Latest details just in and laying out the blog has taken more time than expected. It shall appear tomorrow. Sorry folks!
Last week I shared with you some of the latest tidbits sent my way from a regular follower of these blogs. He had discovered the image, that l brought you of the CSS Georgia. As a result of getting that image I did some digging and came up with the image of the iron rails used during Civil War days on ships that became the first ever "ironclads."
This brought me to sharing more of the story appearing in past blogs about the famous 8-9 March 1862 battle of the CSS Virginia (aka Merrimack) and the USS Monitor at Hampton Roads.
Last week I briefly mentioned that over the years I had found numerous connections with Canadian sailors and even one soldier in this battle. Some were mentioned including the fact that two of the Canadians would later in the war be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions elsewhere.
Many of the current books, websites and more will tell you that Montreal born sailor James McIntosh earned his Medal of Honor during the battle on Mobile Bay. Often referred to as the Fort Morgan battle, it was fought on 4 August 1864.
This is what most current sources say about the McIntosh medal. But there is more to the story. Like so many other cases, a careful look into the files, and the constant search for the earliest of records often show that dates and times and events even change ever so slightly. But yet enough to clearly tell a different story.
Captain Jenkins was the ship's Commanding Officer. From the above you can see that he had earlier recommended many sailors for the highest of honors. But at that time gave few details of their actions. In the above report to his superiors, and through them to the Department of the Navy and on up to even higher authority he again recommends the highest of rewards to the men, and even lays out particulars of over 2 dozen so recommended.
At page 458, note very carefully the 2nd line wherein the Captain states that the recommendations are not only for the battle at Fort Morgan but also..."in conflict with the rebels previously..."
Many of the men listed in the report has served no doubt on several ships. Captain Jenkins included a reference to the USS Cumberland, as seen above in the matter of McIntosh. It therefore seems fair to assume that the actions while on that ship, are included in the actions while on the USS Richmond 2 years later, and for which his medal was being recommended... and awarded.
While this does not make the sailor a double recipient it sure seems to make him an awardee for two different battles.
Moving on, this Friday I hope all readers will stop for a few moments to reflect on the entire story of the Medal of Honor. Over the years about 3,500 medals have been awarded for bravery to men, and one woman, from over 30 countries around the world. One in five was born outside of the US.
And to each, a moment to reflect is in order.
It was 154 yrs ago Friday March 25th, that youthful Jacob Parrott, shown above, the youngest of the six escaping members of Andrews Raiders, would be presented with a Medal of Honor by the Secretary of War. The other five would then also be so honoured and all would then be off for about a 15 minute meeting with President Abraham Lincoln. (A past blog in this space tells how I had shaken President Lincoln's hand... sort of. About 5 times removed I believe.)
I was most proud and humbled to have the opportunity of interviewing a direct relative of Jacob a few years back and some of that interview was noted in this space previously.
Whilst Jacob was the first to be presented with the medal, a few others earned theirs, before the Raiders. The very first by date of action, was Doctor Bernard JD Irwin, an Irishman, who spent his last days of life in Ontario.
Back next Sunday...
Just over a century ago one of the largest unions in the United States, and indeed the largest with female membership, was the NY based Ladies Garment Workers Union. And they'd had enough!
They were so upset with working conditions in their shirtwaste trade that they walked off the job. A few thousand soon became 20,000 on strike in a trade only employing about 32,000. A few days picketing would become 14 weeks on the streets of NY.
Conditions would soon improve, and one of the results was the creation of what was originally called the Women's Workers Day. For several years it would be celebrated on the last day of February.
Word would soon travel to Europe, and at Copenhagen a conference of working women saw attendance from representatives form several countries. One of the outcomes of this was the settling of a day international that would be set aside to recognize the very valid causes they were championing.
Then in 1917 a four day strike in Europe was held to recognize some 2 million Russian soldiers who lost their lives during WWl. That event started on 23 February. A resolution soon came forth to set aside that day annually, for celebration. But the 23rd soon had morphed into March 8th, with the switching of the old Julian to the Gregorian Calendar.
Just a few days ago, women, and hopefully men, around the world celebrated what is today known as International Women's Day, on the 8th. And as clearly shown above, many of these women wore the uniforms of their countries.
Many years ago women decided that a day was not enough time to properly remember the incredible accomplishments of the fairer sex, and so they created a week around the 8th and it became known as Womens History Week in the US. In the early 1980's President Carter made the week official Thirty years ago this month, the week was turned into Womens History Month in the US. (Canada celebrates it in October.)
Three years ago the people of the Philippines created this incredible sign of Venus in honour of their women and those around the world. Guinness actually listed the accomplishment that occurred at Rizal Park by the Philippine Commission on Women. They needed only 250 women to participate and enter the book's records. Guinness says they had 10,168. I only counted 10,135... hehe.
Moving on to the less fair sex, Mike, a longtime friend and great supporter of my research work sent me a most interesting picture a few weeks back. Investigating the image further, led me by complete fluke... right back to March 8th... but this time is was in the year 1862.
This is a sketch of one of the Civil War Southern Confederate States warships. It was called the CSS Georgia and was built very early in the war.
My interest is not so much in the ship or its history but in its construction. Note that the portion above water line consists almost entirely by the tapered top that looks like a barn or other structure, with exception of those deadly cannons sticking their dangerous ends out the windows. During the war this vessel was scuttled (sunk) by the south, because they were afraid the north would capture it and use it against them.
The story that Mike found and sent along, is that recently parts of the ship have been located and brought to the surface. And this is what got me excited. And this shows why...
What you see here are actual railroad tracks of iron. The exterior of the "barn" shown above is covered by at least one... if not two layers of these bars of metal.
The ships of the day were wooded hulled, and of course above the water line as well.
A ship like the CSS Georgia, with this metal protection is almost impenetrable by the wooden decked enemy warships, who in turn, become sitting ducks.
No mater what the older designed vessel threw at the newer IRONCLADS, as they became known, the shells usually could not penetrate the rail line protection. And because of the angles of the housing for the weaponry, most shells simply bounced away doing no harm whatsoever. (Not including the eardrums of those inside.)
With this construction in mind, let's turn to the other March 8 of interest to this blog. Again the year was 1862. One of the most famous naval battles during the CW is recognized as having occurred on the 9th. But deeds of the day before are as important.
The Union forces knew that the South were building a ironclad and were in a race to see who would first float one. The south won and on the 8th created real havoc in the waterway near Chesapeake Bay in what is known as Hampton Roads.
Many Union ships were grounded, by this Confederate Ironclad named CSS Virginia, (but often called the Merrimack in error.) Some received major damage and the USS Cumberland, a state of the art top of the line WOODEN HULLED union warship was sunk in less than 10 minutes with a loss of over 100 men, some 1/3rd of her crew.
Then from around the bend, on her first mission ever... came the Union's answer to the Virginia. And it was called the USS Monitor. That story has been told often in this space. The gist being that the two ironclads chased each about for hours, huffed and puffed and then getting bored of each other went back into their own corners. They returned the next day, but the gist of that was more of the same, some minor damages and both going off, and for a variety of reasons, never facing each other again.
Over the past several years I have found several Canadian connections to these 2 days of conflict.
This is the CSS Virginia (aka Merrimack). Not visible above the water line is a large prob that extends the length of the vessel even more than shown. It was this underwater prob that was slashed into the side of the Cumberland and left a hole about 7 feet across that caused the rapid sinking.
After one of the two cannons at above left, probably the front one, was fired the officer called for a sponging of the barrel. The fellow had to jump over some materials and ended up sticking his head out of the port to get the job done. At the same time a marine sniper on-board the Cumberland was waiting for just such an event, fired of one round and hit the Southerner in the head, instantly killing him.
He was the first of only 2 southerners that died on the Virginia during the first day of battle. And he was from New Brunswick Canada. Another sailor on board was from Ontario. Two Americans on board would later become prominent citizens in Nova Scotia.
Here is an image of the USS Monitor. It had a turret that could also rotate in any direction. History records that only one Medal of Honor went to a crew member of this ship. That went to an American who was actually steering the ship. But a careful check of several sources say there was another MOH for service... in part... on this ship, but that comes next week.
And there is a third. In another event after this battle, a Monitor crew member probably from Quebec, was aboard when the Monitor was sunk. He was saved from drowning by an American sailor from yet another vessel. That sailor was later awarded a MOH.
During the battle at Hampton Roads there was at least one other Canadian I found who was serving in one of the shore batteries and firing into the fray on the 8th and 9th.
This is the ill-fated USS Cumberland that lost so many good men within minutes of facing the Virginia on March 8, 1862. There were at least two Canadians on board this vessel who survived Hampton Roads and went on in the war to earn Medals of Honor. One was from Newfoundland and the second was from Montreal.
And the Montreal fellow is the subject of my blog next week.
Hope to see you then,
As you are probably aware, I regular scan the net for materials related to the MOH and connections to the Canadian side of the Medal of Honor story. Recently I came across a great web article in late November from Muriel Smith in New Jersey.
it told a fascinating story about a recipient who almost became a double recipient. My interest was not only in the potential double status, but also that he was involved in the Spanish American War cable cutting incident of which regular readers have read much here, over the past four years.
The hero of the story was a sailor named Robert Blume. While very familiar with the cable cutting activities, the November article said that Blume almost got a 2nd medal. I will be researching this more, and addressing it further down the road.
Though the article gave brief mention to others who were awarded the MOH, no names from Canada were in the story. It however was wonderful to see that Mrs. Smith noted how many medals actually were awarded to foreign born recipients.
I emailed the Atlantic Highlands Herald, who carried the story and asked to be put in touch with the author. I wanted to discuss the double event, and provide some input on the Canadian involvement in the same battle. I also wanted to thank her for also acknowledging that so many of the recipients of the medal were actually non American born. A point usually missed in most media coverage on the high honour.
Over the years I have often emailed the press re articles and ask that they be passed on to the authors, or corrections made as needed etc. But most of the time the emails seem to be ignored.
But this one wasn't !
In very short order I received a response and the writer and I have exchanged a few emails since. She has also done a great follow-up article in the same paper/website and it can be read at.... http://www.ahherald.com/columns-list/history-and-happenings/23640-highlands%E2%80%99-chief-blume-and-canadian-heroes (If this fails, just google... Highland's Chief Blume and Canadian Heroes.) The author and I have agreed to disagree about a comment I made in an earlier blog regarding the border agents and not allowing some Canadian entry during the inaugeration weekend. So if you go to their site, ignore the last line in the story. hehe
I have mentioned in past blogs that the actual Blume medal was in Canada with a collector at one point, but he then decided to break the law by trying to sell it and another... to an FBI agent. One suspects he won't try that again. However, the FBI very kindly provided me with several photo's of both medals. One is show above, but is difficult to read. It gives his name, rank, notes the cable cutting incident, date and place of action as well.
Moving on to another topic, a few weeks back a long time supporter of my work emailed me from Australia, I do believe. He commented on a recent point I made in a blog about the famous... or should I say infamous 1917 Purge of over 900 Medals of Honor. A matter written about often in this space.
He correctly stated that the results of the Purge did not actually kill the medals issues, but in a round about way, removed the names of the recipients from an Honor Roll and one that, if not listed, precluded some benefits, such as a military pension. I wrote back agreeing but adding that the original instructions were to have all of the mentioned medals returned. I however also added that there being no provision in the flawed legislation that permitted any enforcement action. I also said that being de-listed ultimately led to lists being created that to this day no longer refer to a former recipient as being a recipient. Regardless of the law that says he is still a recipient.
On that note, here is a paragraph from a blog back in 2013 on point...
During Civil War days when the medal was created, there were no other medals and so, regardless on the extent of bravery, all got the same medal. At the time of the Purge, much higher standards, no doubt necessary and very much overdue, were put in place with regards to bravery and being nominated for the MOH.
In fact a new pyramid of bravery medals was established, that today could fill your chest. But from 1861 to 65... and much later... there was only one. And the President of the day had the authority to make the award. What the Purge did was to challenge what an earlier president did, and enforced new rules, with newer attitudes, on those who had been lawfully awarded and wore the medals with pride for half a century.
There is ample evidence that even the five Generals knew what they were being ordered to do was not only illegal, and insulting but ridiculous. But to this day it seems the matter remains to be challenged by the very people and organizations that promote its worthiness.
Looking back to CW days, and the 27th Maine, well covered here in the past, the newspapers of the day were screaming for recruits. This, at the very time that the President and Secretary of War pleaded with 2 regiments to stay after their terms of service were up because of potential disaster for the Union if they lost the battle at Gettysburg.
They made promises, within their powers, and some stayed behind and ultimately got medals as promised. Problem was that bureaucrats screwed it up by sending medals to all in the regiment. Then in 1917 all those entitled... and those not... were told... you can no longer have that or wear it. If you do you might go to jail. While the later should not have gotten them, laws said that there was a way to resolve it in the courts. But government decided they will just do it another way. Regardless of the law of the day... and to this one.
Lets look at some adds of the day to further prove the point...
Search old newspapers and you will find this add in papers nationwide. It clearly says... at the very time of the 27th Maine and its medals... that they will also award them to others that stay after their term of service elapses. Such terms could have been from short term regiments of 30, 60 or 90 days or longer ones of maybe 1 or 2 or 3 yrs.
Government was having a problem getting men to sign up and the adds tell you that these promises were made repeatedly to induce enrollment. Such promises surely would have had to have originated in the very office of the President.
Newspapers throughout the war carried adds for more men to enlist in the military. Adds such as these are found in many newspapers of the day. If you missed the adds you no doubt saw the posters around town halls, government offices and military establishments.
Somewhere I have an add that even promises MOH's to those who simply enlist... till you read the very fine print. These solicitations for service started to offer a few bucks and then gradually increased in many cases to well over $1,000. Hard to read, but the above news add offers $50 to sign up, while on the right, only $10 is offered.
Here we see an infantry unit on left and center and a Cavalry unit at right. Both ends offer $100 to join up, and only $90 in the center.
The New Jersey infantry unit of the left is offering $266 bonus to married men and about half that to single men, while at the right a NY infantry unit is offering a bonus of $550 if you re-enlist.
In Civil War days $300 would be enough to buy you a farm, and was huge pile of money to send home to family while you were away, and perhaps never coming home again.
$438 could be yours for signing up in the mounted infantry regiment at left and $402 in the cavalry unit on right. Often you see adds telling how you could make more money by bringing your own horse along with you.
Above, you also see an add for Substitutes. There are many who could or would not serve for a variety of reasons. If able to, they could actually enter a contract with another fellow to go off to war in his place, and he would pay the volunteer whatever the going rate of the day was.
Many a creative soldier would sign up, get a bounty, and then desert. Go to the next town along the road, sign up with another outfit, desert again, get more bounties, and keep going till he got caught and sent to jail, or perhaps even shot for desertion. There are a few major bounty jumpers, one said to have served in OVER 90 Regiments, and deserting.
One of the more well known cases of someone hiring another to go off to war in his stead as a substitute was a fellow named Abe Lincoln. That story has appeared in this space in the past.
Well, I think that is enough for today. Don't forget that there will be no blog this weekend, but I will be returning for the March 12th blog,
But first... lecture 101.
Well, here we are at the end of another Black History Month in Canada. And like most of years past, those in the main stream print media tell a handful of stories about William Hall and his heroism fighting with the British before Canada was Canada, and how he was awarded a Victoria Cross for his heroism.
But, as noted in the last blog and many before, the same print media in Canada seems silent, or next to silent about another Black, Canadian born from Nova Scotia as well, that also earned the highest of bravery awards. The Medal of Honor, whilst serving in the American forces through the Civil War and beyond. His story has been oft told in this space. It is too bad the print media couldn't give it the same coverage.
Over the last 2 days I used two national search vehicles that search hundreds of newspapers, and while I found very few about William Hall this month, I cannot find any for Noil in February.
As upsetting was the early Feb. press release from our Minister of Veterans Affairs and Deputy Minister of National Defense. He noted the importance of the black community in Canada's history, how they fought with their white brothers and sisters in WWl and WWll, noted important milestones of both World Wars, and that Nova Scotia's 2nd Construction Battalion was the first large black unit raised in Canada.
While this was great, he gave no mention to the Black unit raised in Victoria back in the 1860's..before Canada, once again, was Canada, but managed to note the importance of recognizing the first Black Victoria Cross recipient...of course being William Hall.
But he gave no notice of the ONLY Black man in the history of Canada... Joseph Noil, who earned a Medal of Honor, just after the Civil War, or that he and thousands of other British North Americans of colour took the underground railway backwards... back into the US to fight for their brothers and sisters between 1861 and 1865.
This from the very man that just months earlier recognized the importance of Noil's bravery and our shared heritage when offering his support for the work that this blog and others did to finally have a proper marker unveiled over his grave. A grave with a misspelled name, and lacking any notice of his hero status. A situation that lasted over 130 years till many individuals and groups pooled resources to fix the horrible situation.
Perhaps some day our government speech writers could do some more homework and help better circulate the lesser known, but equally important facts of days long gone.
Often it seems that our American friends are more likely to honour us than we are. Here is a case in point...
The United States Navy have shown incredible interest in the Noil story over the past year and probably more. At their web site they gave great coverage in the past to the work we did to discover the tragic events leading up to the incorrect marker at Noil's grave site just outside of DC. They were also most interested in carrying the story on their web site regarding the recent unveiling of the new marker, They continue to shown respect to the heritage that Noil had left behind by doing a follow-up during Black History Month The above is the title page for a short video they have produced.
I was thrilled to yet again be interviewed by these folks and both the resulting story and this video can been found at ...
This is a wonderful short clip honouring Joseph Noil, and in turn the US Navy, the bigger Military family and the people of the United States. I highly encourage you to have a look at it. It shows you what the American government can do. The obvious question is... why can't the government of Canada do the same?
Back in 1927 Canada seemed to do a better job, when it thanked America. On Armistice Day, hundreds of troops and officials from both Canada and the US attended at Arlington to unveil the Cross of Sacrifice in honour of the brave Americans that fought with the Canadians in the Great War and lost their lives.
The 24 ft high cross is visited by thousands each year and visitors have also including several of Canada's Cabinet members, Prime Ministers and Governor Generals.
Below you can see the inscriptions honouring the Americans who joined the Canadian
military and went off to war, before the US entered the war.
Those honoured lost their lives in the conflict. Later, as shown below, panels were also added for the losses suffered by the Americans, in Canadian uniform, during WWll and in Korea. Once America joined us in battle, some of them later transferred over to American units. A few of these even went on to be awarded Medals of Honor as noted in blogs on this site in the past.
Five years ago, those in the movie business, writers and film makers etc forgot all about remembering Canadian involvement in the story of the day, and indeed probably the decade, when they released the 2012 movie ARGO.
It told of the horrendous situation in Iran where the US Embassy was attacked, and how 6 hostages had been sheltered by the Canadian Embassy and ultimately sneaked out of harm's way and back into the US. It was a major Canadian story but movie makers decided to make it a US story instead.
President Jimmy Carter was to later state to CNN that ..."90% of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian. And the movie almost gives full credit to the CIA. The main hero, in my opinion, was Ken Taylor who was the Canadian Ambassador who orchestrated the whole process."
Ken Taylor would later received The Congressional Gold Medal from the President and some 112 other citations and awards. Six of the Canadian rescuers were later awarded the Order of Canada. And from what we see below, the Americans from around the country gave thanks to Canada.
One of the rescuers was not a Canadian and thus, technically, could not be awarded the Order of Canada. The person was therefore presented with an honourary award of the Order
The Order is the centerpiece of the Canadian Awards system. It is the highest of awards and is given in recognition of outstanding accomplishments, dedication to the community and service to the nation.
The photo shows a vote of thanks after the hostages finally made it home to the US in late January 1980.
Back to Black History Month, this Pennsylvania news clip from 1955 recognizes 6 Black sailors with a caption that five had been awarded Medals of Honor. Past stories in this space have brought you the story of Joachim Pease who, remains listed on numerous web sites as being a Canadian, though best evidence now suggest otherwise.
This is a 1960's navy recruiting poster of Joachim Pease who served on the USS Kearsarge during the famous Civil War battle off the French Coast against the southern forces' CSS Alabama. Just days ago while doing research I found another wonderful video at U Tube and it tells the story of the above battle. It is also a must to view... it will only take a few minutes, unlike this blog, and can be seen at...
Serving on that ship was John Hays, who's story has also been noted here before. This early clip from a US newspaper tells of the discovery AFTER 40 YEARS, by Hayes that he was actually a Medal of Honor recipient, and how the medal lay with its rotting ribbon for those 4 decades. He only discover his fortune when he stumbled on an old Government listing about the famous battle and read the names of the men awarded the medal. He no doubt was stunned to read his own name therein.
This blog is getting far too long so I will end it here and will bring the conclusion in a special blog on Wed or Thursday.
Special because it will be an early blog for next Sunday, and since I will be away at a weekend military history seminar I will not be making an entries that weekend.
See you in a few days...
Over the past several days I have has a chance to do some follow up on one fellow and stumbled onto another fascinating story that many of you have heard, but probably did not realized its importance at the time. Both of these stories, to come in the weeks ahead, now have made my total numbers grow from 54. That was seventeen years ago, and today, with the help of many groups and individuals over the years, have more than doubled to 114 Canadian Medal of Honor men. Though I must note some, while not Cdn born, have connections to the country.
These numbers are very exciting!
But then when I feel so good at continuing to add these numbers, I look at February... the very month set aside to give thoughts to the important roles our black friends and families have played in the growth of all of North America, and of course in the military to boot.
It's black history month in Canada and the US, and I believe Britain as well. Today is the 19th. Only nine days to go.
Going back several months ago the internet was abuzz about the great work so many of us did to finally unveil a proper marker for Joseph Noil, a black sailor who lay buried under the wrong name and without any acknowledgment whatsoever that he was a Medal of Honor recipient, for well over 130 years. But we put an end to that. The net stories about the event were seen by MILLIONS.
TV coverage and one of the press services carried stories to many parts of Canada about the event, though many missed the Canadian role in the story. No matter.
But now... with 9 days left in the month that honours our extensive black heritage, we have yet again dropped the ball. I speak of course about many in our media. I say this after several days of internet searches have failed to produce a single story about Joseph Noil in February, the very month that he ought to be front and centre with the likes of Nova Scotia's William Hall. Both men came from the same province. one earning the Victoria Cross and the other the medal of Honor. Both being black men, and the only black men in the country to earn their respective highest of highest medals for bravery from the highest of authority in both Britain and the US. Very few about Hall were found.
One step forward and 30 backwards, most frustrating!
On a more positive note, Canada Post has issued the above stamp in honour of interpreter Mathieu Da Costa. He was an African who, back in the 1600's is believed to have been the first of African descent to arrive on the shores of what is now Canada. He spoke several languages and was hired as an interpreter for French explorers.
If you hold the stamp under a black light, along its top you will see the hidden words..."Canada 150" and also the display of our sesquicentennial logo also.
South of the border, noted in the last few blogs, the Americans have recognized the importance of the black culture going back a long time, though some would argue with cause, that they have often forgotten of this treasure trove of heritage.
On the military front, the revolutionary war saw some 1500 blacks serving in the navy. They were loading the guns, working the sails, manned the boats and even commanding many a coastal vessel. About 1/6th of the navy during the War of 1812 were men of colour. One in four during CW days were blacks, and one in four of the casualties were also men of colour.
The navy came away from the Civil War with about 330 Medals of Honor. But only about a dozen of these went to black sailors.
One of these came to a fellow called Joachim Pease, whom, I hope you have read about in this space in the past. He served on the USS Kearsarge during the famous battle with the CSS Alabama of the French coast near the end of the Civil War. His gun shots were so accurate that the Confederates put a price on his head to take him out, but instead Joachim and the Union men took out the Alabama.
This is his Medal of Honor minus the suspension bar and ribbon. The obverse above has his name engraved the ship's name and date of battle.
No pictures of Pease have been found, but this artists rendition depicts him at his gun on the Kearsarge back in 1864. The image is on a recruitment poster for the US Navy in the 1960's.
Past blogs have also brought you the story of John Hayes who also manned the same gun during this battle. He came from Newfoundland and whist awarded the medal in the 1860's no one bothered to tell him this. Whilst reading an old General Order about 40 YEARS LATER, he stumbled onto the fact that he has been awarded the medal. He made a fuss and finally got it.
Joachim Pease was thought to have been born in the US, then in Newfoundland but best evidence suggest he came from the West Indies. Most net resources still list him as being from the US or Canada.
You have read much about Joseph Noil in this space. This again was another recruiting poster for the navy.
Many of the navy medals were for rescues when someone fell off the ship. The rescue is often in the open seas with high tide or gale and frigid temperatures to deal with. In addition the struggling sailor is often panicking and waving about frantically and trying to grasp on anything or anyone. It is often the case where the rescuer himself may need rescue from being pulled down with the original victim. All points to consider before quickly assuming it is no big deal to dive in and pull someone out. Often tides even carry the rescuers farther away from the vessel, and further compounding rescue efforts.
Most Medal of Honor sources tell of yet of a third Black man associated with Canada that earned a Medal of Honor. He was said to be from Montreal, but as it turns out he was actually from the Caribbean Island of Montserrat. His name was Robert Sweeney and in 1881 he came to the rescue of a fellow who fell off the lower boom and could not swim.
In 1883 Sweeney and crew had just returned from a mission in the arctic to try and find what happened to Lt Adolphus Greeley, another MOH man mentioned in earlier blogs. In the NY harbour area he heard the screams to help a sailor who had fallen overboard from another vessel. The fog was so thick the sailor could not be seen, but never the less Sweeney dove in. Listening for the cries he swam about till he finally found the fellow. But by then even the ship could not be seen. So, listening for the ship's fog horn, he swam to it and soon had another rescue under his belt. And soon another Medal of Honor as well. He'd be the only black double recipient in US military history.
These men, and so many more men and women in and out of the military from years long since gone, need to be remembered and honoured during Black History Month. A month that started out as only a week in the US back in the mid 1920's. And the week chosen, the 2nd of the month was selected for the celebrations. This was because of the great work Abe Lincoln did for the Black community, and in celebration of his birthday during that 2nd week of the month. This also coincides with the birth of the great CW era orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
Abe Lincoln is in the center, above and Mr Douglas at the right. But who is that fellow on the left you might ask? He's a Scotsman and came to the US and became famous. His letterhead had one eye... and it was a private eye for hire... Look up Private Eye in any dictionary and you will find the name... of Allan Pinkerton. His eye was a private one, and he rented it out to keep an eye on things for his clients.
The history books don't often tell just how much of a Scotsman he was. When he first came to America... it was not the US... but Canada. And at Montreal he set up shop for a short while and was trying to save up money to go to Chicago. But his wife had a way with money. She took a little and put a deposit on a hat. Then the ship, arrived to take them to the US. But she pleaded that they wait for the next one cause she needed more money to finish paying off the hat. They waited a little while, paid off the hat, and she was told that she could buy as many bonnie hats as she wanted. Seems that had they boarded the original vessel, the only way they would have arrive in the US was in a body bag. The ship boiler blew up and all were drowned.
Years later Pinkerton set up as an investigator and is pictured above as the owner of the agency that became the first Secret Service outfit in the US. The picture was taken at Antietam during CW days.
Black History Week in the US became month long in 1976 in the US.
In 1995 Jean Augustine, Grenadian born Member of Parliament for the Toronto riding of Etobicoke, Lakeshore presented a motion that received unanimous support in the House of Commons to officially recognize Black history Month in Canada. She is shown above at right.
Dan Oliver, shown at left, was a Senator from Nova Scotia. In Feb of 2008, following in her footsteps, this senator received unanimous support in that chamber to formalized Black History Month in Canada.
So there is a little history on our black friends and neighbours. You might want to call up your local press and tell than a little of this and ask why it is not being covered by the press. If they want more info, give them my url.
Cheers till next Sunday.
A most curious story came to my attention a few weeks back. A boy scout managed to do what so many could not since the mid 1930's. He'd found the grave of a Medal of Honor hero.
Chester Howard West was a first Sergeant in the Great War and was awarded a Medal of honor for heroism in France. Back home in the early 1930s he chose Christmas Day to marry his sweetheart. Then he took on work with a large farm owned by the son of a Civil War General who fought for the south.
Fighting apparently was still in the family and the son, while visiting Chester's home, pulled out an old CW rifle. Chester got into a tussle with the son who then shot the hero. He later died at at hospital.
But even at death Chester did not find peace. His grave was in an area that was taken over by another entity and later became overgrown with trees and wild brush etc. For years many would attempt to find the grave. But then along came the boy scout and a crew to chop up a tree thought to have knocked down some markers. Sure enough, Chester's was one of them.
Here is what caught my eye regarding the story...
The internet article says that Chester was also a recipient of the Victoria Cross and two other major awards. I do not know about the the later two, but note that he was NOT a recipient of the Victoria Cross as the story claims. There are no MOH men who were also awarded the VC. I am aware of only one MOH man unsuccessfully nominated for a VC, and another who was awarded with the Queens Scarf, but I do not believe there were any heroes that earned both. If any reader can shed further info on this I would be most interested in hearing from you.
In another internet story of late I found the statement that "only a few hundred (of the Medal of Honor recipients) are not American Citizens". Regular readers of this column will find this of equal interest. While many of almost 750 non-American born Medal of Honor men went on to later become naturalized citizens, all certainly did not.
Here is an interesting quote out of a MOH book from the early 2000's.
The numbers have of course increased in the last 17 years.
Yet another internet site brought some news about conscientious objectors and noted that there were only three who went on to earn the Medal of Honor. They gave the names of Desmond Doss, Thomas Bennett and Joseph LaPointe.
The article perhaps ought to have mentioned the incredible heroism of famed WWl hero Sergeant York and the bravery, and very sad tragedies that struck the Kenneth Kays family. Both were men who tried to enlist under that category but were refused. Regardless they went on to also be Medal of Honor recipients.
I will be telling the Kays story here in the months to come.
Moving on, the net yet again told the reader in weeks past that in the entire history of the MOH, there have been only 19 men who earned actually two different Medals of Honor. Past blogs have told you of 2 history seems to forget. And there could have even been yet another double recipient, but that story comes at a later day. But of the 19 all but 5 earned their medals for different battles. The remaining five, all marines, earned both of their medals FOR THE SAME ACTION and BATTLE. Each were later nominated by the Marines and the Navy. The recommendations read almost identically for the actions taking for the awards. Above are shown Sgt Louis Cukela and to the right is Pte John Kelly, both WWl double recipients.
The Sgt is wearing his army MOH around his neck while the private has his in upper left corner of the two rows of medals. Both were the navy TIFFANY medal, described in past blogs, as well. The Sgt has his at far left in this picture, while the private's is to the right of his army medal.
Much has been said in this space over the past four years about the 1916-17 purge of medals were close to 900 were cancelled, without lawful justification. Most seem little concerned today with that event. Yet very little time elapsed from the purge actions to the day these five doubles were awarded. Surely some eyebrows must have been raised about this strange situation. One has to be curious about how they seem to have slipped under the wire.
And before I go I want to leave you with two birthday announcements ...of sorts. Here is the first.
Many sites tell, in the history of the Army Medal of Honor, that it was first proposed on 17 Feb., 1862, a figure I may have also used in much earlier blogs. But in some most recent research I found several news clippings of the day for Feb 20th 1862, and all say basically the same. They note, as seen above, that the proposal was tabled on the 19th, as shown above. So, in either 2 or 4 days we have a birthday of sorts for the army Medal of Honor. Happy 155th!
And 208 years ago Sunday past, Tom and Nancy lived in this dirt floored log cabin. Between its 143 logs held together with clay they saw the birth of their son who would one day become famous as an orator with the words... Four Score and seven years ago...
Happy belated birthday Abe!
Back on Sunday...
I am hoping to receive some info on a few fronts and will be bringing the next post to you on Wednesday. Hope to see you then. Bart
I continue to bring you Medal of Honor stories and search for yet more tidbits of information on the Canadian recipients, or those touching on Canada. Over the past few weeks, a wonderful picture of a CW recipient has crossed my desk. And several neat items from Civil War days have also revealed some great tidbits that I will share in the weeks to come.
One even revealing that a 2nd Canadian recipient played a major role in the creation of a Medal of Honor Club in the very early 1900's and in a few years became its president. (Much has been said in this space about a WWll recipient who later became President of the MOH Society.) But the recent discovery tells me there was a 2nd having the same accomplishment of a sort. And another story has emerged telling of a Medal of Honor man who almost became a double recipient. But more on that also at a later date!
As I do this work I sometimes recall the old joke about the two hunters in the woods late at night. Suddenly they are awoken by the crackling of bushes, and more worrisome, the noise is getting closer and closer. Obviously a bear is getting too close for comfort. The older and wiser of the two quickly fastens the laces in his runners. The younger and somewhat less wise then asks his buddy if he thinks he can outrun the bear. He responds with... "its not the bear I have to outrun, It's you!"
Think about it folks.
A few weeks back I came across a story from Vancouver Canada. I loved it. Finally I saw someone else taking on the press and others. He had caught them repeatedly saying that the Victoria Cross men in the article were not winners, and that the medals were earned or awarded. I think he even said that the bravery award was made as a result of heroism, not a game.
Finally some headway was being made. I was escaping the bear. So I thought!
But then I came across the u tube video about the recent appointment of General Mattis as the new Secretary of Defense in the United States.
The upper picture shows the new Vice President administering the oath of office to the General as President Trump looks on. Below, the President has finished announcing two initiatives, has signed the documentation, presented one of the historic pens as a keepsake to the new Secretary of Defense, and is about to present the 2nd pen to Vice President Pence.
So far so good. It is the setting that viewers should give some thought to. They are at the Pentagon in one of the hallways. In fact a rather important one. It is called the Hall of Honor, as clearly depicted by the very large depictions of the three current versions of the Medal of Honor. At the left in upper picture is the army version. Next comes the Marine Corps, Navy and US Coast Guard medal and in lower picture we see the Air Force's medal.
All acknowledged the importance of the Hallway and that inscribed on its walls are the names of all the AMERICAN Medal of Honor men, some 3,500 strong. I and I suspect many others would have liked to have heard some rumblings by one of, if not all of these highest of officials, that one in five of those very names belongs to a hero that was born OUTSIDE of the United States. And while many of these servicemen later became citizens, many did not. I wonder if any of these three men even know this.
In describing the importance of this Hall, President Trump said that ... "this is a sacred hall, the sole of the nation lies between its walls." He went on to praise all the recipients and noted that the government and the people well respect what each did for his... or her... country. He also made reference to the efforts being made to keep terrorists out of the country.
But therein lies the concern of many! The only ones objecting to that ideal are probably the very ones you do not want entering the country. But it is all the rest that have been or could be caught up in the trap at the same time. Some of which I made mention of, not without notice, in my last blog.
But there is something else that leaves a bad impression on many. The perception I suspect that the President is picking important stages to rest on the laurels of heroes long gone, in support of his own agenda. An agenda that precludes entry to many who ought to be permitted entry with open arms.
Many saw this same sort of "staging" during the election. Back in late September I commented on the numerous announcements that some 14 Medal of Honor recipients were supporting the Trump campaign, a right they certainly had. However, in so claiming this support, most headlines noted failed to mention any of the names of the MOH men. Heroes who's services resulting in the awards were never given and as it appeared, had really nothing to do with the campaign other than to be a bragging point.
But you saw nothing in the same news coverage about the other 63 who had not claimed support for either candidate. It appeared that the press also failed to question that the rest of the MOH men had not come forth yet, or questioned why or who they supported. Should these other recipients not also been part of the full and fair story? Ballots are of course secret. However the stories could have at least told the uninformed that..hey...look..there are still another 63 we have not heard from yet.
Same thing for the Admirals and Generals. My previous blog noted that 88 had apparently indicated being a Trump supporter. But what most of the press stories... and of course the campaign forgot to tell you was that at the very time, across the US there were some 4,800 Admirals and Generals.
Now you can better see the picture. 88 out of 4,800. All of a sudden it is not very impressive at all. Maybe the majority were Trump supporters. Who knows? And they have a right of course to keep their ballots secret of course. But on the face of it, surely there was a problem in giving the public less than the whole story.
Before leaving this story, I would like to also note that it seems the Congressional Medal Of Honor Society, formed back in August 1958, might want to visit some of the issues raise above. Among its founding goals is one..."to protect, uphold and preserve the dignity and honor of the medal at all times and on all occasions." Another is "to protect the name of the medal and individual recipients of the Medal of Honor from exploitation." And another is to "foster and perpetuate Americanism."
While I have the utmost respect for this Society, one that has been most helpful to me in the past, I believe these issues ought to be on the table for discussions of the membership.
All of our Medal of Honor men, and one woman, past and present are worthy of our utmost respect. The above issues suggest their feathers are being ruffled.
I will sign off till next week because I think I hear some bears coming though the bushes.