider Wilson W Brown. His Civil War version of the medal is not shown and this one is a replacement medal awarded to him when the actual form of the medal was altered in about 1904.
The above museum has also been most priviledged and honoured to now be in receipt of this 2nd medal. At the right are descendants making the presentation. The Museum has committed to having both medals on display in the GENERAL display area for the rest of 2015. Future plans are unknown at this time.
Here is a picture of the much restored General of Civil War days. Below this is the current display at the museum that tells the story of the raiders and focuses in on the two heroes Wilson Brown and John Scott and of course houses their very medals for rolls in the raid.
This display commemorates the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. It was on 26 April 1865 when Southern General Joseph Johnston surrendered his army to Union General William Sherman in North Carolina.
When the first six heroes met with The Secretary of War, and other officials, the first medal was presented to Jacob Parrott, who was at the time of the raid, only 16 years of age.
When he and others were captured the Southerners demanded to known who their leader was. None would tell. So they picked on the youngest, whom they felt was the easiest to break.
They removed much of his clothing and had arms outstretched and held by two soldiers holding him across a large rock. Then then proceeded to whip him at least one hundred times. They only stopped when he fainted.
Quoting his tender age, and the abuse received, he was selected to be the first ever to be presented with the Medal of Honor. Elsewhere on this site you can read of my interviews of one of his descendants and the whereabouts today of his actual medal.
He attended the above reunion and is pictured with his wife at the front center.
If ever in the Atlanta area you are encouraged to visit the Museum. And of course please do not forget to also visit Canadian hero Denis Buckley's final resting place as well.
See you next week.
In last week's blog I brought you some updates about hero Alonzo Cushing's Civil War medal. After decades of advocating for the awarding of this medal, the President agreed and made the award recently. Difficulties in who should actually take possession of it delayed matters until a descendant finally was selected and Alonzo's Medal of Honor was presented at the White House. It shall see several temporary homes until finally making it's new home at the famous Gettysburg National Military Park facilities. There it is will be put on permanent display for the millions that arrive annually to see the famous battlefields where so many thousands fought and died in a few short days of July 1863.
In that blog I mentioned that Alonzo had three brothers who also fought in the Civil War. Brother William had 5 warships named in his honour. One of these vessels lost an officer, who was swept overboard during the Spanish American War. Last week I told of how Ontario born sailor John Everetts and another fellow from the ship were awarded Medals of Honor for attempts to save that officer.
Well, on the same theme, I want to share another interesting fact. Howard was another one of Alonzo's brothers. After CW service he went on to join another outfit and fought during the Indian Uprisings. Still as a Lieutenant, he was then in the 3rd US Cavalry. Like Alonzo, he would also be killed in battle. After the Chiricahua Apache violated a winter truce, Howard commanded 22 men sent out to deal with the matter. It was in May of 1871 when he and his men were travelling in the area of the Whetstone Mountains of Arizona when they were ambushed. Several men were killed in short order, Howard being one of these. The bravery of his troops was later recognized by the President by the awarding of five medals of Honor. One of these came to Canadian John Kilmartin (AKA Gilmartin) who was born in Montreal.
Years earlier, when soldiering in the Civil War, Howard was again a Lieutenant and serving in Battery H of the 4th US Artillery whilst his brother Alonzo was in Battery A.
Like many regiments of the day, the 4th consisted of about 12 batteries..or companies. At any given time one or more companies could be sent off in different directions. Between May of 1862 and September of 1863 Howard's company did honourable service in many skirmishes and major battles that played significant roles in the tides of the war. He'd fight in the siege of the town of Corinth Mississippi in May 1862, the Battle of Perryville Kentucky in October 62, the Battle of Stones River Tennessee in Dec 62, The Tullahoma Campaign in Tennessee in June and first few days of July 1863, (whist Gettysburg Battle fought) the Battle of Chickamauga Georgia in Sept 63, and back into Tennessee for the Siege of Chatanooga in August of 1863.
I have zeroed in on this service and these dates for a specific reason. It was just a few days ago that I learned that one of the Canadian Medal of Honor recipients (in 8th Cavalry during Indian Uprisings of 1868) also served in this very company with Howard during these dates. This was George Wortman of New Brunswick, covered in several blogs in the space in the past. It was well known that George served in the CW but not well known at all with whom, where or when.
Last week I discovered evidence that George was in the 4th from April 15 1862 until his term was up 3 yrs later... in April of 1865, and thus the mention of above activity between those periods.
But the interesting point is that he did not serve under his name. His enlistment papers show an enlistment under the name... George WORKMAN. Be this on purpose or just sloppy intake is up for debate at this point.
Thus, any CW searches for him under WORTMAN came up empty handed. Though some appear for a direct relative George W Wortman.
Still more updates again next week.