Regular readers of these blogs have read about the matter raised at this site several times including in blogs at.... http://www.canadianmedalofhonor.com/wednesday-and-friday-blogs/ive-got-some-good-news-and-ive-got-some-bad
I would challenge you to not only re-read these but pass them, or the URL to this site, along to anyone in the military or with connections to the military for some powerful details about the matter covered in the above headline. These matters have a direct link to the horrific battles at Gettysburg 151 years ago last week, and so yet again, the matter needs to be raised.
The matter to which I refer is of course the 1916-17 Purge of 911 Medals of Honor at the stroke of a pen. Almost! The five men, most distinguished generals all, knew it was an unprecedented move, that no army in the rest of the world would do the same, were acting under direct orders that they knew had not come from the proper authorities, and in fact were illegal. Their pleads to higher authority... i.e. the War Office and Congress fell on deaf ears of the cowardly who lacked the stamina to quash the whole thing and walla... the stroke of the pen stole the medals by rescinding them. And they stole other benefits and reputations of hundreds in the process and robbed history of its legitimate heritage.
To this day when you ask how many MOH's were awarded or read about those awarded you will get the fake number that is over 900 short. Two of the very victims were in fact double recipients but again their true place in the history of the medal has also been stolen and from generations of their families, and from you.
I guess you could say that it all started at the beginning of the Civil War when belief was that the war would be over by next Wednesday at noon, or the very most, a few months later. And so those in power called for the recruiting of very short termed regiments. Those with 30, 60 and 90 days. Over 300,000 thus served. But then many would serve again and again in other units, some longer term, some shorter. In late June of 1863 the authorities could see that there was to be a major battle around Gettysburg in the immediate future and sent off almost all their men. But seeing the capital unprotected they approached 2 regiments to stay at the capital. But both being short term and those very terms being up on 30 June, they had the option of declining the offer to stay around and could go home. Plenty of other regiments had similar offers earlier in the war and declined so it was nothing new to Wahington. One regiment, to a man, declined. The other, the 27th Maine, took a vote and just over 300 decided to stay and the rest went home.
The President directed the Secretary of War, and he directed a state Senator to go out to the field and see his state regiment and tell the men...after they had volunteered... that the government was so happy it would award each a Medal of Honor. The award was certainly within the power of the President to so award, and technically was often issued for reasons far less than those called for today. But then was then, and the offer of that day was perfectly legal.
Trouble is that then along came the bureaucrats. After the war they argued they did not have sufficient evidence on who stayed behind. They finally came up with a list of about 310, but then did what bureaucrats sometimes do. They screwed it all up and sent almost 900 medals to the state governor who sent them to the regiment's former Colonel, who took out those medals for the men staying and sent the rest back to the Governor. Being a wise man... not.... the Governor sent the rest right back to the Colonel who buried them in his barn and refused to issue them to those not entitled, regardless of his orders. After his death they were found and soon many ended up in hands that ought not to have received them.
Over the following years men entitled to the medal were infuriated when seeing those not entitled wearing it. They took their concerns to a new group formed called the Grand Army of the Republic, which among other things was an advocate for the veterans. It even created a badge of membership. A badge that looked almost identical to the actual Medal of Honor. This of course infuriated those entitled to the MOH and actually amounted to its downgrading in the eyes of many.
Then another group started up and sought it's members from the ranks of the actual medal holders. It called itself the Medal of Honor Legion. This group took many steps to push government to deal with the medals issued to the 27th Maine. It also wanted to see ribbon and actual medal design changes that would result, hopefully in a tighter control when created and issued. Many attempts were made with little result. Then it came up with the idea that the MOH should be elevated to that of other nations by the creation of a Medal of Honor Roll, and that if same were created, a pension should also be created for the true medal recipients. With such, it would be the opportune time to, once and for all, control the entry to these lists in a way that would eliminate the men of the 27th Maine.
On Friday I will tell you where all that ended up. Then I will tell you where the whole travesty of justice has belonged every day for the last 97 years.