But today has this week looking a lot like Christmas for me. I got a wonderful present to share with you today. Fact is that it seems just about every week in the last year has brought me more presents. Presents that help to preserve Canada's history and adds just another tidbit to the stories of all the medal of Honor recipients I am researching and writing about for my book.
And just like the quote "a man is only as good as the woman behind him," so goes my story. In the past few years the woman in this story has followed my path. Actually, she has really walked along side me. And the more articulate would say there were times when I was following her.
Her name is Diane Clarke and even when she is vacationing away from home this incredible genealogist is punching away at her keyboard. Here's proof. At 11:20 this morning I emailed her to see, dumb question on my part, if she could find a newspaper for me. It was a Minnesota newspaper and it was only 117 years old. Tick tick tick went the clock then it stopped. It was now 11: 53 am and attached to the email that just arrived was a copy on not just the very article I sought... but the whole darn page. Folks I have to tell you I am blessed with having Diane as a friend and one who so much believes like I, that these stories need to be preserved and told to you the reader. And our friends at the Victoria Genealogical Society are equaling blessed with her incredible volunteering for that very established group of like minded folks in Victoria BC
Now you might say that this is not a very good picture of her and I would agree. It is actually of James ALLEN whom history seems to have only recorded living for a short time in Canada before heading off to the US and fighting in the Civil War. I suspect his earliest Christmas days were difficult at best. He had arrived in Canada as a baby from Ireland and by aged five was an orphan. History has yet to release eactly where in Canada he was, but it does reveal that in his teens he had already arrived in the United States and would soon be in the midst of battle during the Civil War.
It was during the Battle at Crampton's Pass, one of three routes crossing the South Mountain range of Maryland, that Allen would earn his Medal of Honor in 1862. As a group of the union troops travelled through a very high corn field Pte Allen and another fellow separated from the rest of the company. Orders were given to veer off in one direction, but these were not heard by the two soldiers who ended up way of course. And soon came under fire from the Southern troops. Allen's companion was badly wounded and dragged off to saftey. Allen then patrolled in the direction the Confederates were last seen, travelled some way than jumping over an obstacle and found him in the midst of 14 enemy, complete with their unit colours. (flags)
Having to think very quickly, he hollered out for help from his companions whom he knew full well were no where around. He also told the resting troops to get up on their feet and pile the rifles in the middle of the road and best do it NOW before his friends..and very mean bunch... arrived. The enemy to a very man did as instructed. Then Allen wondered what the hack he was then to do. Luckily his Colonel was off in the distance and saw him standing there and directed that his company commander come to Allen's help and take charge of the prisoners. (His company commander would later earn a Medal of Honor and would end up as a Brig. General. And he was also a Canadian.
Allen then secured the colours and took them back to the HQ, presented them to the General and was promoted on the spot to Corporal.
So what's this about an xmas gift ?
For the past twelve years I have been on the hunt to locate the actual medals of honor that these Canadians have earned. I have located a handful. When they cannot be found I try to at least find out what is inscribed on the back of the medal. Ciations are relatively easy to locate in most cases, but not so for what is exactly on the medal.
Well, in the article Diane located it says that James Allen's Medal is inscribed with the words... "The Congress to Private James Allen, Company F, 16th New York Volunteers, for bravery at Campton's Pass (sp) South Mountains, MD, Sept. 14, 1862." This is a lot to be inscribed, but that is what the article says.
So folks, there is your xmas present. Sorry for all the wrapping ! And as my late mother would always say...save the wrapping, you can use it again next year.