It started out with a search to see which MOH recipients had retired and worthy of a new pension being created. Congress approved the pensions but then bureaucrats stuck their noses into things, came up with new requirements for the medal, and made it retroactive to over 50 years earlier.
The changes were not approved by Congress, but the underlings never the less saw to it that a review board had to apply new qualifications in cases that dated mostly over 1/2 century earlier. Those failing the new rules lost their medals.
Many of the recipients were dead. Of the living many were not contacted, some could not be found. Only just over 100 letters were sent out in search of well over 900 recipients. The whole thing was nothing short of a sham. (Not by the purge officials but by the bureaucrats and ultimately the Congress that allowed it to happen.)
Robert Storr's case fell into a separate bucket of men and one woman being illegally deprived of their medals. Deprived in a way inconsistent with the Constitution, the basic Rule of Law, fairness and common sense.
About 880 of these medals involved the 27th Maine Voluntary Infantry who's terms of service ended, but were asked to stay on the job for about a week due to potential problems if the Battle at Gettysburg was won by the Confederates. The President promised each man a medal if they stayed on. About two thirds declined and went home.
Bureaucrats then, years later saw to it that medals for the entire regiment were made and forwarded. That story has been well told numerous times in these blogs so I will not go into it further here. Use the search engine to located and read them.
In July of 1916, the Chair of the Board of 5 senior generals, charged with conducted the purge review, wrote to the Secretary of War. He pleaded many of the above objections and that it would be a grave injustice to the very men the government wanted to reward for their earlier actions, if the current instructions were followed.
The chair added that the medals of earlier days, for the most part were legal and that, the wording of the instructions to the Review Board could be altered to take these and other objections in mind and better serve with their ultimate findings. The plea was ignored. Here is that letter...
Note also that in an earlier blog regarding this case, the regimental padre gave much praise to Storr's military career, as did his company commander and even his commanding Officer. In fact the words used were very similar to those used on other MOH nominations. It is at this point unknown if either officer also recommended Storr for his MOH.
Note also should be given to the fact that since this medal was awarded, those mentioned above would not have been able to issue such orders unless they were approved by the President of the day, and thus the award was quite legal, one would assume.
In any list of military history resources, you ought to be able to find that of an outfit called Fold3. She's a real gem.
Here is what the site tells us about Robert Storr.
First ........is the bold heading...OTHER UNQUALIFIED RECIPIENTS
Storr's medal was qualified. It being rescinded is what was unqualified.
Second ...is the notice that he was KIA... (Killed In Action). He was not. He took ill, not once but twice from the actions..and died later in a hospital.
Third .......he was not 26 but 27 when he died.
But perhaps mostly importantly.. the reason given above for his losing the medal was his status as an alien. If you look back at the 1861 and 1862 verbiage when the navy and the army medals were first created, there is no mention whatsoever about citizenship being necessary for consideration for the medal.
In fact, ONE IN FOUR medals of honor during Civil War days and one in five overall went to men born outside of the US, and many of which never became a US citizen. How come their medals have not been withdraw? Obviously because it was not a requirement. It was simply an excuse of the day for someone that slipped it through by accident.
That, after the man lost his life for the very country that now continues to abuse him and his descendants by maintaining the status quo, long after the quo has lost its status.
Rather, they should fix what all should obviously see as a tragedy!
Robert's story is sad, because of the lost medal, but it is also sad because for over 100 years his family have lost a story of pride that they enjoyed for about 50 years before the purge. Finding info today on this is most difficult because it does not claim the attention of other recipients. Its lost to history. If you find anything, much of what you find is not correct.
Here is yet another example, one from a book only about a decade old, while many others since 1917 don't even list him.
If such were the case many of the over 750 medals awarded to non US born recipients would also have to be recalled.
Ending on a positive note, over recent years a handful of the rescinded medals have been restored, but MUCH remains to be done about the rest.
My next blog will be on Sunday July 28th when I will bring you news on the above rescinded medals.
I welcome comments, so please send me your thoughts on the work being done in this space.
cheers till the 28th