In the year previous year she had spent much time at Key West Florida, at West India Island, the Gulf of Mexico, Hayti, (as it was then spelt) St Domingo, Jamaica and South Carolina ports. A visit to Halifax would be a much cooler tour than to stay in the high heats of the Caribbean and so all were probably happy to set foot on the port city of Halifax. An into a heat wave they also landed, though certainly not what they had seen over the last year.
The Morning Herald of Halifax printed a notice on August 7th that some of the ship were really glad to get on land again. The notice also informed Haligonians theat they could earn a quick ten to twenty dollars for escorting men back to one of the several American navy vessels at port. It seems that some of these tourists were actually among the ..."numerous desertions " from the American navy.
That being said, another news report of the days around the 7th described the Plymouth being with a compliment of 275 men, were most polite during a press tour and the ship appeared most shipshape and ready to duty if called upon. "The men are stalwart and active - mixed Irish, German and Americans and the guns are 9" and 11" and look dangerous enough." The press report of the ship was most glowing and ended with an invitation to tour her before she left the city a few days later. (The report failed to mention that Canadians were also serving on board, and one just a month earlier earned a Medal of Honor.) (Probably to late to write the editor though)
It is not known if it was as a result of the article or not, but one citizen lost his or her grip while enjoying the visit on board and actually fell overboard, an unfortunate but somewhat common event on these vessels. Two sailors apparently dived in and rescued the poor sole. Their names were John W Powers and Michael Connolly.
John W. Powers and Michael Connolly were both working as Ordinary Seamen on the ship. The later being born in Boston. But there are no records located yet to say where Powers was from, nor where either went later in their careers. Powers should not be confused with a Wesley J. Powers who was born in Ontario, and earned a Medal of Honor in the army in the Civil War.
On 24 August 1876, just 2 weeks after Powers and Connolly saved the citizen from drowning, the President signed off on the recommendation to award both men the Medal of Honor. Sailors from this ship earned no less than nine medals for saving or trying to save others from drowning. Six in the last two years of operations. Today's blog covered the last of these awards before the ship was decommissioned three years later. Navy men would earn at least 127 Medals of Honor for this type of bravery. One of the double recipients of the medal actually earned one of his two while on the Plymouth. And Newfoundlander Thomas Kearsey's MOH just a month early than today's story, was serving on this vessel at the time he saved someone from drowning. You can read about his actions in the blog at http://www.canadianmedalofhonor.com/1/post/2013/04/almost-3rd-of-life-on-6-us-ships-awarded-medal-of-honor.htmlt...
That being said, over the years the medals were moved from the Navy Department to the Naval Museum in Washington DC, and over those same years a few lists of these medals have been created or updated. On those I have seen. they all show that the above medal for John Powers has been and remains in the possession of the government, now the museum, on what grounds who knows. Years ago they kindly provided me with the above digital picture, one that I do not believe had been widely circulated... till today.
Over the years there have been 3,451 medals awarded. The above medal and the one for Michael Connolly are the only ones in the lot that were issued for actions on Canadian waters. Connolly's medal has yet to turn up, so the above is the only one that actually may exist in the world, that names a Canadian location for the event resulting in the award. Thus it is a VERY RARE Medal of Honor.
But I note a few curiosities with the medal. For one, the scroll is most elaborate versus others that are not nearly so attractive in script. Second, the Civil War MOH fouling (the rope) tied around the anchor, was discontinued apparently before the war ended. The obvious question needs to be asked ...how come this medal...issued 11 years after it's type was discontinued, was used ? It is also been noted that a most recent (July 2013) listing of medals held still lists Power's medal. Therein it says the medal was not issued. In short it has been with the official since it was made. It further notes a date discrepancy. It says that the documentation clearly shows that the award was for an action on 7 August 1876, yet the medal, over the years has been listed as being inscribed with the date of 17 August. I suspect that was sloppy editing many a year ago which had been carried forward ever since. If you enlarge the photo the date you see is clearly inscribed for the 7th and not the 17th. It is these sorts of discrepancies that cause many a MOH researcher to pull out his or her hair.
And speaking of pulling hair out, while the Plymouth and her crew and other American crews were in Halifax there were a couple of other Hair Raising events, that should be commented on, but I will leave them till tomorrow.
Till then, watch out for Tom! Tomorrow you'll know why.