Sorry about the delay, but I hope you will like what's bubbling away at my desk.
Canadian Medal of
Today's blog is running longer than anticipated, and will not run till probably mid week at latest.
Sorry about the delay, but I hope you will like what's bubbling away at my desk.
In my almost daily visit to Google and all things touching on the Medal of Honor, the last few weeks have produced a disturbing story.
It involves the battle at Wounded Knee, or if you will... the Massacre at the same place.
Regardless of which side you are on, there is no doubt that over the decades of battling with the American Native population, both sides have at times performed less than honourably. But it is the issue of Medals of Honor that I address today's blog.
Twenty Medals were awarded to members of the 7th US Cavalry for this incident in December of 1890. Hundreds of natives were killed, many being women and children with many being shot in the back.
Over the years there have been many demands that all 20 of these medals should be rescinded. The last few weeks have seen several Democrats give notice that if elected President they will see to it that the medals are revoked.
Several comments of late tend to suggest that the move is more one of gaining native votes, rather than righting any wrongs.
THE MEDAL OF HONOR IS NOT A GOOD CONDUCT MEDAL.
One might want to ask each of these democrats were they stood on this issue over the past few years before their Presidential runs began. What evidence is there that they gave a hoot about the matter before recent days or months.
But that aside, they and their parties have been quite vocal about the constitution when the opposite party violates same, on a regular basis.
Yet then their promised actions, if elected, will also violate the constitution.
This blog is almost seven years and 500 blogs long. Within the first 2 months of its existence I starting bringing you stories about the 27th Maine and a few dozen others, the Purge of 1916-7 and how the entire purge of over 900 medals were revoked... ILLEGALLY.
That subject has been commented on dozens of times in this space and remains unchallenged by anyone of authority.
Bureaucrats, rather than Congress decided some of the aspects of the Purge. Soldiers who wore their MOH's for over 50 years had them taken away. Families were robbed of their heritage, and many suffer to this very day.
The Constitution guaranteed these men and one woman the right to proper notice, the appearance in a court of law, the ability to give evidence and be heard by their peers before any such action could have been legally taken. None of this was done. There is much more to that story but I will not repeat it since numerous blogs have already brought you this story.
That being said, the wannabee Presidents all... have said nothing whatsoever that I can find in the press about the Constitution and the Rule of Law with regards to these 20 medals, 2 of which touch on Canada.
If you know any politicians in the US, please send them the link to this blog.
Before any medal is revoked they ought to do their homework first. And part of that homework is to have someone officially appointed to represent the medal holders and their descendants as well as those from the native side for any hearings, BEFORE MAKING ANY DECISIONS ON REVOKING MEDALS. Decisions that should be made by the courts, not politicians. Nor public opinion.
On another matter, there were quite a few stories about the Purple Heart last month, which was great.
Trouble is of about 20 I saw, all but one says that the first Purple Heart went to General MacArthur. True if you think only of the date of the medal being presented. But, as regular readers known the first medal went to PEI Canada born Beatrice Mary MacDonald who's deed predated MacArthur's.
Too bad all the stories could not have shared that with you!
See you in 2 weeks,
Once upon a time, many a year ago there lived a fellow who's words of wisdom were noted and preserved in print. Over the years many have turned to these words for guidance. But sadly as many and more have looked the other way.
One of his memorial lines was that... "It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation... and only one bad one to lose it."
His name was Ben and the University of Pennsylvania gave us a monument to remember Ben. Here he is on his bench...
Mr Ben ... Franklin sits at peace with his local broadsheet newspaper and reading the news of the day. Later he probably uses the secret bracelet he is wearing to send out tweets to friends and foes alike.
I hope that with the exorbitant internet rates I pay, these blogs are being beamed up to Ben and he approves of the good deeds and shutters at the bad this blog gets bogged down with each few weeks.
And on that end I move on to the US Commander in Chief, a title I am told that applies ONLY to his duties with the armed forces.
Regular visitors to this site have read many a story here about the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart. Many hours each week are spent by me searching out these topics and others to bring to you in my blogs.
Thus the Purple Heart story of August 2016 peaked my interest. It of course involved President Trump, American's Commander in Chief of the military.
I believe it was at a West Virginia Rally, when a soldier reached out to the President and gave him the soldier's Purple Heart. He then exclaimed how much faith he had in his commander and the work being done on behalf of the nation... and the world.
In a later speech President Trump noted that he had always wanted one, and by being handed one by the soldier that was ..."much easier" to get. When considering the horrendous situations most recipients have gone through, that resulted in later receiving this medal, the comment was flippant. It was also downgrading to those, many of whom lost their lives, and were subsequently awarded the medal.
Making matters worse, the President then made the statement that ..."soldiers go to war to get the Purple Heart.' Most serving members of the military family, current and past, will tell you that getting a medal is the last thing on their minds when they... "go to war."
Let's now move the calendar along to the 4th of July of this year. The scene is the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. America's Commander in Chief of the military is giving a pep talk to the nation.
In his "Salute to America" he began with comments about the Revolutionary War and how the army took over the ramparts, and I believe also said they captured airports, but certainly said the army "manned the air."
Hmmm... Airports and manning the air.. seems to me the Wright Brothers first flew in December of 1903... not during the Revolutionary War of 1775-1783.
And speaking of the Revolutionary War the President added that the Rockets Red Glare, from the Star Spangled Banner refer to Fort Mchenry in the Revolutionary War. Trouble is that the fort and wording came from actions during the War of 1812.
And then there is the story about how Trump told the world that President Andrew Jackson could have prevented the US Civil War of 1861-5. Even though he had died 16 years before it started.
Here is an image of the Purple Heart mentioned above. The first was presented to General MacArthur in 1942.. actually he got 2, both backdated for actions in the Great War.
But the internet rarely tells you what this blog has told you in the past. That being that the first Purple Heart, by date of action and injury went to a female nurse. A Canadian nurse named Beautrice MacDonald from PEI. You can search on this site for several mentions of her career and medals including the first ever awarding of the Distinguished Service Cross to anyone in the US.
The Commander if Chief again seemed to show a lack of respect when addressing a conference of veterans just a few weeks back when saying that he always wanted a Medal of Honor, but joked that he had been told he did not qualify. He then smiled and remarked that as President he could just award himself the medal. But that others apparently said that was not a good idea.
On a more positive note President Trump was involved in a wonderful ceremony earlier this month. Prior to presenting the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant David Bellavia he gave a wonderful, positive and uplifting speech about the medal, the incredible bravery of the recipient and his platoon of brothers and left everyone in the room no doubt coming away from the event with tears of joy in their eyes for the privilege on being in that packed room and hearing such a motivating performance.
I highly recommend you set aside 20 minutes to watch the presentation here...
And even more moving is to hear this hero's speech after being inducted into the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes and receiving the Medal of Honor flag the following day. That 20 minute video is here...
And after watching the 2nd you hopefully will agree with me that the Staff Sergeant's speech is full of... Words of Wisdom
see you next Sunday.
It's been close to a decade now since I first traveled to California, regarding research on the Canadians and those with connections to Canada that were awarded the Medal of Honor. The accepted number of recipients a decade even further back were at 54, but now my research, with the help of many folks along the way, has them hovering at about 120.
Back in 2009 I was given the incredible honour of being permitted to attend the funeral of a US hero by the name of Lewis Millett at Riverside California. This Colonel's story has been told and covered several times in this space. Use the search engine to locate the blogs. I would also HIGHLY suggest you spend about 5 minutes to watch the wonderful video at... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9H7XplkI54
Within the large national cemetery at Riverside there is one of a very few official Medal Of Honor Memorials located across the country.
What you see above is me standing at the entrance to this gorgeous awe-inspiring memorial to American greatest heroes of all time. When I say American, I should give a caveat. There were at least 45 countries, including Canada of course, that service members came from that would earn the medal with their American comrades. One in five in the medal's history were non American born. Few know this!
In the center of the reflective pool above is a structure that consists of jets... or streams of water that cascade down to the pool. I was told that back in the early days the number of actual jets being used represented one for each of the MOH men then alive. But I believe that symbolism has been put to rest. (Pardon the pun..)
If memory serves correct, there are 39 black marble panels around the edge of the pool. On each are listed the recipients, by war. While there in 2009 I counted 31 panels containing names of Canadians or those with connections to Canada for all to see. Though nationalities are not listed.
Here are some close ups...
First row left to right..we see John Grady NB, and at right Alonzo Pickle Que, 2nd row left George Houghton NS, and at right George Low, Canadian but from where is still a mystery, 3rd row left Alvin York (no Can. connection) and at right the explorers Lindbergh, Byrd and Bennett. And at 4th row at left Audie Murphy, no Cdn. Connection, John Killmartin from Montreal at right and the very bottom...William F Cody who lived for awhile in the Toronto area, as did his parents and grandfather.
Cody is the same man we heard of last week. But then he was using his Greatest Shows of the West name... BUFFALO BILL. But he was not only an entertainer, and in fact a very famous entertainer, but also a war hero who was awarded a Medal of Honor.
William joined one of the State Cavalry units in the later part of the Civil War, did honourable service and left the military after the war. But he was soon offered a position as a scout in one of the national Cavalry regiments, and it was here that he would be involved in no less than 19 battles and skirmishes with the Natives during what became known as the Indian Wars.
On 26 April 1872 he had led a small unit off to track down natives that had been stealing horses. Upon finding them he got the soldiers within about 50 yards before being discovered. A few fled off in full gallop with some of the stolen horses. Details seem sketchy but is was during this event that he was later cited for bravery and within less than a month... on 22 May 1872 his actions earned him the Medal of Honor. When his military service was up he put the medal and uniform away and got on with his life in the Wild West business.
Buffalo Bill died on 10 Jan., 1917. Less than a month later the results of the famous purge of Feb 1917 saw to it that his medal like so many others was rescinded. According to the official reports the argument offered was that since no longer in the service, but simply on a contract to scout for the military, he and 4 other scouts all would lose their medals. And so they did.
The rescinding, like those of the 27th Maine and others noted often in this space, were just as illegal as were the others for reasons noted in those blogs.
But finally some good news....
While the government has corrected its errors of the past with the Mary Walker, Buffalo Cody and four other scouts, these six should only be a start. There were 911 medals revoked, not by the 5 generals who did the investigation as ordered, nor by politicians... but by bureaucrats of the day.
One must ask how long it will take before a proper full investigation into the legality of this Purge can be conducted, and a path set forth on how to rectify it once and for all.
The very dignity of the medal is at stake as this injustice to so many heroes simply goes on and on and on.
I shall return on September 1st, to talk about Purple Heart Day, which was celebrated on August 7th, and two major injustices that I see on that front as well.
Please join me then,
Last week this blog brought forth yet another about the Purge of 1917. It noted that the Mary Walker Medal of Honor, the only one ever issued to a woman in the medal's history, became one of the victims of that purge.
It also told that is was rescinded because the officials in 1917 did not consider the fact that she was a CONTRACT Assistant Surgeon, a former POW, spy for the Union and with lots of credit for bravery whilst treating her patients. Much of this being at many a Civil War battlefield. However the very system she so honourably served did not feel she was a member of the military, and thus, lacked the apparent status required for the medal.
The blog further noted that... after some 72 years... the Walker Medal of Honor was returned to active status. This despite the fact that the men of the day lacked the ability to get the medal back from her and descendants throughout more than 6 decades.
Moving along, our story now has us reading of the tales of Phoebe Ann Moses of Idaho. But today's yarn has her chasing and roping Buffalo in the streets of Toronto Canada. Well, sort of!
Annie would travel with 50 bison, 80 horses, elk, mule and donkeys, a famous stagecoach, gun touting cowboys and cowgirls, indigenous "warriors" and dancers and arrive with none other than the famous Chief Sitting Bull. They'd all come from Belleville by train with 18 boxcars holding the entertainers, animals and supplies needed to put on a three day wild west show. Fifty cents got you a seat, half for the kids.
Annie was a sharpshooter... with an international reputation of being the best. Coming from a family of six living in a log cabin, her father died at about age six and so her poor mother had to send her off to live first, in a poorhouse, then later to another family who mistreated her.
Running away, Annie made her way back to her family and took up shooting rifles to kill game for the family to eat, and also make money supplying the local restaurants and hotels. Each shot made her yet more talented with the weapon.
Entering contests led to winning contests... most if not all. Then came along an expert man who claimed he could beat them all. She took up the challenge. He'd then hit 24 of 25 targets. Then she shot them all. A few years later they were married, and spent the next 5 decades together.
It would be in August of 1885 that the couple would be part of the internationally famous Wild West Show that toured the world, including Toronto and Montreal. It would not be the last time the troop... known as Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show would tour in Canada
But by then Annie would have adopted her stage name, using that of the small community close to where she grew about 185 miles South East in Boise and along the Ohio border. A place called Oakley.
A place where she was known as a sniper, a slang for her expertise in shooting down large numbers of the bird called the Snipe. A term that today refers to the crack-shots of the world.
Here we see Annie Oakley in her youth and a few of her prized medals...
and two adds for the show.
Here is another shot of Buffalo Bill mid aged and one a little later..probably in the 1880's and with the rank of Colonel. While he served in various units in the Civil War and later with broken service, the rank of Colonel above was not military but in fact an honourary title.
Cody is posing here with Chief Sitting Bull in either Toronto or Montreal probably in 1885.
At age 14 William F Cody saw an ad from the Pony Express. It said they were looking for..."skinny expert riders willing to risk death daily." All for a whopping $25 per week. He applied and more than once he had to outrun or shoot those wanted to hold up the express or do harm to him and the passengers.
Between military jaunts he went on loan to help shoot Bison for the meat dreadfully needed to feed the Kansas City Railroad workers and others. In fact at about that time... for 18 months he was in a very long contest to see who could shoot the most Bison, then thought to be Buffalo. He won the contest... and the name...Buffalo Bill, after killing 4, 280 during the contest's run.
One thing led to another and 1885 found him in the show business in Ontario. Not exactly a strange place for him. Both his parents lived in the Toronto area as did his Grandfather. Though US born he would return within his first few years of life and would be christened in the very church his grandfather donated for that purpose in what is today called Mississauga, just west of Toronto.
Here is a picture of the church, presumably still standing today. It is at the corners of Melton and Cody Lane, named in honour of his grandfather.
And here is a commemorative plaque mounted in honour of Buffalo Bill and his grandfather. Though there seems to be a discrepancy in its location versus the church????
There will be more on this next Sunday, even though the next blog is not due till three Sundays off.
cheers till then
Blog delayed till Monday night. Other matters have kept me from completing the blog, but it will be published tomorrow. Please stay tuned.
I believe it was none other than Martin Luther King who once proclaimed that... 'there is a time when silence becomes betrayal."
Dozens of times over the life of this blog... now in its 7th year... I have tried to break the silence. Scattered throughout the close to 500 blogs in this space you will find reference to, or major portions of a blog dedicated to this very story. In most, if not all I have declared government actions regarding the subject have been illegal. I still await a qualified challenge to these statements.
I of course refer to the debacle known as the 1917 Purge of over 900 Medals of Honor. Most references to the medal today tell us that there were about 1,500 medals awarded for actions during the Civil War. Every one of these references are WRONG, regardless of the authority dispensing this disinformation. You can add at least 920 to that number. Those that were killed in 1917. The true numbers would be around 2,430.
The 920 amount to about 40% of all the CW medals. Almost Four in Ten.
About 2/3rds of these should not have been awarded in the first place. But nevertheless they were. But they were cancelled without legal authority. There was a way to do it. They chose the easy way out... the illegal way! Read my past blogs for details.
It is now over a century later. And the government has started to smarten up... of the 920 or so, cancelled, some have been reissued since 1977.
YUP, they have grasped the banner by the handle and held it high. First it was at a trickle. 1977 saw one returned. Then they went back to sleep again till 1989 when they marched forward with great pride to fix their mistakes by opening up the floodgates and returning some more.
Now wait for it... All at once they returned a whopping FIVE. Only about 914 more to go!
I'll talk about one of these heroes in this blog. Next week I will bring a 2nd story to the blog. Since both stories have been covered in the past in this space, I will only focus on their medals being reinstated. The first is Mary Walker, believed to be the 2nd person in US history to receive a medical license. While many wanted nothing to do with her at the beginning of the US Civil War, attitudes changed somewhat throughout the years of slaughter.
Applying for a commission and being denied she made her own uniform dressed as a man, and served in hospitals and at the front lines repeatedly. Her heroism was soon recognized by many who would see her treating the wounded right on the battlefields of several major battles.
At war's end Abraham Lincoln signed the paperwork for Acting Assistant Surgeon Mary Walker to get the Medal of Honor after she was nominated by two generals. However the President was assassinated before the medal was awarded. President Johnston then took up the cause and awarded it on November 11, of all days, ... in 1865. But in 1917, the rules calling for tighter controls decided she did not qualify and so she lost the medal in the Purge actions.
Mary Walker had adapted her own clothing to blend in with the men's uniforms of the day. Here we see her dressed up at right, and just after the war she proudly wears the medal of Honor as shown above.
As an activist pre and post war days, she had taken to the wearing of men's clothing, and as such I believe was one of the activists often arrested for so dressing.
Doctor Walker was very proud of her medal, and it has been said that she wore it every day of her life.
Here we see her near the final days of her life in early 1919. Shown also is a portion of one of the sheets of 50 stamps issued by the US Post in 1982 in honor of her service. They issued a whopping 109 million of them.
Once the 1917 Purge report was issued, letters went out to only 140 of the more than 900 recipients who were losing their medals. But like many, Mary held her ground. She was a very well known activist and often made pit stops at DC. The lawmakers of the day did their best to stay out of her eyesight lest they became the object of her criticism that day.
It has been said that when officials arrived at her doorstep in an attempt to retrieve her Medal of Honor. She arrived at the door wearing civies... and wearing her medal. In her hand she is said to have held a shotgun. They left in a hurry sans the medal. If true, she would have been about 85 at the time.
Mary was born and raised at Oswego New York and she also died and is buried there.
Many years ago the Oswego County Historical Society Museum came into possession of the Walker Civil War Medal of Honor, shown below.
The top image is the Walker medal. The lower one is another era medal but with the later ribbon that was created in 1896. While I have seen the above ribbons before, I am not sure what era they are from.
The original Civil War ribbon is shown below, at left .
After many attempts over the years to have this medal returned to descendants of Doctor Mary Walker, finally in June 1977 the President set aside the earlier decision. He ordered that the medal be returned to a distant relative on behalf of the family.
Newspapers across the country carried the story. Here is one such account.
Of the many stories I have seen, not one talks about the illegal purge to begin with, and most seem to only note that she was indeed a serving doctor and entitled as such, to the medal for the reasons outlined in the original nom- inations for the medal.
Next week I will bring you the story of a famous soldier, how he lost his medal, and how it came back to his descendants many a year after his passing.
See you on August 4th,
Continuing from last week, it is now 102 years after the purge of 1917 saw over 900 Medals of Honor being purged illegally.
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...
The several hundred page report listed every case it reviewed. Here is what it said about the Robert Storr medal and its recipient.
While Storr's father initially requested a medal for the only son he had, who dedicated... and lost his life to the American war, his case was not unusual. Over the years many an applicant was the very soldier or sailor involved.
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.
I have three concerns about this listing.
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.
The author has this very wrong when claiming Storr did not qualify for the medal. He claims as so many others have, that the medal was recalled due to his alien status, one already noted as not playing any role whatsoever in determining MOH qualifications at that time and indeed for most... if not all the history of the medal.
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
Rather than being short-sighted, these sins have also been, or will be, against the current, past and future recipients of the Medal of Honor, as well as those of all US citizens. Yet even more, when considering recipients of the medal came from probably over 30 different countries from around the world.
But who... if anyone... is doing anything about it?
For the past several blogs I have been bringing you many stories about how racism has touched on the military and more specifically some of the recipients of the Commonwealth's Victoria Cross and the US's Medal of Honor. Even more to the point, a few of those who became victims who did not get the medals deserved.
In addition to these matters, since this blog's very beginning over 6 years ago I have often mentioned the horrible Purge of 1916-17 that resulted in over 900 Medals of Honor being removed from American's lists of MOH recipients. Worse yet almost completely removed, illegally I will yet again state, from the history books of the country, its medal and its people. In addition, the purge was in many a conversation I have had over the dozen plus years pre this blog's birth.
The story of Medal of Honor recipient Robert Storr, beginning a few blogs back, falls into two categories... racism and the purge. To tell these, I must go back some 157 years to the very creation of the army and navy versions of the medal.
Had it not been for stubborn leadership, the army would have had the honor of being the first to have a medal created for their service members. But alas, that honor fell to the navy.
During the above Congressional session on 9 December 1861, this bill was introduced calling for the creation of a Medal of Honor for the US Navy. Just 11 days later, President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill. 21 December 1861 became the Navy, Marines and Revenue Services (today's Coast Guard) Medal of Honor's date of birth.
Please forgive the cut and past from an earlier blog... but below refers to back in 1862...
With the 12 July signing by President Lincoln, the US Army now had its own Medal of Honor.
During the Civil War years it is possible that some of the medals were awarded by special acts for individuals who took their cases directly to the senate... and they in turn to Congress. But for the most part medals were awarded under the signature of the President after going though several steps starting at the unit level and on up through the chain of command all the way to DC. But for most awards, in that war, they were covered by the above 2 acts. With minor alterations up until the late 1800's
One change very quickly appeared changing the temporary status of an award during the Rebellion, to a permanent medal for all time in the military. Another soon extended the authority for medals to be awarded to army officers during the war, a right not extended till many, many years later for the naval medal.
Here we see the front and back of an army version of the Civil War Medal of Honor. The navy uses the image of a anchor in place of the army's cannon and balls. The army version is the very first medal awarded and went to Jacob Parrott of the famous Andrews Raiders, noted often in earlier blogs.
At the right is a badge of membership from the late 1800's and early 1900's widely popular Grand Army of the Republic. Note the incredible similarity. One easily thought from a distance to be a MOH, whilst of course it is just a club membership badge.
Then comes story of the 27th Maine Infantry, extension of services in the time of need, even be it only for a few days, the promise of Medals of Honor for complying and the eventual circulation of over 900 medals. It would become what is now the biggest scandal associated with the MOH, though few appear to care less about it today.
Into that quagmire fell Robert Storr, even though never a member of the 27th.
The Maine regiment's story has oft appeared here. The gist of the matter is that about 300 were entitled to medals as promised by Lincoln, and fully within his powers to do. But bureaucratic bumbling resulted in about 900 medals for the 27th. Just over 300 would have been just fine!
Over the years advancing to 1900 many folks were complaining about the massive amount of Medals of Honor floating about. Some 900 with the 27th Maine, others who's conduct was far short of heroism and the confusion by many that the fellow down the street walking their way looked like a MOH man when simply a GAR member.
Several calls for federal action to deal with this came together with the governments creation of a pension for medaled men. So they decided that a Roll of Honor should be made, and only hose listed therein, would be entitled to the pension.
But who should be added to that list???
Again with the use of cutting and pasting from an earlier blog...
Six and 1/2 years ago I brought you the above blog. It notes that we must not compare the deeds of 150 years ago against the deeds of today to see if one equates to the other. Different times called for different acknowledgements by way of the Medals of Honor. In 1865 the US had one medal for actions needed acknowledgement. Today they have over 30 medals for these purposes.
The law as written in the 1860's and noted above could have been written more clearly. It however made it very clear that bravery in the face of the enemy was not a requirement in every case. Thus the 27th Maine medals, while they should have been limited to about 300... were legal. So too for the Storr medal.
So, getting back to the pension list...
The original purpose of the list was to gather info on who had been awarded the Medal of Honor and thus, were to receive pensions in thanks for this service.
If you look at the above document it introduces a caveat, (NOT in the materials, as evidenced by the very board formed via the above document,) that only those who were awarded for actions in the face of the enemy would be honored further by receiving a pension.
This was not part of the discussions by the congress. It was an add on by bureaucrats without any authority what soever to make the change.
Those from the 27th, at least the 300, were awarded for volunteering to stay on duty after their original terms of service had expired. That extra service, though only a few days long, was NOT in the face of the enemy, nor was it so required, to be eligible to be added to the new Honor Roll. as outlined by congress. But because of underlings, they were refused such entry on such rolls.
Nor did Congress require the return of medals earned whilst not in the face of the enemy. But the bureaucrats claimed this power... using the PFA factor... plucked from air... I guess... and again forcing the purge generals to do what they were told.. not what they thought was right.
The actions were in violation of the US constitution in a number of sections re depriving of possessions, the rule of law and the right to be heard etc, and being disallowed pensions they were entitled to.
Still more to come on this, but length dictates leaving it till next Sunday, July 7th.
Happy 1st and 4th to those north and south of the 49th.
He gave his life to his adopted county. In turn, it committed sins against family left behind! Sins remaining to this very day!
Last week this blog started to tell you the tragic story of Robert Storr.
Within 2 years of his London marriage, husband and wife were blessed with the birth of a baby girl. But within 2 years the mother had passed away from illness. Within another few years Robert made the decision to move to America. His father Solomon agreed to be the interim guardian knowing the plan called for the child joining Robert as soon as she could be sent for.
But life had other plans.
In early May 1861 Robert signed up with the 15th New York Infantry as a volunteer. Within a month the unit was renamed the 15th NY Engineers and attached to the Army of the Potomac.
About 14 months later Private Storr's unit would find itself building bridges in the Peninsular campaign of south eastern Virginia, during the siege of Yorktown.
Here's a picture of one of the bridges they built, crossing the Anacosta River. It had a span of about 1,300 feet, and was built in an incredibly low... 25 1/2 minutes.
It was while building no doubt a similar bridge along the James River that Robert Storr came utterly exhausted from labour in watery conditions that led to his taking a day to recover. But insisting on returning to be with his mates at work he would again almost collapse from exhaustion. This soon led to a fever setting in, a trip to recovery and ultimately being shipped off to the New York city camp at Saint David where he would die from Typhoid Fever. He was only 27 years old and had completed only 12 1/2 months of service before losing his life for his adopted country.
This at the very time that the NY Council of Hygiene estimated that some 15,300 homes were affected by the fever.
Here we see President Abraham Lincoln's 3rd son, age 5, who would also lose his life before reaching the age of 13 from the dreaded fever at Washington DC. His remains would be put in the same funeral car, one of 8, that would take the long journey some 1,600 miles in 1865 to carry the body of the assassinated President from DC to Illinois for burial.
The funeral car used was originally built as a touring car for the president, then refitted as a funeral car. In both operations one of the labourers was an orphan from Canada, who later moved to the US. Upon entering the Civil War, he would earn the Medal of Honor. His surname was Allen and his story had been in earlier blogs in this space.
So too with an Atlantic Canadian by the name of Hanna, also a Medal of Honor recipient, for guarding this very funeral car en-route to its final destination in 1865. (Stories also already appearing here.)
Robert was very well liked and respected in his regiment. In particular, his chaplain, his captain and even his commanding officer had powerful words of praise for his soldiering skills and dedication, no matter the cost, to the jobs at hand.
Read between the lines of this letter from his chaplain and know that that these sorts of traits can be found in the words of recommendation used in many a medaled soldier or sailor before they were later awarded their actual Medals of Honor.
Four days later, and no doubt long before the letter arrived at the shores of London, Pte Robert Storr died at the hospital in New York.
Here we see the dates of service of his regiment and from Muster rolls, a brief description of his own service ending in death at St David's, and location being shown with the red balloon on above greater NY city and area map.
In the late 1860's Robert's father Solomon applied, successfully, from London for a guardians survivor pension to help support his parent-less granddaughter's care and upbringing.
In September 1871 the late Robert Storr was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor. Here are some of the details of the struggle before the medal was awarded.
In 1873 Solomon Storr writes the pension office requesting an increase in the pension amount then allowable when applied for. Here's that letter... Note his pride of ownership in the Medal of Honor he then wore on occasion, though the wearing may have been limited by law to the recipient named.
The real tragedy has yet to come, but I will need the next full blog to lay it out. So, while I am not schedualed to bring another blog next week, I will bring one to conclude this little mini series on Robert Storr, yet another forgotten hero.
so, see you next Sunday.