Not many did that I bet.
It all started back in 1878 in either Quebec City, Rimouski or elsewhere in the province yet to be verified. That's where Henry was born to French Canadian parents. Formal documents would later show that at age 2 he had emigrated to New York.
History has yet to reveal what sort of youth this fellow had but it is known that with only 3 years of formal schooling he ended up becoming a recruit in the US Navy. He'd become the more formal... Henry P. Russell, Landsman, and assigned to the USS Marblehead, shown here stripped down and ready to do battle in the Spanish American War.
It was 11 December 1896, and Henry was 18 1/2 years old. The ship was in New York briefly, had just returned from duties in Europe and no doubt taking on new recruits at the time. About 16 months into its next tour, it was in Florida when the Spanish American War broke out. It was immediately sent south to Cuba for supportive and blockade duties.
Nineteen days later, on May 11 1898 Henry and about 50 other sailors became heroes in the famous cable cutting incident, mentioned many times in this space. There is a lot of detail of the actually cutting and dangers involved in my blog at... http://www.canadianmedalofhonor.com/sunday-evenings-blogs/pei-man-proves-heroism-earns-medal-of-honor-in-cuba
Two large war ships..the Marblehead and the Nashville were assigned with the task of breaking off the connections between Spain and Cuba by cutting some cables. To do this each ship sent out 2 small launches. One from each would do the locating, raising and cutting, while the 2nd from both would carry navy and marine sharpshooters who would provide protection for the cutters.
Other than the above citation little is known about many of these sailors and marines, other than on Wednesday at noon they went out and earned a medal. (it actually was a Wednesday) I checked... hehe.
But with the help recently from the Connecticut Historical Society, The Congressional Medal of Honor Society, The Medal of Honor Historical Society of the US, Arlington National Cemetery, and a few others, some pieces are starting to fall into place about Henry P Russell.
the 20th he appeared in the US Circuit Court at Hartford Ct to so indicate his wishes to become a citizen at a later date.
But curiously, only 2 years after the fact, the paper got the ship wrong when claiming he was serving on the USS New York.
Between 1900 and 1905 Henry was living in the Hartford area. A 1905 Register of Enlistments in the US Army shows that Henry enlisted in the services again, but this time in the army. He joined the 18th Infantry from Hartford and served till released at Angel Island California in 1908. His entry documents list his previous job being that of an Embalmer.
That same year he signed up again, but this time with the 14th US Cavalry. Two years later the US Census had him still with the unit and stationed at Fort Stotsenburg, Luzon, Philippines. By 1911 he is still serving with the Cavalry, but by then stationed at Fort McKinley.
In 1919 Henry gets married and he and wife are living in Cumberland Maine, but by 1923 both are back at Hartford Ct. He was by then serving with the Hq Company of the 62nd US Artillery, and with rank of a First Sergeant.
The above Arlington Document shows a 1930 retirement with the rank of a Master Sergeant and also a note that he held the rank of Captain, and with the National Guard of New Hampshire.
The 1930 federal census shows him then working as a clerk for the New Hampshire Adjutant General.
The 1940 census has him back in Portland Maine, and a bio appearing in 1956 had him passing away on 1 December of that year whilst staying at the US Veterans Hospital at Togus Maine.
In the upper right there is an actual piece of the cable cut out from Cuba. Several sailors got a piece as a keep-sake.
On September 21st the massive memorial to Champlain was unveiled and at the request of the Canadian government, the US government sent this ship as a representative of the American people to participate.
The ship's company marched the streets on the day of unveiling and were provided front row seating for the event and received many a cheer form the dignitaries and audiences for the recent victories in Cuba. And in that ship's company about 2 dozen medals were awarded for the Cable Cutting incident, and probably wore the medals that day.
Henry Peter Russell being one of these.
Doubtfully, there was another time in the entire history of the Medal of Honor that so many recipients had gathered on Canadian soil at the same time.
Sure wish it could happen again,
till next week,