Over the past several installments in this space I have
once again brought this event to the reader's attention, in the hopes that they will help spread the news of this continuing injustice.
The last blog left off with notation that several government listings over the late 1800's gave names of all the 27th Maine Volunteer Infantry members and the additional medals noted in the first paragraph above. The very listings with thousands of others are, arguably, evidence of their being legally awarded.
I noted that the Medal of Honor Legion of the 1890's was one of the lead voices in trying to remove the 27th medals from the record books. The blog also noted that this was an apparent violation of their constitution's very articles of formation.
Here is article 2 evidencing this...
Difficult to read but it notes that it is the duty of members to... "bind themselves to love with equal sincerity and earnestness all portions of their country and to teach by
conduct and example, obedience to a sacred and venerated constitution and the laws of the land."
It continues with a duty to... "contribute our earnest efforts at all times, in cordial cooperation with all other organizations, in securing and advancing the best interest of all our comrades and worthy soldiers and sailors."
The consistent attempts to cancel the 27th and other medals, that were LEGALLY awarded, can hardly be an action in the best interest of those that would ultimately lose their rightful medals.
Actions that were taken entirely in violation of the US Constitution provisions calling for removal only after an "accused" had exhausted his or her rights within that constitution. Things like having a trial and having to face their accuser and having assistance of their own council, presenting evidence and more. All of which were not granted.
Much more on this in the next blog!
Here is one of the medals they tried...successfully...to have cancelled. The recipient actually was one of the 300 or more that stayed behind at the urgent request of President Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton, back in 1863.
Here is that new look.. a ribbon, though the medal itself was not changed.
With the creation of this new ribbon and a bow knot of similar colour, those in opposition to the 27th medals thought they could see some success. They hoped that they could argue that the new items could only be extended to those other than the 27th. They were wrong. Many went to the 27th, and thus, more ammunition that those were of course legal awards.
The year 1897 also saw the government's production of yet another list of all recipients... including the 27th.
That year also saw a congressional change that removed the army MOH clause that allowed the awarding of the medal for "soldier like qualities".. and "not in the face of the enemy."
Surely it can be seen that the steps to remove this verbiage, suggests that had it been left in, then the medals must have been legal. Otherwise..why remove?
By removing, it would then be illegal to award in the future for those less than in the face of the enemy. Proof that the earlier wording, was legal, as were the awards made for the lesser actions.
Moving forward to the year 1904, a newly designed Medal of Honor for the army was introduced, again with the hopes that looking so different to the GAR membership badge, fewer would think the GAR recipient was a MOH recipient. With it came a new bow knot and ribbon that could be worn on less formal occasions. This medal became known as the Gillespie model after being designed and implemented by Secretary of War George L Gillespie, a CW MOH recipient with the rank of 1st Lieutenant, but a general in 1904.
Again the hopes of many were that this new model of the medal would not be issued as a replacement for any of the 27th, or their descendants, but that hope faded away.
As we see here...
Much no doubt to the pleasure of the anti 27th medal crowd came the caveat with the Gillespie Medal that a replacement could be issued only on the return of an earlier version of the medal to the war department.
This was a problem for the 27th. Many of the medals were not even issued out despite the Lincoln directive that they were to go to all members of the unit. Most were hidden in a barn and later stolen. Some ending up in the correct soldiers hands but the rest going who knows where.
For most with none to turn in, the year 1907 saw the return of old medal policy dropped.
With so much pressure to recall all 27th medals at the time, it is ironic that only about 50 of the 27th applied for the 1904 version of the medal.
the year 1904 also saw yet another government listing of all medal recipients... including those of the 27th.
But 1904 also saw some major developments that put the anti 27th campaigners in a tail-spin. More on that in the next blog in 2 weeks.
Hope to see you then,